Gone are the days when emails were used as nothing more than a medium to keep in touch (with the distant friends and relatives)!

Today, emails have outplayed their past role and grown to be one of the most effective marketing channels that generates the highest ROI in comparison to all other business approaches. According to a survey by DMA and Demand Metric, email had a median ROI of 122%, that is more than 4 times when compared to marketing channels like paid search, social media, and direct mail.

Time and again, marketers have tried various tricks to boost their email engagement. Emails are no longer written as a boring wall of content. Rich media like images, GIFs, cinemagraphs, and videos have added a dash of oomph and brilliance to email marketing as a whole.

How to Boost Engagement Using Rich Media in Emails

Your subscribers prefer to scan through the emails you send, rather than ‘read.’ Consequently, your emails should be easily scannable and appealing enough to keep your subscribers hooked. Moreover, as the attention span of humans is getting even lower than that of a gold fish, your emails ought to be striking and tap the right pulse of your subscribers.

Take a look at this email.

The Drum email

Isn’t it boring to read such a long email without any visual elements? It would have been better if there was a relevant image that supported the content.

Using Static Images in Emails

PetSmart includes cute images that match the purpose of the email and engage the audience in a much better way than plain text. Images help to build a brand reputation and get higher click-through rates.

PetSmart email

Applications of Static Images

  • Travel industry can rely on static images to roll out different offers available for the diverse destinations.
  • Ecommerce and retail industry can take help of images to share product recommendations to the past buyers. They can even create better cart abandonment emails by including the images of the abandoned products.

Using GIFs in Email

If we go a step further from static images, we have simple animated GIFs. GIFs allow you to convey more in less. You can display considerable amount of content or images in a limited space.

Consider the example by Carnival Cruise Line.

Carnival Cruise Line email


The subscribers would surely get enticed to book the tickets and visit the destination on seeing the beautiful GIF animation… And that’s the ultimate goal of the email.

Applications of GIFs

  • GIFs are very popular in ecommerce industry to promote various products.
  • E-retailers can showcase the varieties available in a single product through GIFs.
  • Emails from fashion industry can include visually enticing GIFs to highlight the product details.
  • Email marketers from IT industry can leverage GIFs and use them as explainer videos.
  • Travel industry can make use of GIFs to inspire wanderlust in the subscribers.

Using Cinemagraphs in Emails

If you are paranoid about using GIFs because of its file size but still wish to include a subtle animation in your email, CINEMAGRAPH is the right choice for you. Cinemagraph is basically seamless looping of an animation. It is created in such a way that you get the illusion of viewing a video. Based on the type of business and your brand reputation, you can explore the world of cinemagraphs in your email campaigns.

Here’s a beautiful example of a cinemagraph by Saks Fifth Avenue.


Saks Fifth Avenue email

You can create a cinemagraph with the help of tools such as Flixel, Pictoreo, Kinotropic, Echograph, and Cinemagr.Am.

Applications of Cinemagraphs

  • Email marketers from the food industry can add cinemagraphs to promote their delectable delicacies.
  • Cinemagraphs can prove to be very useful for fashion industry emails to promote their stylish products.
  • The lavishness of premium products can be effectively illustrated through cinemagraphs.

Using Videos in Emails

Videos in emails are effective for sending out an event invitation or product launch announcement. The only drawback is that including videos increases the email file size. HTML5 supports 3 video formats, mainly OGG, MP4, and WebM.

Hey Smiles Davis – did you know that video plays in email?


Wistia has made wonderful use of video in email to promote their services. The CTA button too is equally engaging for the subscriber.

Applications of Videos

  • You can leverage the use of videos in your meeting reminders.
  • Non-profit organizations can promote their cause with a video.
  • Telecommunications industry can drive higher conversions by including videos in their product launches.

10 Mistakes to Avoid While Using Rich Media

  1. Make sure you maintain the text to image ratio at 80:20 and do not exploit the use of rich media.
  2. Avoid sending an email as one whole image, because if your subscriber does not download the image, your email will go futile.
  3. As far as possible, avoid having a CTA in the image.
  4. Using too many images in addition to other spam triggers can land your email in the spam folder and hamper your deliverability.
  5. If you use a heavy GIF in your email, it may slow down the loading time of your email. Therefore, light-weight GIFs should be used. A number of tools can help you to compress the file.
  6. Outlook does not support the rendering of GIFs or cinemagraphs, so it is recommended that the first frame of your animation should make sense independently and include all the important information along with the CTA.
  7. It is advisable to have a mobile version of the GIFs with 320px width so that the animation gets displayed properly on the mobile devices even if it does not scale to mobile.
  8. Alt-text is a must while you use rich media as the email clients have these visual elements blocked by default. Always have a fallback image whenever you are using a GIF or video in your email.Note: Only email clients like Apple Mail, Thunderbird, and Web Browsers support embedded videos, so fallback image and suitable alt text become a must.
  9. Since the heavy size of videos can be a deterrent for your email marketing metrics, you should not use it just for the sake of using it.
  10. Do not overdo the use of rich media in a way it gets boring and monotonous for your subscriber.

Wrapping Up

Rich media is for all those email marketers looking forward to attempting something innovative in their email marketing campaigns.

Are you ready to try it out? Do let us know your thoughts in the comments below.