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The Pros & Cons of Using Animated GIFs in Email Signatures

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Animated GIFs are incredibly popular. The GIF image format is perfect for supporting animations and can easily be found all over the Internet. They have also been a staple of email marketing campaigns for years.

Animated GIFs in email signatures example

Therefore, it’s no surprise that many people like the idea of using animated GIFs in email signatures. After all, they are attention-grabbing. However, animated GIFs should be used with caution regarding email signature design.

What is an animated GIF?

In lay terms, an animated GIF is just a simple form of animation. It is an image encoded using the graphics interchange format (GIF) that contains a number of frames in a single file. These are then presented in a specific order to simulate movement.

Creating GIFs is straightforward, which is why you can find so many online. They also have the benefit of being widely supported across all web browsers.

Using animated GIFs in email signatures

Before considering whether animated GIFs in email signatures will work for you, it’s important to remember that HTML used in email clients differs from what is used on websites. What looks normal in OWA can render very differently in Gmail or Apple Mail.

Still, with the rise of web-based email clients and native iPhone and Android mail apps, displaying animated GIFs is not usually an issue.

A Christmas animated GIF

However, it’s important to note that not every single email user uses these clients. Older email clients like Outlook 2007 don’t support animations. In this case, animated GIFs don’t work because of the email editor’s limitations, which uses Microsoft Word to edit and display emails.

Instead, either the first frame of the animation will appear, or the image will ‘break’, showing a red cross instead. In some cases, only the first frame of the GIF will show, and to see the animation you have to open the email in a web browser.

The benefits of using animated GIFs in email signatures

With the large number of emails sent and received daily, your messages need to set themselves apart from everyone else’s. An animated GIF in your email signature can do just that.

Animated GIFs in email signatures can work well

You can instantly make your brand stand out with an animated GIF if it displays correctly. It makes your company seem more exciting and vibrant. You may appear more professional if the right imagery is chosen. You may even find that your email signature marketing campaigns have become more effective. Simply put, it’s a much bolder way to use the email signature channel than just relying on static images.

Now while a lot of people do like using animated GIFs, many find them very annoying. This is especially true if the image plays on an infinite loop. This is why animated GIFs in email signatures can be even more irritating.

The reasons why you shouldn’t use animated GIFs in email signatures

However, as mentioned previously, the main point is that not all email clients support animated GIFs. As you will need to host the GIF, you may find that some recipients also have add-ins in place to block any external images. This makes the animation redundant.

Animated GIFs in email signatures will not always render

If you decide to embed the image directly into your signature, you will dramatically increase the size of the email. The more frames within the animation, the bigger the email signature size. This means your emails will potentially get caught in spam filters, which is a common issue with email marketing newsletters.

How to use animated GIFs in email signatures correctly

Use appropriate GIFs

Don’t use your animated GIFs in email signatures like a cute kitten. You will look very unprofessional and immature if you do so. If you use an animated GIF, ensure it’s appropriate to your job role.

Only use one animated GIF

You don’t want your email signature design to look cluttered. Your templates will look chaotic if you add multiple animated GIFs in email signatures. It’ll look worse if the recipient’s email client can’t play the animations.

Loop the image once

Having your animated GIF play repeatedly will grate on even the most receptive readers. It will also really distract from the actual email content. Have the image loop only once to get the recipient’s attention.

Don’t let it overshadow the rest of your design

Several different elements make up a professional email signature. You don’t want just one part to monopolize the whole design. If you use a dominant animated GIF, recipients won’t be able to focus on the rest of the template, such as your contact information.

Avoid making them too large

An animated GIF can make the size of your email signature massive. This will cause message delays and potentially get your email marked as spam. A few frames of an animated GIF can quickly end up being more than 1MB, causing most email clients to lag.

How to insert a GIF into Outlook email signatures

1. Find the GIF you want to include and save it in a specific location like OneDrive.

2. From the Message tab in Outlook, choose Signature > Edit Signatures.

3. Under Edit Signature, click New, and enter a name for your Outlook email signature template.

4. Create and edit your signature template. When ready, insert the GIF into your Outlook email signature design.

5. Click OK when complete. You’ve successfully added a GIF to an Outlook email signature.

How to insert GIFs into email signatures in Gmail

1. Find and save your GIF to somewhere like Google Drive.

2. Click the gear icon (Settings) in the top right of Gmail.

3. Choose See all settings > Signature > Create new.

4. Name and create your Gmail signature.

5. Click the image icon in the editor toolbar to insert your GIF into the email signature template. Click OK.

6. Click Save Changes when you’re finished.


Can I use animated GIFs in email signatures?

It’s really up to you. When used correctly, they can make your email signature template stand out. However, always remember that not all recipients use email clients that can play animations. You also don’t want the GIF to overpower the content of your message.

If you use animated GIFs in email signatures, only do so if you believe it will enhance your HTML email signature design. However, if you have any doubts, then it is recommended that you only use static images in your email signature templates.

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