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How 3 Marketers are Integrating Email and Animated Graphics


By Julia Peavy

It seems we have been hearing about the incorporation of video into email for some time. And yet, from my inboxes filled with several marketing messages, the proliferation of emails incorporating video hasn’t attacked my inbox. Instead, my inbox in the last couple of weeks had emails using animated .GIF in the email.  Animated .GIFs use a compressed, streamed and animated GIF file to display video‐quality content. This method allows subscribers to preview a shorter clip of the full video and see the motion and images right in their inboxes.

So, how are marketers using this technology to increase email engagement? 


In an email promoting a free breakfast entrée, Chick-fil-A uses an animated .GIF to present the breakfast item available for free.  The incorporation of this animated file allows Chick-fil-A to keep the email  short while still featuring the various items available. The layout also allows Chick-fil-A to present a clear call to action next to the graphic. In addition, Chick-fil-A ensures subscribers viewing the email with images off are able to understand the email with optimized pre-header text and strong alt-text.

New York & Company

Like Chick-fil-A, New York & Company uses the animated .GIF to present several images of their new 7th Avenue Suiting Collection. However, the images do not include any alt text on the animated graphic to help subscribers decipher the messages. In addition, the large city cash promotion pushes the animated graphic down the email which could decrease the success of the email.

The day before this animated email arrived in my inbox, New York & Company sent an email promoting the same collection with a static graphic and no large banner before the content. Did the animated .GIF increase engagement with the email or does it provide too much information and engagement decreases?  Only a good test can determine what is most likely to increase conversions.

Uncommon Goods

Uncommon Goods uses a travel theme to promote their new designs.  The animated .GIF flips text that provides hints to their new designs. While this design uses the text to hint at the designs and pique the interest of subscribers and includes it at the top of the email, it might be difficult to read and cause subscribers to tune out.

Are animated .GIF images right for you? Before deploying the graphics, establish a hypothesis, define your success metrics and set up a test to determine if your theory is correct. Does the inclusion of an animated .GIF decrease click through rates, but increases conversion? Or does the inclusion of an animated .GIF increase (or decrease) all of your key success metrics? Set up some tests and figure out how these images can benefit your email program.

Julia Peavy is director, response consulting, for email deliverability and security firm Return Path.



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Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

Posted by: jb
Date: 2012-09-14 20:27:09
Subject: animated gifs playing in my outlook client?

for some b2c markets, the gif works well, but you need consider the b2b outlook clients with their inability to play the animation. as a gif comes ready with a static image, its only a matter of the static image being worth a thousand words.