Using Email GIFs to Increase Engagement in Email Newsletters

GIFs can give you a way to improve your email open rates. Maybe that’s why the use of email GIFs almost doubled in 2019. Images are good; animations are better.

What Are GIFs


GIFs (short for Graphics Interchange Format) date back to the first years of the Internet, all the way back to 1987, when Compuserve WAS the Internet.

GIFs were initially static images, and the GIF format is still used for small static pictures. Currently, our bandwidth would cause 1987 Internet users to fall about in excitement, so small image sizes are no longer critical. Animated GIFs have become more common as a new way to express ourselves on social media.

It takes mere seconds to embed an animated GIF in an email or on a website, which goes some way to explaining the explosion in their use.

The Win-Win Scenario of Email Gifs

Email GIFs make the recipient laugh, so he or she is happy. Include “GIF” in your email header to maximize your open rate, because there’s no point including one and not telling people.

Email GIFs make the sender happy. If more people are opening the email, more will be reading it and clicking on the CTA link.

GIF usage in emails is increasing, so your competitors are more and more likely to be considering GIFs, even if they are not using them yet. What is there to think about? Get ahead of the game and make your emails happy ones that people open to get a laugh.

The “Laws” of email marketing are continually evolving as we become more connected with every passing day, so we need to open our minds to allow new ideas like email GIFs in.

How to Create GIFs

Once upon a time, you needed to be a Photoshop impresario to create GIFs.

Who has the time to learn how to use a complex photo-editing program when there is so much else to do? Luckily, applications have improved, and now you can create email GIFs using banner creators.

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The Bannersnack screenshot above gives some idea of how simple the GIF creation process can be - It’s so simple you could delegate it to a 10-year old child.

Great GIF Guidelines

GIFs must be simple, and every email GIF should have a clear purpose: This could range from making the reader smile to animated diagrams to illustrate an idea or process.

Use your brand fonts and colors for any GIFs you create. That way when people laugh, they feel good about YOU.

Make your GIF small: Aim at 999Kb. Keep it to a maximum of five seconds because that’s what people have come to expect.

Every GIF you create should make someone smile, make their day better. Negativity has no place in GIFs.

You don’t have to create every GIF from scratch, but if you use someone else’s work from GIF repositories, be sure to credit the original creators using embed tools on the platform.

GIF Legalities

The same laws apply to GIFs as to any other images or videos. Avoid using photos of people in your GIFs unless you have model releases. Never include trademarks such as auto manufacturers’ badges or retail store names in your animation sequences because these companies have lawyers who will chase you to the ends of the Earth in an attempt to extract punitive damages from you.

Long Story Short

Nobody opens an email to learn more about your latest product. The only emails that get opened are those that either solve problems or make people laugh.

Animated GIFs are shared widely on social media and are simplicity itself to create, so everyone should consider adding them to emails and running A/B tests to see if they improve metrics.

Good copywriting will help to generate email subject lines and first lines that engage subscribers' interests. Including a GIF in the subject line (and embedding a hilarious GIF in your email) should give you a dramatic increase in your open rate.

About Gaurav Tiwari

Gaurav Tiwari is a blogger, influencer and designer with expertise in brand regeneration and growth hacking. He is the co-founder of Gatilab, a successful digital agency focused on content and design.