I check my personal email frequently throughout the day. Yes, big admission, I know. Not really. Most of the time I do this, however, is through the Mailbox app on my iPhone. Why do I feel it’s okay to do this? Because I just swipe-delay my messages until that evening. It cleans up my Inbox and brings back all the important messages that evening when I have more time to go through the messages.
But all that info is definitely not why you’re reading this. It’s to know why an almost 20-year-old feature of the web — the .gif — is better than video, in my mind, in one particular case. *Note: there are probably many reasons why the .gif is better than video for many cases. I believe this is just one such case that came to mind and I was non-sober enough to write about.
Used poorly, the .gif reminds many of the days of GeoCities:
But used correctly, GIFs can look like this:
This was in an email I got from The White House, and the .gif grabbed my attention more than anything else in the email.
If this was communicated through video, here’s what I would need to do to get the info.
- Click the thumbnail in the email.
- Browser opens if not open already.
- New window/tab loads in browser.
- Click video to play.
- Wait 30 seconds for ad or loading.
- Video plays.
- Finally get information I clicked on, almost 2 minutes after getting the email.
What do I need to do with the .gif? Open the email. It just works.
*Note: .gifs don’t work in every email client. Here’s a great chart from Campaign Monitor of who supports animated .gifs.
So, if you’re looking to use the versatile .gif in an upcoming email campaign, here’s what you should remember:
- Keep it concise and clear. The White House communicated one thing and one thing only through the above .gif.
- Keep file size smaller. Since this is loading when the email opens, a large .gif will take time to load.
- Know your audience. Use the above chart and your email analytics to make sure that your audience will be able to see your crazy, awesome, .gif magic.
- And remember, don’t blind your reader with flashing neon, construction signs, or dancing babies.