GIF It: Bringing Back Animated GIFs

GIF’s have become cool again!

The emphasis though, is on the ‘again’ part.  As I have learned, GIF’s have actually been around since 1987.  But unlike back in those days, the GIF’s that I see today are much more than spinning globes and waving flags.  GIF’s or Graphics Interchange Format is a compressed bitmap image format that supports up to 8 bits per pixel referencing a palette of 256 colours.  The format also supports animation to create low resolution clips.

The New Yorker recently experimented with a GIF animated cover for its website and mobile apps.

New Yorker GIF Cover

Created by artist Christoph Niemann, the cover featured a rainy New York City as seen from the inside of the cab.  The image was simple with the raindrop falling as the animation.  Somehow, the raindrop turned an otherwise dull image to striking.  What a different a simple movement can make to a picture!  Imagine the impact you can have by adding a little movement to the still imagery on your site – you are able to tell a better story and build a stronger emotional connection to your audience. If a regular picture is worth a thousand words, wouldn’t you say an animated GIF is worth even more?

Aside from cover art, I think GIFs have so much potential and can have this same effect on your web content!  Here are a few more ways to incorporate animated GIF’s onto your websites:

Banners – I know an animated banner is nothing new since we’ve all seen our fair share of the animated banner ads but I don’t mind a well designed banner on a website which can help bring attention to important messages like upcoming promotions or events.

Product Images – You can either replace the image gallery all together or show a 360° view of your product.  You can also use the animation to show how a product works in a fun and interactive way.

Events – In the same way that an Instagram video or Vine video would work (without sound), you can show a series of pictures from an event or to highlight certain moments with a replay GIF. But unlike a video, they are shorter and require less commitment for interaction.

Demonstrate UX – Animated GIF’s can be used to demonstrate interaction on an application or site.

Call to Action – They can also be effective Call to Action’s since they are able to draw the viewer’s attention without being obtrusive.

Add a Bit of Humour to Your Content  – GIFs and Memes go together like no other.  Take advantage of this by creating memes that are funny and engaging to your audience.

Use them on homepages, product pages, blogs, landing pages, social media properties or even your email.


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A Funny President and Galifianakis = The Perfect Healthcare Plug

Remember this Funny or Die video featuring President Barack Obama on “Between Two Ferns” with Zach Galifianakis?  I would like to confess that I’ve seen it about 12 times myself since both the president and Galifianakis were absolutely brilliant with their back and forth banter and on the spot humour.  I didn’t even mind that Obama was there to talk about which he was pushing at the time.  (This was the part when Galifianakis sarcastically mutters, “Here we go. Let’s get this over with. What did you come here to plug?”)

I recently read that during the height of the video’s popularity, it was responsible for 40% of the traffic on the site.  A whopping 40%.  What a brilliant use of viral marketing to get the word out on something that would otherwise have been just another government initiative!  The video was authentic and funny – so much so that you probably kept on watching even through the plug.  Another great thing about the video was that they were so up front about what they were there to talk about.  There was no subtly working the topic into the conversation, you knew it was coming – they made sure you knew but you probably kept on watching anyway!

Not only were they able to educate the viewers (while entertaining them too), the video was also able to prompt action.  People were intrigued enough to click on the link or visit themselves. With so much information thrown our way everyday, Obama found a way to get the information across to millennials and even enticed them into action.  We all knew the video was funny but now we also know that it worked!

Whoever thought of putting the president on a Funny or Die video was brilliant!  Showing off Obama’s funny side, paired with Galifianakis in the perfect setting, targeting the “invincible” demographic, choosing Funny or Die as partner and using the perfect platform for sharing – it was the perfect formula for a successful viral campaign.  I am really, truly impressed!

Don’t know about you but I wouldn’t mind another sequel (Obama and Galifianakis yes; Hangover 4? No thanks).

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What is the Buyer’s Journey and Why Does it Matter?

I love creating websites!  These projects are the perfect combination of the technical and the creative, of taking everything you’ve learned about a company’s external and internal needs and creating a product that is functional, attractive and effective.  Understanding the buyer’s journey is essential to building a successful website because that understanding should impact your design elements, content organization and just about everything you do when organizing your website!

