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Cinemagraphs: A Winning Email Marketing Strategy

Use cinemagraphs to give your emails an edge over your competitors. Learn more on how to unleash this creative element in email campaigns...

Cinemagraphs are commonly referred to as Harry Potter-like moving images. They present a beautiful amalgamation of photographs and videos. They are like that extra topping you demand on your pizza to make it drool-worthy. So, technically speaking, if you consider your email as a tasty pizza, the topping of cinemagraphs will make it even tastier. 

Pizza Topping Cinemagraph

Talking about food, let me introduce you to the world of cinemagraphs with the help of this
delicious example.


So, What (exactly) is a Cinemagraph?

A cinemagraph is a subtle animation in a still photograph. The animation plays in a short, unending loop and represents a part of a video that merges gracefully in the static image. 

The beauty of a cinemagraph is that there is a tinge of motion that makes the photo come to life. Cinemagraphs are short looping videos, generally 3-10 seconds long. The viewer will not even be able to figure out the start point and end point of the video. 

If you want to create the highest quality cinemagraphs, you need to use 4K or 6K videos. It is advisable to export the cinemagraph as a video with file formats like H.264 and H.265.  

History of Cinemagraphs

Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg, both fashion photographers, created a number of moving photos during the Fashion Week 2011 in New York City. That marked the invention of cinemagraphs. It left everyone curious and excited. The entire fashion industry and media were taken by storm.
In March of that year, they came up with the term “cinemagraph” for such animations. The foundation of cinemagraphs was laid in several experiments that used existing video content, but it materialized in the true sense when Jamie and Kevin took photographs just to create cinemagraphs. They used tools like Adobe After Effects to create these attractive animations. Interestingly, it took as long as a week to create a single cinemagraph. 

At the outset, cinemagraphs were designed in the GIF format just to facilitate their online shareability. However, modern-day designers and developers prefer to use HTML5 video format for cinemagraphs to ensure high resolution and small file size. Generally, cinemagraphs are not confined to a single file format. You must choose the format according to the way in which you want to display them.  

That brings us to the next important question: How are GIFs different from cinemagraphs?

Difference Between GIFs and Cinemagraphs

GIF vs Cinemagraph

Tools to Create Cinemagraphs

There are several tools you can use to create cinemagraphs.
Here’s a list to help you out. 

Tools to Create Cinemagraphs


Related Articles:

Advantages of Cinemagraphs

By now, you must surely be convinced to try out cinemagraphs in your marketing strategy.
If not, take a look at these advantages that will surely tempt you to use these magical animations. 

  • With the subtle motion in the still photograph, a cinemagraph will definitely capture the viewer’s attention. 
  • It is more likely to encourage the user to take the next action by standing out from all the other brands and their marketing gimmicks. 
  • It will increase the shareability of your posts or emails, which will ultimately contribute to enhancing your brand reputation. 
  • You will be able to strengthen your brand personality by using such unique cinematic visuals in your marketing content. 
  • A cinemagraph can reinforce the purpose of your communication and make it all the more compelling for your target audience.
  • You can boost your Holiday sales by using such unique visuals to engage the audience. After all, occasion-based email marketing is all about cutting through the noise and stopping people from choosing your competitors over you.

Applications of Cinemagraphs 

If we talk about marketing as a whole, cinemagraphs can be used across all channels like: 

  • Digital advertisements
  • Social media posts
  • Digital billboards or display banner ads
  • Websites, blog posts, and landing pages
  • Long-form videos
  • Email marketing

Cinemagraphs can be effectively used to promote products and services across diverse industries, including eCommerce, travel, telecommunications, and B2B sector. 

When it comes to emails, you can use cinemagraphs for several purposes. 

Let me shed light on some of them with some exciting examples: 

1. eCommerce Industry

The eCommerce sector is witnessing a lot of competition nowadays. So, you must constantly think of new ideas for your email marketing strategy.
Cinemagraphs are like that breath of fresh air for eCommerce email marketers who want to stand out from the heaps of promotional emails.

