Tired of your email design and ready for a new strategy?

If your email marketing campaigns aren’t converting, it’s probably time to to try a new way to make your message pop.

Animated GIFs are an excellent solution.

Adding a GIF to your emails is a great email marketing campaign strategy, as animated GIFs in email help your message stand out, increase click-through rate and entice your email recipients to take action.

Take your email marketing to the next level by learning how to embed a GIF in an email!

The origin of the animated GIF.

In the wild and woolly 1990s, the animated GIF was born. It was a time when web designers and developers were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.

Animated GIFs were quickly derided as the clear sign webpages were created by someone with little talent or taste.

One of the reasons for the scorn was that the GIFs were often distracting. Webpages were awash with dancing babies, flashing police lights, and waving flags, none of which had anything to do with the webpage itself.

example-of-a-gif

Additionally, the GIF image format had both limited color depth and a large file size in the non-animated form, and animation just ballooned the size.

In the end, animated GIFs took too long to download and had poor image quality.

The evolution of animated GIFs.

Now, two decades later, the animated GIF has taken on a much different significance, one that has become an emblem of pop culture for marketers, social media aficionados and millennials alike. Heck, even your mother and grandmother probably know what GIFs are.

Unlike the clunky, slow-to-load GIFs of the past, today’s​ GIFs are now reasonably sized for modern broadband and 4G wireless connections. Designers have also largely developed an understanding of how to incorporate the animation into website and email design, making them a great addition to your marketing emails.​

F​oreground GIFs are embedded into the body of the email, whereas background GIFs are an animated GIF file that exists in the background, overlayed by content.​ B​ackground GIFs​ provide a dynamic look to a static email.

(As a side note, there is intense online debate over whether GIF is pronounced with a hard G (as in girl) or a soft G (as in giraffe). This author uses the hard G, but isn’t bothered by others using the wrong pronunciation.)

When to use GIFs in your emails

Whether you’re using a GIF in the foreground or background of your email marketing campaign, it’s important to know the scenarios in which a GIF is of best use in your email. Even though adding an animated GIF in email can add value, it can also be burdensome if used excessively or unnecessarily. Here are some excellent opportunities to incorporate GIFs into your next marketing campaign to ensure it’s a major success:

Add a reaction GIF

Use GIFs within your email body to entertain your readers, provide relevant humor or​ express how you feel about something. Tumblr and Twitter are rife with these moving memes, and even Facebook has bowed to the pressure to allow them.

Reaction GIFs can be a little cheeky and a fun way to spruce up an email. For instance, if your restaurant makes an update to its menu: 

example-reaction-gif

Provide a preview

You can also use a GIF to preview a video or piece of content that you’re linking to:

preview-gif

Show a step-by-step

Or, add a GIF to illustrate how to use your product. Forego the long, boring content block of instructions and give your readers a straightforward video explanation.

constant contact add a headline

How to make an animated GIF.

The GIFs in the examples above were  made using Giphy, a public website that will create a GIF from a YouTube or other video for free. Once it’s created, you can download the GIF and add it to your image library.

(Unless you have an account, your GIF will always be listed in their public searches. You can set up an account in a couple minutes at no cost.)

To use Giphy to make a GIF from a YouTube video, just copy the video URL and paste it at the above link. Choose the starting point, the length (3 to 5 seconds is recommended), and add a caption.

Click “Create GIF”, and after it processes, you can right click on the GIF and save it to your desktop.

how-to-create-a-gif

Once saved, you can add the image to your email, just as you would with other file formats.

How to embed a GIF in an email

Adding animated GIFs to email is surprisingly simple. In fact, GIFs essentially have the same file format as any other type of image.

  1. Create a new email
  2. Download the GIF you made or wish to use
  3. Drag and drop the file into your email (or click insert > image if you need to browse for it on your computer).
  4. If you’re using a pre-existing gif from giphy, simply copy and paste the gif into your email.
  5. Send

Add accents with background GIFs.

Another good use for an animated GIF is as a background image. Just stay subtle so you don’t distract from the focus of your email.

I built this 16 frame GIF using freely available tools online. I created the individual frames using Pixlr, an online image editing tool that allows layers, and then I put the images into GIF form using EZGIF, an ad-supported third party site.

You can also use desktop tools like Photoshop (which is not free) and GIMP (which is).

Frames:

background-gif-example

Finished GIF:

finished-gif-example

Once you’ve created your frames in your image editor of choice, it’s just a few clicks to create the GIF. On EzGIF, click Choose Files, select all of your frames (use Ctrl-Click or Shift-Click to get all of the frames at once) and click Upload.

make-a-gif-screenshot

There are several settings here you can adjust, but your first time through, just click the “Animate it!” button.

make-a-gif-step-2

Scroll down to view your completed GIF. You can then right click on it to save it to your desktop.

How to add a background GIF to your Constant Contact email:

Create a new email…

create-an-animated-email

… and choose a template that has a background image on it:

choose-constant-contact-template

Click on the image box under “Outer Background Color”, select the image from your library, and insert.

insert-gif-in-email

And that’s it. Easy-peasy! You can check out a sample email using this GIF as the background here.

Inspired to add animation to your emails?

A little animation can go a long way in making your next email stand out. 

Log in now to give it a try!

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