Master the art of animated gifs in your emails: use cases, constraints and essential tools

Animated gifs are no longer limited to memes on social networks and chats. Designing a campaign with an animated gif to capture your readers' attention. In this article, we explore advantages, constraints and essential tools to make the most of animated gifs in your email campaigns.

The benefits of using animated gifs in email marketing

  • Capturing attention The animated gif attracts attention more effectively than a static image. Movement draws the eye, encouraging recipients to pay attention to the image.
  • Explain a complex message It can help explain complex messages in a more visual and easier-to-understand way.
  • Improve click-through rates By integrating dynamic elements, you can increase user engagement. If they add value and are well designed, animated gifs encourage recipients to interact more with your content.
  • Conveying emotion Animated gifs are often used in digital communications to convey feelings or reactions.

What are the uses for animated gifs in email marketing?

  • Show a step-by-step process Whether you're selling a product or a service, an animated gif showing the different stages of the process can be much easier to understand than text alone.
  • Show product functionality animated gifs can be used to introduce a new product or show how a specific feature works.
  • Before and after If your product or service brings about a visible transformation (for example, a cleaning product, a photo retouching application, or a renovation service), an animated gif showing the before and after can be very telling.
  • Making data talk animated gifs can help you present data or statistics in a more engaging, visual way.
  • Show a few seconds of a videoa tutorial, a replay... to whet the appetite.
Example of an animated gif showing the mailto concept in emailing

Disadvantages and constraints of animated gifs in email marketing

File weight and eco-design

Animated gifs can quickly increase the weight of your email. We recommend limit the size of a gif to between 1 and 2 MB to ensure fast loading. Larger gifs, on the other hand, will lead to slower display times and detract from the user experience. So it's essential to strike a balance between creativity and optimization. An animated GIF should ideally last between 2 and 6 seconds to be effective and avoid user fatigue.

The larger your file, the more high energy consumption when transmitting, opening, reading and storing the email. Visit calculating the carbon footprint of Mediapart's emailing campaignswe realized that if we reduced the weight of newsletters to 1MB (vs. 1.68MB at the time), the overall carbon impact of Mediapart's emailing strategy would drop from 10.5 tons to 8.5 tons. 2 tons less!

In the guide to eco-design in emailingThomas Defossez, consultant & designer at Badsender, recommends drastically limiting the use of animated gifs. In his view, they are generally very heavy and difficult to optimize while maintaining respectable image quality. He recommends asking yourself these questions: is this animation really worth animating? Can I insert all this information in a static visual, in jpg?

Compatibility with e-mail clients

Animated gifs are widely supported by e-mail clients. With the exception ofOutlook on a Windows environment (source : caniemail). Bear in mind, however, that on Outlook 2007, 2010, 2013 and Windows Phone 7, only the first image of your GIF file will be displayed.Always test your emails on different platforms to ensure compatibility.

Tip: when the e-mail client doesn't read the gif, it freezes on the 1st image of your animated gif.
It's important to plan this 1st image so that your readers can understand it. Don't start with a black screen and the rest of the images appearing as you go along. Thanks to certain tools, you can start your gif with a well-chosen image that switches immediately to your animation ("no delay" image change in Adobe Photoshop, for example). This way, if the gif is frozen, you'll have a readable message.

The potential for distraction

Excessive use of gifs can distract the recipient from the main purpose of the message. Choose animations that complement your content rather than overload it. We recommend using onlya single animated GIF in an email or newsletter.

Animated gif and accessibility

Animated GIFs can be a nuisance for people with visual or cognitive impairments, or epilepsy.

Screen readers used by people with visual impairments cannot "read" animated GIFs, which can make some of the email content inaccessible to these users. It is therefore recommended to provide text alternatives. In the guide to accessible emailingThomas insists on the importance of the attribute alt Make sure you summarize your animated GIF in the beacon alt.

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On the other hand rapid flashing, scrolling or movement as well as flicker, can lead to serious health problems. impaired concentration, even epileptic seizures.

Depending on your positioning, values and brand postureThe use of animated gifs can seem completely out of place. Any brand whose values include inclusion or who does not wish to exclude a part of the population should not use animated gif in its communications. Or, exceptionally, only if it adds real value for readers.

Animated gif on mobile

Make sure your animated gif is easy to read on mobile. No lettering that's too small, for example. Otherwise, consider one animated gif for desktop and another for mobile. But this can be a real challenge when it comes to weight.

Animated gif in darkmode

Make sure that the darkmode rendering doesn't spoil the intended effect of your animation. In our Darkmode and email guideWe recommend adding a border to images so that they remain legible whatever the background color.

Animated gif and deliverability

In terms of deliverability, our Sébastien Fischerdeliverability consultant at Badsender, doesn't see any constraints. This is one of deliverability misconceptions to think that an animated gif or a high email weight is detrimental to proper email delivery. Animated gifs or message weight are not among the criteria that damage a sender's reputation.

Tools for creating and optimizing animated gifs

Tools for creating animated gifs

  • Giphy is an online platform for creating and discovering gifs.
  • Adobe Photoshop A must-have tool that gives you precise control over the creation of animations.
  • Ezgif is a 100% cloud-based utility that lets you create animated GIFs without leaving your web browser.
  • ScreenToGif Save your screen, edit it and save it in GIF format.

Tools for optimizing the weight of animated gifs

Here are some tools that reduce weight without in theory altering the quality of the animation:

The trick If the gif is still too heavy with weight optimization, open it in a screentogif-type editor and remove every fourth frame.

Tools for testing the rendering of animated gifs

Litmus and EmailOnAcid allow you to view your e-mails in different e-mail clients. But animated gifs are static. In fact, these tools take a screenshot of your e-mail at a given moment. So nothing beats a live test on as manyopening environments or at least those most representative of your database.

Our conclusion about animated gifs in emailing

Animated gifs undeniably attract your readers' attention. But because of the constraints associated with display, email weight and accessibility, their use should be limited. It should only be used if it brings real added value to your audience. The use of animated gifs should not be systematic.

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