Visual Storytelling Should Look Fabulous: Why GIFs Do the Trick

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We always want to know the latest and the greatest. Lately, visual storytelling is dominating web platforms, with images and videos being redesigned in all directions. To name a few: The Wall Street Journal, ESPN, The Atlantic, and NASA. What’s inspired this makeover? The media at large, and companies in general, are looking to better connect with their customers — and the more dynamic their interactions, the better. And that’s where GIFs step in.

The NYTimes, for example, has also sought to make their content more engaging — by exploring virtual reality options to enhance their information content.


Visual Storytelling

What’s so great about visual storytelling, and why GIFs, specifically?

Visual storytelling, and in this case, digital storytelling, allows the content to resonate with your audience. And GIFs are well received because they are snackable, and allow content to be instantly recognizable. Not to mention that their charm and fast effect make your message easily shareable.

Sports journalist Tim Burke also fills us in: “Video requires a reader’s intervention to play, whereas a GIF adds itself forcefully, knowing how to tango even with the passive internet reader. Small by nature, they’re easily shareable on Twitter and on Tumblr.

But why are GIFs so popular in sports journalism specifically?

They capture minute, intricate moments which deem the sweeping fate of sports games’ scoring results.

BTW — When people ask you what GIF stands for, have you known what to tell them? If not, take note: Graphics Interchange Format.



Boost Your Click-Through-Rate

With CTR specifically, GIFs brought Dressed Up! an LA based evening wear company a 26% increase in CTR when compared via A/B testing to a non-animated email version.

How do we explain this increase? And why is it important to content marketing?

When it comes down to it, our content lives to generate leads. If people read our content and don’t click on your CTAs (= low CTR) — than our content performance is low. It has less to do with resonating with your message. Email campaigns are geared towards people clicking into your website. If 50% opened your email, but only 1% clicked, most chances are the campaign failed.

In emails specifically, GIFs show the reader an active process that they can only view if they click on the email’s links. Instead of only hearing or reading about a product’s ability, they can view it in animated form. And if you’re lucky, your GIF’s lively animation will intrigue your reader to clicking through, bringing him to your landing page. There is a reason why we loved the Pixar logo from the beginning.

If you are interested in monetizing GIFs on your site you can use imonomy as your in-image advertising solution! Get in touch with the team to find out about how GIFs can really increase your revenue.



Using GIFs is a good way to give readers a sense of your brand’s personality. You can either show how hip your company is by posting curated GIFs, or you can turn your branded materials into GIFs. Both will bring engagement, but the latter will give your readers something to think about, and that thing is you. Because GIFs are brief, yet captivate an experience or feeling, their shareability rises above the norm. And another thing — the world knows it: in the 2014 Experian Report, 74% of companies were found to use GIFs in their emails.

GIFs also broaden horizons for the messages that your brand wants to send to your readers. One horizon is that speakers of many languages can appreciate one GIF animation purely from the image’s motion. No translators needed. But when we talk pure branding, we see that brands can make their own logos or slogans into GIFs — and crystallize their visual storytelling effect.

Kip Berman, leader of the NYC rock band ‘The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’, created a music video solely composed of GIF-inspired-shots for the band’s new single. How come? Berman explains that GIFs are as persuasive as written journalism, and can act on its behalf.

GIFs are essentially a zeitgeist of today’s culture: they dominate the web, carrying both information and aesthetic charm, and are “as mesmerizing as crackling fire and as shareable as high school gossip.”

And what’s triggering this gossip? They’re doing visual storytelling, and are flexible both in what they can be made out of (video clips, cartoons, drawings…) and finally, adapted to your brand’s style and image all the same. They’re also easy to create, as the world we live in is busting at the seams with visual content materials. (You can dig deeper into this wealth of visuals via my Roojoom blog post on Visual Content).


It Cures Infobesity

Infobesity, more than just a syndrome, but also a Buzzword, is spread mostly by content itself. When you’re consuming so much information that you lose your ability to concentrate, and even to distinguish between which content you most value, then you are probably suffering from infobesity. One symptom, had by the average person, is receiving 90 consumer emails a day.

So if a GIF is actually composed of a series of photos, looped together to appear as an animation, wouldn’t it worsen infobesity, rather than cure it? Why does adding a series of photos rather than just a single photo, help?

GIFs tell a more dynamic, lively story than a still picture. And your mind consumes a GIF as one moving image, not as a stack of several images — infobesity carriers need not worry. And when your brain is weighed down by all the texts and images in cyberspace, a GIF captures your emotions, communicating with you in a way that words and pictures alone cannot.

One (of many) example of successful email marketing campaigns that used GIFs is Boden, a UK clothing retail chain. Boden named their 25% OFF Sale as “Squeeze The Last Few Drops”, with a GIF of animated glasses of freshly squeezed lemonade that were getting slurped to the last drop.

They weren’t even advertising lemonade, but the imagery of a sweet, refreshing drink getting consumed to its last drops strikes a chord of an opportune moment to grab a last lick of what you love.


Tools for Creating GIFs

Now that we’ve raved about GIFs and how they’ll glorify your content, why not get your hands GIF-dirty? There are many options on the web for both make-your-own and finding pre-made GIFs, and these are just a few examples:


GIFYoutube is a web-based tool to help you convert any Youtube video into a quick GIF. While you can’t download these GIFs to your personal hard files, it’s a great way to produce the GIF content you’re looking for.


Imgflip is a basic free web-based app that allows you to capture visuals with uploaded images, video or any video URL.

Gif optimizer

Gif optimizer let’s you optimize Gifs (and images in general) , add text to them, split, resize, crop, etc.


Gifmaker lets you add images from your computer to create a GIF in seconds.


MakeaGIF lets you create Gifs from images, from a video and more and also browse Gifs by categories and share your own GIFs.

Tools for Finding GIFs


Giphy lets you discover a wealth of animated GIFs. You can search by category, artist or keyword. You can also upload your own GIFs, and share them with others.


The GIF natural habitat, its best search for GIFs here (it is the largest collection available) by tags, as the collection isn’t streamlined.

GIFs can engage your viewers in a visual story and keeps your readers engaged and directed to the eventual destination you want them to reach (i.e. your landing page). At Roojoom, we really appreciate the need to keep your customer planted in your content journey. And GIFs can play a large role in this task.


Final Thoughts

For storytelling, branding, and cures for infobesity, GIFs will definitely do you good. But as we all know, there’s always something savvier up someone’s sleeve in the technology world. Do you think GIFs are here to stay? Or will they soon be outdated, and eventually become of artifact status? Let us know your thoughts!


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Orlee Gillis - Guest Author

Orlee Gillis, a Content Wizard at Roojoom – The visual storytelling platform that let’s marketers create engaging Content Journeys to increase content ROI, no IT or design needed.