Old school, or even outdated, the GIF? Yet it is one of the simplest (and most powerful) formats to make your email marketing campaigns more lively and effective. The proof is here.
In its annual survey on email design Litmus revealed a rather surprising statistic: over 4 out of 10 advertisers never (or rarely) use GIF animations in their campaigns.
However, the GIF in email is a “classic.” Supported by a vast majority of email clients and webmails (with notable exceptions such as Outlook versions 2007, 2010, and 2013), GIF is one element that you absolutely need to consider if you want to better define the visual identity of your campaigns. It’s a valuable asset that allows you to:
- highlight your products more effectively
- develop compelling narrative elements
- effectively accompany the presentation of a collection or assortment
- and draw the recipient’s attention to key areas of the email
Leveraging the GIF format in email and doing it creatively: let’s explore these four major objectives with examples.
1. Use GIFs to enhance the staging of your products
A beautiful photo of your flagship product is good. An animation hat showcases it from different angles or presents it in a coherent setting with the universe and visual identity of your brand is even better! And that’s precisely the primary advantage of GIF in email.
Moynat: A GIF in “pop art” style
Like many luxury brands, Moynat likes to appropriate art codes. To communicate the summery colors of its Madeleine bag, the leather goods brand adopts a “pop art” aesthetic: bold flat colors, alternating photographs and line drawings to emphasize the seam structure. Exquisite craftsmanship.
Tag Heuer: A spotlight GIF
To announce its collaboration with the highly sought-after designer Hiroshi Fujiwara, known as the “godfather of streetwear,” Tag Heuer manages to combine a striking announcement with a sober approach. In black and (a bit of) white, with a GIF that gradually highlights its watch: elegant yet effective.
Allbirds: A GIF in the clear line style
Another great example of alignment between a brand’s codes, its values, and its use of GIF. Allbirds, a manufacturer of “eco-friendly” sneakers, unveils 5 new colors with a clean line animation.
And takes the opportunity to inject a bit of FOMO into its message: like the merino sheep from which its wool is derived, the Californian brand encourages us to take a look at its new models… before they fly out of reach.
Asics: A focus on technicality
For the launch of its latest model (the Gel-Nimbus 21), Asics emphasizes what sets it apart from the competition: a multitude of technical innovations that serve as selling points for its target audience of informed runners.
In the highly technophilic world of running shoes, the discourse is expected. But the small GIFs that simulate a microscope view effectively convey the message: cutting-edge innovations to improve comfort and athlete performance.
2. Leveraging the Narrative Power of GIFs in Emails
An animation is a form of storytelling! With a sequence of visuals, you can:
- tell a story (even a short one)
- help your recipients better understand a service
- provide detailed instructions for a process, and so on.
GIFs in emails, with their simplicity and conciseness, are perfect for this purpose.
Utilizing the “demo” effect on a product, like Okaidi, Brioni, Kate Spade…
Sometimes (often, in fact), an image speaks louder than a long explanation, especially when it comes to conveying the added value of a product. To explain what sets apart Okaidi’s “chameleon” sneakers, Kate Spade’s “firefly” bag, or Brioni’s “armadillo” coat, it would require several lines of text or vague animal metaphors.
On the other hand, with a well-crafted GIF, emails showcasing these innovative and surprising products can be understood in an instant.
Simplifying a service with step-by-step GIFs: examples from Faguo, Plum, and Yoox.
In just 11.1 seconds (on average), you have to convey your message in an email. Needless to say, it’s quite insufficient when you want to highlight a service (delivery, reservation, shopping assistance, etc.), especially if it’s relatively complex.
A GIF animation works wonders in this kind of context. Faguo, for example, provides a step-by-step explanation of how their e-reservation module works (very useful during the Christmas shopping rush…).
Plum (a high-end competitor to Airbnb), on the other hand, combines small cartoon-like scenes and brief texts to highlight the meticulous care with which it selects its accommodations (which is its main point of differentiation).
Yoox, finally, unveils the features of its Yoox Mirror app in just a few images (virtual fitting with a virtual model, including social sharing functionalities).
Making options, configurations, and customizations more tangible: just like Eastpak, Lacoste, Nike, and Marc Jacobs do.
Do you have your product available in 4 different colors? A GIF in the email. Can your customers customize the logo, materials, and shades? A GIF in the email. Do they have the option to accessorize and create “their” product? A GIF in the email (yes, again).
The ability to showcase the multiple configurations offered in a matter of moments is indeed one of the great advantages of animation over a static image. How advertisers then use the GIF depends on the context, the relationship to the product being presented, and the brand’s DNA: more fun and playful like Marc Jacobs, tech-focused for Nike and Eastpak, discreetly chic for Lacoste.
Playing with the “series” effect, like Nature & Découvertes
From December 1st to 24th: the Advent calendar featuring “one day, one gift idea” has become a classic in retail and e-commerce. But it’s always possible to put a twist on the process to keep it interesting.
This is the approach taken by Nature & Découvertes, which uses the same creative concept for each GIF revealed in the 24 emails leading up to the big day: a gift-wrapped Christmas bauble that opens to reveal the idea of the day.
There are two advantages to this approach: the brand builds a consistent narrative throughout its sequence of emails, and it capitalizes on the “series” effect, making recipients eagerly anticipate the next email to discover their daily surprise.
