Posted April 16, 2007 5:19 pm by with 4 comments

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Every couple of days in this industry, you come across a headline and think, “What? No way. How could that be?” Sometimes it’s linkbait, sometimes it’s tongue-in-cheek—but this time it’s for real. Animated GIFs help email marketing campaigns.

I know, I know, it’s so 1999 (and that’s being generous). But the ever-venerable MarketingSherpa has the data (beautiful data!) to back it up.

Why in the world could this be working? There are a few key clues in the article (open access until April 18):

  • They (Lake Champlain Chocolates) tested the campaign to make sure that the GIF displayed properly in a variety of mail clients.
  • They made the file small enough for reasonably fast downloads over high speed (and recognized that their minority of dial up customers wouldn’t be able to see the file).
  • They segmented their list very carefully: “We’d never send the animations for just any offer or to the wrong kind of customer.”

And how well did it work? They’ve done two campaigns now, one at Christmas and a smaller one at Valentine’s. The Christmas campaign increased sales an average of 49% over the previous year, while the Valentine’s campaign increased click throughs 203%.

Lake Champlain Chocolates also tested changing the color of the links in their emails which also had a positive effect on click throughs. The article doesn’t specifically state whether both tests were being conducted within the same email campaign (ie one email had the animated GIF and pink links, while one had the animated GIF and red links, with no control group).

Without that reassurance, I can’t say for certain that the results are accurate, but the findings are pretty interesting in a day when animated GIFs are generally shunned (by marketers and designers, anyway) and 48% of email consumers block images in incoming mail.