I could start discussing visual content marketing by saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” But that could be a little bit obvious and boring, right? Let’s go further, then.
Visuals determine how well your audience will remember you later when they need your product or service. Above all, that’s the moment you’re working for! But there’s more: Giving visual elements a role in your content marketing strategy boosts your content’s performance.
These are just a couple of strong reasons why we prepared this list for you. It explains our favorite visual content types, which content marketers mostly use these days. But before we head on to the list, we’ll elaborate on the effectiveness and strategy behind visual content marketing.
Shall we start?
The Many Perks of Visual Content Marketing
Oh, gosh, I don’t know where to begin… From attracting your prospects’ attention to growing your brand, the benefits of visual content marketing are immense. But enough introduction! Keep on reading for a few “aha!” moments.
Engagement with (great) consequences
Using visual elements — such as photos or illustrations — is highly engaging! It’s a way for your audience to experience your content more profoundly. And engaged content consumers are exactly what you need to grow an audience and boost your channel’s traffic. That might be your website or a social media network.
For instance, the social share image of a blog post promotes that post’s content socially. Therefore, when someone shares your blog post on certain social media — such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn — their audience will see three things:
- Your blog post’s title
- A description of its content
- And the post’s social share image
Together, these elements work as a business card for your content. But guess which one causes the greatest impact on the brain? That’s right: the image!
How many times did you decide to open a link just because of the social share image? They seem to attract you, don’t they? They seduce you and tempt you to open the link and check what’s inside. That’s how powerful an image is.
Another example of powerful visual content is a video. Multimedia elements — such as videos — are highly captivating. They’re sequences of images — or frames — that give us the impression of movement. That per se does most of the trick by appealing to the senses and stimulating them. But then, most videos have sound, which makes us connect deeper with the content.
Effective and convenient content surfing
How frequently do you only read what’s in an Instagram image, for instance, and pass the image’s caption? I do it all the time! And what about skipping the text part of an infographic blog post and going straight to the infographic? Same here!
Visuals are particularly useful to content surfers. I mean, most of us really! Plus, they’re quick and easy to consume, which is very convenient for today’s professional agendas.
“If they pinpoint the information that’s valuable, and I don’t have time to read long texts, that’s good enough.” Oftentimes, that’s our rationale because we don’t have the time to read the whole thing.
And it’s true: Some visual elements say almost as much as the text. Nevertheless, that’s not always the case. Sometimes, visual content complements the text or adds purpose to it. This blog post is an example of that.
Now, let me ask you another question. Do you usually choose to like, comment, or share a social media post based on the image only? I do it constantly, and I’m sure you do the same! We do it because we engage with visuals that call out our attention and grab our interest when we skim through content. They have the ability to be catchy to us, content surfers.
Quick and efficient comprehension
Our brain is amazingly fast at picking up the meaning of visual elements. But besides being fast, it’s also efficient — it uses fewer resources than when we read a text.
Consequently, we feel that it’s easy peasy to understand visual content. And in turn, this makes us engage more with it.
Multiple bonuses to marketing itself
The importance of visual content to engagement, content surfing, and comprehension is awesome, but it doesn’t stop there. The advantages of using visuals invade the territory of marketing and bring on the following:
- Awareness. If a wider audience sees your visual elements, you’ll likely get more website visitors. Do you know why? Because people are naturally curious and wish to know more about who or what company created enticing visual content. They just can’t help it! And that’s a way to develop an awareness of your brand.
- Conversion. If you grow an audience with your visuals, the overall traffic to your website and social media will likely increase. And your audience will increasingly recognize your brand as an online authority. In the long term, they’ll move down the sales funnel and become your (hopefully) repeat customers.
- Employee retention. Visual elements help you showcase your company’s culture and values in a competitive job market. Be creative! Build an employer brand and show it to your employees and future hires. Let them engage with it.
- Repurposing. Visual content can take many formats, and on top of that, you can repurpose it. You can break a piece of visual content into pieces — let’s say a video — and reuse it on social media and blog posts. With visual content repurposing, you extend your content’s reach and become more cost-effective.
- Link building. Visual marketing is also super effective for getting backlinks. So, when you rock at explaining concepts visually, you’ll be in a great position for other websites to link back to yours.