Take a look at this email by Uncommon Goods in which they have promoted the Indoor S’mores Fire Pit with a compelling cinemagraph. It not only adds to the visual appeal of the email but also demonstrates the usage of the product.   

S’mores Fire Pit with a compelling cinemagraph


E-retailers can use cinemagraphs to grab the subscriber’s attention and encourage them to make the purchase.
See how Saks Fifth Avenue has showcased their floral dress with the help of a pretty animation. 

cinemagraph example

Alternatively, you can also create a metaphoric visual that reflects the USPs of your product like Mr. Porter has done it. They have created the image of a comfortable setup near the fireplace to promote their loungewear. The cinemagraph brings the cozy ambiance to life and entices the user to check their products.


2. Travel Industry

What’s the best way to inspire wanderlust through emails?
Well, the answer is: By including visuals that will tempt the user to set off on a vacation. (Of course, you must not forget ‘engaging copy’)
Cinemagraphs can impart a surreal feeling and take travel industry emails to the next level.
Here is an example by Air France, KLM in which they have promoted the enchanting purple province of France with a cinemagraph.

travel industry cinemagraph
travel industry cinemagraph


Hawaiian Airlines has included a lovely cinemagraph in their hero image and prompted the user to book the tickets “now”.

Hawaiian Airlines cinemagraph

3. Telecommunications Industry

Telecommunications industry email marketers can take the help of cinemagraphs and get more subscribers to watch their shows. 

Netflix had tried it back in 2014 for the second season of “House of Cards”, and it worked like a charm to increase the viewership of this show. 

Netflix Cinemagraph


Here’s another example in which they have promoted their show: Fate/Extra Last Encore, by using a cinemagraph. 

Fate/Extra Last Encore,  cinemagraph.


4. Food and Beverage Industry

We introduced cinemagraphs with “food”… so I am sure you already have some idea about how to use it in the food and beverage industry. 

Let me share an example by Detour Coffee Roasters in which they have used cinemagraph to welcome their new subscriber.

Detour Coffee Roasters cinemagraph
Detour Coffee Roasters cinemagraph


You can even take some inspiration from this snippet from Pizza Express’s email.


5. Fashion and Beauty Industry

Korres, a brand dealing with natural beauty products, sent out a compelling Black Friday email to boost their holiday sales. 

natural beauty products cinemagraphs

If you are in the fashion industry, you can use similar ideas to advertise your products.

Take a look at this cinemagraph to get inspired. 

fashion industry cinemagraph



Compatibility of Cinemagraphs in Emails

If you are wondering which email clients support cinemagraphs, here’s a table to help you out. 

Note: This applies to cinemagraphs in the GIF format.

Compatibility of Cinemagraphs in Emails

Best Practices to Use Cinemagraphs in Emails

You have to keep in mind some important points while using cinemagraphs in your emails. 

  1. Always add a suitable Alt-text with cinemagraphs (like you do for other visual elements). 
  2. The size of the cinemagraph must not be too large; otherwise, it will affect the loading speed of the email.


    Average content download speed


  3. Your animation must add value to the message and not just be there for the sake of it. 
  4. Choose colors that are accessible for everyone, regardless of any visual disability. Avoid using visuals that rely too much on color to convey the message.
  5. Do not include any important message or CTA on the image. Subscribers with images turned off might not be able to see the message. 
  6. Use these visuals judiciously so that your users do not get bored of seeing the same thing from you again and again. Serve it in such a way that they look forward to your messages.  

Wrapping Up

Have you come across any interesting cinemagraphs in your email inbox?

We would love to hear from you. (and add them in this post)

Drop in your comments below. 


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Disha Bhatt (Dave)

Disha Bhatt (Dave) works as a Content Strategist at Email Uplers. She is a dentist, who has found her calling in words & technical subjects. She loves to pen down travelogues and romantic short stories in her free time.



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