Employee Newsletters

How to Create, Add and Send Animated GIFs in Outlook Emails



By Alex Cleary


People love GIFs; they evoke emotions where words fall short. That’s why more and more people are using animated GIFs in email in addition to their social media. 

GIFs can make your emails more engaging and visually appealing. They can make an email’s content stand out amidst the countless emails a person receives in a day.

But what makes GIFs so effective, and how can you use them to make your emails pop?

It’s easy to learn how to create and send animated GIFs in emails and email newsletters.

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What Are GIFs

Graphics Interchange Format files—more commonly known as GIFs—are files that contain multiple images that play in quick succession, simulating a moving image.

GIFs are an ultimate Outlook hack. They have exploded in popularity with the rise of the internet, and even more so with the subsequent rise of social media. They can be powerful tools to take your emails to the next level.

But despite their popularity, there’s one medium through which GIFs have failed to break: email.

GIF email support

Do GIFs work in email? Is GIF support in email common? Does Outlook support animated GIFs?

The main reason people have refrained from using GIFs in emails is support. Microsoft Outlook from 2007-2016 did not support GIFs in emails.

With Outlook being so popular, it’s no wonder why so many people opted not to use animated GIFs in emails.

Fortunately, Microsoft recently announced that Office365 users will be able to view GIFs in their desktop version of Outlook. This is in addition to the numerous other clients that support animated GIFs in emails:

  • Gmail
  • Outlook for Mac
  • Apple Mail
  • Windows 10 Mail
  • AOL
  • Mail.ru
  • iOS mail
  • Gmail for Android

A big issue with sending graphics like GIFs in emails is the size limit. For example, Outlook limits your emails to a total of 20-25MB. Too many GIFs will mean a slow-opening, poorly-performing final email.

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Adding GIFs to Outlook Emails Using ContactMonkey

ContactMonkey is an email design software that makes it super easy to add GIFs into your emails. Create or select employee newsletter templates in our drag-and-drop email template builder with as many GIFs as you’d like without having to worry about Outlook’s email size limit.

All you have to do is drag the GIF content block from the sidebar onto where you want it to appear on your email template. From there, you’ll have the option to search GIPHY’s massive library of GIFs to find the one you’d like to use:

Screenshot of animated GIF tile embedded into an email template using ContactMonkey's email template builder.

You can search and embed GIFs in seconds wherever you’d like. Want to try ContactMonkey yourself? Book a free demo to see our email template builder in action.

Finding GIFs

If you’re sending out an email to a couple of friends, then you probably don’t need a custom GIF. There are plenty of great resources that provide millions of free GIFs for personal use. Websites like GIPHY, Tenor, and Reddit, are all great sources of GIF images.

How to Create GIFs

There are several different approaches for how to a create GIF for email, and the best method will depend on your goal.

Video GIFs

Video GIFs are what most people are familiar with; a short, looping clip from a TV show or movie—sometimes with subtitles—that communicates a particular feeling or sentiment:

Here’s how to animate GIFs in Outlook:

Creating video GIFs is pretty easy! Simply find a piece of video you’d like to turn into a GIF and save it on your computer as an MP4: this format is compatible with nearly every GIF creation software and is easy to edit.

Using Quicktime or any similar software, trim your video clip so that just the part you want to loop remains.

Pro-tip: GIFs that loop seamlessly look best. Try to ensure the final frame of your video looks similar to the first frame.

Once you’re finished trimming your MP4, upload it to any number of GIF creation websites. Our favourite is EzGif.

EzGif Screenshot

Simply follow the onscreen instructions to convert your MP4 file into GIF format.

Graphic GIFs

Not all GIFs are taken from video files. For those designing email newsletters or other mass email communications, GIFs can serve to accentuate content rather than exist as content itself.

Check out this email newsletter from West Elm:

Notice their use of GIFs: not videos, but rather just two alternating frames, to give the effect of lamps turning on and off. This small detail makes a big difference in making your email content stand out.

Creating this type of GIF takes more work than video GIFs, because it has to be custom and match the rest of your content.

We recommend designing the rest of your email content and then determining which aspects of your email you’d like animated.

Once you’ve determined what you’d like to design, import your content into a photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop. In Photoshop you can design and combine a series of frames that will play consecutively, creating the illusion of motion.

Photoshop lets you export your GIFs in varying quality, which is perfect for inserting an animated GIF in HTML and not surpassing the size limits.

