Gifs have become very popular in marketing as a way to grab a viewer’s attention. GIFs (Graphics Interchange Format) display a rapid sequence of images that create the illusion of movement. Using a GIF, you can highlight an offer or new product, show a product in action, give an example, and tell a story in a more visually appealing way. It then makes sense to expand its use in email marketing campaigns. Here’s a quick guide to making a simple GIF and how to insert it into an email. Which turned out to be a lot easier than I expected!
How to make a GIF
In the following example, I used Adobe Photoshop. If you don’t have this software, there are online creators that you can use for your creation. The most famous of these is Giphy, which also have a range of ready-made GIFs, if you want to skip the creating step altogether.
To start my animation I imported a series of images that I had already created in Adobe Photoshop. These were each put on their own layer by the program. These will be the individual frames in our animation. I name each layer so it’s easier to keep track of the images. Just double click on a layer name to type in a new one
You want to keep your file size small when creating it so that the loading times in your email aren’t affected too much. Each frame you add adds to the overall size. This example is only 5 frames long and will be less than 1 MB when completed. Preferably keep it under 2.5 MB. You also want to keep your design clean and simple. A GIF can only contain 256 colors.
Once you’ve uploaded all your images, go to Window > Timeline at the top of the Photoshop screen. The animation is created on this timeline. Click the Create frame animation option once it appears.
Now you need to consider the speed of your animation. If you make each frame too fast, the information moves too fast. If it is set too slowly, viewers may lose interest. A drop-down menu on each frame allows you to adjust the length of time it is displayed.
And then below the frame display there is an option to set how often you want the animation to loop or go through the frames. I set mine to forever. Click the play button and test your creation!
Once you’re happy with the settings, it’s time to export as a GIF. Go to File>Export>Save for Web (Legacy). An export screen will open with numerous options. I left mine as default and hit Save to export the GIF to my chosen location (which is usually the desktop until I move it somewhere else!)
Add a GIF to an email.
First, a few things to note. GIFs are supported by most email providers. However, despite a recent update, Outlook has not added support for Outlook 2007-2019. It supports Office365. If you make sure you have a great looking first image, it will still look good even if someone can only see a static image.
Adding a GIF to an email is as easy as inserting a normal static image. I made the size smaller when I added mine. Something to keep in mind is that, as with any image, you’ll need to add alt text to help the visually impaired. Just right click on your GIF and select Add Alt Text.
All of the above instructions apply if you want to add a GIF to your email signature or to a Word document for mail merges. Have fun creating and sending GIFs!!