Three Ways to Upgrade Your Emails With GIFs

Do you speak GIF?

Well, you better, because GIFs are so much more than an internet trend. 

They’re an internet staple with a 30-year history of contributing to popular culture. Academic scholars even study and write research papers on the GIF, proving that they’re truly part of modern language. 

So why wouldn’t you use GIFs in your business’s marketing content?

As we’ve mentioned before, GIFs are part of how your customers communicate.

If you want them to fall in love with your brand and voice, it needs to feel familiar to them. That means as a marketer, you need to communicate how they communicate, which absolutely includes dropping a GIF now and then.

Thankfully, most marketers are on board nowadays. More than half of Litmus’ 2018 State of Email survey respondents sometimes use GIFs.

But we all know there’s a difference between doing something, and doing it well. When you’re using GIFs in email, you have to consider a few things at once.

First, there’s your brand voice, and figuring out how to use GIFs while staying on-brand. You don’t want it to feel forced.

Plus, optimization is always a factor with email. How do you make sure that your brand’s strong GIF game doesn’t hurt your deliverability or engagement stats?

We know how hard it can be to work the perfect GIF into your latest newsletter, so we’re here to help! 

Today we’re going over the three most important things to keep in mind when adding GIFs to your email marketing strategy.

Let’s gif to it…

Create GIF Guidelines to Stay On-Brand

First off, you’re gonna want some GIF guidelines. That’s right, GIF guidelines.

Like any other part of your communications, having brand guidelines to refer back to makes future decision-making, copywriting, and design faster and easier. So go find the document that explains your brand colors, tag lines, and everything else in your brand identity, and add a section for GIF usage.

You’ll want to make upfront decisions about things like:

  • What types of GIFs you’ll use (branded, curated, or a mix of both)
  • What themes and moods you’ll want to convey
  • What types of content and emails you’ll add GIFs to

Once you do this, you can design and write emails quickly while keeping your GIFs as high quality with the rest of your content.

If you decide to start creating branded GIFs, your design team can develop templates and other reusable assets to use in your content.

Or, if you decide to stick to curated GIFs, your team can create a shared folder of on-brand gifs to keep handy. That way, you’re not spending 30 minutes scrolling GIPHY every time you want to use one. The perfect choice for your voice and situation is already on your hard drive.

For example, Quuu rarely sends out a marketing message without a GIF, and the usage is always perfect for with both the context and their brand personality.

Using the same pop culture GIFs over and over cements their brand’s personality as “the work friend you go to weekly happy hour with.”

Stand Out With Branded Animations

When you first start using GIFs to create more engaging emails, it’s simplest to to curate GIFs from a resource like GIPHY.

But to really up your reader’s experience as well as your brand visuals, go the extra mile to create branded GIFs as well.

Custom animated GIFs are a way to upgrade your existing brand images to make them more engaging and eye-popping.

For example, meditation app Headspace frequently uses animation to add movement to their custom illustrations.

It’s subtle but still fun, in keeping with the rest of their brand!

If that’s not your own style, you can try using screencast animations to showcase an app or website, or create an animated slideshow to show product photography. 

Regardless of your brand’s design style, there’s a way to upgrade it with a GIF.

Optimize GIFs for Email

Finally, optimization is as important with GIFs as it is for other email content. There are two main considerations to think about. 

First, there’s the GIF’s file size; you want to keep it as small as possible. Your designers can reduce the file size in their own design process and tool, or you can use a free online tool like GIF Compressor to compress the files you find online.


Second, keep in mind more is less. Each image you use adds to the file size of your email, and you do want to keep the deliverability overlords happy. Too many big GIFs can also get distracting for your readers, so keep them minimal to let the rest of your content shine.

Go Forth and GIF it!

GIFs are engaging, fun, and an easy way to upgrade your email marketing. Don’t get scared off by them!

As long as you know how to stay on-brand and optimized with your GIFs, they’re going to enhance the rest of your content, not take away from it.

So here’s our challenge for you: login to your Sendlane account, read over your next scheduled campaign and ask yourself, “would a GIF make this more interesting?”

We have a feeling it just might!

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Kristen Dahlberg

Content ManagerSendlane
As a member of the Sendlane content marketing team, Kristen focuses on everything from organization to content curation and process improvement. She enjoys variety and the challenge of learning the best way to accomplish each new goal.

Outside of work, Kristen spends as much time as possible at the beach, soaking up the San Diego sunshine!