Cats, memes, and celeb shots dominate the ever-growing world of GIF marketing. Giphy, a platform dedicated to GIFs, actually serves more than 1 billion GIFs each day.
But just because the domain of GIFs is largely governed by entertainment, doesn’t mean that they can’t be used for other purposes.
The GIF format is almost 3 decades old now (with the first one developed by CompuServe in 1987). If something sticks around for that long, you can be sure that marketers will find a way to use it for themselves. And they have.
Here’s how brands have been using GIF marketing in clever ways to present their message, engage customers and push conversions.
1. GIFs in email
Almost all email client software support GIFs (although Outlook 2007+ looks to have some issues). So rather than adding a static image, try embedding a GIF in your newsletter. It can make your email marketing campaign more exciting.
Check this newsletter by Litmus. Instead of just explaining what their product does, they added a GIF to show how it works. Pretty cool, right?
This is a good way to build excitement, understanding, and anticipation with your customers – powerful emotions get people to click. Just make sure your customers are familiar with your brand, and the GIF doesn’t appear as a spam.
2. Product illustration
As much as video makes people buy more, it’s not always within budget to produce an HD video. Still, photographs of your product can only convey a very one-dimensional perspective.
GIFs are a great way to counter the deficiencies. They are like a tiny video, without any of the effort to produce one. Have a look at the Xbox One controller from the E3 demo.
It gives an all-round feel of what the product looks like, unlike a picture would. It gives better credibility to your virtual personality as a person or brand. (Alternatively, you can now use 360-degree pictures too.)
3. Sneak Peeks
New products are all about the hype. Live event showcases are the best; veiled, shrouded and mysterious pictures are good too. GIFs offer a similar but more variable functionality to this practice.
Nintendo got creative announcing their partnership with Vans.
They visibly summarized the announcement by portraying both the companies’ flagship products. You can take the suggestive approach of Nintendo to create a buzz in your audience about a new product or service prior to its launch.
4. Product functionality
GIFs’ variability is not limited to just showing off a nice looking product or location that you offer in your travel packages.
You can show what it does and how. This is especially true for products that have obscure, technical functioning.
You might be manufacturing a complicated piece of technology that involves a lot of mechanical units working in cohesion. GIFs can be really insightful with these. Here’s the functioning of a car engine:
An insight into the functioning of your product or service can create an immense sense of security in your prospective buyers.
Even if your business doesn’t include a physical product, you can still use GIFs to flaunt your values and benefits. Siteflood, an SEO agency, uses this delightful GIF on their homepage to capture consumers’ hearts.
So don’t just mash words. Flaunt your product USP with a GIF.
5. Product how-to’s
For SaaS companies, demo videos or tutorials are crucial in helping customers get the hang of the software features and functionalities. The only problem is that you will have to rely on your customers to click on the video play button. GIFs can remove this limitation.
MailChimp loves these explainer GIFs. For every new feature rollout or update, they use GIFs to communicate to their customers. On email and on their blog. Here’s one gif on their new campaign builder.
This is much like screen-recordings of the dashboard, albeit edited to show only the important frames. (You can create the same using Powerpoint too if you are going the DIY route.)
GIFs can also work for physical products, the mechanical ones. And they are pretty useful in the sense that they don’t rely on any action from the viewer. They provide information quickly and clearly.
You can easily develop short GIF tutorials showing customers how they can use your services/products and make multiple GIFs as part of an article or even share them on social media.
6. Homepage engagement
Your homepage is an excellent place to include GIFs to attract attention and make your website more appealing.
Having GIFs on homepages can be a great way to delight your visitors and make your site look a little more lively.
Be careful while experimenting with this feature and don’t include too many elements. Not only will it make the page load times significantly higher, but it can distract the visitors from your landing page goal.
Just like making a video or a good landing page that directs a user’s attention to the right things, GIFs play a similar role. Maybe even better so.
Including GIFs in explainer articles or to showcase features is a great way to attract attention to your product or service creating some solid calls-to-action that are visual and appealing, yet not bothersome enough to have the visitor sit through an entire video desperately trying to retain their attention.
An excellent example of this is how DogFish Head showcases its new ale production with a series of brilliant GIFs:
This GIF series is of top-notch quality and creates value in the eye of the viewer by showcasing how a glass of the new strawberry-and-honey-flavored Tweason’ ale is produced, thus gaining buyer’s trust. Also, it looks really cool too.
Or it could be something more direct such as:
In either case, these GIFs present a solid case of what each of them is offering, and you can follow in their footsteps for better conversions. Dell saw 103% better conversions with their first GIF campaign. Give it a shot.
8. Social media
Even with all the professional marketing advice advocating the integration of GIFs into your email campaigns, homepages and what not, you shouldn’t let go of the internet culture of using GIFs to delight your audience.
James Curran made this for Adobe:
It’s simple and engaging enough to grab your attention, but it isn’t very professional in the strictest sense either. And that’s okay.
Such initiatives on social media websites not only create a sense of trust, loyalty, and all that jazz but they also promote some humorous interactions that might forge good relationships.
Google sent this as an official response to a Daily Dot reporter when they were asked about their YouTube live streaming service.
Don’t be shy to go overboard. Just a little.
GIFs are very easy to make, relatively small in size, offer more than an image, and are very affordable in contrast to the cost and effort that goes into making a video; that explains their ubiquity. It’s the middle ground between an image and a video. Not a replacement for either, just a hybrid version of the two.
Even if you don’t have good video editing skills, there’s plenty of places like Make A Gif which offers the simplicity of a few clicks to help you set up some great GIFs.
Or you can always use GIPHY. GIPHY has emerged as one of the biggest stockpiles of GIFs and there’s hardly anything you won’t find there. Social media giants like Facebook, Instagram (albeit through a workaround), and Twitter support GIFs, and have added another layer of interaction when it comes to visual media marketing.
There’s plenty to look around and take references from if you’re lost in the world of GIF marketing and its utility in your campaigns.
If you are doubtful about making GIFs yourself, hire a visual marketing agency to develop GIFs that push your marketing and conversion strategies.
Tip: Hire a GIF expert or a freelancer on Fiverr.
Guest Author: Deepasha is a visual marketer, founder of Crackitt, and consumer behaviour aficionado. She helps businesses & organisations hone their identities, craft their brands, and share their truths using beautiful handmade animated videos and compelling infographics. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.