Real-World Education for Modern Marketers

Join Over 600,000 Marketing Professionals

Start here!
Text:  A A

Use More GIFs to Boost Customer Engagement This Year

by   |    |  2,579 views

GIFs are making a comeback as engaging and fun marketing tools. So this year, be sure to include them in your marketing plans. 

First, let's define a GIF.

Put simply, a GIF (graphics interchange format) is a digital image format similar to JPEGs and PNG files. GIFs can be used for still pictures, but GIFs' popularity stems from their ability to support simple animations.  

GIFs bring the right amount of fun to your content while they enrich your messages. GIFs grab hold of readers' attention, keeping them engaged from the first sentence of your communication to the last.

Moreover, GIFs are particularly helpful in grabbing attention in our over-stimulating digital world, where consumers are regularly drawn in a variety of different directions... and can be easily distracted.


Animated GIFs hold multiple images that automatically appear one after another, creating an effect that blends a picture and video clip. GIFs only feature 256 colors, compared to the millions seen in today's high-definition pictures and video.

Moreover, animated GIFs don't support sound (that's why so many use written text to complement the image), giving them a look and feel that's unique and more than a little retro.

Why You Should Care About GIFs

GIFs are fun, easy to use, and beneficial in maintaining people's interest as they read your email, online newsletter, or any other piece of digital content. They also provide an avenue to better relate and engage with your customers.

GIFs add a punch or a laugh, they are extremely memorable, and they help to highlight important messages for further emphasis. Sometimes, they are even ironically nostalgic.

Even more than a static photo, GIFs are more likely to capture an emotional response from readers, which is typically a positive one, and relate to them more like a friend sharing an inside joke. It is easier to keep audience members captivated and engaged when an experience leaves them feeling happy or uplifted. Even more so if the GIF makes them laugh.


So, how can you use creative tactics like GIFs to help you engage and retain your users?

Visuals are an important factor in optimizing content, including social content by grabbing the short attention span of a reader, according to an ongoing study.

With higher-speed Internet and access to easy-to-use design programs, GIFs are quick and easy to create. They are supported by a major social platforms and other websites, making them a great place to explore and use this year.

Here are some top reasons you should implement GIFs to your communications this year.

  • To capture attention. Adding motion graphics to an otherwise copy-heavy piece of communication will help retain interest and keep people reading.
  • To add humor. Everyone appreciates a good laugh, and a GIF is one way to emphasize the humor in what you're communicating and keep people smiling. Additionally, humor can help relax the content and make it more relatable to your reader.
  • To influence tone. Content-heavy documents can be easy to misinterpret or misunderstand at times. Adding a GIF can help reinforce the appropriate sentiment and tone of your message, making it easier for your readers to understand the takeaway at a single glance.
  • To add emphasis. Our busy lives are filled with distractions. You want to ensure that the most important points of your communications are being noticed and understood. A GIF is a perfect add-on that will make it difficult for your most important points to go unnoticed.

However, as with any good marketing strategy, you need to know when not to use them. After all, not every message needs an animated GIF.

Here are a few circumstances when using a GIF would not be wise:

  • A GIF that has a bad resolution or that is difficult to understand. If someone cannot understand (or read) a GIF immediately, it's counterproductive. Make sure they are clear and relevant.
  • It's an awkward fit for your message or brand. Just because a GIF catches your eye or makes you laugh doesn't mean that it'll be a good fit for every campaign. Make sure the GIF adds value to your message.
  • Overuse. Everything in moderation. Though GIFs are fun and easy to use, you shouldn't use them for everything all the time. Use them sparingly and thoughtfully to add emphasis and keep people engaged.

* * *

As the year begins, revamp your marketing tactics in fun and innovative ways. Use GIFs to help animate your communications this year and keep your customers engaged while spreading the fun, nostalgia, and humor.


Join over 600,000 marketing professionals, and gain access to thousands of marketing resources! Don't worry ... it's FREE!


We will never sell or rent your email address to anyone. We value your privacy. (We hate spam as much as you do.) See our privacy policy.

Sign in with one of your preferred accounts below:


Marissa Aydlett is vice-president of Marketing at Appboy, a global provider of intelligent CRM for mobile.

LinkedIn: Marissa Aydlett

Rate this  

Overall rating

  • Not rated yet.

Add a Comment


  • by Stephan Hovnanian Fri Jan 22, 2016 via web

    GIFs are definitely a communications trend worth jumping on, for all the reasons Marissa states above. Plus, let's just face it: they're fun, and can showcase a different side of the person you're speaking with (like tell you more about their interests based on whether they used a GIF from The Office or Friends).

  • by Brad Fri Jan 22, 2016 via web

    Nice piece, Marissa. GIFs are a great way to make your content a little more lively. On the Ceros blog, we love them (sometimes a little too much – beware of GIF overload!). Adding interactivity can be time consuming, but dropping in a GIF is as simple as uploading a regular image, while providing extra frames to tell a more interesting story. And yes, it definitely improves engagement if you use them sparingly.

  • by Brian Wagner Mon Jan 25, 2016 via web

    While I do agree that there is a place and time for GIFs and to avoid overuse like any other complementary interest drawing element. Plus, consider defensive design strategies.

    However, when considering whether to use a GIF in an email, check your data to confirm the % of your target audience that regularly uses email clients that don't support GIFs such as Outlook 2007, 2010 and 2013. If the majority of your audience does use these email clients most often, then you'll lose the effectiveness of the GIF and waste marketing dollars in creating them. If you still plan to use a GIF in your emails and you do have users using these email clients, then ensure that the most important visual of the GIF is in the first image as that is all they would see.

  • by Jane Tue Dec 19, 2017 via web

    GIFs load really slow and makes your page speed get low score on google insights that is why I am not using that much of GIF's on my blogs specially on my own website....

MarketingProfs uses single
sign-on with Facebook, Twitter, Google and others to make subscribing and signing in easier for you. That's it, and nothing more! Rest assured that MarketingProfs: Your data is secure with MarketingProfs SocialSafe!