When it comes to content marketing, it is given that written content is a key component. However, businesses can be so focused on their written content that they neglect graphics, pictures, infographics and other visual elements that can make their content more engaging and enjoyable for the reader.
Visual content is just as, if not more, important than the written content that you are sharing. Written content will always be a fundamental part of digital marketing, but to set yourself apart, your content marketing efforts must include visuals.
This stance is nothing new, as businesses have been making use of visuals for decades. The importance of visual content is well understood by professionals and large businesses, whereas beginners in the industry are still grasping the concept.
Marketers will agree on the fact that visual content reaps better returns when compared to text alone. In fact, 32% of marketers say visual images are their most important form of content, with blogging coming in second.
Unfortunately, many businesses are quick to push visual content out of their digital marketing plans when they have budget restraints. They fail to realize visual content produces a better response from their target audience. Almost 40% of users favor visual content and are more responsive to visual content shared with them as compared to text-only content.
And this isn’t the only aspect that makes visual content more favorable.
Why visual content?
When thinking of content, businesses naturally tend to focus on the words they are using with less emphasis on the visual aspect. With visual content, marketers and businesses can make a deeper impact on the person who is viewing it.
For starters, human beings are highly visual creatures. Our eyes have developed to pick up and observe non-verbal cues. In fact, almost 93% of communication between humans is non-verbal. People tend to tie the actions of a person in with their words but the visual aspect plays a bigger role.
Similarly, businesses often use visual material to convey a deeper message. For example, infographics are successful because they pair complex statistics in an easy to understand manner. Based on this factor, statistics show that users share infographics almost 3 times as much as other forms of content.
One major advantage of visual content is that people process images in a different part of the brain. People are bombarded with words and information all day, so when you offer something different in the form of visual content, it is more likely to reach prospects. You can cut through the noise with something as simple as a photo included in a blog post.
Why not put that speed to work in your marketing?
Visual content also plays a huge role in marketing. B2B marketing strategies were the largest users of infographics with almost 58% of their content comprising of infographics. This is simply because it is much easier to understand a graph by looking at it than to read about the results.
Here is an infographic by Venngage comparing the strength of branding between Adidas and Nike for the World Cup in 2018, for example. Within seconds of skimming through it, you are able to understand a lot of information that may otherwise be tiring to read.
Image Source: Venngage
If you need another reason to consider visual content, you only have to look at the various channels of marketing that require it. Traditional channels rely on visual content as well, which is why you will see Gucci and Dior investing in print media ads that feature stunning celebrities such as James Franco, Selena Gomez or Scarlett Johansson. Even if no one buys the fragrance they are marketing, people will stop to view the advertisements because of the visual aspect. Moreover, the current channels available for social media marketing are ones that heavily rely on the use of visual content.
Visual-based social media platforms
Social media platforms such as YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, and Snapchat are huge examples of the use of visual content marketing. These platforms have a design that focuses on visuals more than written content. Snapchat, in particular, has limits on the text-based content you can share. For visuals, you get to make a story that can have images and short, 30-second videos. Interestingly, even the 30-second length of the video is crafted to accommodate the short attention span of the average consumer.
Today, text-based content garners less attention because of the influx of advertisements and information on the Internet. A normal user is not only desensitized to a lot of imagery, but they are also not going to invest their precious time pursuing something for more than 30 seconds. Those 30 seconds are vital for capturing the attention of a user and visual content has been more successful in doing that as compared to text-based content.
Facebook says the average human attention span for an ad is now 8.25 seconds. In addition, 85% of Facebook videos are viewed with no sound. The popularity of Instagram Stories speaks to a shortened attention span as well.
Businesses that rely on visual content marketing
Images and videos need to be paired with the right text-based content in order to create an airtight marketing strategy that can deliver amazing results. Take a look at these examples of businesses that make use of visual content marketing and yield amazing results.
Nike’s advertising strategy makes great use of visual content. Their visual content strategy typically features a large picture paired with a single line of text. Nike has consistently connected with their target audience because they not only know them, they also know their mindset and what appeals to them.
With a logo that says “Just Do It,” their visual content details the journey of athletes actively pursuing their dreams. Moreover, their pictures feature a pop of color, creative perspectives and other techniques that make the visual content itself as appealing as the text-based content they share.
Another brand that effectively makes use of visual content marketing is Volkswagen. Renowned across the world for its luxury vehicles, Volkswagen’s social media marketing portrays the methodology that every car has a story. This means that they not only share visually interesting photos, they are also sharing content that represents the photos very well.
The images they share keep in line with the aesthetic they have which gives a visually interesting look at their social media pages and their other campaigns. Undeniably, their visual content marketing campaigns always garner attention from their target market. The images they share of Volkswagen cars are extremely popular among car enthusiasts and many fawn over the unique images that are shared by the company.
Starbucks makes use of visual content marketing in a very interesting manner, particularly since their services are in the food industry. Not only do they post visually appealing pictures of their products, but they also develop certain products that are beautiful to look at, even if they might be lacking in flavor.
Each year, during summer, fall or winter, Starbucks does its best to come up with drinks that are a treat to the eyes instead of the stomach and their buyers flock to them in droves.
