Outbound Sales Tips and Tricks

Should You Include GIFs in Sales and Marketing Emails?

Deirdre O’Donoghue, Senior Content Marketing Specialist at G2's Avatar

Deirdre O’Donoghue, Senior Content Marketing Specialist at G2

Let’s face it, most emails end up in the trash. In fact, 69% of email recipients report an email as spam based solely on the subject line. While most professionals know the value of a good subject line, there’s a debate about what engages readers once they click open.

Using personalized videos in your Outreach Sequences and marketing campaigns can boost engagement, but video can be difficult to pull off if you don't have the right workspace or tools. With everyone now working from home, it may be more difficult to record a solid video without kids, dogs, roommates, or partners playing supporting roles or cameos.

While we wait for what’s next, GIFs may be the answer. Marketers often turn to graphics or GIFs to increase engagement. While many people think that GIFs are only movie or meme outtakes with text overlayed, they can be much more versatile and a great way to show workflows, product releases, and how data comes to life. No matter how you pronounce GIF, there can be a place for them in your emails. But how do you know?

Should you include a GIF?

When done right, GIFs can add major value to emails. They’re relatable, often funny, and grab a reader’s attention. Marketers can also create customer URLs to track open and replies, so you know when you’ve hit a GIF gold mine.

But before you start adding GIFs to your Outreach Sequences or emails (here's how), you need to determine if it’s going to be useful. With the 5 questions below as a guide, if you answer “no” to most of these questions, consider a different way to engage recipients. But if you answer “yes” to the majority, start exploring GIFs and A/B test the Sequences and campaigns that do and don’t use them in your sales engagement platform or email marketing software.

Q1: Are GIFs supported by the recipient's email provider?

It wasn’t until 2019 that Microsoft Outlook supported GIFs in emails, which frustrated many. What’s more, while Microsoft made the change, your prospects or targeted accounts may still be using older versions and won’t be able to open GIFs in their emails.

Take a look at your email list and identify users who may still be using email platforms that do not support GIFs. If your email list is all Gmail, then you’re all set to get sending.

Q2: Is your audience mainly Millennials and Gen-Z?

GIFs are a trend, and trends mostly appeal to younger generations. While older generations may understand the reference, they may not appreciate the effort as much as others.

If you’re a Millennials-focused brand, then GIFs are the way to go.

Q3: Do you have someone on staff who knows how to make customized GIFs?

Using previously created GIFs won’t have the same impact as one that was created just for your business.

Here’s an example of an effective GIF used by Nike in an email:

Nike GIF

Source: Stripo

In the above GIF, Nike does a great job of showing their shoes in an engaging way. This is decidedly more effective than incorporating unoriginal GIFs from Giphy.

For example:

Kevin Hart GIF

This is the type of GIF people usually think of, but it’s important to make customized ones instead. We already know the importance of personalization in outbound emails, and the same goes for GIFs. A customized GIF showcases your product and brand better than anything pulled off the web.

Q4: Does the GIF provide value?

Don’t insert a GIF just because email marketers say they increase engagement. There’s a wrong way to incorporate GIFs into Outreach emails or your engagement strategy. If the GIF fails to provide value and just moves for the fun of it, remove it.

Q5: Does the GIF highlight the main message?

In the Nike example above, it’s clear that they’re selling shoes and wanted to show the variety. Just like providing value, the GIF also needs to align with the goal and messaging of the email. Be careful not to place GIFs in emails that ultimately distract from your messaging goal.

GIF best practices

If you’ve answered “yes” to the majority of the above questions, you’re ready to begin using GIFs in your email outreach efforts. Follow these best practices to ensure your business GIFs are a success.

  1. Keep upload time between 6 and 10 seconds
  2. Make resolution 8MB
  3. Optimize GIFs for mobile viewing
  4. Ensure the GIF is eye-catching
  5. Create a seamless and continuous loop
  6. Keep it simple

Keeping these best practices in mind to improve your overall email strategy whether you’re marketing for a small business or large organization.

The GIF(t) of email engagement

Whether you’re doing cold email outreach or promoting the latest deal, GIFs are a great option to increase engagement when done right. Make sure you have the right tools and audience, then apply best practices and you’ll be ahead of your competitors.

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