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

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.



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
  • They can be responsive
  • They convey emotion
  • A picture is worth 1000 words
  • Images break up text, making an email look more engaging
  • Can be placed using email editors


  • 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).
  • Requires some HTML experience to embed correctly

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
  • Provides an exciting user experience
  • They can convey emotion and atmosphere better than an image or text
  • They can inspire
  • Supported on some browsers (click here to see which)


  • Not supported on all browsers – have a backup plan.
  • Not supported on all email clients
  • Not supported on all OS
  • Video can be a dead end in an email, where no one converts because they already saw the video

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.


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
  • Convey much more information than an image in the same space
  • GIFs are like the moving paintings in Harry Potter. When you see them in an email, they can surprise and delight.


  • They aren’t compatible with many versions of Outlook (shocking, right?)
  • They can sometimes be slow to load – this is less of an issue in B2B
  • Your audience either loves or hates GIFs

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
  • Seamless looping makes them captivating
  • Cheaper and easier to create than video
  • Encourages engagement
  • If the cinemagraph fails to play, it’s not a huge deal since the moving element is so small (unlike classic GIFs)


  • Large file size – remember to compress
  • Not compatible with most Outlook products
  • Will be hidden if images are off – remember your alt text

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
  • Not commonly done. If relevant, might see increased engagement


  • If your audio autoplays, prepare for massive unsubscribes
  • Not many clients support it
  • Often there’s very little practical value

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?
  • What are they?
  • What is your favorite type of rich media to use in marketing emails?


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