It makes sense that GoPro, a camera brand, would be making use of visual content marketing since its product revolves around producing videos. Their social media marketing pages are filled with exhilarating images, videos and more that showcase the many challenging terrains the little nifty camera has been used in. Interestingly, GoPro has a wide target audience as its product is so flexible in use. People can use GoPros to record surfing, hiking, dirt bike racing and more.
Their visual content has not only garnered them a huge following among extreme sports fanatics, but they were also able to tap into new markets. There was even a social experiment where a dog owner attached a GoPro to their dog to be able to see everything that their little pet got up to each day. The video garnered a lot of attention for GoPro in a market the company did not originally cater to.
McDonald’s has really capitalized on its visual content marketing in a way that few brands have been able to achieve. Not only does one associate the yellow arches with McDonald’s, but the red and yellow color has also become iconic for their brand. McDonald’s has become so ingrained that they don’t really need to work much on their marketing. They could share a picture of their chicken nuggets and people will still remain enthusiastic
However, McDonald’s is careful to always include their iconic red and yellow combinations in their visual content regardless of what they are sharing. Plus, McDonald’s visual content doesn’t just contain food. They also sponsor events in local communities and always make sure to share visual content related to it.
Picking a format
When you’re thinking of visual content, you need to think about the format that you will be sharing it with. This is usually limited by the social media marketing platform you use. While videos are YouTube’s main format, Instagram and Snapchat allow both images and videos. Facebook and Twitter allow for more flexibility in the form of GIFs, videos, images and more.
Read on for visual content you can include in your marketing strategy.
Blog post graphics
Here is a graphic from the blog post – How to Create a Facebook Marketing Strategy. This is one of the subsections, which conveyed a message through this image.
Featured images on your blog post are much more than just aesthetically pleasing. Graphics combined with text give viewers a quick way to engage with the rest of your written content. The first image will draw them in and tell them what information or benefit they will receive from the content. Because users can process images faster than text alone, this makes it worthwhile to have a featured image with a headline.
Another benefit is that images with text over the top can easily be shared on social media. Your featured image now serves as an ad online whenever users share your content. The image helps users quickly process the image and decide on reading the rest of your content.
Buzzsumo studied over 1 million articles and found that those with an image for every 75-100 words received double the social media shares as those without. To go a step further, optimize your images for SEO and include ALT tags that accurately describe the image. Search engines will have an easier time understanding what is in the picture and can rank your site accordingly.
Markovate created an infographic as a guide to social media image dimensions. Infographics convey key data points and statistics in an easy to understand format. This form of visual content is easy to skim and communicates information using a combination of images and text.
Infographics can increase web traffic by up to 12%. The format is easy to include in a blog post or without, and users can share them on sites such as Pinterest and SlideShare. You can gain several backlinks to your infographic and to your site.
The data you include in the infographic must be accurate and relevant. With infographics, you can shine a light on even the most mundane statistics through eye-catching visualizations. However, make sure all of the stats create an overall narrative. Infographics are meant to tell a visual story, not just illustrate disjointed facts.
There are numerous ways to employ videos in your business; how-to videos, explainer videos, demo videos or testimonials. In a 2018 HubSpot survey, 54% of consumers wanted to see more video content from a brand or business they support.
Marketers commonly use videos to present a problem and showcase the solutions their product can offer. On YouTube, 70% of viewers watch videos for “help with a problem” they’re having in their hobbies, studies, or job. You can reach that audience by demonstrating your product’s use in a video.
You may be intimidated by video, but there are a number of ways you can create a professional video without a huge budget.
Aspects to keep in mind
When considering visual content for your brand, you have to take a few things into consideration. You may think it’s not that hard to share images on social media, but the truth is, your strategy needs to be more nuanced than that. Take time to build a visual content board that aligns with your values and attracts your target audience.
Consumers are unafraid to call out businesses for sharing imagery that doesn’t match the brand, it is a good idea to be conscientious to avoid backlash. Here are a few tips that can aid you in making compelling visual content for your marketing strategy…
A theme or story
Your visual content marketing needs to tie in with your brand in some manner. The visuals should build and add to your company’s image. Think of it as building a scrapbook that marks the growth of your business. Always make sure that the image you’re sharing blends with other elements such as the text you are sharing it with.
Keep it interesting
Visually pleasing images will garner more attention so take this into consideration too. Whether it is the colors used, the composition or balance, make sure that the content you share draws the viewer in. However, try not to go overboard here. Don’t use images that only lend to shock-value and not much else.
Creating graphics when you’re not a designer
There are tools that can help you. You may want an in-house designer or hire an outside one.
There are sites such as Canva where you can produce creative and professional designs using their simple interface. You can also take the route of photo-sharing sites such as Flickr. These sites have high-quality photos and will give you the correct usage rights.
Track your visual content marketing campaigns
Always keep an eye on statistics to truly garner the effectiveness of your visual content marketing strategy. At the end of the day, you are sharing images to draw in consumers, so it is best to try and understand your target market. This allows you to share content that garners more attention each time and gets better results.
With the help of these tips, you can easily craft a visual marketing strategy that will prove to be fruitful for your business.
Guest author: Sudhir is a marketing expert who loves to write about subjects that help small businesses grow their brands. Sudhir cares about people and businesses and tries to show it through his writing by producing both generous and accurate content. He stays abreast of industry trends and news, making it easy for him to stay relevant. When he is not spending time helping clients – you can find him hanging out with friends. He also enjoys meeting new people and welcomes you to engage with him on social media on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter .