Animated GIFs are everywhere. At this point, I’m sure you’ve seen them all over Facebook, Tumblr, BuzzFeed and Twitter. And, if you don’t use Outlook exclusively, in your email. GIFs have the ability to draw attention and, in a world of boring spammy email marketing, they can be a breath of fresh air!

What is an animated GIF?

GIFs are an image file type that are formed from up to 256 colors in the RGB colorspace. Because of the limited number of colors, their file size is drastically reduced. For this reason, GIFs are primarily used on the web where images need to load very quickly.

In their most common form, GIFs appear animated. They simulate video; so images appear to scroll, switch to products in different colors or include blinking calls to action.

What can you do with an animated GIF?

First and foremost, it doesn’t have to be funny. Just because the rest of the world is using the technique to recap all those essential 2014 Grammy moments, doesn’t mean you can’t use GIFs for classy and eye-catching email campaigns.

Email, by and large, is still one of the most effective marketing channels and is a great way to expose prospects to your products and services. However, when your message fails to immediately catch the reader’s attention, it can go unnoticed in the mix of inbox clutter.

Yes, GIFs do seem a bit trendy, but there is more to it than that; in an A/B test conducted by BlueFly, emails that included an animated GIF generated 12% more revenue than their non-animated version.

Intrigued? If you are thinking of utilizing GIFs in your email marketing, consider the following techniques.

1. Highlight Your Products

Grab your reader’s attention while putting more than one product on display. Regular, static emails don’t afford you this opportunity because they limit you to a flat layout with a single hero image. GIFs change all that!

In this example from Bed Bath & Beyond with Sherwin-Williams, you will see how showcasing a series of different products can be beneficial to potential cutomers.

Bed Bath & Beyond resized 600

In another example from Shoe Dazzle, you will notice how rotating products can highlight a simple and compelling email.

Shoe Dazzle

Lastly, this example from American Apparel is flashy and fun. Not only are they showcasing the number of colors a product is available in, they are also demonstrating a key product feature in the way the graphic is animated.

American Apparel

2. Draw attention to the most important thing

The most important part of sending an email is conversion. You want the recipient to click through, visit your site and take action (ex. subscribe to your newsletter, purchase something, request a demo, etc.). Make it compelling! Every GIF doesn’t have to tell a story; sometimes it is perfectly acceptable to use them just to attract attention.

This call to action from is a very simple way to execute this technique.

Fred Flare

Method doesn’t use a call to action. Instead, they choose to highlight the key takeaway from their campaign – the sale and date.


Lomography has done an excellent job of keeping it simple while featuring the most important text “buy one, get one free”


3. Keep it Simple

Sometimes you can GIF for the sake of GIF-ing. Regardless of how it is directly contributing to your campaign, GIFs still draw attention and provoke a reaction. A simple background GIF that adds some life to your emails in a non-disruptive manner can be compelling.

This example from West Elm really captures the “less is more” concept when it comes to GIFs.

West Elm

Kate Spade also does an excellent job of adding subtle details to their email campaigns.

Kate Spade resized 600

Free People uses two very small background animations to add to the dynamics of the email, rather than distract from the most relevant content.

free people holiday resized 600

Try it!

Animated GIF’s can offer your emails a fresh take. Statistics don’t lie, so even if you find yourself questioning the novelty of this tactic, give it a go!

Wondering how to get started? It’s simple. Since the technique has grown so quickly in popularity, there are a number of online tools to help tackle the task.

If you are creating an animated loop of images (similar to our first set of examples) consider visiting sites like or If you find yourself really serious (and are a Mac user), consider downloading the app GIF Brewery.

Have you used animated GIFs in your campaigns? Let us know in the comments!