When creating email signatures, one of the most common questions we get asked is “Can I use an animated GIF image in my email signature?”.
You shouldn’t use animated GIF’s in your company email signature because there are many negative side effects such as a higher spam rating, and bigger email signatures (in KB) resulting in higher infrastructure costs.
As usual, don’t just take our word for it, let us explain everything there is to know about GIF images in email signatures, so you’re aware of the benefits and drawbacks.
What Is a GIF Image?
GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) is an image format which was created by CompuServe in 1987. It is one of the most popular image formats in the world today and is most known for allowing images to have multiple frames.
With GIF’s you can quickly create animations that are simply stored as images in a .gif format. They are widely used all over the internet and have also been used in emails for decades.
Advantages of Using Animated GIF’s in Email Signatures
It goes without saying, email signatures with GIF images look the part, if done right. You could take multiple pictures of your face showing different expressions and compile them into an animated GIF.
This not only makes the signature look fancy, but it can also be a conversation starter.
Higher CTR for Email Signature Marketing Campaigns
It’s a known fact that animated GIF’s will give your CTR (Click Through Ratio) a boost when used in conjunction with an email signature marketing campaign. However, there are drawbacks to this, which we’ll explain later.
Disadvantages of Using Animated GIF’s in Email Signatures
Much Bigger Email Signature Size
The size of animated GIF’s is a lot greater than single frame JPG, JPEG or PNG images.
The reason is that a standard PNG image only has to hold the information of one frame, whereas an animated GIF needs to store the data for multiple frames that are in the animation. As you can probably imagine, the more frames your GIF image has, the bigger the size.
So, using an animated GIF means your email signature size will be bigger, and this is a really bad thing. In a previous post, we explained how an oversize email signature could cost you upwards of $25,000.
Uses More Bandwidth
Continuing on from the previous point, since the size of the email signature is bigger, this means you’ll be using more internet bandwidth to send the email. In addition, your recipient will be using more bandwidth to receive the email, too.
Although this seems like a minuscule cost, when you have 100 employee’s and every single one of them is sending animated GIF’s with every email, this can add up.
Higher Spam Rating
Some email server administrators set the spam rating on emails with GIF’s to be higher than regular text-only emails. The reason is simple, a lot of newsletters and spam emails contain GIF images in them. Blocking GIF’s is an easy way to weed them out.
You don’t want your emails to end up in the Junk Mail folder of your recipients’ mailbox.
Anti-Virus Scans Will Take Longer
The bigger your email is (in KB) the longer it will take your recipients’ mail server to scan and safely deliver the email to their inbox.
This results in delayed send/receive times, which is not ideal.
Not a Scalable Solution
It really isn’t a scalable option for your business. Can you imagine taking 5-10 photos of each staff member, then compiling it into a GIF image? It’s hard enough to coordinate taking 1 picture of a staff member, let alone 5-10.
Also, what if the staff member doesn’t want to take a picture of different facial expressions and just wants a single image? All of a sudden, you have branding inconsistencies.
Can Look Immature
Depending on what industry you’re working in, it could be perceived as immature having a GIF in your email signature. If you got an email from your lawyer or doctor with an animated GIF, would you be put off?
It’s safer to not have an animated GIF than it is to have an animated GIF and wonder if your recipient(s) will find it immature. This is the sort of thing that can ruin a company’s reputation.
Imagine you receive 3-4 emails from the same person every single day. After the first day, it will get annoying and repetitive if you have to keep watching the same GIF playing over and over again.
Which brings us to the next point…
The world is full of distractions, we don’t need any more. One problem with GIF’s is that you cannot pause or stop the animation.
So, imagine you receive an email with an animated GIF and you open another window over the top to do some other work, but in the background, you keep seeing the flashing animation which is constantly taking your attention.
Which email clients support animated GIF images?
Usually, if an email client doesn’t support GIF image types, it will simply display the first frame as a still image.
When is it fine to use animated GIF’s in email signatures?
Seeing that GIF’s in email signatures can present many of the problems above, it’s safer to simply never use them for business emails.
However, if you’re using emails for private use and aren’t too concerned with the above disadvantages, there’s no reason why you couldn’t use animated GIF’s in your email signature.
How to Create a GIF Image to Use in Your Email Signature
There are many ways to create GIF images. There’s even some online solutions which are completely free to use.
Giphy is a free online tool where you simply upload the pictures from your computer, set the duration of each frame (image) and then create the GIF image. However, the file compression is quite bad and you generally end up with a file that is about 1.5Mb instead of 100KB (when you create the same GIF using alternative providers).
Out of all the online free GIF generators, this one seems to be the easiest to use and also has quite a few features such as overlay text, stickers and more.
Here’s an example that we created in just a few minutes.
Similar to Giphy, EZGIF has an animated GIF maker which is fairly easy to use and can help you create the GIF for your email signature.
EZGIF offers really good GIF file compression which is what makes it one of the most popular GIF generators.
As you have probably learned, the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages. We are firm believers of the KISS Principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid). Why make something so much more complicated than it really needs to be?
Keep your email signature simple, and you’ll run into fewer problems.