Lyris Connections Blog

Animation in Email is Alive

Jul 30, 2012 by


Who said emails have to be static? I have always been surprised that email marketers agree to serve animated banners from third-party advertisers but still don’t think about using animation to improve click-through rates in their own email campaigns.

Look at these emails from two of our customers (click on the images to see the animation). Pretty obvious, don’t you think?

Aqua ImageJoy-Clothing

If you are still not convinced, let me point out three main reasons why animation could be a good option for your email marketing campaigns:

  1. Animation draws your reader’s eye to important parts of your message and accentuates your offer or promotion while allowing for a more creative message.
  2. Animation can help pack a large message into a small space. Some email marketers even use animation to highlight multiple products. Anthropologie used it to show off the different colors their new shirtdress came in. Click here to see the animated part of their email.
  3. Animation works! The online fashion retailer BlueFly found an animated email pulling in 12% more revenue than the non-animated equivalent. Dressed Up!, the largest eveningwear store in Los Angeles, tested two different versions of their email:

Version B generated a 26% increase in the click-through rate (CTR), in comparison to the non-animated version of the email.

And finally, as an email marketer or designer you want (well, you need) your email to stand out of the flow, and 95% of your peers are still not using animated gifs.

Animated what?
An animated GIF is an image encoded in Graphics Interchange Format (GIF), which contains a number of images or frames in a single file. The frames are presented in a specific order in order to convey animation. An animated GIF can loop endlessly or stop after a few sequences. And given the poor video and Flash support by the major email clients, animated gifs are definitely the only reliable solution to give life to your emails.

Support for animated GIFs in email
As shown in the table below, animated GIF support is pretty much universal across the major email clients. The only exception is Outlook 2007 and 2010 (surprised?), and only the first frame displays. You will just have to make sure your most important information in the animation will feature on the first frame. As much as I love great examples, I also like to point out good bad examples as they allow us to understand why this is not the way to go: This is how an email from Fendi presenting their new Chameleon purse collection rendered in Outlook 2007 and 2010 and Windows Mobile 7. This is how the same email rendered on any other email clients.

email clients
Animated GIF support
email clients
Animated GIF support
email clients
Animated GIF support
Apple Mail
Android (default)
Lotus Notes 6, 7 & 8.5
Android (Gmail)
Outlook 2003
Outlook Express
Outlook 2007
Outlook 2010
First frame displays
Yahoo! mail
Outlook for
Mac 2011
Windows 7 Mobile
First frame displays
Windows Live Mail 2011

Beside support, an important factor to consider is file weight (kilobytes). Animated GIFs can get larger than a static image. Just keep in mind the more colors you use, the larger the animated gif is. The “Flash Sale” animated image in Aqua’s email is pretty light (less than 25KB) compared to its size. 

One last thing: Before using animation in your email, think about what you are trying to achieve with the animation. If the animation is gratuitous, you will just waste your subscribers’ time and will most likely annoy them.

A new generation of Web designers like Paul Boag sees in the revival of the animated gif a new universal and effective approach to draw visitors’ and readers’ attention. Take a look at Paul’s blog and especially at the three animations at the bottom.
The next generation of emails will be animated for sure. And what if we could add sound to them?






















































































































Lyris Staff Writer

About the Author: Lyris Staff Writer


Eric, is true, But I think you should make a focus over different kind of receptors. B2C, B2B, etc. Almost all B2B use OUTLOOK. As you show on you post, By default, Outlook doesn't allow animations. Regards Remi!

Commented by: remi
Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 07 pm

Awesome ! Loved every detail addressed here.

Commented by: mandeep
Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 01 am

Thank you both of you for your comments. Remi you are absolutely right! Outlook doesn't allow animations and the new Outlook 2013 still uses the Word engine to render (poorly) HTML so no hope here. But if Outlook is still widely used in B2B and B2C (43% market share in 2010), 64% of B2B decision makers are currently reading their email via mobile devices which mostly support animation. That should allow B2B email marketers to be creative.

Commented by: Eric Lepetit
Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 09 pm

I don't understand. I have been surfing for days and have tried everything and anything I find. Numerous times I have read that gifs don't animate in Outlook 2003 because it uses Word as its editor. Up until a couple of days ago Outlook 2003 would animate gifs. Then for no apparent reason they stopped doing it. I am still able to send animated gifs through Outlook 2003 at work. I love this feature and use it all the time. It is driving me crazy that I can't figure out why it stopped working. Do you have any ideas? Pls. and thank you.

Commented by: Brenda
Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 02 pm

Hi Brenda--Thanks for your note. To our knowledge Outlook 2003 still has the capability to animate gifs.

Commented by: Briana Iwuji
Tue Mar 12, 2013 at 03 pm

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