The return of the GIFs

Cool GIF bro meme

The Google Trends tool offers some interesting insight into the rising popularity of GIFs. (And it’s previous decline). It seems we’ve gone full circle when it comes to our love-hate relationship with GIFs.

Line growth showing rise in google searches for 'gif' from 2010 to 2019

It’s interesting to note that each year there’s a December peak – GIFs have always found a niche in simple, entertaining animations. But since September 2015, interest in GIFs has risen dramatically.

Recently, their use has exploded in two directions – both in terms of frequency and diversity of use. GIFs have now colonised pretty much every type of marketing channel available. Their flexibility is one of their greatest advantages.

Alongside their obvious presence on social channels, there are some really creative uses emerging.




examples of gifographics

As it sounds – like an infographic. But it moves.

Gifographics are a great way to bring information to light.

They inject a new lease of life into what’s becoming – dare I say it – a bit of a tired medium. It’s the future for infographics – you heard it here first. Just make sure the animation adds to the message and helps to tell a story rather than being a distraction.

Check out this example from SEO Expertpage which explains the pros and cons of using gifographics.


Email marketing


Animated GIFs in email marketing campaigns

When everybody’s inbox is saturated with humdrum marketing messages, how do you divert the eyes away from the delete button?

This email I received from Groupon back in the summer was inspired.

One thing’s for sure – I’d usually skip right past this kind of email, but this one got my attention.

According to Experion, 52% of marketers have used animated GIFs in their email campaigns.

A word of warning though – GIFs aren’t supported on Outlook 2007-2013. It only shows the first frame (which is a limitation you can work with, for sure). Litmus – helpful as ever – offers some more detailed guidance about email client support and file size that’s worth a read if you’re considering adding GIFs to your next email campaign.


Demos and how-to guides


Recently, I’ve seen GIFs used to replace demo videos. And it works brilliantly.

Why is it so great? Because GIFs just ‘auto-play’ in a loop, you don’t need to click a play button. May seem like a small detail, but every bit of friction you can remove is a good thing.

Wistia, the video hosting platform do this really well. Take a look and you’ll see what I mean.

You get to see the product in action, whether you asked for it or not. But it’s not obtrusive. It just makes the user experience effortless.

In the coming months, I think we’ll see a growing trend of GIFs used to explain simple concepts. They’re the user manual of the 21st century.


The Benefits of using GIFs


  • Say lots in a condensed space
  • Eye-catching and attention grabbing
  • Quick, cheap and easy to add to your content marketing repertoire with screen capture tools like ScreenToGif and libraries like Giphy. Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating a GIF in photoshop – thanks Hubspot!
  • Work across all marketing channels – from social to landing pages
  • Work on all browser types – yes, even Internet Explorer!