Animated GIFs in Emails

Posted by Chris Donald On October 26, 2022 in story time I 0 Comments

Are you looking for something new to add to your email marketing services?

Animated graphics interchange format (GIF) is an increasingly popular medium. GIFs are everywhere now. Your customers are seeing them online in memes and articles of all kinds. Most people can send a GIF over social media. But putting one in an email isn’t as well understood. As GIFs have become more popular, they’ve become more diverse and interesting. Online marketers of all kinds have taken notice.

If you’re worried about your emails becoming stale, GIFs can be a good way to add life to them.Litmus recorded in 2020 that over half of marketers report that they were using GIFs at least “sometimes” in their marketing emails. GIFs can be effective when created and added using the best marketing practices.

In this article, we show you how to put a GIF in your marketing emails. We also cover important subtopics that enable you to maximize the punch that your GIFs provide:

  • Adding GIFs in Gmail vs Outlook
  • The right GIF for your email
  • Making sure the GIF is animated (and your customers can see that!)
  • Understanding your audience
  • Formatting and file sizes
  • Testing GIF efficiency

To start, let’s go over how to put a GIF in an email

GIF marketing: how to put a GIF in an email

The first step is to acquire the GIF you want to use. We will go over how to create your own soon. But for now, let’s go over how to take an existing GIF.

Copy a GIF link

First, copy the GIF’s link. A GIF is just several images presented in quick succession. This creates the illusion of a video, but a GIF isn’t a video, at least in the way your computer interacts with it. This is why you may presume that you can save the GIF as a file on your computer as an alternative to copying the link. But saving a GIF as a file won’t work. When you save the file, your computer only saves one frame of the GIF, meaning you’re just taking an image and saving it as a file on your computer.

How do I copy a GIF link?

Depending on the source of the GIF, you have a few ways to copy a GIF. The easiest option is to go to a GIF website. Sites like Giphy enable you to copy the link by simply clicking on a prompt beside the GIF. Sites may present other options as well:

  • Creating a new short URL
  • Creating a shorter version of the GIF
  • Creating an HTML version of the GIF

In general, you can always right-click on a GIF found anywhere online and left-click “copy image address”. This is essentially the same as clicking the link on a GIF website because you’re just taking the URL that produced the GIF.

Inserting the GIF in an email

Inserting a GIF in an email requires essentially the same process regardless of whether you’re using Gmail or Outlook.


Open your email account and be sure the last thing you copied was the GIF you’re planning on using.

Go to the button or area that enables you to insert media. In Gmail, you have a row of buttons at the bottom of the New Message box.

Step 1 for Inserting the GIF in an email

You want to click on the “Insert photo” button. This is where you’ll insert the link for the GIF you copied.

The icon for the “insert photo” button is.

Step 2 for Inserting the GIF in an email

It’s as simple as that! Once you click the button, just click “Web Address (URL)”, then click Ctrl-v or right-click, then left-click “paste” to add the GIF’s address.

Once you click the blue “Insert” button, you’ll have an animated GIF in your email!


Outlook uses the same general method, but with a different interface and a simpler process.

Step 3 for Inserting the GIF in an email

All you need to do is paste the link from the GIFs source in the email body. Once you paste the link, the GIF should appear almost immediately. It should be animated and start working immediately. At this point, you can remove the link so all that’s left is the GIF itself.

Step 5 for Inserting the GIF in an email

This process essentially skips the “Insert photo” path that Google uses. If you do the same on Google (just copy and paste the link, then click “Shift – Enter”, the GIF will not be automatically embedded. Thus, you have tot use the instructions provided for Gmail above.

As you can see, both processes are extremely simple!

The only hard parts to inserting GIFs in email marketing are:

  • Making sure you pick the right GIF
  • Knowing how to create and/or edit GIFs
  • Formatting the GIF for the ideal balance between appearance and performance

Formatting and file sizes

You don’t have many limits for GIFs you use in email marketing. However, it’s advisable to keep your file size under 5 MB.

Using GIFs with large file sizes often results in a frustrating experience for the recipient. At 5 MB, the average recipient shouldn’t have to wait more than a few seconds to see the GIF. Still, remember that even small delays can cause you to lose the attention of the recipient. So, you want to ensure a minimal wait time, meaning you should use the smallest file size that produces the desired effect.

To keep file sizes small, you have a few options available in Photoshop.

In Photoshop, you have the choice of cutting or using a fade effect to change the format of your GIF. In general, though, it’s best to avoid fades whenever possible. The fade effect takes up more space than a simple cut. Cutting can also look great and doesn’t force you to sacrifice quality. In general, a fade takes at least five times the file space as a cut, so you should only use fades when the GIF is otherwise simple/small and you think it’s a necessity.

You can also try some simple editing such as adding an overlay. Overlays can add character to a GIF while reducing file size! Monochrome overlays provide a visual tint while keeping the actions displayed essentially the same. But adding monochrome overlays reduces the amount of color the GIF must process significantly. This makes your file smaller, so it should load faster.

Lastly, remember to turn/keep “transparency” on. GIFs often don’t do well with transparency because they may come with sharp edges that look bad on a typical email background. But turning on “transparency” in Photoshop simply keeps pixels that don’t change static. So this can reduce the size of the GIF.

How to find the right GIF for email marketing

Using GIFs in email marketing is all about two things:

  • Context
  • Testing

The latter is critical because no matter how much research you’ve done, real-world testing can’t be replaced.

