Ideas from the Inbox: To GIF or Not to GIF?


Animated GIFs in emails are controversial, to say the least. Despite that, more and more companies are using them lately – at least that’s what I’ve noticed in my inbox. And more and more, they do it in a fun way, pleasant to the eye and actually making sense. Although that’s not always the case, which I’m going to show you (warning – toward the end of the post, you may get a severe migraine!)


[hint, if you can’t see the image animate, click on it to open it in a new window]


1. Product showcase

GIFs are actually a good idea when you want to squeeze more products into your newsletter and take up less space. Simply rotate them on a single image – this draws attention and allows you to show more. Do it in a straightforward way:





Ann Taylor


American Apparel

or add a pinch of fun:


American Apparel

American Apparel


or an enormous dose of cuteness:



Stuck On You


2. Promo ends soon

GIFs can be useful if you want to emphasize that your promotion is coming to an end. What easier way than with an animated countdown?



Ann Taylor






3. Attention grabbers

Well, they’re animated, so they certainly are eye-catching elements of your newsletters (as long as your email client displays animated GIFs; most of them do, except Microsoft Outlook, which displays only the first frame; so make sure that first frame is the most appealing).

These can be anything from animated fragments of text:





to an animated header appearing in all newsletters:





to animations for the sake of adding a fun factor:





Brooks Brothers

4. Headache inducers

Well, this is where the designers went a few steps too far in their desire to grab the reader’s attention. Not to be imitated – unless you really want to give your subscribers a severe headache or nausea. (I can’t even look at these for more than a few seconds without getting serious eye-problems. Let alone click on them!)



United Nude




Have you come across some fun (or just the opposite) GIFs recently? Share them!

(And if you haven’t used them in your emails, why not GIF them a shot? 😉 A shot with moderation, of course).


  • John daniel

    this works?

  • Karolina Kurcwald

    Hi John, apparently it does, sometimes, depending on how you do it 😉

  • Renato Aizenman

    Hi, do anti spam software have a problem with gifs?

  • Karolina Kurcwald

    Hi Renato, not really, provided that the file size is not too big and that the text-image ratio does not trigger any spam rules (and of course, if there are no other elements that increase the spam rating of a message). The sole presence of a gif in an email is not the reason for the email to go to the junk folder.

  • Mike

    That Kenzo example makes my eyes bleed :/ Thanks for the article Karolina – winner chicken dinner!