Who doesn’t love animated GIFs? Tumblr users certainly do. BuzzFeed’s practically built a business on how much people love them. If pictures say a thousand words, imagine how much a 4-second animated picture could tell your audience! So why wouldn’t you want to try to incorporate them into your marketing strategy.

I remember this past October when I received email after email filled with birthday offers and wishes from brands. Only one contained an animated GIF. To this day, it’s the only birthday email I remember. It was from MyCokeRewards and had a GIF of a birthday cake with the flames on the candle flickering. It didn’t even contain 40% off a purchase like other birthday marketing messages, but the positive experience stuck with me, even seven months later. That’s something every marketer wants for their brand.

I can think of a few reasons people might shy away from GIFs: worry about whether or not they’ll load correctly, the fear of being too “BuzzFeedy,” or simple confusion over how an animated Arrested Development quote could possibly accelerate your marketing.

To the naysayers, I say:

lucille bluth gif

Sometimes, it’s just the best way to get a message across. Used correctly, they can make a huge impact: L.A.-based retailer DressedUp! sent two versions of an email, one with an animated GIF and one with a static picture. The version with the GIF gave them a 26% increase in click-through rate. If you’re looking for GIFs that make money, BlueFly pulled in 12% more revenue with animated emails.

When using animated GIFs, make sure to:

  • Link to the source of a GIF if you did not create it yourself
  • Test, test, and test again to make sure it works properly on your intended channel
  • Use sparingly. They can increase the loading time for your content and overuse can cause you to come off more “BuzzFeedy” than you might want to.

If you’re so excited to start using GIFs in your marketing that you’re not in the mood to come up with ideas yourself, here are three ideas for you:

1. Add humor and levity to blog posts

There’s a reason you can’t scroll through your Facebook news feed without coming across a BuzzFeed post: they found a formula that works. Like I said earlier in the post, animated pictures say much more than a thousand words. You’re adding more to your blog post without actually adding more. Even “serious” blogs can use a laugh or two from time to time.

Take a look at marketing automation platform Pardot. Their blog covers B2B marketing advice such as ____. But sprinkled within those “serious” posts are lists with reaction GIFs like “10 Common Social Media Mistakes  (And Likely Reactions),” which uses the BuzzFeed-style list of GIFs:


2. Draw attention to your email marketing messages

Animated GIFs are a great way to make your emails interactive without fancy (and probably expensive) technology. Getting someone’s attention in their inbox has become a huge fight as they receive more and more emails. If they do choose to open yours, make it worth it for them like UberConference, Emma email, and Netflix did:

UberConference email gif

In email, you’re better off creating your own GIF using colors and images that match your branding and the rest of your email’s design. Luckily, the popularity of GIFs means there are lots of ways to create them without Photoshop. There are sites like MakeAGif.com that allow you to create animated GIFs by uploading pictures or videos.

You also want to make sure you optimize the GIF in case it doesn’t show up animated in your recipient’s email client. It will likely show the first frame instead, so make that one look good. Add alt text to the GIF just like you would to a regular image, and link to a web-hosted version of the GIF or an appropriate landing page.

3. Better explain things on your website

The website is the hub of all of your marketing. It also contains a lot of information that could probably best benefit from animation. Do you ever post tutorials or directions on how to do things online? You can screencast yourself doing it and turn that into a GIF, similar to how MailChimp demonstrates its features here and here, as well as in other blog posts and email campaigns.

MailChimp explainer gif

Want the call-to-action on your landing page to really stand out? Try animating it to have it wiggle, change color, etc. and see if it improves conversions. Turn a video showing your company at work into a series of GIFs. The possibilities are endless if you get in a GIFfy state of mind.

Have you ever used animated GIFs in your marketing? What results did you see? Comment and share your experience!