DOs and DON’Ts for Animated GIFs

Animated GIFs can be a great way to make your email stand out, but there are a few things to keep in mind when using them. Check out my DOs and DON’Ts for using animations in emails.

DO: EMPHASIZE YOUR CALL TO ACTION

From: Moosejaw.com
Date: 10/16/15
Subject Line: Win a Full Ski Outfit From Black Diamond
View the Animation

Moosejaw 1103_gif_mj_gif

I LOVED this animated hand from Moosejaw. It not only moved in an up and down motion (pointing at the call to action), but it also changed into a variety of funny hands. There’s no way anyone would miss the button in this email.

From: LOFT
Date: 10/24/15
Subject Line: Everything’s on sale (so don’t hold back)
View the Animation

LOFT 1103_gif_loft_gif

LOFT’s flashing call to action is also sure to grab your attention. I’m a little on the fence about this one though. Although it stands out, the flashing can get a tad annoying.

DO: USE GIFS TO DRAW EYES DOWN THE PAGE

From: aerie
Date: 10/30/15
Subject Line: 31% Off! All Treats For Our Girls. No Tricks!
View the Animation

Aerie 1103_gif_spider_gif

I really liked Aerie’s dropping spider animation. The spider itself looked nicer than your standard clip art and the drop shadow was a nice touch. By having the spider drop down the page, your eye is drawn down so you don’t miss anything in the email.

From: Charming Charlie
Date: 10/27/15
Subject Line: Five new faves! Starting at $19.
View the Animation

Charming Charlie 1103_gif_acorn_gif

Charming Charlie used a clever method to draw your eye downward. They used an acorn that rolled along the diagonal lines down the page, passing the products along the way.

DO: USE FLUID MOTION WHEN POSSIBLE

From: Aéropostale
Date: 10/12/15
Subject Line: ENDS TODAY! Extra 30% off during our bdayyy
View the Animation

Aero 1103_gif_aero_gif

Taking the time to add the extra frames can really make a difference. I like how smooth the GIF is of the candle blowing out — almost like a video.

DO: USE THEM TO ADD A LITTLE INTEREST

From: MoYou-London
Date: 11/04/15
Subject Line: ❅ New Festive Plates! ❅ This Friday!

MoYou MoYou

Like in this example from MoYou London. The subtle snow falling and blowing hat adds value without being too flashy.

From: Moosejaw.com
Date: 11/04/15
Subject Line: Get 30% Back on Almost Everything
View the Animation

Moosejaw Moosejaw

Or in this email from MooseJaw. Check out the banner near the bottom. A window washing dinosaur? Why not! It doesn’t take much to go from meh to magnificent.

DON’T: CUT A SINGLE GIF INTO TWO PIECES

From: Gap
Date: 10/30/15
Subject Line: news you’ll love: gap factory is now online
View the Animation

Gap Gap

Here’s an oopsie from Gap. The animated GIF was cut into two pieces, resulting in out of sync images. In this situation, it was the top of the peoples’ heads that were cut separately so it resulted in humorous hairstyles atop the wrong heads.

DON’T: GET SLOPPY WITH YOUR ANIMATION

From: Charming Charlie
Date: 10/18/15
Subject Line: How you love to shop–by color!
View the Animation

Charming Charlie

This email from Charming Charlie animates between color swatches and products. Instead of using one large GIF, each color is cut and animated separately. This results in an unpredictable and somewhat chaotic flashing of images. Sometimes multiple products will show up at once and other times there will be seconds with no animation. When creating an animation, be very purposeful about where and when you want someone to look at something – draw their eye around the page and keep them engaged.

DON’T: ANIMATE TEXT TOO QUICKLY

From: Moosejaw.com
Date: 10/02/15
Subject Line: This. Is. BIG. 20% off Full-price and Sale Stuff.
View the Animation

Moosejaw 1103_gif_moose2_gif

I really liked the idea behind this email. The concept is clever and the animation is cute. However, the animation moves a little too fast to read. They do finish the animation with the text showing for a handful of seconds so they redeem themselves in the end. This is a good example for being aware of the speed of your animation, particularly when text is involved.

DON’T: MAKE YOUR FILE SIZE TOO LARGE

From: American Eagle Outfitters
Date: 10/14/15
Subject Line: Last day for up to $50 off your purchase!
View the Animation

American Eagle

American Eagle backed their headline with a time lapse sunset. Great in concept, but HUGE in file size. Due to the size of the hero and length of the animation, this image is a whopping 14 megabytes! This will dramatically slow loading times, particularly for those viewing on mobile devises.

DON’T: ANIMATE MORE THAN YOU NEED TO

From: Charming Charlie
Date: 10/14/15
Subject Line: Ends tonight! Last chance BOGO jewelry.

