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The Rise of GIFS in Marketing

 In Digital Marketing

There’s no doubt by now you’ve not only seen but probably have used GIFs in your life. Maybe you’ve even used them yourself online, posting a funny reaction on Twitter, or sending one of those cute baby animal shots to a friend via email.

GIFs are great. They are entertaining and can be used to easily convey a message in an often funny or emotional way.

So, it shouldn’t come as a big surprise brands and marketers are starting to embrace GIFs as well. In fact, data from Twitter shows that in 2015, over 100 million GIFs were shared in Tweets. Other social media sharing sites like Facebook and Tumblr weren’t far behind.

To be clear, though, GIFs weren’t just included because they were fun, nope marketers are a lot smarter than that, GIFs are also good for increasing engagement and click rates as well, the holy grail of marketing!

Convinced yet?

A lot of brands and marketers are, using GIFs as part of their marketing strategy in everything from emails to landing pages. Here, we’re going to cover a few examples that highlight just how important the rise of GIFs in marketing has been over the last year or so (plus how it will likely continue in the future).

Email Campaigns

Dell Computers was one of the first big brands to embrace the GIF in an email marketing campaign in 2014. The goal was to highlight their new laptop which featured a hinge that turned it from a conventional laptop into a tablet.

Clearly, something like that is somewhat difficult to describe without seeing. Hence, the GIF.

According to Marketing Sherpa, which did a nice case study on this particular email campaign, Dell was focused on making a quick and simple GIF that showed just how cool their new laptop was in less than a second.

They came up with this:

The results speak for themselves. Compared to the previous quarter, Dell saw:

    • 6% increase in open rate
    • 42% increase in click rate
    • 103% increase in conversion rate
    • 109% increase in revenue

Not too shabby, right?

Social Media

Brands jumped on the GIF bandwagon on social media relatively early. Part of the reason why a GIF can work so effectively is that they can quickly tell a story that grabs the viewer right from the get-go.

As Joe Puglisi, who is the Senior Creative Strategist at Buzzfeed, said in 2014:

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a GIF is worth 10,000. GIFs are a mini-vehicle for storytelling, capturing emotions, and communicating them in a concise way that words and pictures alone cannot.

So, while Dell used their GIF as education, to quickly and visually highlight a product feature, other brands are also embracing storytelling.

One brand that has gone all in on GIFs across their Twitter accounts is Major Leauge Baseball. They’ve found a way to be able to distill a 3 hour game into super quick moments that can still tell a story.

Not only does the main @MLB Twitter account highlight lots of GIFs, but the league even has a GIF-specific @MLBGIFs account as well, which is nothing but GIFs.

They do a great job of highlighting the fun and light side of the game to younger audiences, people they are desperately trying to attract.

Blog Posts and Articles

While social media might be the obvious place to jump into the GIF game, brands are also embracing GIFs in less conventional areas like blog posts.

Using a GIF inside a post is a great way to highlight a point or show a quick bit of instruction to a reader.

The media site VOX.com is all about using GIFs in their blog posts, which cover everything from tracking where fishing boats are moving around the world:

fishingwatch.gif

To highlighting how bacteria evolves:

To how you can incorporate more Simpson’s quotes in your life (let’s face it, who doesn’t want that?):

millhouse.gif

These all showcase just how varied the use of GIFs can be. Your brand doesn’t have to just have them be totally funny all the time. GIFs can be used to drive home a fact, or highlight directions. As you might have seen in this post, during the Rio Summer Olympics, a number of newspapers around the world embraced GIFs in their reporting of the games.

There’s another big benefit to the GIF too.

As you can see from this image from QuickSprout, blog posts with animated graphics are shared far more on social media than corresponding posts that don’t have them.

top-blog-post-image-types

So just simply dropping a GIF into your blog post (one that makese sense obviously) might just be a very easy way to dramatically improve reader engagement.

Landing Pages

Yup, GIFs are even being used on landing pages by some brands who are really trying to think out of the box.

We know one thing that is incredibly important to marketers is engagement, and not just passive engagement, but active engagement, having someone complete an action.

That is hard to do, especially on a landing page, when a potential customer pops onto the page, looks at it for 2 seconds and then moves on to something else.

But, when something creative is used that increases curiosity or gets people interested in what’s coming next, consumers are more likely to keep reading, which increases their chance of taking action.

That’s where the GIF can come into play.

Campaign Monitor used a GIF on it’s landing page to highlight just how easy it is for customers to create and build their own email campaigns.

campaignmonitor.gif

Using a GIF this way helps them remove a standard objection from potential customers, those who think building their own emails or newsletters for their brand is too hard to do on their own.

The simple GIF highlights the drag and drop features, showing just how easy it can be, very smart marketing for just about a second or two of animation.

Final Thoughts

So, do you realize just how many ways you can use a GIF in your brand’s marketing? Way cooler than sharing cat photos (though those are pretty cool too), right?

Being a little bit creative and using or creating GIFs that highlight your content, educate your customer, or simply tell a quick and easy story can have a pretty dramatic positive effect over the long run.

As consumers get bombarded with so much information online, using GIFs is a great way to highlight a quick emotional connection and keep those flagging attention rates going strong all at the same time.

Have you been able to feature GIFs in your marketing strategy?