Sticky brand recall
Visuals are persuasive — after all, we’re talking about marketing. At the end of the day, high-quality visual elements with a compelling style spell professionalism. And that’s something that’ll stick to your audience’s mind as part of the image of your brand. Think of the times you decided to apply for a company, write for a blog, or buy a product that looked visually professional online.
We also retain — or remember — visual information for longer periods of time. Check out below for the why — it’s pretty interesting…
Why Does Visual Content Marketing Work?
Information that you present visually is easier and quicker to understand — especially if it’s new. However, it’s not just new information that you should convey in a visual format. You should also highlight valuable information with visuals. Why?
Because a humongous amount of information comes into our brains through visual elements! This means that our brains got used to processing visual information. Actually, they mastered that craft very well over time and exponentially.
The human brain can now capture the meaning of images and other visuals way faster than text. In other words, we can feel visual elements at lightning-bolt speed. And on top of that, our reaction to them is stronger and lasts longer in our memory than if they were text.
Next, we’ll point you in the direction of how to hit the mark with visual content in marketing.
Ingredients of a Successful Visual Content Strategy
Visual content marketing is strategic. Therefore, if you have a plan and know what you’re doing, using visual elements in your content will pay off. It’ll get you better results with fewer resources, and that’s high performance!
Here’s a compilation of essential to-dos that should integrate any visual content marketing strategy.
Define your content marketing goals
You have content goals, correct? Marketing goals that you wish to hit with your content. Things that you want your audience to do with or from your content.
Well, they determine how you should handle visual content, from creating it to measuring its success or ROI. Take these examples of content marketing goals as a starting point:
- Shares or retweets
- New followers or subscribers
- Time on page
- Number of referrals
- Number of backlinks
Use varied types of visuals
Keep your audience in mind and the type of visual elements they usually consume. And if they consume multiple types, mix them up.
That’ll make your content more exciting and catchy! And it’ll allow you to rely on more content distribution platforms.
Choose the distribution channels wisely
Some channels are more appropriate for certain kinds of visual content format, audience, and goals than others. Consider your website, social media, newsletter, blog, and third-party online publications.
Then, examine your needs before creating the visuals for each channel. For instance, if you need to show a video to your audience, embedding it in an email wouldn’t work. A lot of email platforms don’t embed or reproduce embedded videos.
Diversify the social media platforms you’re on
Social media networks will get you some of the best visual content marketing results. So, you should address that diversity by promoting your visual elements on varied social media platforms.
Design your own visual elements
You want to impress your audience with your visual content. Therefore, if you have the time and budget to dedicate to designing your own visuals, don’t hesitate! Include that activity in your visual content marketing plan.
Nothing beats the uniqueness and customization of a coherent look and feel that screams your brand and communicates the topic to your audience. That’s effective right there!
And don’t you ever think about using sketchy images. That’s your reputation on the line and a missed opportunity for brand recognition (through visual identity).
Rely on talent and process
If you seek high-quality visual elements — as you should — but you don’t have the talent, you have options.
- Hire an in-house design team
- Contract freelance designers
- Work with design agencies
Regardless of your choice, you should put a visual content creation process into place. For instance, a design timeline is essential, and you might also need briefing and approval workflows.
Consider design cost and time
Different formats of visual content require different amounts of effort. This translates to some formats being more expensive or taking longer to create than others.
And because it’s always better safe than sorry, you should mind cost and time when selecting formats. For instance, creating a video to embed in a blog post should take longer than creating an illustration.
Maximize your reach
Reaching as much of your target audience as possible with your visuals demands expertise. And techniques such as SEO and hashtag use are among the skills you should master or look for.
Finally, it’s time to present you the list of visual content formats that we love the most.
The Finest Selection of Visual Content Types
These are the formats of visual content that marketers frequently use these days:
Consider that images are either photos or illustrations. When you split up a long text with images, you raise the odds of your audience reading the whole content. And if they do, the more long-lasting and stronger will their relationship with your brand be.
Nevertheless, the images must be attractive, high-quality, and relevant to the topic. And they help both you — the content owner — and your audience.
Images communicate concepts that would rather be difficult to explain and understand without visualization. Additionally, there’s so much content out there available through mobile devices that viewers’ attention span is short. That rules out long texts without images.
