Content alone isn’t enough. By 2018, an estimated 84% of communications will be visual (Source). But why is visual content so important and what are some tactics for making sure you’re getting the results you want? Here’s everything you need to know before you go about creating your own visual content marketing strategy.
Types of visual content (and where to find them)
Before we delve into strategy and how to best optimize your web content to improve brand engagement, we should probably address the elephant in the room: what is visual content anyway? Visual content includes any and every type of marketing graphic that might be seen in your brand’s digital footprint.
Below you’ll find a round-up of the various types of visual content you might consider using as part of your overall content strategy.
Social Media Cheat Sheet 2018
[ INFOGRAPHIC ] Source: Top10-websitehosting
Why visual content works
As you have may have read (or seen in an infographic before), the brain has a penchant for visuals. Did you know:
- Our brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text (Source)
- 50% your brain is active in visual processing (Source)
- 65% of us are visual learners (Source)\
There’s a reason we respond so well to pictures – it’s called science.
What’s become an even bigger factor in the rise of visual content is the sheer amount of data we are all consuming every day, thanks to the internet. This cool interactive data visualization shows just how much content is created on the internet is one second.
And because there is more content available than ever, standing out is hard – really, really hard.
Your best bet for getting noticed (and, more important, for getting traction) is to rise above the noise with your visual content marketing strategy.
Visual social media statistics
A survey from Software Advice and Adobe discovered that images and photos are the most important social media tactic. (Source) Now why would that be?
Most social media platforms are visual by nature. Have you ever tried to pin something or share an article on Facebook that has no images? The end result is not pretty. With the amount of content available on the web nowadays, it’s vital that you are not just getting consumers’ attention but you are compelling them to click.
Here are a few visual social media statistics if we haven’t convinced just how important it is to think social when you’re plotting your visual content marketing strategy:
- At times, Facebook has actually driven more traffic to websites than Google. (Source)
- Instagram has over 500 million monthly active users (and that’s only seven years after its launch). Read more fascinating Instagram statistics.
- Tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than tweets without images. (Source)
These visual-centric social media platforms – along with Slideshare, Pinterest, and Snapchat – are among the most popular right now, with huge growth rates and company success. Ignore them at your company’s own peril.
Tying it all together – visual content and brand engagement
If you care about revenue, you should care about how to improve brand engagement.
Every company has a different idea of what they consider brand engagement. It may be the number of social shares your content is getting on a daily basis. Or it could be related to actions like click-throughs or opt-ins. Perhaps you think it’s the success (or not) of your marketing campaigns – whether or not they’ve “gone viral.”
The most general brand engagement definition is this: an interaction between consumers and a brand. The more emotionally connected consumers are, and the more actions they take surrounding your brand, the higher the likelihood that they will convert and become engaged customers. According to Gallup, the engaged customer represents 23% more revenue than average.
As we mentioned earlier, visual content has been proven to cause a stronger, more emotional reaction in our brains – causing us to digest it faster and remember it longer. By using more visual content in your marketing, you will have a better chance of capturing consumers and converting them into loyal, and valuable, paying customers.
10 tips for visual content marketing strategy success
Without further ado, here are our tips for creating visual content that packs a punch and delivers on brand engagement.
- Quality counts. The higher quality your visuals are, the more trustworthy and credible your brand will come across. What do we mean by high quality? Professional, well thought-out, and sized properly. You want to make sure you are considering image size and resolution (otherwise your image may look pixelated and amateurish) but be careful not to use photos that are too large and will take too long to download (hurting your search rankings). Check out these other helpful tips for using images on your website.
- Choose visuals that spark an emotion. As we covered in the section above, getting consumers to connect emotionally will help improve brand engagement and convert more users. Be creative with your graphics and that includes social media visuals. Images that inspire, relay personality, and are composed effectively will get the best results when it comes to brand identity and brand engagement. This FastCoCreate article goes into further detail on how an image’s framing, colors, typography, etc. can affect the way your brand and products are perceived by consumers.
- Optimize your images. Don’t forget alt tags (a text description of each image) and metadata, which make your content accessible for the visually impaired and are very important for SEO purposes. The alt tag should ideally provide an accurate and detailed description of what’s in the picture – if you’re able to work in a relevant keyword, that’s a bonus. You can now even add alt tags to your Twitter images.
- Know your networks. Make sure you are promoting your content on the most popular social networks. Ideally, you will create micro-content, or appropriate platform-specific graphics, for each one. To find the correct sizes for each social media website, bookmark Sprout Social’s Always Up-to-Date Guide to Social Media Sizes.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of your featured image. It’s not just the first image people see when they read your post, this is the “default image” that gets used when people share your article. It is also the image that will show up your blog home page. Choose a featured image that makes a statement and, although it won’t be the only image in your post, could stand alone in as the sole visual representation of your article.
- Invest wisely. Visual content is one area that is growing, in terms of marketing strategies. And most marketers don’t have the time to create all the images they need themselves. If you find your website traffic or social media following aren’t growing – you might consider adding to your visual budget, whether that means bringing on additional in-house designers or searching for new freelancers to support your existing team.
- Create some guidelines for your visual style. Think about the fonts, illustration style, and color palette you want to use. The goal: followers should recognize your brand simply through your graphics alone. Check out this guide on how to create a visual style guide for your brand.
- Be consistent. Once you have an established design team and solid style guide, you should have no problem making sure your visual content has a consistent look and feel, which is necessary for building brand identity. Just like you would with any other content type, to see the greatest ROI on your visual content marketing strategy, you’ll need to post regularly and follow a schedule.
- Know how you measure. It’ll be hard to know whether your visuals are having an impact on your overall content strategy unless you have a system in place for tracking and analyzing metrics. You will want to pay attention to conversions on call-to-actions associated with any visual content, as well as engagement and interactions (likes, shares, comments). Just as you would with written content, you can always run tests with new graphic types to see what works and what doesn’t for your specific audience.
- Get ideas from your user community. Rather than creating 100% of your visual content in-house, you might find great visuals in your follower lists – simply retweet or share on-brand posts for an easy visual content source. Many brands will repost user photos on Instagram, for example – they track the submissions using a carefully planned hashtag and choose only the images that best represent their brand ideals. Bonus: this kind of back-and-forth interaction with your community will go a long way to help improve brand engagement.
To compete with the most popular brands and see a solid return on your content investment, smart and attractive visuals must be a part of your game-plan. As we’ve laid out in the list above, with a little time, effort, and planning you will be well on your way to making your traffic and brand engagement goals. Now we want to know: Is visual content already a part of your brand’s marketing strategy? What has been successful (or not so successful) for you in the past? Let us know in the comments.