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Animated GIFs are going through a renaissance. In the last few months, we’ve seen them resurrected from the cringe-worthy virtual graveyard of ‘Under Construction’ banners and funny profile pics, to be redefined as fine art. This trend is particularly relevant to email design, where GIFs and CSS animations are the only way to add moving images, given the poor video support across the most popular email clients.

But why use them? As Paul Boag quotes in ‘It’s time to look at animated gifs again’:

“Animated gifs can breathe some much needed life into the imagery on your website. They grab the users attention and act as design delighters, making your site stand out from that of the competition.”

The same can be said for email, in which the ‘stand out’ -ness of a button or call to action can make a considerable difference to campaign results. Anna Yeaman at Style Campaign demonstrated how an animated video preview lifted her campaign’s click-rate by 26%… And there’s no reason why you can’t achieve the same.

Support for animated GIFs in email

The great news is that animated GIF support is pretty much universal across the major email clients… Except Outlook 2007 & 2010 (you guessed it). In Outlook, only the first frame displays – which means that if your animation contains any important information, it has to feature on the first frame or risk being lost. Here are the full results:

Desktop email clients Result
Apple Mail Yes
Lotus Notes 6, 7 and 8.5 Yes
Outlook 2003, Express Yes
Outlook 2007+ Info
Outlook for Mac 2011 Yes
Windows Live Mail 2011 Yes
Web-based email clients Result
AOL Web Yes
Gmail Yes Yes
Yahoo! Mail Yes
Mobile email clients Result
Android (default) Yes
Android (Gmail) Yes
Blackberry Yes
iPhone Yes
Windows Mobile 7 Info

Support for animated GIFs is rock solid. Compare this to support for video or CSS3 animation and you’ll see why the alternatives are seldom used.

Examples from our customers

We couldn’t wrap up this post without a couple of great animated emails from folks like you.

iart interactive ag

Clarity Communications

Hungry Castle


Style Campaign has a great selection of animated emails in this blog post, not to mention a solid tutorial so you can get started on your own animation creations!

We’re really looking forward to seeing animated GIFs take off, both on the web and in email. So now, we’d like to hear from you – do you feature animated GIFs in your campaigns? Have any favorite examples? Share them with us in the comments below.

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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