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Sending GIFs in Email

GIFs can be used in all kinds of ways in emails. While most people tend to use GIFs as ways to communicate an emotion, sentiment, or joke, they can be used to tie all of your email content together. Using your email design to highlight important information is a fundamental of email newsletter best practices.

This email from Boden is a terrific example of how to send animated gifs in an email. The GIF grabs the readers’ attention but not at the expense of the rest of the content.

Not only does the GIF look nice in their email, but it also emphasizes the emails’ message:

This is a great example of combining an entertaining approach with an informative approach to GIFs, which are two of the three main functions of GIFs in emails:

Entertaining GIFs

People like GIFs because they can convey or provoke emotion more powerfully than words alone—much like other visual multimedia like television and movies. No wonder these types of content are synonymous with each other.

Use video GIFs—mentioned earlier—to add a bit of humor to your email newsletters. “Reaction GIFs” is a particularly popular genre:

Wondering how to put a GIF in an email? With ContactMonkey’s email template builder, you can easily format your emails to have your GIFs appear exactly where you want them.

Informative GIFs

Compare the Boden lemonade GIF with the overall message of the email: the GIFs help emphasize that the sale is finite, and that the reader should act quick before it is gone.

GIFs are a great way to convey extra-textual information to reinforce your email copy. Check out this animated GIF that Banana Republic uses to show the various views of their products:

Not only does the GIF grab attention, but it actually helps the reader learn about what is being shown!

You can use both video GIFs and graphic GIFs for informational purposes. Just be sure to avoid overdoing it: too many GIFs can be overwhelming for an animated email, and your message will get lost.

Aesthetic GIFs

GIFs can be used to add an artistic flourish to your emails. Instead of using GIFs to convey information or get a chuckle, GIFs used for aesthetic purposes can direct the readers’ attention or add depth to an otherwise flat image.

Do you include a company logo with your email newsletters? Trying creating an animated logo and embedding it in your emails. Check out Slack‘s GIF logo:

Animated signatures are super popular, and you can use ContactMonkey’s email template builder to easily insert GIF signatures anywhere into your email.

Ultimately, you want your GIF content to enhance the message you’re communicating.

ContactMonkey’s email management software makes it super easy to combine tight copy, slick images, and animated GIFs for engaging and effective email communication. Create stellar newsletters with personalized copy and subject lines, conduct surveys, gather employee feedback, and more with our easy-to-use internal communications tool. You can meet all your internal communications and pulse survey objectives easily.

Now that you know how to send a GIF in an email, how can you measure if it’s a hit?

Measure GIFs Effectiveness

Wouldn’t it be great if you knew exactly how your email animated GIFs are improving your email content? Well if you’re sending emails with ContactMonkey, you can!

Track in-depth email analytics with metrics like Open Rate, Click Through Rate, Opens by device and location, and more with our campaign dashboard. This can help you gauge how your employees are engaging with emails featuring GIFs.

Click maps give you a detailed look at what parts of your emails are being engaged with by your recipients:

Screenshot of ContactMonkey's click maps feature.

If you find that your recipients are drawn to animated GIFs, consider placing them adjacent to important information in order to draw their attention.

Want more qualitative feedback? Pinpoint exactly what content is being engaged with and cater your email newsletter to your audience by receiving anonymous feedback from your recipients based on pointed questions:

Screenshot of employee survey results with anonymous employee feedback within ContactMonkey's campaign overview dashboard.

Creating your best content doesn’t have to be a guessing game; with ContactMonkey you can deploy a data-driven approach to your email content.

If your organization has internal or external regulations around email privacy, try using ContactMonkey’s anonymous email tracking and anonymous employee comments to gather email metrics and feedback while maintaining your employees’ privacy.

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GIFs Make Your Content Better

You get out of your emails what you put in. Taking extra steps to add multimedia content like animated GIFs in Outlook emails is a surefire way to increase engagement. Working with remote teams? Combine GIFs with your remote teams communication tools to increase engagement with your remote and hybrid workforce.

Think about the content your recipients likely consume on a daily basis. Doesn’t it make sense to try and sync up the content you’re sending to people with the content they’re actively seeking out? Videos, GIFs, and virtual reality for corporate communications all give your employees an engaging communications experience.

Learn exactly what your recipients want to see, and easily deliver it to them, with ContactMonkey. Equipped with a powerful drag-and-drop email template builder and advanced email tracking metrics, you’ll see a spike in interest in your email content before you know it.

…and it’s pronounced “Giff”, not “Jiff”.

Want to take your email newsletter content to the next level with ContactMonkey? Book a free demo with one of our experts to find out how to boost employee engagement with great email content and in-depth tracking.

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