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Animation in Retail Emails Study: Executive Summary

Animation can be deployed for a wide variety of purposes in emails and if properly used can entertain, inform and inspire subscribers in ways that static images and text cannot.

“Animation in emails began more than seven years ago. Initially, it drove attention and traffic because of the unique aspects and novelty. Animation offered something that was completely out of the ordinary,” says Jeanniey Mullen, founder of the Email Experience Council. “With all of the issues surrounding spam, animation fell out of favor. Today, appropriately used, animation has become an optimal way to increase attention and effectiveness of emails.”

Selective use of animation can boost clickthroughs and conversions, which is why 34% of the major online retailers tracked by RetailEmail.Blogspot, have used animation in at least one email over the past seven months or so. Examining those emails, a number of strategies emerged:

  1. Animation packs more into limited real estate by demonstrating a list of products or features, or demonstrating an assortment.
  2. Animation draws the eye to less visible screen real estate, such as items below the fold.
  3. Animation demonstrates critical product features that drive revenue and increase sales.
  4. Animation adds visual interest to emails, particularly around holidays.
  5. Animation emphasizes certain messages and key copy elements in the email.

Of course, there are plenty of opportunities to misstep with animation, as Morgan Stewart, ExactTarget’s director of strategic services, points out.

“Unfortunately, animated gifs are too often associated with banner ads,” he says. “While animated banners can be effective, the low level of interaction with banners in general seems to skew perceptions or mislead people on the incredible potential of this creative tactic.”

Morgan adds, “True skill in the use of animated gifs is determining where to use them in order to bring emails to life in a way that highlights key benefits, but doesn’t cross the line and become ‘cheesy.’ We are not talking about blinking lights that draw attention and it has nothing to do with packing more information into a small space by rotating through copy. The effective use of animated gifs it is about showing what you want people to know about your product or service through movement.”

The full report explores a tremendous number of examples of retailers who are using animation in an optimal manner, as well as those who have opportunities to improve. This study will provide hands on best practices and strategies that will increase the return on your animated emails.

Visit the eec's Whitepaper Room to download the full report, which is free for EEC platinum members, available at a discount to EEC gold and silver members, and available for $99 for non-members.

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