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GIF marketing: How to create and use GIFs for business

If you use GIFs (i.e. if you’ve been on the internet in the past 10 years), you already know how much potential they have to liven up digital conversation.

But GIFs aren’t just used for adding flavour to your WhatsApp conversations and Slack threads.

Over the past few years, GIF marketing has emerged as a new trend for businesses around the world. B

ut you might be wondering: why would you even use GIFs for business?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. 

Think About It Reaction GIF by Identity - Find & Share on GIPHY

The benefits of using GIFs in your marketing

  1. They’re more interesting than images: GIFs add movement and energy to whatever content they accompany, making it easier to stand out against your competitors in social feeds, emails, advertisements, and more. 
  2. Your customers love them: At the height of Tumblr, a microblogging site that relies heavily on GIFs and increased the popularity of their usage in other channels, users were posting 23 million GIFs on the platform every day – a habit that contributed to the mass number of GIFs that are used throughout the internet daily. Now, Giphy users send more than 1 billion GIFs each day. This trend has continued to increase, and we don’t see it slowing down anytime soon. 
Insane Bethenny Frankel GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
  1. They show action and enhance learning: Would you believe us if we told you GIFs are backed by science? Psychology Today stresses the importance of visual learning, and says that the brain is built to process images much more quickly than it does words. That means if you’re trying to educate your customers, GIFs are a much better tool than long articles or instructions. 
  2. They’re mobile-friendly: Cramming too many videos on your website can lead to slow load times and unideal user experiences. GIFs solve that problem; their file size is notably smaller than videos – and sometimes even smaller than images – making the mobile viewing experience much more accessible for people with bandwidth issues. 
  3. They’re fun: Sure, sometimes we make marketing decisions because it’s going to boost conversion rates or increase clicks or drive traffic. Numbers and statistics matter. But so does the user experience. You want your customers to enjoy engaging with your brand and your content, and adding a little fun to their interactions with you creates a positive brand correlation. (See how we did that by including GIFs in our own post? Talk about meta.)
D&D Meta GIF by Hyper RPG - Find & Share on GIPHY

Let’s get to the reason you’re here. Here’s how to amp up your GIF marketing, create your own GIFs, and take advantage of this fun media across a variety of digital channels. 

3 ways to create a GIF

While GIFs might look and feel like video files, they’re much easier to create. You don’t need any experience in complicated editing or post-production software to make your first GIF in just a few minutes. Here’s how you can make one using three popular GIF creation methods. 

1. Use a GIF maker app

There are dozens of awesome GIF maker apps you can use to create your own GIFs for free on your phone. These tools allow you to upload images to create a GIF from start to finish. In addition to using your own photos, you can also add fun extras, like text overlays, filters, backgrounds, images, emojis, and other customisations. No matter which platform you choose, the process is simple: create an account, upload your images, adjust different settings like your GIF’s speed and length, add your extras, and export as a .GIF file. Then share it with the world! For a list of our favorite tools, check out our post, 12 Best GIF Maker Apps on iPhone and Android.

2. Create one from a video

You might be wondering, if I have a video, why would I want to convert it into a GIF? There are plenty of reasons. First, GIFs are much faster to load online; videos can come with long load times that result in fewer views or interactions. Second, GIFs are a great way to reuse your existing video content. If you have a 2-minute video, you could export dozens of GIFs from that single video and use them on social media channels, in marketing emails, and on other digital outlets (more on that later). And finally, sometimes you just don’t need a video. Maybe you just want to add a snippet of movement to your digital content, but don’t need something super long; GIFs are the answer. Luckily for you, there are plenty of great video-to-GIF converters online. Some are free and basic, while others require payment but come with fun extra features and functionalities. We’ve done the legwork for you to find and review the Top 12 Video to GIF Converters on our blog. Check it out to find the tool that’s best for you and your project. 

3. Source one from a GIF website

Don’t feel like going through the process of making your own GIF? No problem – the internet has you covered. There are dozens of pre-populated GIF libraries online that you can leverage to add some spice to your content. Giphy, one of the most popular, has more than 500 million active daily users, and those visitors watch more than 11 million hours of content on Giphy each and every day. There are plenty of other options if Giphy isn’t your GIF library of choice; Gfycat (an ode to the internet’s most popular and beloved animal) and Tenor also have sizeable selections. Once you use these tools’ search features to find the moving meme of your dreams, you can copy the link to the GIF or download the file and use it in your own content. 

Seth Meyers Boom GIF by Late Night with Seth Meyers - Find & Share on GIPHY

Where to use GIFs for business

Now that you have plenty of tools in your media creation toolbox, let’s talk about GIF marketing. There are plenty of statistics that prove the value of using these fun files for business; one study found that articles with an image every 75-100 words got double the shares on social media as image-sparse articles. 

Another study by Dell found that an email campaign that relied heavily on GIFs resulted in a 103% increase in conversion rates. And since 92% of video marketers feel the level of noise and competition have increased in the last year, GIFs are a great way to mix things up and differentiate your message from the competition. Here are some of the most popular and effective ways to use GIFs in your marketing mix. 

