I don’t think I need to tell you that as an email marketer, it is your responsibility to increase customer engagement. You could have the most well-written emails in the history of mankind, but I hate to break it to you—if they aren't generating opens and, more crucially, clicks, then nothing else you do counts. Literally. But I’m not just the bearer of bad news here, I’m here to help too! And using animated GIFs has proven itself to be a strategy that today's most successful marketers are doing to drive interaction.
Companies who make active use of GIFs have seen an increase in their conversion rates as a direct result of the use of GIFs. According to Hawke Media, including GIFs into your content results in an increase in value for the reader. Because of this value, their click-through rates (CTR) have increased by 26%, and their conversion rates have increased by 103%. From highlighting top customer reviews to advertising customer’s preferred items, there are a multitude of ways in which companies are utilizing GIFs to get noticed. Let me introduce you to 7 ways in which you can incorporate GIFs into your email marketing strategy, with real life examples of over 14 companies that are nailing their use in email campaigns! Ready, set, go!
Sure, you’re probably thinking I’m stating the obvious. But think again. Depending on the industry you’re in and your target audience, the way you’re going to advertise your products and services through GIFs can be completely different. Never forget that, as our great pal Simon Sinek says, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. Let me give you a few concrete examples.
For example, if you’re operating in a specialized industry like cruelty-free cosmetics, trust me when I say that your company’s values will take priority over things like product promotion. If, on the other hand, you work in e-commerce—a field that is arguably best recognised for the use of GIFs in the emails that it sends—then you will likely place more of an emphasis on personality and the reasons why the customer should purchase from you rather than a competitor. Here are four examples of how you can promote your products through GIFs.
You’ll probably know by now that it’s standard practice for many online shops to ask their prospective customers which gender they identify with before requesting their email address. Why do they do it? To segment their emails and avoid sending product newsletters that have nothing to do with them. Try going on Calvin Kelin’s website to opt-in with your email and you’ll find that they do just that. But not all businesses use email pop ups to collect emails via the use of an opt-in form, which results in not being able to segment their audience according to gender. What does that mean? That all of their emails have to be appealing to both men and women. Before you start freaking out, think about how GIFs can come to the rescue in a situation like this one.
Ralph Lauren is a great example of how you can do just that. In a past campaign, Ralph Lauren promoted its new arrivals using a GIF in order to make better use of the limited real space available in its emails. Since they didn’t segment their audience between male and female, they included a GIF that in rotation showed a man and a woman showing off the new collection.
Old Navy went one step further than Ralph Lauren and even included the price of the item on the GIF to highlight the recently reduced prices on a variety of merchandise!
While the GIFs mentioned above were all focusing on a single product, there’s another way you can promote your products and services. Think of when Black Friday comes and companies say “40% off everything” or when a new collection at Zara comes out and they say “up to 30% off anything from the old collection”, that is what we mean to promote a “bundle”. Instead of promoting a single product, you can promote a discount on a whole collection or more!
And you know how it is, if there’s a discount, there’s also a day the discount will end. And since the scarcity principle is always true, there’s no better way to create a sense of urgency than adding a countdown timer as a GIF in your emails! Don’t believe me? Try doing an A/B testing on an email with a countdown and one without it, let’s see which one converts more.
Another thing that you could do is showcasing the variety of color options available for a specific product rather than promoting a range of items. This works well with almost all industries. Maybe you have a best-seller, for example a coat, and you want to show your customers that you don’t have it in just black, you have it in white, gray, red and blue too. This works with home decor too, imaging promoting a couch and showing off the variety of colors it’s available in. Even Haribo does it with its gummy bears!
I think we’ve all seen Netflix's latest tv series, Wednesday. And if you’re on social media, Lady Gaga’s Bloody Mary song is 100% stuck in your head right now due to the number of times you’ve seen Wednesday’s famous dance being reproduced by tiktokers and instagrammers. Brands have made a great use of this trend, as well as other instances of the show. One brand that caught my attention was Hollister, portraying Thing wearing their jeans. Hilarious, since Thing is literally a hand that walks!
Apart from offering special deals and promotions on a single product or collection, there are those special times of the year that all brands have to leverage—one of them being Black Friday. As of today, consumers don’t even expect a Black Friday, they expect a Black Month! Which means that you should start letting them know of your promotion ahead of time! Target is a great example of how they portray consumer’s moods on Black Friday!
Another company that is exemplary at doing this is Amazon. Not only with Black Friday, but with Prime Day too! In a nutshell, Prime Day is an annual event that takes place in July and is exclusive to Amazon Prime members. During Prime Day, Amazon offers deep discounts on a wide range of products, including electronics, home goods, appliances, and more. It makes all Prime members feel special, rewarded for being loyal to Amazon, even a bit in love! Here are a few amazing GIFs that Amazon whipped up for this occasion.
Think about it for a moment, when you’re shopping for something online, do you prefer just seeing a simple picture of it, or do you prefer seeing how that specific product looks on a person or in a specific setting? Exactly. After all, it is much simpler to see oneself as the owner of a thing after viewing how it would look in the right context, right?
A brand that is superb at showing off its products in action is the one and only, Nike. This is a brand that goes above and beyond what is considered standard procedure. Not only does it show off its sportswear in the right context, it’s also able to create an emotional attachment to its goods, by connecting their brand to inspirational moments and breakthroughs. The company consistently outdoes itself in all aspects of its business, including its copywriting and its email marketing. They’re also really good at putting their products in context when it comes to specific events like Women History month, showing how their products are always linked to positive social change.
