Much like the way YouTube amassed and captured an audience in need, GIFs are doing the same with millennials like moi. They’re the gifts that keep gifing, allowing us to comment on situations or reply to questions with brevity — we all know that people don’t like reading anymore — and a bit of much-needed levity.

As a guy who grew up watching low-budget American sitcoms, pay-per-view wrestling events, and MTV music videos, the rising popularity of animated GIFs — pronounced with a hard “G,” and you’ll get a clobberin’ if you dare disagree — is a nostalgic breath of fresh air. While I confess to sometimes oftentimes going overboard with my GIF responses, nothing is as pleasant as finding and texting the perfect animated gem.

“Danny, wanna grab some lunch?”

“Nice work on that group project.”

“Your second cousin got accepted into NYU!!!!”

(Seriously, I think I need an intervention.)


But GIFs have more marketing power per kilobyte than you’d think. When inserted into paid search ads and e-blasts, animated GIFs seem to conquer KPIs like no other, producing more clicks, better open rates, and higher conversions than traditional marketing ventures.

Adored as they may be, GIFs can’t be tossed arbitrarily into any paid ad campaign or e-blast. Unless you run a site that blitzkriegs users with clickbait articles and 100 social media posts per day, it’ll take finesse to start swimming in leads.

The Key: Speak GIF Fluently

A point of the finger. An algebra equation. A musical composition. What do these have in common? They’re essentially universal languages that bridge communication gaps both large and small.

In the case of marketing cars to millennials and young consumers, that gap has been notoriously difficult to close over the last decade. Establishing a genuine relationship with customers is tough enough in person; connecting with people who don’t speak your language and live hundreds of miles away—that’s downright impossible.

GIFs aim to change all that. With a GIF-embedded marketing strategy, you can optimize your visual ads, promotions, and emails to appeal to age groups that have been reluctant to communicate through traditional means.

Common Ways to Advertise with GIFs

In 2018, it seems an eye-catching meme or professionally branded animation is the only way to get noticed by and increase engagement with young’uns. However, not all memes and animated ads are created equal. Reach your core audience and drive qualitative clicks with the right format, such as these:

GIF Tutorials

Sprout Social Tutorial


Ever try building a crib? That’s fuel for a lifetime’s worth of nightmares. If IKEA used GIF tutorials in their instruction manuals, they’d have control over the world.

Email Marketing

A boost in clickthrough rate (CTR), engagement, and conversions is par for the course with a beautifully animated e-blast. Many of our auto dealers utilize monthly digital promotions to spark interest in certain models or incentives, and including subtle GIFs effectively highlights all the best bits. Plus, GIFs are now supported on nearly every email client (what’s the deal, Outlook?)

Lead Responses

Traffic means little in the grand scheme of things; it’s all about how you convert leads. A personalized, animated Lead Response email is key to pushing those sassy millennials through your sales funnel.

Viral Ads

A viral ad campaign can begin with a mysterious albeit cheap GIF sent via email. Marvel created one for Netflix’s The Punisher series, and it’s one of my favorites.

Paid Search Ads

Facebook Ad GIF

With some hocus pocus and online wizardry, you can show off those nifty animated Facebook and Google ads. (There are animation restrictions in place, so be sure to follow the Facebook and Google Animation Guidelines before creating your ad—or hire us.)

Before/After Images

Showcase your commitment to excellence. Transformation GIFs allow you to create your own mini-infomercial. Post it on social media to raise your brand awareness.

Customer Testimonials

In the auto industry, good customer reviews are no longer “nice to have” assets. A short, animated Google ad, website banner, or Facebook GIF can introduce your satisfied customers to your soon-to-be-satisfied customers.

Case Studies & Results

But the question marketers must ask is this: Are GIFs immune to common effects of oversaturation in the marketing world?

The answer, it seems, is a resounding “yes.” Across the board, marketing experts have seen amazing results when utilizing the newfound advertising power of GIFs.

In 2007(!), Lake Champlain Chocolates developed an email marketing campaign to target shoppers a few times each year, notably during the holidays. They created their own GIFs, tested e-blasts on multiple email clients, and let ‘er rip. At the end of the year, they ran the numbers and compared them to static email sends:

  • 49% average increase in sales through converted leads
  • 203% higher CTR

Like GIFs but with a twist, cinemagraphs are beautifully shot, short videos that are #sohotrightnow as an asset to promote products and services. Flixel, an agency that strictly works with cinemagraphs, recently found that animated ads generated 560% higher clickthrough rates versus a static image.

Branching into Facebook advertising, Flixel and AdParlor partnered up and saw massive improvements in CTR (117%), cost-per-click (41%), and relevance scores (80%) when using animated images. In the auto industry, every extra lead helps, especially considering the average CTR for Facebook car ads is just 0.8%.

Even the bigshots at Dell discovered the power of GIFs. To promote its freshly launched Ultrabook, Dell built GIF email campaigns that, when compared to quarterly e-blast benchmarks, produced:

  • 6% increase in open rate
  • 42% increase in CTR
  • 103% increase in conversions
  • 109% increase in revenue

Not too shabby.

All Aboard the GIF Train (Choo, Choo)

Do you have a boarding pass? If not, you’re in the minority. Just take a look at the Google Trend chart below:

As your wise eyes can see, within the last 8 years, interest in GIFs has grown immensely. More importantly, that interest has been consistently high. Compare the GIF trendline with that of Snapchat’s, and you’ll see that animated GIFs have true staying power.

Animated GIFs Now in the OppMax Repertoire

Don’t be relegated to sending bland email promotions. Your customers want more pizzazz. You want more customers. The transitive property concludes that you want more pizzazz, and there’s no better source for pizzazz than an animated GIF. (Unless there’s some sort of Jazz Pizza I haven’t yet heard about?)

Help us help you! Reach out to our creative GIF design team to get started with a customized marketing strategy.



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