Context and your audience

To start, you need GIFs that fit the context of your marketing emails. GIFs can be heavy, clunky things to include in emails, so making the most of that sacrifice requires careful choices.

To make GIFs worthwhile, choose a specific reason for using one. Normally, they’re used as a part of the following contexts.

Preview GIF

A GIF can be used to prepare readers for the body of your email or for the conclusion and CTA. In these cases, the point of the GIF is to build up excitement or anticipation. These GIFs can be humorous and expressive.

The GIF should also be appropriate for the product or service you’re selling. This may often necessitate using Photoshop or other tools that enable you to edit GIFs. It’s easy to add text into a GIF. So, if you’re trying to build excitement, find the right GIF and add the text you want on top using the appropriate frame for it.


GIFs aren’t only for entertainment. Marketers use GIFs as guides of all kinds. In a short series of frames, you can walk the viewer through any action.

One great example of guide GIF use in action is installation guides. A GIF can allow a person to follow a single action in a few frames to make the intended action obvious. This is among the best ways to guide users because:

  • It’s far more descriptive than written instructions
  • It doesn’t require the viewer to hit a “play” button in the way a video would

Encouraging actions

These GIFs can be found online and may require minimal editing, if any at all. You can find plenty of marketing-appropriate GIFs.

These GIFs are normally very expressive and humorous, encouraging the viewer to go ahead and do something right now.

Background GIFs

You also have the option of using GIFs as the background of your email. You can place your text in the center with a plain background or with a static image. Then you can animate the surrounding area using a GIF.

If you want to use a background GIF, the most important thing to remember is to keep it extremely simple. Just the sheer amount of space it covers requires simplicity if it isn’t going to cause lag for your readers.

Creating the right GIF for your email

For marketing purposes, you or the staff in your email marketing agency will probably need to learn the basics of GIF creation and editing at some point. Fortunately, it’s not difficult.


GIPHY is currently the largest site for finding GIFs on the web. They offer a massive library of GIFs as well as some great tools to help you create or edit your own.

Tools like GIPHY Capture enable you to capture images on your screen. You can then use these captured images on the tool’s platform. There, you can download them, edit them, and do whatever else you want.

GIPHY also offers GIPHY Create, a tool to create a GIF out of parts of a YouTube video. Using this, you can essentially transfer your existing YouTube content to GIF format and reuse it in your email marketing.The tool lets you select between 3 and 5 seconds out of the video and allows you to place a caption on top.

Once you’ve created and edited your own GIF, you can save it as a file on your desktop.

Alternative sources

GIPHY is the leader in online GIFs but you can find GIFs and features for creating or editing them elsewhere too. Keep in mind that finding a GIF that fits your exact needs may take some time and looking around.

You can try any of GIPHY’s competitor sites as well, such as Gfycat or GIFbin. You can also find a massive selection of GIFs on sites like Reddit, Tumblr, or Imgur.

Making sure the GIF is animated (and your customers can see that!)

If you make a mistake along the way when adding it to your marketing email, you won’t have a GIF! For example, if you simply copy a file you downloaded directly from your desktop, the “GIF” may just appear as a static image for your readers.

To make sure your GIF is animated, you just need to wait and see after you embed it in an email. In Gmail, you should see an animation on your end at almost the exact moment you click the blue “Insert” button. If you copy a file from your desktop and the image remains static at this point, then your email recipients will also end up seeing a static image.

Testing GIF efficiency

Next, you’ll want to know whether your GIFs are helping, harming, or simply not affecting your results. For the most part, these are all conventional email marketing practices but with a focus on the effect of GIFs.

Changes to landing page indicators

Marketing emails set expectations for landing pages that readers click through to. So, you can simply add GIFs to existing emails and see what the difference is.

If adding GIFs affects your landing page’s bounce rate, that’s a good change to note down. Bounce rate is the rate at which people enter a webpage and leave immediately without continuing further. So hopefully, adding GIFs to your marketing emails will increase your bounce rate.

Traffic itself is another strong indicator you should pay attention to. If the addition of a GIF changes the number of readers clicking through your email, you have more information on the influence your GIFs are having.

Your email list itself is another indicator. After implementing GIFs as a part of your  email marketing campaign strategy, what changes do you see?Is your list suddenly growing or shrinking?

Good GIFs will improve yourshare rate. That means if people find your emails engaging or entertaining, they’ll more likely forward them to others.

An increase in spam complaints is another similar indicator. If you’re getting marked for spam more often, your GIFs are probably missing the mark and having a negative effect.

Email conversion

Your email conversion rate is the measurement of how many recipients on your email list opened the email and completed any desirable action. Examples include:

  • Making a purchase
  • Subscribing to or downloading your lead magnet
  • Filling out a form
  • Subscribing for your service

Apart from this, In case if you are stuck somewhere then we would suggest you to hire an email marketing consultantto handle your campaigns wisely.

Split testing

As for the GIFs themselves, you’ll want to split-test them. That means sending the same email copy to different readers but with different GIFs. That way, you can narrow down which GIFs are producing better results for you.


It’s not hard to figure out how to put a GIF in an email. But GIF marketing, like all aspects of email marketing, requires optimization and ongoing testing to get right. 

In some ways, GIF marketing is dangerous. It can annoy readers if done improperly, landing you on a spam list, which is the last place you want your email address to be!

When done right, however, GIFs are an engaging tool to add to your emails. Ideally, they hit the mark and lead to more shares. Apply the best practices for GIFs in email marketing to get the best results.

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