Tuesday June 7th, 2016

GIF Marketing: The Motion of the Digital Ocean

Here’s the scenario; it’s lunch time and in an attempt to better yourself, you’ve sacrificed your precious lunch hour of unwinding on nonsensical memes and your friends’ latest Facebook updates to instead attend a lunch-and-learn opportunity. It’s an interesting topic and something you work with on a near-daily basis. You take your seat in the conference room with your complimentary meal excited to better your workflow when you see that all too familiar text-heavy Powerpoint slide appear. Your posture weakens as you slip downward in your chair immediately regretting your decision.

As anyone who’s been in this moment can tell you,

Sure there can be good information available in them, but in that chaotic maelstrom of text, who can tell? This is where animated GIFs can help you out.

What is a GIF?

GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format. It was developed by CompuServe in 1987 and has a strong level of support across all the internet browsers and email clients. More importantly, what separates a GIF from the standard JPG or PNG is that GIFs can be animated.

Why use a GIF?

Using an animated GIF helps to separate your content out from the marketing pack. Whether it be in presentations, email blasts, or other digital marketing materials, your goal is to get customers to click through, contact, or purchase your product and that touch of motion encourages your customers to do that. Not picking up what I’m putting down? Well, let’s talk about DELL XPS 12 Convertible Ultrabook.

Dude, you’re getting a Dell!

The Dell XPS 12 Convertible Ultrabook is a laptop with a hinge design that allows it to be converted and used as a tablet. Its release at the time was cutting-edge as “convertibles” were still extremely new in the market. So the question came of how best to approach potential customers on a product they’re not sure how or why they’d use it. Enter animated GIFs.

They started an email campaign which they described as “...certainly not a Dell-looking email that we historically run” primarily focused on animated GIFs to showcase the products. They cut down the copy and let the animated GIF do the work for them.

The results:

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

What makes a good GIF?

For years designers have been preaching – yes, on our well- crafted, flat color soapboxes – to be light on text and bold with visual content in almost every kind of digital media. The more information you try to cram into something the more likely you’re about to lose track of everything you’re trying to organize. The same goes with animated GIFs.

Not picking up what I’m putting down yet? Here are some good guidelines:

  • Keep file size low. No more than 1 MB at the most.
  • Make it brief. 10 seconds is plenty. If you aren’t communicating your message in that amount of time, maybe you should rethink the animation.
  • Does it need to go on forever? Animated GIFs can go on forever without timing out should you really want them to, but be sure you need them to.
  • Serve a purpose. Just because you can doesn’t always mean you should. If possible, use an animated GIF to help make an impact or to illustrate a point. Really drive home what you’re saying in your content.
  • K.I.S.S. Keep it simple, stupid. It’s a guiding light statement for designers and developers alike. When you’re developing Animated GIFs, sometimes all you need is a subtle twist to make an impact much like the NIKE advertisement below.

Animated GIFs may be nothing new, but their use has definitely trended them into becoming a language all their own. If you’re interested in learning about how incorporating a bit of motion into your static media would impact your return on investment, please feel free to contact us. Or you’re always welcome to continue the conversation in the comments below.

J.D. Cutter,

Senior Front-End Web Developer

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