The use of animated GIFs has exploded in recent years: 69% of consumers reported to frequently using GIFs in their personal communications. It should come as no surprise that this trend has spread to the marketing world - you’ve probably seen some being used already, as many B2C marketers have already capitalized on this movement.
But, do GIFs have a place in B2B marketing?
A Brief History of GIFs
A GIF, an acronym for “Graphics Interchange Format”, was first created by Steve Wilhite of CompuServe in 1987 as a way to present a moving image while at the same time limiting the amount of memory that was taken up by that image. He did so using a compression algorithm paired with parameters that did things like limit the number of available colors to 256. While other file formats soon surpassed the capabilities of GIFs in regards to still images, GIFs cornered the market in terms of animated images.
GIFs became popular among early internet users and business alike because they required little bandwidth - something very important in the ages of dial-up modems. They were originally used to add “fun” elements (remember that dancing banana?) to a webpage. Businesses would use them to draw attention to their paid advertisements or certain aspects of their website, while users would decorate their MySpace pages with flashy text and various accent images.
Today, they have adapted a whole new meaning. Individual users use them frequently as reactionary, conversational tools via social media and other digital communications. And we can attest to their use - the JoomConnect team chats are definitely full of them. You don’t have to believe us though. According to research conducted in 2015 on GIFs:
- There were around 150 million original GIFs at the time of research
- People shared more than 100 million GIFs on Twitter in 2015 through tweets and direct messages
- Each day in 2015, approximately 5 million GIFs were exchanged on Facebook Messenger
...and, we can surely expect those numbers to be even higher today! As you can see, it doesn’t appear as if GIFs are going away anytime soon.
Why You Should Consider Using GIFs
GIFs are a great way to get - and hold - your target audience’s attention. Imagine yourself sitting in a crowded room, scrolling through your social media feed on your phone. It is littered with a mixture of text, images, videos, and GIFs. Unless you’re overly invested in a particular text post, you’re probably not going to spend the time reading it for too long. You may glance at images for a moment, but then you move onto whatever is next. You see a video that you would normally consider watching, but you’re in a public place and don’t want to be that person that disturbs those around them with noise from your phone.
Finally, you come across a GIF. The GIF in question lasts about five seconds, a reasonable enough time to watch the entire thing. You enjoyed the GIF too, so you watch it a second time just to make sure you didn’t miss anything during your first watch since you couldn’t pause the GIF.
That’s an entire 10 seconds dedicated to one social post, compared to almost no time dedicated to other post types.
And, GIFs aren’t limited to only social media. They can be used in other digital marketing efforts such as your website, blog articles, and email. In particular, they do seem to be effective in email, as evidenced by the results from Dell’s first GIF-centric email campaign. They saw:
- 42% increase in click rates
- 103% increase in conversion rates
- 109% increase in revenue
So, it might be time to give GIFs a try.
How To Use GIFs in Your Marketing
If you do decide to take the plunge and start utilizing GIFs, here are a few ways that you can harness their power in your marketing:
- Video Clips: Take a small section from one of your videos you already have and turn it into a GIF. These can be company culture videos, videos of your office space, a clip from one of your webinars, or part of an animated video.
- Educational: Create an attractive text-based GIF that informs your customers about something you think they would like to know. Consider using facts or statistics you’ve come across when writing a blog.
- Product Showcasing: If you have any physical products, record a short video to show one of them off, and then turn it into a GIF. You could also create a stop-motion GIF using different product variations or setups.
- Cinemegraphs: Make a still picture you take come to life by adding some animations over it that showcase only one moving part. This will require some video editing skills.
- Reactionary: Depending on the personality you’ve cultivated through your brand and the audience you’re trying to reach, you could use a reactionary GIF to reply to a comment on social media. If this sort of GIF fits with your brand and you decide to do this, remember you still need to maintain some level of professionalism.
- How-To’s: Consider recording a screen capture that shows a user how to do something simple - like where a user needs to click to trigger some action - and then turning that video into a GIF. Companies like MailChimp and Google have done this in the past to help users find and use new service features.
Best Practices When Using GIFs
When incorporating GIFs into your marketing strategy, follow these guidelines.
- Keep it short and simple: GIFs are like muted videos with no closed captions. Make sure that whatever you make can still be understood without sound. It should also be brief - less than 5 seconds is ideal. Otherwise, you’re better off using video.
- Brand when applicable: Use a video editing software and add your company’s logo to GIFs you created so that if your GIF is shared, your logo is too. This is good practice if you are showcasing any company or product-related videos.
- Limit your use: You shouldn’t be using as many GIFs as are in this blog in one marketing piece (unless you are specifically writing about GIFs like we are). If you use too many GIFs, your marketing will be reminiscent of early 2000’s digital marketing when webpages were littered with flashy, distracting aspects that take away from your overall marketing goals - meaning, people won’t take you seriously. Not only that, but using too many GIFs will likely slow down load times.
- Source any unoriginal content: When you do use a GIF that isn’t yours that you found in a GIF database, try to hunt down the original source and cite that in your text.
- Make without a watermark: Some websites that make GIFs for you have a watermark that says the name of the website in which it was made on at the bottom of the GIF. To appear more professional, use one that doesn’t do that such as Make A GIF (if you register for a free account). Or, you could use a program like ShareX if you want to create a GIF from a screen captured video. If your files are too large once created, use a website like GIF Compressor to shrink them down.
Are GIFs For You?
We can’t make the decision of whether or not your marketing should incorporate GIFs for you - it’s up to you to decide. But, if you have any further questions in regards to utilizing GIFs, we are here to help - reach out to us today.