This format is generally more expensive than images, for instance. Yet, it conveys the idea that your products or services are high-quality. Of course, the video must be high-quality; otherwise, you risk turning your visual content marketing budget against you.
Besides high-quality, your videos should be short, inspirational, and refreshing. That should increase the engagement rate you get from publishing them on your social media.
Here are some types of videos that you might create:
- How-to videos
- Animated videos to teach complex topics, problems, or concepts
- Product or service demonstration videos
- Customer testimonials
- Explainer videos that show how your product or service solves your target audience’s problems
- Q&A videos
- Tutorial videos
Remember to keep your videos loyal to your visual identity. And whenever possible, upload the videos directly to the platform where you’re publishing them. This means you should avoid embedding videos that redirect the viewer to another platform, such as a video-only platform.
They communicate information with a combination of images and text, making them easy to skim and understand.
Your infographics should be 100% compliant with your visual identity. And it’s extremely important that the information in them is accurate, objective, and utterly relevant.
You might publish an infographic on your blog but then, share it on different social media. That’ll bring more traffic to your blog or website. And even if you share a thumbnail image of your infographic with a link to the blog post, it works.
Infographics are appropriate for explaining complex data and compellingly presenting statistics.
4. Embedded social media posts
Source: Atlassian on LinkedIn
Embedding social media posts on your website or blog might suit different purposes.
- Let your customers know that you’re on social media platforms
- Increase the number of followers, views, and interactions with your social media posts
- Communicate a professional brand image
- Point to channels where your audience can engage directly with your brand
- Add credibility and authenticity to your brand by showing user-generated content (UGC)
- Provide social proof
- Support the claims in your text with real-world examples from your social media networks
- Generate trust (and conversions) as people trust UGC more than brand-generated content
5. Quote images
You can frequently find this type of visual content on social media. However, you can also find quote images amid blog posts like you found one just now, above.
Most of the time, you resonate with the quotes, or…they provoke you! And if they provoke you, you feel uncomfortable and thoughtful — sometimes irritated.
Anyway, quote images are effective because they’re visual, plus they instill a contagious behavior in the reader.
- If you resonate with the quote, you’ll probably like it and even share it or comment on it. And that’s your contribution to raising the engagement levels of the brand that published it. Then, when those levels rise, the quote image will show up to a broader audience.
- On the other hand, if the quote provokes you, you might move on. But you might alternatively refute the quote with your experience or ask a question, and commenting is good for engagement.
Bottom line, whether you resonate with a quote image or it provokes you, you might cause others to
- Start following the company or individual on social media
- Research the brand’s products or services
- Talk about those with friends and coworkers
6. Statistical images
These might be illustrations that contain graphs, charts, maps, or a summary of statistical data in text. For instance, an infographic might be a statistical image if it contains statistical data.
Statistical images add credibility to your message, but they do a lot more for your content and brand.
You might already know that data visualization expands the effectiveness of data. So, if you give your audience visualization on top of data that you carefully researched, it can’t get any better! They’ll extract conclusions out of your content more easily. And perhaps, they’ll get to conclusions they wouldn’t otherwise, with plain text.
That’s why one of the powers of data visualization is to offer new insights to content consumers. Plus, statistical images make it faster to analyze data and easier to notice trends in data.
If you’re writing about a product or online service, a screenshot will do wonders for your content. A screenshot showing how the product or service looks like is usually better than words only. And a series of screenshots is great for tutorials to explain the steps of a procedure.
With apps or SaaS, screenshots help build the trust of your target audience. You can also annotate screenshots to better point to the product or service.
And if you add a customer review or testimonial to the mix, your credibility will skyrocket! By the way, you can present customer reviews or testimonials with screenshots.
A Few Things Before We Go
I’m sure the majority of your audience doesn’t appreciate aggressive selling techniques. They expect that your content educates and inspires them. And that’s just what visual elements deliver!
Catchy visual content will sharpen their curiosity about your brand. And the more high-quality the visuals are, the more they won’t be able to contain that urge.
Above all, make sure that if you decide to invest in visual content marketing, you do it well. And part of doing it well is to use visual elements that have a purpose for your target audience.