Emails have come a long way…
From simple plain text messages for communication to one of the most preferred channels for marketing.
With businesses large and small using HTML emails as a primary marketing tool and technological advancements, emails have evolved into highly personalized messages in real-time with visually appealing and engaging rich media elements.
There are around 4.1 billion email users worldwide and the majority of them just skim through the emails that they receive in their inbox. Most email marketers are still trying to figure out ways to engage their subscribers and STAND OUT in their inbox.
Here, one is a plain text email and the other one is an HTML email. While the plain text email works for B2B conversations, you will rarely receive such an email from a business that uses email as a tool to market and promote their products and services. The HTML email works well in highlighting the key information and conveying the message more efficiently, using elements such as colored fonts, links, CTAs, icons, and images.
HTML emails that contain visual content in the form of static images, animated GIFs, cinemagraph and video can add life to your emails and make them more engaging. Brands experiment with various forms of visual content to garner more eyeballs and improve sales with their emails.
Here are some tips and best practices to use rich media in your emails with examples from brands that use them effectively in their email campaigns to boost engagement.
Use attractive static images to support the message
Static images can grab the readers’ attention more than plain text alone. Using attractive images that support the content will help you convey the message more effectively and get users to read and engage with your emails.
You can add images into your emails either to illustrate something or just to add to the email’s aesthetics. But make sure you give a proper alternative text to all the images since certain email clients block the display of images and some may not download the images at all. Also, maintain the ideal text-to-image ratio of 80:20 and avoid conveying the message using just images.
With an attractive hero image that supports the content, the email looks lively and the message is evident from the headline and the image itself. When the reader skims through the email, they only focus on the headline, the images, and the CTA, and the text is skipped.
Include animated GIFs to add life to your email
GIF animation in emails creates an illusion of motion and adds life to the email, which is not possible using static images. Using GIFs, you can illustrate complex concepts in a simplified way, in a limited space. They can also be used to enhance the look and feel of the email.
While you use animated GIFs in your emails, make sure you create them in a way that all important information is shown in the first frame itself. Some email clients and devices fail to render GIFs and display just the first frame of the animation. Hence, make sure the message is conveyed even if the GIF does not play.
Here are a few examples of brands that are using GIF animation effectively in their emails.
The brand Taylor Stitch uses GIF in the hero image to showcase the versatile uses of its products. Using GIF animation, the brand shows four different looks in the space of a single image.
Headspace use GIFs in their email to illustrate their message to have a new year resolution for a calmer and more relaxed year. The GIF enhances the value of the message and entices the users to click through the CTA.
Starbucks brings in the holiday spirits in its email with the help of a colorful GIF animation. The GIF adds bling to the email and supports the holiday theme.
Enhance the look of your emails with Cinemagraph
Cinemagraphs are a blend of images and videos that create a more lifelike visual. Typically, it is a simple GIF file with a few elements slightly moving. Using cinemagraphs in emails lets you represent images in a more realistic and attractive way, thereby increasing engagement.
Emails with cinemagraph can become bulky and cause renderability issues. Most email clients fail to render cinemagraph and hence you must avoid using it to describe the key message and if you do, include a proper description in the form of alt-text. Use it to simply attract your subscribers and get them to read your emails.
Here are a few winning examples of emails using cinemagraph.
PizzaExpress uses cinemagraph in this email to give a precise experience of delicious, steaming pizzas to the viewers. This definitely grabs attention and keeps the viewer engaged.
The brand Ace Hotel uses a cinemagraph in the hero image, which makes it stand out from the rest of the emails in the inbox. Here, it is used to enhance the overall look of the email and make it interesting.
The highlight of this email from SquareSpace is the enthralling imagery in the form of a cinemagraph. The cinemagraph intensifies the overall theme and adds liveliness to the email.
Use video as a tool to boost click-throughs
Consumers prefer video over written content. Statistics show that video, when combined with email, can boost click-through rates and conversions by 200-300%. Video in email can be used to convey the brand story, build brand image, and engage and entertain users.
You can either embed a video into the email or add an image and link it to a video hosted online. Majority of email clients do not render videos and take longer loading times. It is therefore recommended to use a GIF or cinemagraph with a play button that would redirect the viewers to the hosting site.
Here, the brand uses video to show their journey of three years. An attractive thumbnail image and a play button on it entice the subscribers to click on it. When there is a video at the top of the email, the viewers tend to click on it without reading the text in the remaining email.
In a nutshell…
With millions of emails being sent and received every day, it is important for your business to create and send attention-grabbing emails that stand out in the subscribers’ inbox and engage them. To achieve this, include rich media in your HTML emails and use them efficiently, keeping the limitations and their workarounds in mind.
Guest author: Kevin George is the Head of Marketing at EmailMonks