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Make your website memorable with subtle, moving images

Without having to know anything about technology, you can make your website stand out with some imagery that is modern and animated – no clip art graphics allowed.

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Standing out in a crowd

Do you remember opening any website in 1997 and seeing obnoxious animated gifs on the sidebar with dancing clip art stick figures, or poorly animated spinning graphics in elementary colors? They’re the reason so many cringe at the idea of any animated gifs, which are images that play in a continuous loop without having to hit a play button.

They’ve come a long way and are now being used in advertising in a more beautiful, subtle way in the form of high quality photographic images combined to create subtle, moving images that catch the eye when you visit a site (called a “cinemagraph”), but they are no longer designed to overwhelm and look like an annoying car auction with police lights flashing, rather slight movements as illustrations or as a gorgeous attention grabber.

We’ve shared with you two free and simple methods to create your own animated gifs without having to use Photoshop or a professional photographer, and we’ve highlighted Cinemagr.am, an iPhone app that creates stunning cinemagraphs right on your smartphone that can be used on your website or blog.

We wrote this spring, “Imagine using a cinemagr.am photo on your blog or website with a very subtle picture of water moving in a pool or trees in the breeze for a real estate listing, or perhaps a customer playing with her hair in your bookstore. Without being obnoxious like animated GIFs, cinemagraphs can capture attention in an extremely beautiful way. While sites like Pinterest and Facebook do not support animation in any image, your website does and it is a simple (and more importantly), new way to stand out. Subtle beauty is so in this year!”

Below are some images created with the cinemagr.am app to give you an idea of how subtle, moving images are already being used:

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Inspiration gallery

The fashion world has taken to animated images to illustrate makeup methods, or to highlight movement in new designs on the catwalk, but there are fantastic business uses as well. Below are some blogs that use animated images and cinemagraphs to showcase the beauty of their craft or to simply capture the eye (and it works):

SpoonForkBacon.com is one of our favorite sites that actively implements animated images, which makes almost everything a trillion times more appealing (true story):

  1. Apple thyme cake
  2. Butternut squash pie
  3. Gin tonics
  4. Book giveaway
  5. Black pepper scones

From Me To You is known as a pioneer in the cinemagraph world, having started the trend of extremely high quality moving images, setting the standard for the fashion industry:

  1. Young love
  2. He loves me, he loves me not
  3. Riding in cars with boys
  4. Perfect time of year
  5. Kiss me in Paris

TodayAndTomorrow.net has used animated gifs on their blog for over a year, making their content stand out:

  1. Perpentual energy wasting machine
  2. iPhone oil paintings
  3. Asobi
  4. Abstract images
  5. Moving vase

Barbarian Group has used animated images to illustrate their team in a unique way and has peppered animation in other blog posts as well:

  1. The Barbarian Bunch
  2. Department of Transportation

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. AgentGenius

    December 3, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    OOH! Let us know if/when you actually use it for your blog! We’d love to see some simple cinemagraphs in real estate – a moving tree, a flapping flag, etc. 🙂

  2. AgentGenius

    December 6, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    did you do it through the app? (I know it’s a dumb question, but we have to start somewhere) 🙂

  3. Michelle Silverman

    December 8, 2012 at 11:46 am

    I figure it out! The picture must be taken with the app! It’s very cool!

  4. Pingback: Cinemagraphs will be a new Facebook ad format option: yay or nay? - AGBeat

  5. Pingback: Giffiti adds animated gifs to your pics so you can rule social media - The American Genius

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Business Marketing

Marketing amidst uncertainty: 3 considerations

(BUSINESS MARKETING) As the end of the COVID tunnel begins to brighten, marketing strategies may shift yet again – here are three thoughts to ponder going into the future.

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Open business sign being held by business owner for marketing purposes.

The past year has been challenging for businesses, as operations of all sizes and types and around the country have had to modify their marketing practices in order to address the sales barriers created by the pandemic. That being said, things are beginning to look up again and cities are reopening to business as usual.

As a result, companies are looking ahead to Q3 with the awareness they need to pivot their marketing practices yet again. The only question is, how?

Pandemic Pivot 1.0: Q3 2020

When the pandemic disrupted global markets a year ago, companies looked for new ways to reach their clients where they were: At home, even in the case of B2B sales. This was the first major pivot, back when store shelves were empty care of panic shopping, and everyone still thought they would only be home for a few weeks.

How did this transition work? By building out more extensive websites, taking phone orders, and crafting targeted advertising, most companies actually survived the crisis. Some even came out ahead. With this second pivot, however, these companies will have to use what they knew before the pandemic, while making savvy predictions about how a year-long crisis may have changed customer behavior.

Think Brick And Mortar

As much as online businesses played a key role in the pandemic sales landscape, as the months wore on, people became increasingly loyal to local, brick and mortar businesses. As people return to their neighborhood for longer in-person adventures, brands should work on marketing strategies to further increase foot traffic. That may mean continuing to promote in-store safety measures, building a welcoming online presence, and developing community partnerships to benefit from other stores’ customer engagement efforts.

Reach Customers With PPC

Obviously brick and mortar marketing campaigns won’t go far for all-online businesses, but with people staying at home less, online shops may have a harder time driving sales. Luckily, they have other tools at their disposal. That includes PPC marketing, one of the most effective, trackable advertising strategies.

While almost every business already uses some degree of PPC marketing because of its overall value, but one reason it’s such a valuable tool for businesses trying to navigate the changing marketplace is how easy it is to modify. In fact, best practice is to adjust your PPC campaign weekly based on various indicators, which is what made it a powerful tool during the pandemic as well. Now, instead of using a COVID dashboard to track the impact of regulations on ad-driven sales, however, companies can use PPC marketing to see how their advertising efforts are holding up to customers’ rapidly changing shopping habits.

