Animals in Email Design: The Trick to Grabbing Your Readers’ Attention?

You want to be memorable. Shared. Go viral, even. The

You want to be memorable. Shared. Go viral, even.

The solution? Animals. People can’t resist cute animals. They’re even reported to get more attention than major media outlets. It’s the reason why John St.’s “Catvertising” pitch became a viral hit.

But you can’t just slap a random picture of a kitty in your design. It looks out of place, and a little desperate. The key is to use images that work with the flow of your email.

Here are five examples of how other businesses do that, and how you can apply it to your marketing.

Put Animals in a Logo

animals in logos

ScrapbookEden adds colorful images in the header, including, yes – animals! It’s a playful way to catch the readers eye.

This is easy to implement; have your company adopt a mascot and make it part of your logo. Mascots can help more than your design – they can be converted into stuffed animals, stickers, or posters that make for great free gifts.

Use Product Placement

product placement

Coca-Cola gets product placement in different media outlets, but we love that picture of a cute puppy licking a soda can on the far right. Nothing says cute like a baby animal using a human product.

If you’re selling a tangible product, give it some animal love. Set up a pose with your pet or a friend’s, and share it with subscribers.

Contribute to a Charity

contribute to charity

While the condition of the water 100 miles out to sea might not be on our minds, who can resist saving cute animals? Coca-Cola adds a note about their partnership to the Ocean Conservancy program in their emails.

This is another easy one for your business. Just pick an animal you love (if you picked a mascot already, that makes a good choice), and support a cause for it. As long as you don’t pick a squirrel, you’ll probably find some organization that supports that animal.

Provide a Secret Code

provide a secret code

Like many companies, shanalogic requires subscribers to enter in a special code to get their bonus. Perfect opportunity to insert a random animal. Here shanalogic chose “PARROT” and has a parrot announce the code.

If you are inserting codes for people to download your product, access special offers or even see your website, consider using an animal friend to help.

Teach a Lesson

teach a lesson

Tiny kitten in a hot pink cast: so sad, so cute, cannot look away. What’s this email about? Active Outthere sells goggles for skiing, and “Mr. Tibbles” forgot to wear his!

Awesome, so how do you do this? All you need is a ridiculously cute picture of an animal and tie it into your product. Does the dog look sad? Maybe he should have read your ebook. Does the ferret look bored? Should have watched your video. You get the idea.

Time to Brainstorm!

Think about what can work in your design. Remember:

  • Don’t look desperate
  • Have it make sense
  • Don’t let it be too distracting

Have fun, and let us know what you come up with!


  1. Dennis

    1/26/2012 12:15 am

    I’ve never thought about doing this… and I just got through making my logo.. I’m wishing I would have put a cat or a dog in it somewhere now..

    I guess that’s part of the reason HostGator is so successful…

    Great post.. I’ll definitely keep these points in mind

  2. Aaron Schulman

    1/26/2012 10:12 am

    Hi Crystal,

    I wonder if a few split tests would show gender response differences to some of these.

    Sometimes women and men (as well as teens vs. adults) respond differently to these kinds of things.

    Some old studies showed that women were more likely to respond to pictures of women with babies – etc. . . (Claude Hopkins – Scientific Advertising I think).



  3. Rosemary Levesque

    1/26/2012 12:22 pm

    I’m all about animals in my message and make sure to include them on my business card, facebook page and blog. Though my products and services are for people, we can’t ignore the connection we have to our furry family; love, care, safety, compassion, health, huggable. Thanks for a great post and a reminder to all that we can reach more people through their hearts.

  4. Lisa Stewart

    1/26/2012 3:14 pm

    I’m a huge animal advocate and love to see animal depictions where applicable: veterinarians, pet illustrators, pet stores, etc.

    That being said, it pays to be mindful of how a photo or illustration is being used in one’s business. Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense to use a cat logo (for instance) on a photography business card when she photographs anything but cats or exploit an animal cause because you think you’ll look better in your customers eyes -they’ll see right thru that. Follow your passion and use the best image that represents it because you don’t want to be accused of using cheap tactics. 😉

  5. Ben Smith

    1/26/2012 6:49 pm

    Dogs and Technology? No,what about a Hawk? Very fast,never misses..hmm.good..idea,think,think.a cute baby alien showing us how to?

  6. Jon

    1/26/2012 10:45 pm

    I’m 100% behind this awesome idea. I’m going to start brainstorming ways to put animals into my email campaigns right away!

  7. Dale

    1/29/2012 4:33 pm

    This makes a lot of sense. These kitty videos have been going viral all over youtube for a while now. I still don’t get it, but it works!

  8. Liat

    1/29/2012 4:56 pm

    I love this idea! I got to use a cat photo to great effect in my “How to Wind the Perfect Ball of Yarn” post. Didn’t know I was using an AWeber-certified tactic!

  9. Crystal Gouldey

    2/6/2012 10:15 am

    Aaron- Split testing is always a good idea. I’d be interested in seeing the results for that type of test; I haven’t seen any yet.

    Lisa- I absolutely agree with you about avoiding using “cheap tactics.” That was one of the points I made in the post – using animals in design will only work if you do it right. The examples in the post do a great job.

    Great comments, everyone!

  10. Angela

    2/14/2012 12:45 pm

    I was doing this,, just because i thought it was cute. Glad to know I’m on the right path. Thank you!

  11. mutuelle animaux

    2/15/2012 5:13 am

    Yeah, I think you re right because people love animals. They re cute so they grab your attention. ^^

  12. Ben Smith

    2/15/2012 9:21 am

    A very good way to get attention,when animals are promoting (anything ),everyone watches because they are unpredictable,funny,and loveable.

  13. TDB

    7/14/2012 8:44 pm

    Time to get creative! I like your suggestions for how to go about implementing this idea.