Animated GIFs in Email: Novelty or Necessary?

Animated GIFs in Email: Novelty or Necessary?

You either love them or hate them but whether you like it or not, animated GIFs are here to stay. Sure, they can be overdone, an email packed full of them is a pain to look at, but when used sparingly, they can be pretty effective. So when is it a good idea to use an animated GIF?…

Less scrolling – Not everyone’s a fan of the scroll and for retailers who have a lot of products they want to preview in their email, this would be a problem. But these enable brands to showcase a few products at a time, saving space and capturing subscribers’ attention with giant products. These animations were featured in recent campaigns from APC and Bonobos, showing up to 9 different products in one go. WIN.

Top (pretty obvious) tip: If you’re thinking of using one for this purpose, clicking through to all of the products shown in a category, as both of these brands have done, is a must. You don’t want to make them hunt for the product on your site after you’ve just offered it to them on a silver platter. 








Adding ‘something different’ to your standard newsletter – Animated GIFs allow designers and marketers to extend their creativity by adding dimension. Zadig and Voltaire, Dorothy Perkins, The Kooples and Neiman Marcus have used animation to highlight their sale reminders and it works nicely.

Top (do I really have to say this) tip: If you’re animation flashes any faster than the Z&D one below, you may want to re-think your goal of giving your users a headache and calm it down a bit. No one wants an inbox that raves more than they do. 

Zadig & Voltaire



Dorothy Perkins unnamed-10

Neiman Marcus


The Kooples



Just for the fun of it – Sometimes all you need is something simple and eye-catching. Below are some examples that aren’t so necessary but are definitely worth it. Chanel and Fortnum & Mason show us how to GIF in style and keep it high class…




Fortnum & Mason



And finally, showing functionality of a product… like this clapping machine from Firebox. Very necessary, I think you’ll agree.




All in all, animated GIFs work well if they are executed right, you may not always need a reason to use one but just make sure they improve your campaign, not destroy it. Chanel has mastered great ‘GIFFing’ in my opinion, so if you need some inspiration, keep an eye out for their future campaigns (if you don’t already).


  • Jaina

    Big fan of the more subtle GIFs and those that help explain something with a bit of action, rather than a static screenshot.

    The GIFs in House of Fraser emails are great, but some of them are massive in file size! Think one I spotted once was over 3MB. For an email, that’s a bit hefty!