The Pros and Cons of These 5 Forms of Rich Media in Email

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Rich text or rich media?

That’s the question that many email marketers have been asking.

Should you keep it basic, with simple text fonts and little to no HTML? Or should you go all out, using functionalities like videos, GIFs, or audio?

Ask some of the leaders in the B2B industry:

Rich media isn’t being used to its fullest potential, which is why brands plan for rich text and aim for rich media are seeing improved engagement and conversion.

Find out the pros and cons of each email marketing rich media type in today’s post.

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Images are the simplest form of rich media that you can put into an email and by far the most commonly used. Pictures can convey an atmosphere, a concept, or an emotion that words alone cannot.


  • They are simple to embed


  • Images are blocked on many email clients, as many as 42%, according to Litmus. This means you must ensure that you include alt text and some simple formatting options like blocks of color (if alt text fonts are also blocked).

Images are the bare minimum. Put them in your email and plan how the email will look when images are blocked.


Video is social media’s new darling, where video posts do the best according to most networks’ algorithms.

It’s no wonder that Sprout Social found that an initial email with a video sees a 96% increase in click-through rate. Videos are engaging, and big brands have conditioned users to love them.


  • Convey a ton of information before the user even needs to scroll


  • Not supported on all browsers — have a backup plan.

Videos are engaging, but make sure you plan for the large percentage of users on Outlook. You don’t want to design your whole email around a video that will never show up.

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GIFs are the super trendy, middle child between a static image and a video. And while a picture is worth 1000 words, a GIF contains 60 frames on average, making it worth 60,000 words.

Giphy reports that GIF viewers watch more than 2 million hours of GIFs per day. Maybe you want to give them a shot in your emails?


  • Only slightly more work than images


  • They aren’t compatible with many versions of Outlook (shocking, right?)

Give GIFs a shot in your B2B marketing. They don’t have to be trendy GIFs from a movie; they could be an animated graph or chart. Either way, GIFs are here to stay, so you might as well test using them in your emails.


Cinemagraphs are sometimes called GIFs for grownups. These seamless, endlessly looping GIFs feature a mostly-static image and an element that moves only slightly.

When Microsoft used both static images and cinemagraphs in a social media campaign, they found that when they used cinemagraphs to target SMBs they saw a 110% increase in engagement, over the 1.96% increase from the static images.


  • Gives the illusion of video in a smaller file


  • Large file size — remember to compress

Cinemagraphs are beautiful ways to add interest and information to an email. Just make sure you have backup images and alt text in case they are blocked or not supported by a browser.


Is there a sound purpose for audio in email? Confession: I did not make up that joke, but it is hilarious.

Imagine opening an email, suddenly a song starts playing like it’s 2008 and you’re on your friend’s Myspace.

That would be horrific right? You can embed audio (and autoplay audio) in some email clients. But do you want to?

The answer is… maybe. Here are the pros and cons of audio in email:


  • Great if you have an offering related to music /sound


  • If your audio autoplays, prepare for massive unsubscribes

Audio is not a popular choice for email, and it’s easy to see why. Most people check their emails during the moments in between. They might not want to stop the music they’re listening to or interrupt the meeting they’re in to listen to your email.

Use this form of media sparingly.

Rich media is the heart of the email marketing industry. Learn to when and how to wield these awesome rich media components to drive more engagement.

Just be sure to prepare for the worst (blocked media) and hope for the best. If you can be happy with your email without rich media, then you know that any other way your emails come through will be even better. Give some of these forms of rich media a shot in your next marketing campaign.

Let us know what you think:

  • Are there other types of rich media you like to use in emails?

Written by

HIPB2B is a demand gen solution provider, utilizing content, email, and marketing automation to drive outcomes for marketing and technology clients

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