Defining the Buyer’s Journey

The buyer’s journey is the path that prospective customers will take as they go from not knowing anything about your company and what you have to offer to becoming customers. When creating a website, the challenge is creating an online experience that can guide your prospective customers through the different stages of the buyer’s journey so that they can leave the website a customer!

There are 3 stages in the Buyer’s Journey:

Buyer's Journey

Awareness Stage

In this stage, the buyer is only aware of that they have a need. They have noticed symptoms of a potential problem but they are likely unaware of your company and what you have to offer.

To target buyer’s in this stage of the buyer journey, your website must be able to create awareness of your product, service or company so that the prospect can begin to understand what it is that you offer and more importantly, how you can help them. This means that as your prospects begin to search for solutions, you must be able to have presence in their search.

72% of buyers will turn to Google in the research stage. This means that the website must have a strong web presence and be optimized for search engines like Google.

Consideration Stage

As the buyer conducts more research on their problem, they now have a better idea of what they need. In the consideration stage, they are seeking different approaches and vendors for their problem.

Buyers today are 5x more dependent on content than they were five years ago. This means that today’s buyers are more likely to conduct their own research online before making a decision. For most buyer’s, 70 – 90% of the buyer’s journey is complete even before they make contact with the vendor! This means that your website must be able to properly communicate the products and services that you offer, the benefits of dealing with your company, what your company is about etc.

The call to actions on your website homepage should also target the questions that your buyers might have in their minds as they are doing research.  Again, the better you are at answering those questions, the more likely the buyers will choose you when they are ready to make a purchase.

Decision Stage

Finally, in this last stage of the Buyer’s Journey, the buyer is ready to make contact with your company, select a vendor and make a purchase.

But just because they’ve made a purchase doesn’t mean your work is over. Most buyers will continue to look for other (better) solutions so make sure the resources available on your website, combined with a great customer service experience continues to prove to the buyer they’ve made the right choice.

The Buyer’s Journey ddoesn’tjust apply to the online experience. It should also apply to how you conduct business offline. Have you figured out your Buyer’s Journey? Do you know where in your journey your prospects come from? How can you better educate them on your company and what you have to offer?

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Great Things

September has been quite the month!  Even with so many amazing things happening, both at work and outside of work, I always had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to get back to writing.  Somehow, without me even realizing, my blog has become an integral part of my weekly routine – offering me the perfect release and excuse to step away from it all to just be…creative.  This ‘quiet time’ each week, dedicated to marketing, has become a great way for me to ‘feed my soul’.  I hope that all of you have found an activity that you find equally satisfying and inspiring. What a difference it can make…

I am making some major changes in my life soon and while it all scares me, I am equally excited and thrilled!  Life without challenges is life without growth – and what is the fun in that?  Here’s a neat little quote to sum up what I am feeling at the moment:

Say yes to new adventures!
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The Power of a Book

Working in digital marketing, it’s sometimes easy to forget about the more ‘traditional’ methods and the value they can bring to a marketing campaign.  But what I’ve seen is this – that time and time again, when we’re able to use digital and traditional marketing together in a complementary way, the results can be quite spectacular!

Ikea is one of those brands that is so adept at bringing the digital and traditional worlds together.  I’ve looked forward to receiving the Ikea catalogues for as long as I can remember.  Through the years, it has been a true source of inspiration.  From my younger years when I dreamed of the perfect life and the little Ikea home and Volkswagen that would go with it to today, as a source of endless creative inspiration.  Beyond the design, layout, pictures, font and typography, Ikea’s catalogues of recent years has also been an inspiration of how technology can go hand in hand with print to enhance a customer’s experience.

With the augmented reality first introduced in the 2014 catalogue, readers with the Ikea app could scan selected pages in the catalogue to access over 50 pages of extended content including additional inspirations and tips, videos, panoramic shots of rooms and zoom capability.  It was always such a surprise to scan the pages and see what surprises popped up.

