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Animation + triggered emails = The new power couple?

Lizette Resendez
Copy Director

When it comes to animated gifs and cinemagraphs in email marketing, promotional emails seem to get all the love. But triggered emails might also be an excellent place to put these techniques in, well, motion.

A few recent stats:

Those numbers are HUGE because those emails are personalized and being sent to customers who are already engaged—whether they just subscribed to receive your emails or they just purchased something from you.

Another cool finding:

Since triggered emails and emails with some sort of animation typically perform better than your standard marketing emails, why not combine the two and see what happens?

Use those welcome, cart abandonment and order confirmation emails to surprise new (and loyal!) customers with a little animation.

Need some animation inspiration?

Here are a few recent examples. Most of them are from promotional emails but they just might inspire your next triggered or transactional email marketing campaign

Your next welcome campaign

From Mr. Porter, 12/26

Email Marketing Mr. Porter

Can’t you just imagine the copy on this email reading something like: Welcome to Mr. Porter. Make yourself at home.

Your next loyalty / rewards upgrade email

From Singer22, 1/1

Email Marketing Singer 22 Champagne

I think this works not just for a Happy New Year email—or for a birthday / anniversary email, for that matter—but in a message sent to customers who’ve just reached the next level of your rewards program. Party time!

Your next anniversary campaign

From Rent the Runway, 2/3

Email Marketing Rent the Runway Email

Speaking of parties, whether you’re wishing your customers a happy wedding anniversary or you’re thanking them for being loyal shoppers again this year, make that email design really feel celebratory.

Your next cart abandonment email

From American Apparel, 1/16

Email Marketing American Apparel Beanie

Add a little humor to a cart abandonment email and you just might make a potential shopper come back to your site. I would love to see this type of animation with copy like: DOH! You forgot something! See what you left behind >

An image like this could even work for an out of stock email with a sincere apology and a link taking your customer to similar products.

Your next browse abandonment email

From Neiman Marcus, 2/4

Email marketing Neiman Marcus

If you know a customer was just shopping for a certain brand or product, follow up with an email that showcases items they might also like. I love how Neiman Marcus kept this email clean and simple with a huge focus on the actual products. (I’m not gonna lie—I’m mesmerized by all that fringe.)

Your next in-store event email or newsletter

From Singer22 Weekly, 1/31

Email marketing S22 Weekly

Do you send a weekly or monthly newsletter in addition to your regular marketing emails? Make your header or masthead stand out with a subtle animation like this one. (See how it's different from the one in their Happy New Year email above?)

Your next order confirmation email

From PINK Nation, 12/2

Email Marketing from PINK Nation

And finally, I love the excitement model Elsa Hosk has for her little PINK gift box. This could be a cute execution for a triggered email letting customers know that their order is on its way—it’ll just amplify the excitement they originally felt when they clicked 'complete purchase.'

Time to shake things up!

Unlike a regular promotional email that’s here today, gone tomorrow, a triggered campaign can last for months—and at some companies, for years. So if you’re planning to add animation to these emails, it’s got to be used the right way.

An email with eight different product recommendations flashing before my eyes beneath a blinking headline is enough to make me click 'delete.'

But subtle movement and minimal copy (like all of the examples above) make me want to linger on that email just a little longer.

A few more tips:

  • Remember that if for some reason your animation doesn’t load, the default image will be that first frame, so make sure that frame is strong enough to stand on its own.
  • It can’t be too slow or too fast. Too slow, and your readers might "miss the action." Too fast, and your readers won’t be able to click 'close window' fast enough.
  • It can’t be too big. You want to be considerate of your readers’ time—not to mention, their data plan. We recommend animated gifs or cinemagraphs be kept to 200KB or smaller. This is especially important for readers viewing on their smartphone or tablet, which nowadays is pretty much everyone.
  • Test it out. Maybe your readers aren’t too impressed with animation…or maybe they want more!

Remember, triggered emails are an important part of creating an individualized experience for your customers. Adding something new to a sea of otherwise flat emails might just keep your customers looking forward to—and clicking on—that next promotional email you send.

Have you seen any other great examples of animated emails? Share your favorites in the comments below!

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