Social media

Social media is the ultimate GIF channel. These fun, quick bits of content are exactly what social media was made for. So it makes sense that brands around the world and in nearly every industry are using GIFs on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

A great example of a brand that’s killing the GIF game on Twitter is The Great British Bake Off.

They use GIFs as teasers for upcoming episodes – picking the best bits of the show to entice their followers to tune in.
GIFs can also be used for less direct marketing, like this one posted by ASOS on Facebook:

This GIF is relatable, funny, and current – which is probably why it has so many comments, likes, and shares! 

And, while it doesn’t directly promote ASOS’s clothing, it does speak directly to their customers – people who love shopping for and wearing new clothes.

Emails

GIFs have a lot of qualities that make them great for email; they’re quick bits of content, they add visuals to written copy, and, like we talked about above, they’re small files that are easy to transmit – which is important to the success of your email marketing. If your email doesn’t load in a few seconds because it’s packed with large image or video files, your readers are more likely to hit “delete” before they even see your content. GIFs come in very small file sizes, making them ideal for this delivery method. 

Email marketing GIFs don’t have to be complicated. Check out the simplest GIF in our post below. This ShoeMint GIF is composed of two images that play back to back to create motion. Take a moment to imagine this email with a single image; it would still be well-designed, it might still be effective, but it wouldn’t be as interesting and dynamic without that little kick of movement. 

This example from Brooklinen is equally simple. It plays at the top of their new customer welcome emails, turning what could be a boring “hello” into an exciting moment that inspires anticipation. Who knew three photos stacked on top of each other could be so fun to watch?

The BBC also shows how you can use GIFs in email marketing with their moving email header. Their approach is different from the examples we’ve seen above; while other companies opted to use photo-based GIFs, BBC chose a motion graphics style to add visual interest at the top of this email, grab readers attention, and inspire them to keep reading. 

Blog posts

Blog posts are a perfect place to use GIFs for business, whether you include a single GIF as a header image in a post or layer them throughout the post to break up content – like in our first example. Check out this series of how-to GIFs Huffington Post whipped up in their blog post on 5 Ways to Wear a Silk Scarf. Their media choice is perfect; when a reader is trying to learn how to tie a scarf using any of these methods, the last thing they want to do is read a list of instructions; talk about complicated. With GIFs, they can see each example on repeat until they feel confident trying it out for themselves. 

While GIFs can certainly add a fun element to a piece of content, they can also be a powerful tool for communicating news, data, and important information. In this example below, check out how NPR uses a simple animated GIF to show the rise of Islamic extremism across Syria and Iraq. Sure, they could have used a traditional bar chart or line graph to accompany this news article, but this animated map shows this data is a more visual and digestible format, and helps readers understand the news story at hand. 

Websites and product pages

If you’re looking to amp up your website (and who isn’t?), GIFs could be the answer. Just like with emails, GIFs add energy and movement to a static website, but without dragging down page load times because of large file sizes. You can use this media throughout your website in any number of places; we saw great uses of it on company blogs in the above examples, but GIFs are also great additions to product pages, landing pages, web experiences, and more. 

Take a look at how Dell used a GIF on their product page for the XPS 12 Convertible Ultrabook. This media form was perfect for this application; Dell wanted to show off the versatility and easily interchangeable format of their product, and did so beautifully with this animated GIF. This same effect simply wouldn’t have been possible with static images. 

Clothing brand Cusp took product promotion to the next level with their GIF lookbook. Check out a few digital pages from their moving lookbook to see how they show off multiple products in a single moving graphic. This is a unique way to transform a digital catalogue into something much more engaging and entertaining. 

But GIF usage on websites isn’t reserved just for products. You can use them practically anywhere. Lyft is a perfect example of that. Check out their 404 page for a cute and creative GIF that shows off their brand personality as a car literally drives around in circles. 

In outdoor advertising

You might have expected to see examples of GIFs used on social media, in emails, and on websites – but this next example is out of this world (or at least outdoors). For the launch of Netflix in France, the streaming company used an outdoor campaign that featured GIFs from more than 100 movies and television shows on the platform. This was the first and only outdoor advertising campaign in the world that was made exclusively from GIFs. 

The campaign wasn’t just creative and visually stunning – it was effective. The GIF advertisements aired on more than 8,000 screens in France across three months, and increased brand awareness in the country from 25% to 68%. All this momentum came from reusing content Netflix already had to create something quick, interesting, and engaging for passersby at bus and train stops. 

Wrapping up

There’s no denying GIFs are much more than a fun way to add personality to a text exchange. They’re also a great marketing tool for business, and a fun way to add vibrancy to a marketing mix. We reviewed several of the most popular channels where businesses are currently using GIFs, but as the popularity of GIFs continues to rise, we expect to see even more creative applications. As you think about how you can add them to your marketing mix, consider using them in other places, like:

  • Headshot images on your team bios page
  • Television commercials
  • Digital banner ads
  • E-commerce product listings
  • Email signatures
  • Internal e-newsletters
  • Digital catalogues 
  • An animated version of your logo
  • Marketing campaign landing pages

As you set out to experience the glory of GIFs and start creating your own, take advantage of some resources we’ve put together for you. Review our lists of awesome GIF maker apps and video-to-GIF converters to make your first GIF in a matter of minutes with the help of some easy-to-use tech.