It’s All About The Platforms

When planning an ad campaign, what you say is often not as important as where you say it – a modern twist on “the medium is the message.” Right now, that means paying attention to the many newer platforms carrying innovative ad content, so experiment with placing ads on platforms like TikTok, Reddit, and NextDoor and see what happens.

One advantage of marketing via smaller platforms is that they tend to be less expensive than hubs like Facebook. That being said, they are all seeing substantial traffic, and most saw significant growth during the pandemic. If they don’t yield much in the way of results, losses will be minimal, but given the topical and local targeting various platforms allow for, above and beyond standard PPC targeting, they could be just what your brand needs as it navigates the next set of marketplace transitions.

The last year has been unpredictable for businesses, but Q3 2021 may be the most uncertain yet as everyone attempts to make sense of what normal means now. The phrase “new normal,” overused and awkward as it is, gets to the heart of it: we can pretend we’re returning to our pre-pandemic lives, but very little about the world before us is familiar, so marketing needs a “new normal,” too.

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Business Marketing

Advertising overload: Let’s break it down

(BUSINESS MARKETING) A new study finds that frequent ads are actually more detrimental to a brand’s image than that same brand advertising near offensive content.

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Advertising spread across many billboards in a city square.

If you haven’t noticed, ads are becoming extremely common in places that are extremely hard to ignore—your Instagram feed, for example. Advertising has certainly undergone some scrutiny for things like inappropriate placement and messaging over the years, but it turns out that sheer ad exhaustion is actually more likely to turn people off of associated brands than the aforementioned offensive content.

Marketing Dive published a report on the phenomenon last Tuesday. The report claims that, of all people surveyed, 32% of consumers said that they viewed current social media advertising to be “excessive”; only 10% said that they found advertisements to be “memorable”.

In that same group, 52% of consumers said that excessive ads were likely to affect negatively their perception of a brand, while only 32% said the same of ads appearing next to offensive or inappropriate content.

“Brand safety has become a hot item for many companies as they look to avoid associations with harmful content, but that’s not as significant a concern for consumers, who show an aversion to ad overload in larger numbers,” writes Peter Adams, author of the Marketing Dive report.

This reaction speaks to the sheer pervasiveness of ads in the current market. Certainly, many people are spending more time on their phones—specifically on social media—as a result of the pandemic. However, with 31% and 27% of surveyed people saying they found website ads either “distracting” or “intrusive”, respectively, the “why” doesn’t matter as much as the reaction itself.

It’s worth pointing out that solid ad blockers do exist for desktop website traffic, and most major browsers offer a “reader mode” feature (or add-on) that allows users to read through things like articles and the like without having to worry about dynamic ads distracting them or slowing down their page. This becomes a much more significant issue on mobile devices, especially when ads are so persistent that they impact one’s ability to read content.

Like most industries, advertisers have faced unique challenges during the pandemic. If there’s one major takeaway from the report, it’s this: Ads have to change—largely in terms of their frequency—if brands want to maintain customer retention and loyalty.

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Business Marketing

7 simple tips to boost your customer loyalty online

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Without a brick-and-mortar store, building rapport and customer loyalty can be a challenge, but you can still build customer loyalty online.

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Man and woman at kitchen table online shopping on laptop together, boosting customer loyalty.

With many businesses – both big and small – operating online, there are less opportunities for building those face-to-face relationships that exist in brick and mortar stores. According to smallbizgenius, 65% of the company’s revenue comes from existing customers.

It’s important to keep in mind the different tactics at your disposal for increasing customer loyalty. Noupe recently released a list of actionable tips for increasing this loyalty. Let’s examine these ideas and expand on the best.

  1. Keep your promises – Stay true to what you’ve agreed to, obviously contractually, but stay true to your company values as well. Even if you feel you’ve built a good loyalty where there is room to take a step back, don’t rest on your laurels and be sure to remain consistent. If you’ve provided a good experience, keep that going. The only change that should happen is in it getting better.
  2. Stay in communication – In addition to the ever-so-vital social media platforms, consider creating an email newsletter to stay in touch with your customers. Finding ways to have them keep you in mind should be at the front of your mind. By reaching out and being friendly, this will help retain their business.
  3. Be flexible with payments – No, don’t sell yourself short, but consider installment plans for pricier items or services. This will help customers feel more at ease when their wallet’s health is at stake.
  4. Reward programs – Consider allowing customers to accrue loyalty points in exchange for a freebie. The old punch card method is still an incredibly popular concept, and is a great way to keep people coming back. The cost associated with giving something away for free will be minimal in comparison to loyalty you receive in order for the customer to get to that point. Make sure that what a customer is putting in is about equal to what they’re getting out of it (i.e. don’t have a customer spend $100 in order to get $1 off their next purchase). If all of this proves successful, this can eventually be expanded by creating VIP levels.
  5. Prioritize customer service – A first impression is everything. By prioritizing customer service, you can help shape the narrative of the customer and how they view your business. This splinters off into them giving good word of mouth recommendations to friends and family. Be sure to keep positive customer service as the forefront of your mind, as giving a bad review is just as easy – or even easier – as giving a good review.
  6. Value feedback – Allow customers a space to provide their feedback, either on your website or on social media. Find out what brought them to you and gage how their experience was. Be sure to thank them for their feedback and take it into consideration. Feedback – both good and bad – can be vital in helping shape a business.
  7. Avoid laziness – Stay sharp at all times. Don’t treat all customers as nothing but currency. Include personalized touches wherever you can. This will make all of the difference.

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