Ikea Power of a Bookbook

This year, even with the augmented reality feature, it seems that Ikea is going back to the basics.  In the latest spot produced BBH Asia Pacific, Ikea reminds us, ever so slyly that no technology can replace the joy we get from flipping through the pages of an Ikea catalogue (the “book book” version that is, not the “digital book” or “e book”) Even with the app, the mobile site and the shopping site, I still look forward to receiving my Ikea catalogue in the mail and it still retains its spot on my coffee table where it is always within reach throughout the year.

So no… print is not dying anytime soon.  In fact, according to Ikea, the power of print might just be greater than you think.  Beautiful things can happen when you put the new with the old!

Enjoy the spot here:

Title: Experience the Power of a Bookbook
Agency: BBH Asia Pacific
Client: Ikea

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Ice Cold Van Damme for Coors Light

Just a short post today to share this hilarious new TV spot I saw from Coors Light featuring, none other than Jean Claude Van Damme.

Following the success of his collaboration with Volvo and his “Epic Split” TV spot, Van Damme has clearly found a new (and very profitable) way to spend his free time!  This time, he teams up with Coors Light to build an entire lodge out of ice… with his bare hands.  He also pulls sleds of ice blocks with his ponytail and chisels ice sculptures with his high kicks, all set to 80’s montage music and made better with his outfit of denim on demin.  Dramatic… I know.

It’s entertaining, it’s fun and it definitely keeps you watching till the very end.  The soundtracks, the Van Damme brand – beers and trailers couldn’t be more different but yet, I still find myself comparing the two!  Is this a good thing?  Will this ad be eclipse by the success of the Volvo stunt?  Or will it benefit from the aftermath of its success?

Either way – it was a fun watch!

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Etsy’s Email Marketing Success

Of all the shopping mailing lists that I am a part of, the daily emails from Etsy are the ones I look forward to the most!

I joined Etsy several weeks ago when I was looking for original and unique prints to put up around my home.  I’m usually not much of an online shopper, preferring to touch, feel and see my products before making a purchase but the limited selection in my city led me to give Etsy a try.  First of all – what an amazing idea and outlet for artists around the world to showcase their creativity and originality!  The selection was unbelievable; suddenly, I had access to artists from Thailand to the UK.  I eventually found a print that I loved but even though the process was pain free and unexpectedly fun, after the initial purchase, I wasn’t sure if I would be back again.

Fast forward a few weeks, I have to confess that I’ve been back on the site almost everyday!  And this, I can 100% attribute to the emails I receive from Etsy on a daily basis.  I love what they’ve done with their “Etsy Finds” emails.  Every day features a different theme, different products and shop owners.  Beyond showcasing their products and boosting sales, they have also successfully used the emails to inspire, foster creativity and build a community of artists and admirers.

Take the latest email I received from Etsy with the subject line “Garden of Ideas” (Click to see a web hosted version of the email)

Etsy - Garden of IdeasEtsy - Garden of IdeasEtsy - Garden of IdeasEtsy - Garden of IdeasEtsy - Garden of IdeasEtsy - Garden of IdeasEtsy - Garden of Ideas

The emails were image heavy but organized into themes.  The products featured were on trend and showed you what beautiful products other buyers were looking at.  Etsy also sends emails based on what your network is looking at – which is another way to keep you updated on trends both within your network and around the world!  Each email features a shop and I find myself reading the quotes from the shop owners all the time! Just by having the quote there, I am very much aware that the artists behind these shops are all real people, with passion and love for what they do.  Another great way to help build and foster the sense of community and grassroots feeling.

When I receive these emails, I don’t feel like I’m being sold to.  The emails aren’t telling me there is a 40% off sale that is on until midnight (which can feel like they are screaming at me to buy and buy right now); instead, I am inspired by the artists behind Etsy and motivated to experiment more in my daily life.  I read the artists stories and beyond just looking for products I like, I also look for people and dreams that I want to support.

Great job, Etsy! You’ve quietly and ever so subtly turned me into a real fan.  It’s been a pleasure!


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