On average, we read 20 – 28% of all the text in an internet post. It’s often a thing of skipping until you get to the end. Very few times do we sit to read a long-form post that doesn’t contain any image or video. Also, when a visual is added to text, you’d remember 55% more information after three days than if it were just text. These are two out of the many reasons why visual is essential in marketing and communication.
What Is Visual Marketing
Visual marketing refers to communication tactics aimed at appealing to what we see; it is when you use photos, videos, and other visual elements to show the value of your product, service, or brand.
Text is great, but if you want to appeal MORE to your customers, you need to get visual. I’ll give a bit of information into each type of visual content that sells now, and will continue to sell in the coming years.
Types Of Visual Content
High-quality images are visually appealing. The images used in an ad is the first CTA in most cases. Then your accompanying message and its relation to the image will affect how many people will click on that ad or subscribe to your mail list. That’s why stock images don’t work as well as actual images of your team. I’ll get to that shortly.
Start using videos now. From social media to blog post, and even traditional ads, videos will always catch attention. According to Moz, posts with videos receive 300% more inbound links. You can try how-to videos, demonstrations or capitalise on what your competitors are offering. The Dollar Shave Club is one brand that used video to scale.
After this video, there was increased interest. In just four years, the brand grew into a multi-billion dollar business. This kind of growth through video remains true for 2019 and beyond. Little wonder the increased interest in video marketing; Cisco released a study showing that by 2021, video will dominate 84% of all internet traffic and growth.
Memes And Comics
Visual comical content easily goes viral, especially memes. They are a great way to get a good ROI when your budget is low. Everyone loves a good laugh. Heinz capitalised on it and realised over 4,000,000 impressions from memes – quadruple their original target.
Like every other visual content type, you must be careful in deciding what content is best for your brand and audience. The fact that Brand A generates leads from a joke about growing old doesn’t mean you will. It starts from defining your brand type, product, and audience.
Every product has a specific audience. It could be eyeglasses for kids. What design appeals to that child and the secondary targets – parents/guardians?
Visual marketing covers a large scope of content. Besides images, memes, and videos, you can also add the following to your strategy:
- Data Visualisation
- Slides/presentation (SlideShare)
- Quote cards
- Original artwork
The Importance Of Visual Marketing
Visuals are the most influential factor impacting buyers’ decisions. People connect more with a brand when visual marketing is done right, especially if it’s a personalised video or an emotion-evoking picture.
More than four times as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it. According to Forbes, over 64% of them are more likely to buy the product/patronise the service. Make it a branded video, and it increases to 84%. This also works for interactive images.
As we move into 2019 and the following years, social media and video viewing remain the two most popular online activities. That might not change because more people are using the internet and that number keeps growing.
Visuals also work for traffic and SEO. Adding a video to a blog post increases the time users spend on your site. Not just that, it signals quality content. Integrate it with the right keywords and audio transcript; your organic traffic could increase by over 157%.
Interactive images attract more interest over bland photos or text without one. Publish a step-by-step explainer article with screenshots, and visitors are likely to read it to the end. Generally, articles with images get 94% more total views.
Also, Social media works better with images. There is a 37% higher level of engagement on posts with images than those with just text.
How To Make Visual Content Stand Out
By 2021, the video advertising industry is estimated to grow to $22 billion after a double-digit growth year on year for the next three years.
It’s no wonder people are adopting video as a strategy. Hundreds of billions of videos will saturate the visual marketing market; a million minutes of video content will cross global IP networks every second by 2021.
Hubspot has estimated that 45% of marketers not already using video marketing will add that to their content strategy as we move into 2019. This is not adding images and every other type of visual content out there. I wouldn’t go into the billions of other internet users creating more content.
You need to stand out.
Identify Your Audience And Competitors Strategy
It always starts with the people you are creating content for. Don’t rush into adopting any strategy without thinking of your demographics.
Think of your brand's broad category, your product/service, and who your target audience is for. For example, broad category – beauty and personal care. Product – cosmetics. Who – women above 40.
When you have identified your audience, look out for where you’d find them.
If you publish a make-up tutorial on Linkedin, you wouldn’t have much success compared to if you were to use Facebook or Instagram.
Step 2: Reverse engineer your competitors’ strategy
One of the best ways to visual marketing strategy is reverse-engineering what your competitors are doing.
- What type of visual designs do they create?
- How often does it go out?
- How is their engagement when they send out content?
By following the statistics of your top competitors, you’d know what works for your audience and overpass that. You will notice entry-points and leverage on them.
Get A Graphic Designer Or Step-up Your Design Skills
Visual advertising goes beyond creativity. What design skills do you have?
These days, tools like Canva make it seem like design is a walk in the park. Sure, you can get aesthetically pleasing visuals there, but your work will not look as good as when you have a good graphic designer or design experience.
If you cannot hire a graphic designer to get your ideas out, train yourself. Anyone can learn to design with YouTube, Udemy, etc. Take a course on design. Start a demo project and learn as you go.
Leave Bland Infographics
Infographics make technical topics more compelling. They are also easier to skim through, and even easier to ignore when jumbled up.
Stick with showing over telling. While at it, keep text at the minimal, or at least, in a way that it doesn’t crowd too much with your design. The design also should not be crowded.
Boost things up. Add animations when necessary. This one from infographicdesignteam gets your attention, and the information is well laid out. I did cut out a bit though.
If you're looking for a team that can support your business needs and deliver high quality images at an affordable price, I highly recommend NoLimitCreatives. This is an affiliate link and I am a long term user of their fantastic service.
