By Ben Raue
For a long time, people at GetUp have been speculating about whether including an animated GIF in an email might encourage more people to take action on that ask.
After running two experiments, it appears that GIFs have no impact, or a negative impact, but this is not conclusive as the result was not statistically significant.
The first experiment was an email to a large proportion of our list (over 500,000 emails) with a video explaining the problem with how Australia taxes superannuation (and asking people to sign the petition and share the ask).
In this version, the animated GIF appeared in the middle of the email and included shots from the video.
Experiment one – results
The version with no GIF produced slightly more clicks, but almost exactly the same number of actions. We were aiming to produce more clicks with the GIF version.
Despite the gap being quite small, the difference in the click/send ratio was almost statistically significant due to the large volume.
This was not convincing, but evidence that GIFs may not have a big impact.
The second experiment was smaller, to a group of people who had clicked a link in a previous email asking them to switch their electricity provider, but hadn’t made the switch, encouraging them to finish the process.
In this version, the banner at the top of the email was animated, so the windmills spun. It may have been too subtle to cause an impact.
Experiment two – results
The no GIF version definitely produced more clicks, but off a small sample this result was again not statistically significant.
We haven’t seen any short-term benefits to animated GIFs.
It may be that our experiments haven’t been ideal, particularly the second one, since the animation is quite subtle and can easily be missed. The sample for that experiment was also too small to come to a conclusion.
It may be the case that animated GIFs work for particular asks or particular audiences, but cannot be more generalisable – while the video on super tax reform was light-hearted, the topic is quite heavy and serious and may not be ideal for using animated GIFs.
We also have a theory that our GIFs were too large and may have caused loading problems, which would cause problems with the experiment.
At the moment, we have concluded that GIFs may have no impact, or may have a negative impact, but there is no evidence of them having a positive impact that would justify the effort required to make them.
We may do some further testing in the future to confirm or overturn these findings.
- Campaigning - Digital_Virtual
- Digital campaigning
- Emails - Analysis
- Emails - Testing_Experiments