Teasing videos, like Dior, Jacadi, or Bottega Veneta
A TV spot for a product launch. A video produced for your YouTube channel, blog, or social media. It’s perfect material for your email campaigns!
It is possible to make the video playable directly in the recipient’s email using Dartagnan. Additionally, you can create a short excerpt of the video as a GIF to create a teaser effect. It is recommended to do both, with the GIF serving as a fallback for clients and webmails that do not support video playback.
Dior, for the launch campaign of the Joy perfume, Bottega Veneta for the start of their fall collection, and Jacadi for Christmas day, make impactful use of this technique.
Simply “talk” to your customers: Everlane, Made.com, and Warby Parker.
In an email, you can animate images. You can also make text come to life, conveying the message with multiplied effectiveness.
Everlane, in just three short sentences, reassures Christmas procrastinators (and cleverly promotes its gift cards).
Warby Parker, the eyewear retailer, plays guessing games in its colorful style.
And Made.com emphasizes the deadlines to be delivered in time for Christmas.
3. Unveiling an assortment, a collection… through GIFs
Limited space, much to say and show: in your email campaigns, the “square pixel” is scarce and valuable! When used well, GIFs allow you to make the most of the small available space on your recipient’s screen. And of the little attention they give you…
Topshop layers the looks
When you have, like the London-based fashion brand Topshop, a wide range of products to showcase, choosing the content for a promotional campaign can be a difficult task…
Topshop manages it well with the use of two complementary GIFs. The first one adopts a “magazine cut-out” style to layer different looks, while the second one animates a grid of products. This way, the brand multiplies by two or three the number of visible clothing items for its target audience.
Vestiaire Collective brings the storefront to life
Same objective, different approach: the leading luxury “second-hand” startup has chosen to give its email campaign a strong graphic coherence (the golden circles in the background, the terrazzo pedestal…).
The GIF in the upper area of Vestiaire Collective’s email serves as a teaser for the various assortments of products (bags, jewelry, shoes, accessories…) in a similar way to a store display window.
Delsey plays the “trend notebook” card.
Rather than focusing solely on the product, you may want to showcase it in a specific context. Or you may want to add a touch of personality to its presentation by associating it with objects that evoke a particular ambiance or universe.
That’s what Delsey does in this email campaign for summer sales: one suitcase = one type of vacationer = a distinct universe suggested, just like in a trend notebook.
Yoox embellishes its still lifes.
Another way to create “paintings” with an assortment of products is the approach taken by Yoox, who has truly mastered the art of GIF in email.
The idea is to feature a few accessories and clothing items on minimalist backgrounds, with a touch of animation to bring them to life. The advantage is that by animating only specific areas of the image rather than the entire image, Yoox can add multiple frames (precisely 46 in this visual) and achieve smoother movement without having a GIF that is too large in file size.
4. Dare to “GIF” outside the beaten path
So far, most of the strategies discussed have focused on the hero, the main element of an email campaign. However, animations can be used in many other areas of the email, from the header to the footer…
Animating the background to enhance visuals, like Nike
The goal is to draw attention to your beautiful product visuals? Use a GIF as a background to make them stand out even more! With its play of vectorized surfaces in the background, Nike captures the gaze, redirecting it towards its products.
Note: The phrase “background” has been included as it is a commonly used term in this context.
Playing with its logo (on occasion): the examples of Selency and Ami.
The logo is your image. It’s sacred, you don’t touch it… unless it’s justified, just like what Ami, the young brand created by Alexandre Mattiussi, allows itself to do.
For the holidays, Ami gives its logo a shocking treatment. Glittery atmosphere, Christmas ornaments, and matching sweaters. Sometimes, you can loosen up a bit too…
A similar, yet more subtle approach was taken by Selency, the upscale vintage marketplace, for this special campaign showcasing art objects available on their platform. As seen here, they discreetly transformed their logo into a GIF, highlighting the artistic aspect of their communication.
Creating a sense of urgency right in the header: Native, Petit Bateau, Izipizi, and Sarenza.
The same idea is used in these three email campaigns: to evoke a sense of urgency in the recipient. The chosen option? A non-intrusive yet effective GIF in the email: a simple banner at the top of the hero section to draw attention to the timing, as seen in Sarenza’s case.
Revitalizing the footer, like Evaneos (and Nike).
The footer of an email is a strategic area where the final convincing elements are placed: delivery and return conditions, secure payment, customer service, etc.
But the footer doesn’t have to remain static! Evaneos, for example, makes excellent use of this section of the email with a GIF that simulates the destination search. It’s hard to resist the temptation to enter “Bora-Bora” or “Machu Picchu” after seeing it.
Nike, on the other hand, showcases reassurance elements in a GIF that echoes the one that makes its gift card highly desirable.
“Gamify” your loyalty program like Le Bon Marché.
The loyalty program is one of the key aspects of any CRM strategy, especially in e-commerce.
And there are plenty of opportunities to communicate with your members through this engaging and sales-driven a href=”https://blog.dartagnan.io/strategie-en/email-triggers-episode-2-8-declencheurs-passes-au-crible/?lang=en”>trigger. But before engaging in conversation with your members, you can be imaginative, just like Le Bon Marché, which implements a playful mechanism to recruit members for its program. And they do it with a well-crafted GIF.
Are you considering other creative uses of this good old GIF? We would love to read your ideas in the comments!