Lately I’ve been wondering why web design and development is moving faster than ever and yet email still appears to be left behind when it comes to advances in technology? Countless forum comments have warned me away from using animated GIFs in emails of any kind, however I feel as though these warnings have become more part of an old school mentality than anything worth worrying about.
Animated GIFs… An old technology!
Animated GIFs are not a new technology. In fact, Compuserve enabled animation in GIFs way back in 1989… so why are these GIFs still seen as a ‘no-go’ when it comes to email? Old school email marketers will tell you that the file size of an animated GIFs is far too large for use in email – much larger than its static image counterpart. Until recently this argument has remained the leading reason for the lack of animation in emails.
In the age of super fast broadband and where companies such as Google process about 24 petabytes of data every day, surely the ‘file size argument’ has become irrelevant.
Keep up with the latest trend
Being less worried about email file size allows for some very creative and eye-catching email newsletter design. REI wanted to give their email marketing a spark and used the following animated GIF to show off their latest colour range of jackets:
I was recently forwarded a Jeanswest email that really caught my eye. The actual GIF is just under 72Kb and it really makes the newsletter stand out! Animations are still not very heavily used in email marketing and therefore still contain a novelty factor – give it a go in your next campaign.
But what about compatibility?
Contrary to popular belief, nearly all major email clients fully support animated GIFs. Outlook 2007 and 2010 let us down once again as they only show the first frame of animation (so make sure any key information is shown in that frame!).
How about email signatures?
Email signatures differ slightly to email marketing in that they are an everyday feature as opposed to a weekly/monthly occurrence. You would want to ensure that an animated GIF doesn’t take over an email thread after several replies. A feature of Crossware Mail Signature that I would highly recommend here is the option to have certain aspects of your email signature appear only on the first email and not on the following replies.
Last Christmas we incorporated the following animated GIF into our emails and received a lot of great feedback… Animation is also a great option for your email signature advertising banners!