GIF, Video, and Cinemagraph - Rich Media Elements that Add Sparkle to Emails
5 minutes read

If you are using email marketing for your business, you must be knowing that your emails have to be engaging. You need to think out-of-the-box if you wish to make an impression in the subscriber’s inbox and minds. This can be achieved through great copywriting or by using interactive and attention-grabbing visual media. 

Marketers often make the mistake of using rich media in their emails without having an idea of how the emails would render in the subscriber’s’ inbox. No doubt, when used effectively, it draws miraculous results for your email campaigns.

But, different email clients and browsers render emails with rich media differently. What works for one email client might not be appreciated by the other. You need to know the shortcomings of using each one of them so that you can use fallbacks to ensure renderability.

Rich media in email marketing is a rage and is effective when it comes to the success of an email campaign. The major rich media elements that add to the charm of your emails are static images, GIFs, videos, audios, and cinemagraphs.

Of these, we shall talk here about GIF, Video, and Cinemagraph. Which one should you use for your email campaigns? Read on to find out.

GIF – Add Liveliness to your Content

GIFs display a series of images to produce an illusion of motion and add an element of delight to your emails, which is not possible through the use of static images.

When to use a GIF in your email campaigns?

GIFs add a fun element to emails and enhance user engagement. They can be used to:

 • Say a lot in limited space

 • Add humor to your email

 • Showcase your products

 • Illustrate complex concepts in a simplified way

 • Explain the latest functionality, interface, or tutorials of applications

Check out this email from PEEL:

Rich media in email marketing


Source: Really Good Emails

Limitations of using GIF

Although animated GIFs can be beneficial for your email campaigns, they have a few limitations:

 • Not every email client will support and render emails with GIF. Outlook 2007-2016 do not support GIF. These email clients simply display the first frame of the GIF that appears as a static image.

 • Windows Phone 7 also does not support animated GIFs.

 • Emails with GIFs in them are huge in size and hence may take more time to load and play.

 • When used too frequently, they may become uninteresting and monotonous for your customers to engage with your campaigns.

Overcoming the Limitations

You can overcome the above limitations by designing the GIF in such a way that all important information, including the Headline, CTA, and Offer is displayed in the first frame itself. To reduce the size of the GIF files, you can compress them and then use them in the emails, without compromising on the visual quality. To make sure the GIF renders well in mobiles and other smart devices, it is better to first create a mobile version of the GIF with a width of 320px. You can easily create a GIF for your email with Creatopy, this way you can be sure the GIF will be fully optimized.

Email Client Support for GIF

Supported by:

 • Outlook 2000-2003,, Outlook for Mac

 • Apple Mail, iOS Mail

 • Gmail

 • Yahoo!

 • Android (Default), Android (Gmail)

 • AOL

 • Blackberry

 • Lotus Notes (6, 7, 8.5)

Not supported by:

 • Outlook 2007-2013

 • Windows Phone 7

Video in Email – Great Tool to Convey Your Brand Story

Creating video ads in your digital marketing tactics has become a common practice as online video accounts to about 74% of all online traffic. Videos are engaging and entertaining and can increase the open rates and click-through rates of your emails.

When to use a video in your email campaigns?

A video persuades viewers to engage with the content in a much better way. It can thus be used to:

 • Build brand image

 • Showcase brand personality

 • Provide a great user experience

 • Check out this email from Soapbox:

Videos in email marketing


Source: Really Good Emails

Limitations of using Videos in Email:

 • Marketers consider embedding a video in email as tricky business because it faces the following challenges:

 • All email clients do not support playing of videos right in the inbox.

 • Support for HTML5 video is limited.

 • Emails with videos have a massive file size, thereby increasing the loading time.

Overcoming the Limitations

Email clients such as, Apple Mail, and iOS client allow recipients to play the video within the email client. For other email clients, a fallback image will be displayed. The simplest way to add a video in your email is to use a play button on top of a static image and then link it to a hosting site such as Vimeo or YouTube. Also, make sure to set a relevant fallback image and alt text that goes well with your email.

Email Client Support for Video:

Supported by:

 • Apple Mail

 • MobileMe

 • iPhone

Not supported by:

 • Outlook 2003, Outlook 2007

 • Windows Mail

 • Thunderbird

 • Gmail

 • Hotmail

 • AOL Web

Cinemagraph in Emails- Highlight the Key Message

Cinemagraphs are a mix of image and video. A part of the image is animated with seamless looping, giving it a beautiful illusion. This brings a lively look and feel to the email.

When can you use a Cinemagraph?

A cinemagraph creates a looping effect, which helps to draw the viewers’ attention. When you need to highlight a specific portion or content of your email, cinemagraph works best. It is relatively easy to create and cheaper than a video and still gives the visual effect of a video.

Check out this email from KLM:

Cinemagraph in email marketing


Source: Really Good Emails

Limitations of using Cinemagraph in Email

 • Though a cinemagraph encourages more engagement, using it in your emails has a few limitations.

 • Few email clients like the newer versions of Outlook do not render cinemagraphs and will show only the first frame as the fallback image.

 • The file size of an email containing cinemagraph will be considerably big.

Overcoming the Limitations

To overcome the rendering issues, the first frame of your cinemagraph should carry the entire crux of the message so that it conveys the message even if an email client doesn’t render it well. Add appropriate fallback images to compensate for the missing content. To reduce the size of the email, you can use compressing tools.

Email Client Support for Cinemagraph:

Supported by:

 • Outlook 2000-2003,, Outlook for Mac

 • Apple Mail, iOS Mail

 • Gmail

 • Yahoo!

 Android (Default), Android (Gmail)

 • AOL

 • Blackberry

 • Lotus Notes (6, 7, 8.5)

Not supported by:

 • Outlook 2007-2013

Keep all the above factors in mind while you use rich media elements for your next email campaign. Have you been using rich media in your emails? We’d love to hear your experiences and how it has been accepted by your subscribers.

Author bio:

Kevin, the Head of Marketing at EmailMonks – one of the fastest growing Email design and coding companies, specializes in crafting beautiful email templates, PSD to HTML email conversion and free Master Email Templates. He loves gadgets, bikes, jazz, and breathes ‘email marketing’. He is a brand magician who loves to engage & share insights with fellow marketers. EmailMonks


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