From Tacky to Top-Shelf: How GIFs Became the Most Engaging Image Choice

While GIFs have been around for nearly two decades, they have recently made their way to the top of the social media arena as a fun and compelling way to share sentiments. Now, their value has expanded even further, with digital marketing strategists recognizing their potential in the context of online campaigns and email newsletters. It’s important for decision-makers in these positions to understand the power of the well-placed GIF, recognize the best context for these animations, and figure out how to capitalize on their potential and popularity.

“GIFs can pack a serious punch for engagement with minimal effort.”

Low impact, high reward
From the perspective of a typical GIF viewer, technical requirements aren’t a top-of-mind concern. However, a digital marketing team takes issue with these exact details, as they will impact how quickly and effectively a message is distributed through a given channel and absorbed by a target audience.

Luckily, GIFs are a compact and easily-transferred file format that can be opened on any modern Web browser, allowing these moving images to pack a punch no matter what environment they are viewed in. This is great news for marketers looking to diversify their multimedia arsenals.

It’s also easier than ever for content creators to develop their own GIFs, according to Writer Access, which means that strategists can arrange more tailored imagery for their specific marketing needs. This means that a marketing team can construct a GIF strategy that reflects the exact tone and message of their brand, and at a much cheaper price standard stock imagery and video resources. In fact, many GIF creation platforms are available online for free and require no prior knowledge of video editing to master the process.

Delivering big-ticket results
Sure, GIFs may be a fun and novel way to reach out to audience members, but does this format actually offer significant value from a digital marketing standpoint? Writer Access argued yet, asserting that these moving pictures are a non-disruptive yet engaging way to enhance a message across multiple channels. They feature no audio and don’t distract from the main point of the content, but still create a dynamic visual element that no other format can offer. There is no right or wrong way to incorporate GIFs into content, which means that there is plenty of experimentation to be done.

“If you have blog subscribers who receive emails with new blog posts, animated GIFs can catch their attention and attract more click-throughs to your website,” explained Alison Zeringue, partner accounts team manager at Search Influence, in an article for Marketing Land. “Animated GIFs in a blog can also increase your average visit duration and pageviews.”

As an article from Marketing Tech Blog recently recommended, strategists should remember to keep their animations simple, watch the size of their files and try mixing GIFs with Flash-based content for a more engaging dynamic. Ultimately, a brand will make the most powerful impact using GIFs in a smart, sparing manner. This winning formula will surely win new audience members while keeping loyal followers around for longer.