Charming Charlie Charming Charlie

This example from Charming Charlie is a good reminder to cut your GIFs in the most efficient way possible. Only the call to action blinks in this email, but the entire email was cut as a GIF. This resulted in a very low quality, grainy image. Keep in mind that GIFs don’t have the same color range as JPGs. Think ahead and cut your design appropriately. (NOTE: The web version of the GIF was actually higher quality than the one in the email. To see how it looked in the email, see the larger image above or click here.)

Lastly…
DON’T: FORGET OUTLOOK!

Remember to include all of your pertinent information (or the best looking portion of your animation) in the first frame. Why? Because Outlook doesn’t support animated gifs — they will only show the first frame.

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JibJab Hero

A Hauntingly Fabulous Email

JibJab is scoring some major design points! Their emails are always sure to grab your attention by including your photo in a hilarious setting and/or using fun animated gifs. This email in particular went the extra mile.

From: JibJab
Date: 10/20/15
Subject Line: The Halloween Collection is Here
See it in Motion

JibJab

I love their use of graphics from top to bottom. The animated flying bats, JibJab logo in the glowing full moon, haunted house, night sky backdrop, and spooky graveyard all give this email a very fun and unified look. All of the videos are tied together, each appearing inside a window of the haunted house. The animated gifs really grab your attention and set the tone. I especially like that each animation is unique – from dancing characters to flicking film, swaying monsters and a spooky glow. The borders around each call to action are also a nice touch. They even did a fantastic job optimizing this email for disabled images by using HTML text. Love, love, love this email. Happy Halloween, JibJab!

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Video gif hero

Get Your Video Moving

Do you have a video to share? As email retailers are painfully aware, videos can’t be embedded into emails. But don’t let that stop you from getting the next best thing. Converting part of your video into an animated gif has multiple clear advantages. Right off the bat, the motion is sure to grab your subscribers’ attention. Furthermore, showing part of the video will give them a better idea about what to expect by clicking. Not to mention that the teaser is a great way to leave them wanting more.

When going this route there are a few things to keep in mind.
1) Animated gifs don’t support audio, so choose a part of the video that works best without sound.
2) Select the section of the video that is most interesting. You can only show a few seconds, so make them count.
3) If your gif is playing on a loop, make sure there isn’t an awkward transition from the end of the video to when it replays.
4) Don’t forget your call to action. Make sure people know the video is clickable by adding a play button to the video itself or a button nearby.
5) File size. Try to keep your video around or under 1-megabyte if possible for quicker loading time.

From: LOFT
Date: 9/28/15
Subject Line: LOFT loves Busy Philipps
See it in motion

LOFT

Here is one example from LOFT. They chose a section of the video that contained the most humor and least amount of talking. They also added the play button to the center of the video throughout the gif. Both good calls. My only suggestion — I personally wish this video played on a loop. While reading or scrolling through the email, it’s easy to miss the beginning of the gif. Having it replay will ensure it gets viewed in it’s entirety.

From: Sephora Beauty Insider
Date: 9/23/15
Subject Line: The #1 beauty secret?
See it in motion

Sephora

Sephora also chose a section of video that was most interesting. They doubled up on their call-to-actions by having a “Watch the Video” link as well as a play button in the corner of the video. The more the better, I say. I also wish the videos looped in this email.

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Retention Email Hero

An Eye Catching Retention Email

This retention email from Bath & Body Works was fun! The animated gif grabbed my attention right away. The theme was cute with the product playing hide-and-seek (peek-a-boo) and asking “Where’d you go?” The call to action in the heart with the wording “Let’s Play!” was a nice touch. My only suggestion — I could always use a little more incentive (eh-hem, a discount, or at least some enticing new products to check out) to get me to click through. Overall, nicely done!

From: Bath & Body Works
Date: 8/31/15
Subject Line: Something’s missing.
See the animation.

Bath and Body Works

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Perfect Timing

From: Warby Parker
Date: 03/08/2014
Subject Line: Finally

03.06.2014 WarbyParker

 

One of the necessary requirements for an email marketing professional is to possess an almost religious dedication/obsession to sorting through the daily inbox. When part of the job is subscribing to every email retailer under the sun, “email fatigue” can start to set in, and it can take a lot more to us get “wowed” by any particular campaign…

We LOVE this effort from Warby Parker, which is notable for a few reasons:
1) The subject line is to the point (one word!) and compelling.
2) The awesome creative. With only 2 frames in the animation that rotate between images of a clock going from 2am to 3am, the file size is nice and light for speedier loading time. You can see the animation in effect here.
3) The timing is absolutely perfect… arriving 8:13am on a Saturday, this email was at the top of my inbox, and most likely of Warby Parker wearing hipsters everywhere.

Added bonus: make sure to check out this delightful infographic posted to the WP blog. How much fun must it be to work for their creative team???

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