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How to use GIFs, emojis, and videos to increase email open & response rates

Modern business relies so much upon effective communication. We have far more options for interacting with one another than we’ve ever had before. In the course of a business day, you probably use email, phone, IM, and maybe more varied digital channels.

Often, however, even the most professional of us can be guilty of failing to give our communications the attention they deserve. Take email, for example. It’s a channel that remains crucial to day-to-day business. Not to mention critical processes like nurturing leads or encouraging sales. Chances are, though, that you may not be doing all you can to maximize your use of the channel.

When you send an email, you want the recipient first to open it and then to respond, which is why it’s so important to use an email verification tool. By response, we don’t necessarily mean to reply to the message. We mean to take the action that you desire. That might be to visit a landing page, download an eBook about your product, or respond to your inquiry.

The open and response rates for your email sequences, therefore, are vital metrics. You want them both to be as high as possible. We’re going to teach you how to use a trio of straightforward elements to help you get there. Those are emojis, GIFs, and videos. First, though, let’s explain why we’re talking about email sequences and not one-off messages.

Why you should use an email sequence in sales?

When you reach out to a person by email, your ultimate aim is to get them to take action. You may want them to upgrade a subscription, to buy a new product, or merely to open a dialogue with you.

Whatever it is you want, the email recipient is likely to have objections (note the plural). There will be reasons in their mind why they don’t want to take the action you’re looking for from them.

You need to overcome those objections. That’s why it’s crucial to use email sequences. You can design and even automate series designed to hit multiple pain points and overcome many objections. Consider the following example:

The flowchart depicts a simplified email sequence. It could be something you send to qualified leads or for sales follow-up to existing customers. 

In your first email, you’d highlight a specific pain point and explain how your service solves the problem. You layout your service’s features and could even include a link to a video tutorial of how to use them.

The next message would then quantify the benefit the recipient may get from working with you. It does that by sharing prior results and a case study showing how you’ve helped a client similar to the recipient.

Finally, you send a closing email to push your contact on to the final action you wish them to take. In this case, that’s to schedule a meeting to discuss working more closely together. In the last message, you’ll want to engender some urgency in the recipient. Make them feel like they must get the meeting scheduled or fear missing out on the benefits you’re offering. 

Email sequences, therefore, are a great way of convincing contacts. They gradually break down barriers and bring recipients around. In no time you can have a customer renewing a subscription or upgrading to a new package or signing up for your service. 

That is, though, only if they open and respond to each message as you intend. Let’s get down to how you can use emojis, GIFs, and videos to ensure they do so.

Why emojis are the perfect addition to your subject line?

The first hurdle to effective email communication is getting recipients to open your messages. You can’t get through to any contact if they send you straight to their junk folder. The principal weapon in your arsenal in this area is your subject line. It’s what people use to decide if they’ll even look at the rest of your message. 

You need your subject lines to stand out, and to be appealing. They must make your emails seem like something a recipient will enjoy reading. Ideally, you want them to think of a message from you as a point of interest. That’s rather than thinking of it as a commercial message, or worse, as spam.

There was one message in particular that caught the eye, right? Amongst the sea of text that makes most messages look the same, the emoji is what grabbed your attention. We can say that with confidence because it’s true for everyone.

Pop an emoji or emoticon in your subject lines, and your open rates could soar. 56% of brands that do use emoticons in that way have higher open rates. It’s something your business can’t afford to neglect. 

What’s more, an increasing proportion of emails now get opened on mobile devices. With this in mind, it makes even more sense to use emojis. We’re all tuned in to seeing smiley faces and other emoticons whenever we’re on our phones. 

As well as capturing attention, emojis make your messages friendlier. They look more like the emails we all get from friends and colleagues. That’s often an advantage but does also mean you have to be careful. 

Emoticons are, like all things, a tool in your arsenal. Use them from time to time, or once in an email series, but don’t rely on them. The example below from Ryan Deiss nicely illustrates my point.

The emoticons Ryan Deiss uses are generally linked to the copy. In the example above, he used a warning sign for a time-sensitive offer. You should do the same. For example, you might use a cup of coffee emoticon for a meeting request, with the subject line, “time for a quick chat?”

Don’t get too informal with contacts who highly prize professionalism. Make sure you pitch your subject lines to the recipient. These proven subject line options can help you on your way.