Try To Stay Away From Stock Images
It’s easy to pay for images, easier to get free stock images. However, stock images hardly ever look real. If you do get images that accurately represent your brand and messaging, that’s great. Note though that a lot of people use stock images too. Your visuals will blend nicely with the rest of them.
As much as possible, use images that you take yourself.
If you can’t take pictures, design something; use an original cartoon representation of images. The only pictures worth copying are social media icons.
Stick With A Consistent Visual Brand
In creating a visual marketing strategy, write out the brand’s tone from day one. It is important to stick with a consistent visual brand so that over time, your content is recognised as you.
You’ll stand out that way. Do not be blown by every latest trend. Trends are good to capitalise on, but if your visual tone doesn't align with that trend and you can’t bring up something that fits, stay clear.
Your Ad Location Matters
I did mention that you need to create content for where your users are. You can work around your ad location.
Ogilvy used the background as the campaign image for this Lego ad. It went viral. That’s an essence of brilliant visual content marketing.
Use Emotions Right To Get Impact
Emotions can either turn your visual content marketing into a wild success or bring its doom. Lack of it will blend your visuals with the billions of other visuals out there. The emotions that your content brings will cause viewers to either move to the next step of the buyer interaction or move on to another brand.
Imagine this ad without the child in that environment.
The impact will not be as great as one influenced by sadness and sympathy.
That’s why Coke and McDonalds advertise their products with the theme of good times and happiness, instead of fat and unhealthy eating.
Go Straight To The Point And Add Subtitles To Your Videos
On most platforms, 81% of consumers mute video ads. On Facebook alone, that’s 85%. If you want to communicate, you need to have subtitles. It’s essential that your message is delivered regardless of sound.
Secondly, grab attention in the first five seconds. People don’t like long, drawn-out introductions. Go straight to the point.
If it's necessary that you have a long introduction, use that introduction as a narrative. Tell a story that provides highly useful information while being simple and easy to understand. If your intro sounds like a research paper of numbers upon numbers at the start, many people may bounce off.
Every aspect of your video should have a reason for being there. An uninteresting image may not deter a person from coming back to your page or website, but a bad video can.
Bonus Tip: Use Live videos and 360-degree videos often.
Relevant Platforms To Visual Marketing: 2019 And Beyond
Many platforms are important to visual marketing and design right now. For 2019 onwards, some of them will matter more than others. In no particular order:
The growth in Facebook users is slowing. Twitter recently lost a million monthly users in the USA. A few months ago, Snapchat was affected by an update and a certain celebrity’s comment. Not Pinterest though. The network had a growth of 50 million more users. The numbers are not poised to slow down.
With a value of over $12 billion, it is likely to go public in 2019. There have been the influx of new features to keep this growth up, like the new ways to organise pins and the secondary following feed.
See these interesting stats:
- Pinterest drives more referral traffic to shopping sites than other social platforms
- Pins inspire 72% of pinners to buy something when they aren’t searching for products to buy
- Pinterest helps 90% of pinners decide what to buy
Instagram is well suited for visual content marketing because of its visual storytelling outlook. Whether you are combining images and videos in a story, or something else, this social platform is perfect for content marketing.
In the past six years, Instagram has grown to over one billion users from a mere 30 million. User growth is not the only reason for Instagram’s relevance to visual content marketing in 2019; it’s the growth in engagement.
Engagement on Instagram dwarfs all other networks. Ten times higher than Facebook and 84 times higher than Twitter.
Users are also not shy about following brands – over 80% of them do. 60% of users discover a product through the platform, and 75% of them take action; be it following the brand, visiting the website, or patronising them. In sales, 75% have bought a product they saw.
Marketers are seeing the relevance; hence, the growth in Instagram mobile ad revenue from $4bn in 2017, to an estimated $10bn in 2019. If you are just starting with Instagram, you can walk around and take a look at some visual marketing ideas.
YouTube is the leading source of video content. With over 1.9 billion users logged-in every month watching 180 million hours of videos, this platform remains relevant to marketing. According to Hubspot research, 45% of marketers plan on adding YouTube to their content strategy in the coming months.
As it is, people above 18 watch videos on YouTube over cable network during prime time. These people might view your videos during breaks. Also, the time people spend watching YouTube videos doubles every year. Interactions also grow year on year by 60%.
This shows that people are looking to connect more with brands. It is no wonder that interest in live video continues to grow.
YouTube live videos made waves in the past three years, with an 80% growth rate of users watching live videos. It is imperative that it stays in your visual strategy. As it is, 67% of total live viewers are more likely to purchase.
On average, Facebook generates over eight billion views with over 100 million hours of videos watched every day. When it comes to marketing videos, 64% of watchers are influenced to make a purchase.
Businesses and marketers have noticed; only two million businesses use Facebook for advertising right now, but that number is increasing by 2019. 41% of marketers plan to add Facebook video to their content strategy in 2019.
In addition to videos, GIFs and Memes are timeless ways to pull the crowd.
Although you cannot describe Google as a “platform,” you cannot deny its relevance to visual content marketing.
There have been continuous innovation and growth over the past decades, and more innovations that make marketing better will emerge. For now, the optimisation of images for search results is one of the most important things. Recently, shoppable ads also came on board. No doubt, Google’s use isn’t phasing out soon.
Visual content is fundamental to marketing success. With customers preferring better interactions, visual must be a part of the creative strategy. Remember that visual works better when you leverage platforms that are important to your brand and industry.