We’re all familiar with the concept of social proof, aka the phenomenon where people follow each other’s actions thinking they’re the right ones. Following this concept, the most popular way that businesses use GIFs in their emails is to emphasize customer reviews by using a GIF. A recent email sent by Hollister contained a GIF that resembled a jigsaw puzzle and promoted its best-selling products along with customer testimonials.
The customer reviews, which focus mostly on complimenting the materials used by the company, vary from instructive and useful to memorable and hilarious, and they cover a wide variety of topics. The inclusion of the buyer's location, in addition to five stars (perhaps to establish social proof), contributes to the message that the business is well-liked, well-known, and trusted by a large number of supporters.
GIFs aren’t just used for laughs and to look pretty. If you’re a software that introduces new functionalities, you may want to use GIFs as quick how-to guides! For instance, the email service provider Mailchimp has employed GIFs in an email campaign as a means of assisting subscribers in comprehending the revamped interface that it has implemented. Users have consistently positive reactions to films with brief explanations of this kind.
Apple, for instance, recently addressed subscribers with guidance on how to consolidate their iTunes subscriptions. To help readers quickly and easily find the information they need, they included a GIF in their email.
It should come as no surprise that a sense of urgency motivates individuals to take action. When there are limited quantities available or a short window of time to nab a deal, we are powerless to resist the urge to act. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that emails that convey a sense of urgency, either via the language itself or, even more effectively, a countdown timer, tend to do quite well in terms of getting customers to take action.
Italian e-learning startup Learnn used a GIF in conjunction with persuasive writing to communicate to its email subscribers that a discount was about to finish. They used a funny GIF of Homer saying that “the end is near”. This is an ingenious method to encourage potential clients to make a purchase.
GIFs are used by many businesses almost as an afterthought, as a method of perhaps eliciting one or two laughs. However, the most successful companies are using GIFs as a technique of boosting interaction with their audiences. Here are three different approaches to use to achieve just that!
Once upon a time, copywriter Joseph Sugarman penned the following advice: "Your readers should be so compelled to read your copy that they cannot stop reading until they have read all of it as though sliding down a slippery slope." Even though Sugarman's aphorism was established with advertisements in mind, the idea of encouraging the reader to keep reading is particularly applicable to marketing initiatives that use email.
The days of placing a single call to action (CTA) at the bottom of an email have long since passed. These days, e-commerce emails in particular include a number of various calls to action (CTAs), each of which relates to a different offer at a different price point.
The use of magnetic copy is one method that may be used to entice a reader to check out an email. Another method, which Candy Club has found to be effective, is to use a GIF to guide the reader farther down the email. Utilizing a GIF of Swedish fish "swimming" down to a call to action to "Shop," the email promotes free delivery and a discount of 50 percent off of all orders. The accompanying pun-based language ("This way to the sweet life") that is deftly spaced out serves to further direct the reader down the email, with the expectation that they will eventually make a purchase.
Using GIFs to drag the reader down an email is one approach to engage the reader; as we saw in the previous example from Candy Club, this is one technique to get the reader's attention. Making the GIF interactive is another clever solution to this problem.
The typical image that comes to mind when someone mentions the term "call to action" is either a button or an anchor, which is a word that may be hyperlinked (as is often the case with e-commerce emails). One company that does a great job at this is Tarte; for example, in a recent cart recovery email for contour concealer, the company included a GIF call to action, flashing the text "Ok. I Would Like It"
It is quite effective to write a captivating call to action. When a button is added, especially one that is animated with a GIF, it becomes difficult to ignore and, more crucially, to avoid clicking.
In conclusion, animated GIFs have proven themselves worthy of a position in email communications, and properly so, considering the level of participation they inspire when a company that employs them does so in an effective manner. As you can see from the examples given above, there is more to the use of GIFs than just referencing meme culture or providing a lame joke to make people laugh. GIFs are a great way to add a fun and engaging element to your email marketing campaigns. They can help grab your reader’s attention, break up the text in your emails, and add visual interest and entertainment value. GIFs can also help to convey your message quickly and efficiently, as they are often more effective than words alone. Additionally, using GIFs can help to create a more personal connection with your readers, enabling you to better connect with them and build stronger relationships.
GIFs are a great way to add a fun and engaging element to your email marketing campaigns. They can help grab your reader’s attention, break up the text in your emails, and add visual interest and entertainment value. GIFs can also help to convey your message quickly and efficiently, as they are often more effective than words alone. Additionally, using GIFs can help to create a more personal connection with your readers, enabling you to better connect with them and build stronger relationships.
And using animated GIFs has proven itself to be a strategy that today's most successful marketers are doing to drive interaction. Companies who make active use of GIFs have seen an increase in their conversion rates as a direct result of the use of GIFs.
Including a custom GIF in an email is a great way to grab the reader's attention and keep them reading. In addition, it conveys information that a still picture just couldn't.
There are a multitude of ways in which companies can use GIFs in their emails:
- To talk about the products and services;
- To talk about special occasions and deals;
- To show their products in context
- To demonstrate how a product works
- To exhibit customer feedback
- To boost email engagement
- To instill urgency
In emails, GIFs are a wonderful substitute for videos since they deliver your message without using too much space and loading times. While most email providers don't allows you to embed videos in emails, they all support and encourage the use of GIFs.
When it comes to customer service, GIFs could be the secret ingredient that keeps customers coming back for more.
Why stick to plain vanilla marketing when you can add a sprinkle of diversity and inclusion?
GIFs are the equivalent of a digital high-five, seamlessly bridging the gap between businesses and their younger audiences.