How to use animated GIFs to illustrate your point

Once you’ve decided that less formal emails fit with your brand and audience, loads of avenues open. Alongside emojis in your subject lines, you’ll also want to think about popping some GIFs in the body of your messages. 

Unless you’ve been on Mars or are a severe technophobe, you’ll know all about GIFs. They’re those animated images that are all over the net and social media. People – and particularly younger generations – love them. They can also significantly juice up your emails and their response rates. 

Technology giant Dell is one company that’s already harnessed the power of email GIFs. A case study showed that by using GIF-centric messages, the firm achieved astounding results. Open rates rose 6%, click rates 42%, and revenue an extraordinary 109%. 

Why then, should GIFs be such a silver bullet for email communication? There are a couple of explanations:

  • Added Interest & Personality – An email that’s a simple block of text is dull. That’s even if the copy itself shares fascinating insights. A GIF catches the eye and gives your message a bit of personality. Depending on the GIF you use, you could also add a dose of humor to put a smile on the reader’s face. 
  • Conveying Complex Information – A picture’s worth a thousand words. An animated GIF may add a few hundred words more. Even a simple animation can show a viewer so much more than you could explain with text. Imagine, for instance, that you’re launching a new product. A GIF can instantly show the item from multiple angles or while it’s getting used. 

Let me take you back to that case study I mentioned earlier. Below is the image they used.

You can see that the image nicely illustrates the features of the product. It’s far easier to convey that information through a Gif than laboriously write that information. You can use this same approach to convey information. For example, if you work for a software company, you can demo a feature of your software.

That’s not the only way you could use Gifs, of course. If you’re working for a company that has an informal communication policy, you could add Gifs in the email copy to illustrate a point or make an emotional connection. Of course, this won’t apply to every company.

Adding GIFs to the copy of your emails is a no-brainer. If you’re going to go that far, too, you may wish to go one step further and start to leverage video. 

Linking to a video: Why & how to use videos in a sales letter

Earlier in this post, we talked about how your emails aim to persuade recipients to take action. Whatever that action may be. There are few mediums more persuasive than video. Linking to a video from a sales letter can give a massive boost to your response rate. These videos can be easily created by any decent online video maker.

According to Vidyard, response rates through videos can increase by as much as 800%.

There are a few reasons why video is so successful in reaching people and drawing out a response:

  • It’s possible to convey far more information in a much shorter period. It would take a considerable number of written words to impart as much detail as you could put into a one- or two-minute video. 
  • Humans are used to communicating face-to-face. Body language, facial cues, and other elements play a huge part. While a video isn’t a two-way exchange, it still has these elements of communication.
  • When someone speaks directly to you, it’s far easier to trust them. You can’t actually reach out in person to each contact. A video is as close to this direct interaction as you can get.

When using video in sales or sales follow-up emails, you can embed a clip or include a link. That may lead to a video on YouTube or another platform. This is a strategy that has been widely used, and proven to be successful for a lot of freelancers, but also people in sales when warming leads.

To be clear, the video doesn’t need to be in the email. In fact, very few people will play a video in their email provider. It’s more common to either include a Gif of a video or a still image of the video frame in the email copy. Click on either the Gif or the image and you’ll be redirected to Youtube or a landing page.

In this sense, the video is a hook to generate a reaction, often curiosity. What you’re trying to do is direct the lead into a sales funnel. Through a video, you can pitch your service or explain your value proposition.

Warming up the lead through video can help make them more interested in your product or service, increasing the likelihood that they take action. For example, you might want them to schedule a meeting with you, arrange a product demo, or any number of other options. As I’ve hopefully shown, videos in your email can form an important part of an email sequence.

Wrapping things up

Email sequences are vital to staying in touch with your customers and keeping them on board. They’re also effective at generating repeat business, upselling, and acquiring new customers. The best sequences hit the recipient’s pain points and overcome their objections.

Your messages can’t succeed, though, if those who receive them don’t read or even open them. You must do all you can to increase your open and response rates. Utilizing emojis, GIFs, and videos are three straightforward ways to do precisely that.

By popping emojis in your subject lines and GIFs or videos in your copy, you can supercharge your emails. Contacts will feel better connected to you. They’ll be more inclined to engage with your messages. Hopefully, by following the advice above you’ll be a master of email communication in no time.


Owen Baker is a content marketer for Voila Norbert, an online email finder. He has spent most of the last decade working online for a range of marketing companies. When he’s not busy writing, you can find him in the kitchen mastering new dishes.

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