Design Inspiration

Design Report Card: The Best Valentine’s Day Email GIFs

Design Report Card: The Best Valentine’s Day Email GIFs

In the world of email design, special occasions have come to mean one thing: Getting animated! As in, including an animated GIF in your email design. The big takeaway: email marketers increasingly see animated GIFs as a must-have for volume-heavy email days.

This Valentine’s Day was no exception. In fact, we saw so many Valentine’s Day themed animated GIFs in emails that they’re going to be our primary focus today. Check out how brands are using animations, and consider these email design GIF tips for the next big campaign on your calendar.

Dior Valentine's Day Email GIFs

GIF from Dior’s 2017 Valentine’s Day email

Why use an animated GIF in email?

As we’ve written about previously, GIFs and email go together like peanut butter and jelly. Here’s why:

Still, email marketers generally agree that too much of a good thing isn’t always positive. As a result, animated GIFs are still used sparingly in emails. Brands don’t typically animate a promotion email or a newsletter. Instead, animated GIFs are used for special occasion emails—like Valentine’s Day—when they’ll add the most value.


The Valentine GIF-scape

Here’s how brands used animated GIFs in emails this Valentine’s Day.

GIF Method 1: Hook your audience with an animated hero image

Adding a little animation to your email’s hero image is one way to level-up a simple email design. Hipmunk, the travel company, animated its cute chipmunk mascot for V-Day.

Hipmunk Valentine's Day Email GIFs

The full email uses great design simplicity: no clutter from a navigation menu or secondary CTAs, minimal text, and an easy-to-spot CTA button.Hipmunk Valentine's Day Email GIFs

The e-commerce site Uncommon Goods took a similar approach, using llamas to show the “llove.”

Uncommon Goods Valentine's Day Email GIFs

We appreciate the break from cliché pink-and-red—and how the brand isolated the animated portion of the image to decrease the size of the GIF image file.

Uncommon Goods Valentine's Day Email GIFs

Our GIF Grade: B

The simplicity of the hero-image GIF works: without clutter, your GIF gets the attention it deserves—and will hopefully drive clicks. But, this method is also a basic approach, and as brands increasingly use GIFs for holiday campaigns, we expect to see GIFs used more cleverly.


GIF Method 2: Create a curiosity gap

We often talk about how the best emails are made up of teaser content. You don’t have to say everything in an email—just enough to intrigue your audience to click through the message. This Valentine’s Day email design from MOO is a perfect example of that technique. Here’s the animated GIF:

MOO Valentine's Day Email GIFs

And here’s the full email:

MOO Valentine's Day Email GIFs

Can you tell what’s in the box? Or what the promotion is? Nope! The only way to do that is to click. Plus, the header and CTA button work together to help encourage you to do just that.

Our GIF Grade: A+

Used sparingly, this GIF method is one of the best ways to engage your audience members. The email, promotion, and message are all more interactive—and fun!


Method 3: Show off your products

Animated GIFs are useful for featuring products in a way that can be more engaging, effective, and space-efficient than a series of static images. To promote last-minute gift card purchases, Bliss creates a simple rotation GIF as its hero image.

Bliss Valentine's Day Email GIFs

Here’s the full email:

Bliss Valentine's Day Email GIFs

As for Estée Lauder, its Valentine’s GIF flashes between images of lipstick and the lipstick in use.

Estee Lauder Valentine's Day Email GIFs

See the full email here:

Estee Lauder Valentine's Day Email GIFs

Of course, showing your product in a rotating series of images isn’t the only way to use GIFs. Grovemade, which makes wooden tech accessories, thought outside the box by using its products to create this beating-heart animation.

Grovemade Valentine's Day Email GIFs

Check out the full email:

Grovemade Valentine's Day Email GIFs

Our GIF Grade: A-

GIFs are great for showing off products, but they’re even better when you show them off in an unexpected way (like Grovemade) or in a way that demonstrates the product. Image carousels and product tours in emails also allow readers to get more information without navigating away to a landing page. When customers can quickly and easily see how your product works, that transparency can help lead to a purchase.


GIF Method 4: Drive attention to a video

With Apple’s launch of iOS 10 last fall, we were excited to see the return of HTML5 video to email. Still, video in email support remains limited and technically challenging. In the meantime, brands are turning to animated GIFs to help readers preview a full video. Here’s a recent example in Sephora‘s V-Day email:

Sephora Valentine's Day Email GIFs

And here’s the video GIF in the full email:

Sephora Valentine's Day Email GIFs

The message has a lot going on, so it’s easy to see how the GIF might get lost in the shuffle. Still, we like how the video GIF is supplemented with products used to achieve the look, giving readers a chance to browse within the email.

Our GIF Grade: A

Animated GIFs are a great alternative to including video in email. Think of a video GIF like a mini trailer for the full-length piece. If you can show a little bit of teaser content—and create a curiosity gap—you can encourage readers to click through to the main site.


GIF Method 5: Focus on the numbers

Brands offering a special holiday promotion can use a GIF to keep the email focused on the discount. That’s the technique Paper Source uses to promote their 50% off sale:

Paper Source Valentine's Day Email GIFs

And here’s the full email:

Paper Source Valentine's Day Email GIFs

Similarly, Petsmart has a rolling discount GIF, showing the amount you can potentially save:

Petsmart Valentine's Day Email GIFs

See the full email here:
Petsmart Valentine's Day Email GIFs

This approach also creates a curiosity gap because readers won’t know how much they might save until they click through to the site to shop. If something is intriguing enough, readers will want to satisfy their interest.

Our GIF Grade: B

Some numbers-based GIFs don’t serve much of a purpose but others, like the one from Petsmart, do more to get readers excited. If you’re doing to go with a simple animation centered on your discount, see if there’s a way to add a layer of curiosity or meaning.


GIF Method 6: Keep it sweetly subtle

Plenty of animated GIFs add a simple flourish to emails without being the center of attention. That’s the approach Loft takes in their V-Day email design:

LOFT Valentine's Day Email GIFs

Our GIF Grade: B-

Since oversized GIFs can be slow to animate and eat up data plans on mobile, we like that these GIFs don’t take up a lot of space. Still, it’s hard to measure their value, since they don’t serve a direct purpose in the email. To check if a simple GIF like this makes a difference for your audience, make sure to do an A/B test!


GIF Method 7: Need a GIF in a jiff? Try user-generated content

Not every email you create needs to go through painstaking rounds of design and development. With a trusty template and some creative thinking, a good email campaign can be assembled quickly—even with animation. One way to do that? Simply source user-generated content from aggregation sites like Giphy. This is most likely the approach Subscription Addiction took for their simple Valentine’s Day email design, which features a popular meme from Parks and Recreation:

Subscription Addiction Valentine's Day Email GIFs

Here’s the entire email:

Subscription Addiction Valentine's Day Email GIFs

Our GIF Grade: C

Of course, everyone enjoys a good meme now and then. While using one isn’t the most creative or unique approach, it will still do when in a pinch!

Design your next email with an animated GIF and go Pro!

Will you be adding an animated GIF to your email marketing campaigns in an upcoming holiday or special occasion? Design your email message in our easy-to-use, drag-n-drop BEE editor. No HTML knowledge is required, plus your email will be mobile responsive. Sign-up for a BEE Pro free trial!

Kelly Shetron

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