Once upon a time, blogs published 1000+ words in text-only format. Then came Twitter that converted longish posts into 140-character micro-blogs.
Soon, we were seeing a new trend with Facebook’s Timeline and image-supported status updates.
Now, everywhere you turn, you hear about visual content and how it’s so cool.
The online world has evolved, and hopefully, you’re evolved with it too because visual content is the future of any type of marketing, not just online.
There are several reasons for this: For one, visuals are catchy and hold your visitor’s attention for longer than text. It is also very easy to digest information in a visual and share it on social media. Humans are wired to process visual information more quickly and naturally than long copy, so it only makes sense you made the switch yesterday.
Make no mistake – copy still plays a huge role in marketing, just a little differently now. Imagine a submit button with no copy on it. How do you think that’ll convert? That’s right, not much at all.
And the fact that your audience wants to see visuals is another big reason you should take the plunge. 44% of respondents in a study said they are more likely to engage with your brand if you post pictures.
Websites like Pinterest and Instagram have grown at staggering rates. Pinterest started in 2011 and saw a rise in unique visitors by 1047%. Instagram was born in 2010 and has grown to 130 million users with 1 billion likes every day.
Those numbers are so big they’re not even funny.
Here are the benefits of going visual in a pistachio shell:
– Saves you and your reader time
– Lets you consume more information
– Boosts engagement
– Boosts social sharing
– Increases brand awareness
– Helps with sales
So here’s the thing: Stop doing whatever you’re doing and pay attention to the above stats – they make a pretty good case for going visual.
I hope by now you’re sold on “my” idea. Let’s move on.
How to Use Visual Content in Your Marketing
There are three broad ways to merge your content copy with visuals.
1. Social media
2. Your blog
With social media, you have Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube as the big players. But if you’re already using those channels to share visual content, or if you want to explore more options, try Vine.
Vine let’s you create 6 seconds of looping video to spread your message and hopefully make it go viral. The reason Vine works so well is that the average user attention online is very short. You got to say it quick and say it well.
By 2012, the average web surfer’s attention span was 8 seconds – a dip from 9 seconds which we held in common with a goldfish.
It’s clear to me that this is only going to reduce further, so don’t be surprised if there’s a time when visitors pay attention only for 6 or 7 seconds.
Tools like Vine let you leverage the tight time gap and send your amazing message to the users. Here’s a cool little video by Lowes to keep squirrels away from your plants.
You also have Snapchat – a unique service that lets you send and receive photos and videos on mobile phones. Once the recipient opens your message, it automatically gets deleted from their phone and Snapchat servers after 10 seconds of opening it.
This service can be handy for “coming soon” type of promotional messages.
Your blog is a goldmine to capture leads. The simplest way to start combining visual content with your posts is by including images on your blog.
Make sure each blog post has a featured image. Some themes in WordPress don’t automatically insert the featured image in the post’s body, so make sure your image shows up on your home page with the excerpt as well as in the post itself. For that you may have to separately do an “Insert into Post” for your image.
When sharing your post on social media, the first image will automatically get pulled as a thumbnail. But don’t just stop there – you can always mix and match things and add more visual treats to your posts to engage the reader and break the flow of text with relevant media.
Use rich media like images with text on them (works great for calls-to-action or quotes), videos,infographics (check out our free tool “Presenter” to create infographics), comic strips, memes and so on.
Of course, do it in moderation and when it’s supported with some text copy (if you’re just starting out).
Pay attention to what your audience likes before anything. Hint: You’ll need to experiment and take the dive first before you know what they love. Every blog is different. Keep tweaking with A/B testing to understand what works and what doesn’t.
If you simply have the word “video” in your emails will help you boost your Click-Through-Rates (CTR).
A study done in 2011 found that increase to be from 7% to 13%. According to another study, 63.9% of 5,000 people who received video in their email watched it till the end. Talk about holding their attention!
Visuals are the first thing people will see as soon as they open your e-newsletter. An eye-catching and relevant picture will help them understand what the copy is about. That increases your chances to be read much more than a plain-text email which could be a hit or a miss.
Check out how Brain Pickings uses imagery and colors to attract and hold your attention. Here is more email eye candy for you if you want some inspiration.
What do you think? Does adding visuals to your marketing efforts help? Share your tips below.