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Good News for “GIF” Lovers

If you’ve spent anytime on the web recently, you’ve likely stumbled across more than a few GIFs. Loved by many for their quick, digestible and often humorous content, GIFs are an easy visual tool that add entertainment and excitement to any digital medium.

For years now, email marketers have played with GIFs as an alternative to static imagery. Unfortunately, because not all email programs are created equal, many users have been left out of all the fun – until now!

In February, Microsoft announced that desktop Outlook will enable animated GIFs for Office 365 users (an estimated 400 million active users). Microsoft Outlook has allowed marketers to insert animated GIFs, and the latest update supports displaying the entire animation – automatically looping three times before pausing – instead of just the first frame. Additionally, there are no file size limitations for animated GIFs.

Why are GIFs such a valuable tool for email marketers? These little bits of animation add an element of delight to any campaign that you don’t often get with a static image. Often, this movement can trigger reader’s interest and inspire them to click through to a landing page. For even more sophisticated use, GIFs can be instructional in nature, such as demonstrating how to click through an email survey or quickly showing features on a new platform.

Of course, there are some drawbacks to using GIFs. Despite the progress of big email clients like Microsoft Outlook, not all programs support GIF animation and will instead just show the first frame. To overcome this obstacle, ensure all important information – such as a discount or timely offer – is included in the first frame of the GIF so your message isn’t lost. It’s also wise to keep in mind the size of your GIF; extremely large files can slow down loading time or cut into subscriber’s data plans on mobile devices. Be sure to reduce the file size of the GIF and test it before blasting out to thousands of subscribers.

As massive email service providers improve the ways in which you can amuse and excite your subscribers, be sure to take advantage of these much-needed updates. Consider adding GIFs to your next campaign to add a bit of digital “sparkle” and set your emails apart.

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