5 Innovative Marketing Uses for the GIF

As the GIF turns 25, it’s about time that this clever image format “grows up”.  The GIF is enjoying a resurgence of popularity, primarily among teens using Tumblr and artists experimenting with the effect of miniature or localized areas of motion within photographs.  A good modern GIF captures just enough of a specific moment in time to illustrate emotion, yet leaves enough out to spark your curiosity.  The next step for the GIF is acceptance and integration into the $260B advertising and marketing industry.  Collectively, GIFs are a perfect format to help businesses of all sizes attract, engage and communicate in a new way – one that still images and video cannot.  GIF Marketing is the next big trend, and here are 5 ways you can jump on board right now.

Email Campaigns

Email campaigns are one of the easiest ways to demonstrate the power of the GIF.  Unlike video, GIFs open and play instantly in every browser and on all email clients (with the exception of older versions of MS Outlook which represent less than 9% of the total user market).  Email services such as Constant Contact, Mailchimp, iContact, Vertical Response (and most other popular email service providers) support the GIF file format, allowing users to upload an animated GIF just as they would any still image file.  Email marketing is growing at over 20% annually, and is especially popular among small businesses. Spice up your next email campaign with a GIF that catches your customer’s attention.  Just like any standard image, you can link it to a landing page or website, to “supercharge” your click-thru-rates!

Website Graphics

Add a GIF to your website to bring your marketing message to life.  Replace old and tired still images with GIFs to attract potential customers by keeping them engaged and driving them to take the next step.  Enhance your site’s call to action by silently demonstrating your product’s features and value proposition, without requiring your visitors to hit a play button to view a video.  GIFs can be background images, product shots, demonstrations, text, beautiful scenery – or virtually anything that helps better tell your story and communicate your message.  GIFs are even perfect to use to replace headshot images on the company page or show-off the office on the “about us” page.  Use a GIF to bring your company to life in a way that connects with your customer.  A GIF will enhance any and every web page on your site or blog.

Video Teasers

What if the first 10 seconds of your video were automatically shown even before the customer actively decides to click to watch?  Rather than forcing a prospective customer to enter your store in order to see your “signage”, what if we place the “billboard” where it belongs and is most effective – out front for all to see.  Sound familiar?  It should – it’s a tried and true way of doing business!  Video engagement will only increase if the quality of the customer clicking-through improves. Check out this sample web page for uShip.com that shows how GIFs are a smart way to tease a video.  As you can see, placing a GIF on top of a video embed will attract the customer and provide a more meaningful context in which to consume the information.  Dump the boring still image and static play button and replace it with an animated GIF that provides a preview of what is to come.

Social Media

Bring a new dimension to your social media strategy.  Use GIFs to enhance the conversation in blog posts, tweets, pins, streams and texts across most social networking sites.  WordPress, Tumblr, Twitter, Google+, Flickr and more support the animated GIF format – and now many even encourage its use.  Tumblr, for example, has more than 70.2M posts daily, and it is estimated more than half of those contain GIFs.  You can find all sorts of inspiration here and here.  Turn your company avatar into a GIF, or just include eye-catching GIF content as part of your communications.  In March, the fashion icon Burberry Tweeted a personalized GIF to over 3,000 of their followers as a special thank you for their support.  Facebook does not currently support the animated GIF format; however it will still show well as a static image on your page.  We expect that to change in the near future.


Just like e-mail campaigns, newsletters are a perfect spot for a GIF.  Communicating with existing customers drives repeat business – and what better way to catch their attention than with an unexpected moving picture?  Increase your customer engagement and get higher click-thru-rates on each and every newsletter that is sent.  Forget the jpegs, and sprinkle a few GIFs in your next newsletter to bring your call to action to life, and surprise your subscribers with your creativity.  GIFs are a great way to attract more attention to your newsletter message and entertain at the same time.  The potential uses are unlimited: use a GIF of someone receiving an award; showcase a ribbon cutting on the latest project; demonstrate your newest product; or announce a special promotion. No matter what the topic, using a GIF will that grasp their attention.

As you can see, GIFs are a great way to supercharge your marketing efforts.  GIFs provide a simple and easy way to both improve your messaging and be more effective in gaining attention and increasing audience engagement.  Teens and artists have brought the GIF back to life creatively, and technology advances have given it a much needed facelift.  GIFs are back, better than ever and here to stay!  Now is the time to embrace the trend, and integrate this hipster format into your company’s marketing strategy.


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