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Do Animated GIFs Have a Spot In Your Marketing Messages?

With the rise of lists that incorporate GIFs making the rounds on virtually every social media platform, there’s a lot of buzz going on in the world of email marketing about what role these animated images might have in upcoming campaigns. While there’s no doubt that people love visual content, the inbox is a fickle place at times, so it’s important to tread carefully before bombarding your audience with an entirely new approach. To help your company make a smart call when it comes to GIFs, here’s a breakdown of what this approach has to offer, as well as the potential problems that could put a damper on your inbox initiatives.

The Power of This Tool

There’s no denying that GIFs, when used properly, can add a significant boost to an email marketing campaign. As Allison Banko of Marketing Sherpa reports in a case study focused on Dell’s convertible tablet-laptop promotion, GIFs helped give this tech giant a 109 percent increase in revenue throughout the duration of the marketing event. Regardless of what you’re selling, seeing gains that more than double your prior returns is definitely a sign that you’re doing things right.

The big key to Dell’s success came from the realization that a static image simply couldn’t get the job done when trying to showcase how the convertible product shifted seamlessly from tablet to laptop capabilities. By utilizing animated GIFs in its marketed messages, Dell added a striking visual that helped bring to life the appeal of the XPS 12 and convince customers that the product was right for their computing needs.

Potential Pitfalls

Of course, just because Dell made great use of this image format doesn’t mean that GIFs are always the right call for every brand out there. As Elyse Dupre of Direct Marketing News explains, there are plenty of issues you need to be aware of before going all in with GIFs in your marketed messages. First off, size matters when shipping out emails, so you’ll need to avoid GIFS that are too bulky. If your GIFs take up more than 125K in space, you could be creating a situation in which the animation loads slowly or freezes entirely. Neither of these options are where you want to be when trying to make a strong sales pitch to customers who aren’t always the most patient people.

Outside of the size of your GIF, it’s also important to refrain from overloading the message with too many of these files. Just like normal images, going overboard with graphics is a quick way to disenfranchise customers viewing your content on mobile devices. Again, broken email designs and unwieldy load times are the culprits here.

The final major pitfall faced by brands that rely on GIFs in the inbox comes from content relevancy. Simply using a GIF to have one in your message isn’t a good idea. While it definitely adds a layer of flair to your message, Dupre points out that customers want more than just filler when delving into your content. If you have to ask whether or not your GIF fits in with your theme or product, changes are you should leave it for a different, more relevant promotional cycle.

Hitting the Mark with Your Own GIFs

Now that you’re up to speed with the power of GIFs and when to use these images, it’s time to talk about how to maximize the value of your animations. Emily Konouchi of Marketing Profs offers up a few simple guidelines to help you along your way. First off, keep the animation simple. Having a GIF that’s better suited for the latest Hollywood blockbuster release is an easy way to reduce the effectiveness of your animation by making it too long.

From here, consider repurposing your Flash web content for GIF usage. Not only does this practice cut down on the time needed to produce these images since you already have the content, it also creates a perfect bridge that connects your marketed email to the page containing the original flash presentation.

Once you’re ready to send out the email, pump the brakes a little before hitting the send button. Konouchi’s also suggests testing your message a few times before reaching out to your targeted audience. This way, you can ensure that you’re not falling into the content relevancy and size pitfalls covered earlier. If you’ve passed all of these checkpoints, now it’s time to dazzle your audience with an animated GIF that supports and enhances the overall message found within your promotional emails.

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