Text alone isn't enough to attract customers and ensure engagement is high. We're living in the age of visual content marketing. Whether audiences realize it or not, people crave visuals. That's why apps like Instagram are so popular and why Facebook posts featuring only text perform so poorly compared to those with visuals.
Marketing has been visually focused for decades now, but that's especially pronounced in the digital era. With so much content, marketers need to ensure their brands stand out amidst a sea of other posts, Tweets, advertisements and blog posts. Effective visual content marketing does exactly that. Here's what you need to know to ensure your content performs strongly online.
Visual content marketing is, as the name suggests, content marketing that is achieved through visuals.
What Is Visual Content Marketing?
Social media is continually moving in a more visual direction, with platforms geared towards sharing images, videos, and even live video gaining prominence in recent years.
Explaining what visual content marketing is not, however, can be helpful in pinning down exactly what it is. It is not visual content marketing simply to add a photo to your blog post. Photos can be used as a tool to propel your marketing, but generally that means original, or at least highly specific, photography rather than just images that you can find under a Creative Commons license.
Generally speaking, for a visual to be an example of visual content marketing, some creative effort needs to have gone into it. It should not be something that can be found elsewhere.
The following section details some of the most common types of visual content marketing with examples.
Visual Content Marketing in Action
Visual content marketing typically consists of one of these forms of media:
Infographics, whether they're serious or more lighthearted, have a lot of potential when it comes to marketing. Check out the infographics shared on Visual.ly and other infographic sites like it to get a good idea of what makes a great data visualization.
You don't even need a super high-budget design or lots of precise charts and graphs to make visual content marketing with infographics work for you. The infographic excerpted below, created by Maptia, is Visual.ly's most faved infographic ever, and is just a really good idea drawn by hand.
Its hard to come by high quality photos that don't cost an astronomical amount and also dont come off as overly staged or stock photo-esque. If you can create great imagery around your industry, especially if there is a dearth of decent, free photos available for that industry, people will want to use them. This can be a great opportunity to collect leads or earn links, depending on how you present the photos.
HubSpot takes the lead generation approach, using free stock photo sets like this one to collect contacts who may want to use some of HubSpot's other tools.
Videos are one of the fastest-growing forms of visual content marketing. Its expected that 69 percent of all consumer Internet traffic will come from video. You can thank the popularity of YouTube and Netflix for that astounding figure.
Fortunately, the success of platforms like Snapchat proves that videos don't need to be extensively produced or contain huge budgets. One of the biggest examples of video marketing done on a budget was the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge from 2014. A great idea helped turn this social-media fueled challenge into one of the biggest nonprofit marketing success stories ever.
Images with Text Overlays
The intersection of infographics and plain photos, graphics with text overlaid are relatively simple to produce, but pack a punch on social media. Just take a quick look at Pinterest and you'll quickly see how effective these pieces of visual content are for growing your influence and catching peoples attention.
The examples below by Mountz Jewelers drive this idea home, combining wedding photos, carefully-chosen typography, and product shots to create a whole that is far greater than the sum of its parts. These examples create exactly the atmosphere a jeweler hoping to sell wedding day pieces would want to impart.
With these components, you have all the makings of a good social media posts, blog post, or a marketing email. For some added inspiration, learn from some of these standout examples of visual content marketing collected by The Content Marketing Institute. You'll see just how varied the forms of visual content are, yet how they are all effective in their mission of driving engagement.
The Science Behind Visual Marketing
So what makes visual content marketing so effective?
It turns out it has a lot to do with how our brains are wired.
Vision is the most important of all five senses, and our brain registers visual information most efficiently. Researchers have found that if you hear some information, you'll only remember 10 percent of it. Include a visual with the information and you'll be able to remember 65 percent of it.
Similarly, readers only spend around 15 seconds on a webpage, reading just over 60 words before they might choose to click away if it is not interesting or relevant to them. However, if the page has visuals, readers will typically read closer to 100% of the content.
With visuals so important, there are some best practices to utilize:
- Always include an image with your social media posts. This is vital for increasing engagement. Facebook posts that contain an image see more than twice as much engagement on average than plain text posts.
- Don't let your blog posts be enormous walls of text. Break up the posts with images, infographics and even videos to keep the readers attention. In a study by Blog Pros of the 100 top blogs on the web, there was an image every 350 words on average.
- Color plays an important part in the visuals you use. Effective use of colors helps your audience remember your brand (in fact, 80% of people surveyed in one study thought that color increased brand recognition) while adding a touch of professionalism to your visuals.
- Avoid amateurish design. If you're not confident of your design abilities, find someone who can help. Terrible graphic design is a sign to your customers that you are not willing to invest in creating a positive first impression -- what other corners are you cutting?
A Level Playing Field
The best thing about visual content marketing is that its democratic in a way. Back in the day, deep-pocketed companies would pay for expensive airtime on networks or ad space in big newspapers. Now, brands are on equal footing. Big budgets still help out greatly, yet an effective form of visual content marketing can take on a life of its own better than a paid ad ever could.
The downside to all this is that every marketer is on this level playing field, so its more challenging to stand out when every other company is trying to get their message to the masses. With so many companies trying to do the same thing, its important to form a coherent visual marketing strategy that focuses on giving consumers what they want while getting your message out.
How does your brand do visual content marketing? Share your favorite examples, your own or others, in the comments below!
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* Adapted lead image: Public Domain, pixabay.com via getstencil.com