We’ve become a very visual society. To get our daily dose of news and information, we hop on our smartphones, tablets and other devices to scan headlines and updates. But even though we have all this great technology to make life easier and facilitate instant gratification, we are in fact busier than ever and suffering from information overload as a result of all the content that’s being generated and shared across news sites and social media. Our attention spans are dwindling and as the amount of information continues to grow, we look to the quickest means possible for getting our news fix. With this in mind, more companies need to think about using visuals in marketing.
Offering Content That Shines
The issue (or opportunity) this raises for businesses, particularly start-ups struggling to get awareness, is how do you shine through the plethora of news and information? You need to consistently provide fresh content on your website, blogs, social media pages, etc., however it needs to be focused less on selling your products or services and more on resonating and connecting with the target customer.
One way to get through to customers (and all advertisers know this) is by stimulating or appealing to emotions. In fact, studies have shown that “emotional” marketing messages beat “promotional” ones by a factor of 2 to 1. Few things make the emotional connection more than visuals — photos, videos, etc. You know the expression “A picture is worth a thousand words”? More often than not, a visual can get your message across, but, more importantly, it provides that quick information fix.
Using Visuals for Marketing Impact
By cutting through the clutter of content out there with meaningful and impactful visuals as well as words, businesses can more effectively capture the attention of customers. Studies show that articles with visuals get almost twice as many views as those without, and posts with videos attract three times more inbound traffic than plain text posts. We can see validation of this for ourselves through the exploding popularity of sites such as Pinterest, Instagram, etc., as well as the increasing use of visuals on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Below are the most effective ways that your business, especially if it’s a startup, can incorporate visuals in its content marketing to tell your story and grab your customers’ attention.
- Photos/images – Use photos of your product, how it works and its uses; your customers using your product; your individual team members; authors of your content, and any cool stuff that ties into who you are and makes you real and human.
- Graphics – Use graphs, charts and diagrams to illustrate product, service or customer performance or results.
- Videos – Create videos of animations or revolving images of your product or of “chalk talks” presented by company experts. These can go on your website and blog, but also on a company YouTube channel and your Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter pages.
- Slideshows – Create slideshows to present a list of ideas, tips, survey results or highlights from a talk. They work great wherever you have an online presence, especially social media/networks such as Slideshare.
- Infographics (Images sharing data in a visually appealing way) – Can be used to show a process, how your product works, your customers’ before and after experience, or a visual summary of the corresponding content.
- Comics – If appropriate to your product or service, comics can help you convey your message in a more humorous way.
- Memes (Virally-transmitted cultural symbols or social ideas, such as Tiny Trump or Snapchat Hot Dog) – Can be used to grab the audience’s attention for conveying a message profoundly or humorously.
- Infodoodles (Using words in a visual way with pictures, artwork or other images) – Can be used to convey a message in a colorful and engaging way using more than just text.
While producing videos can sometimes be a budget-buster, start-ups running lean can easily and cost-effectively boost their content’s visual quotient with photos, various images and graphics, slideshows and infographics. That said, I’ve had several startup clients produce small-budget yet eye-catching short videos using animation or a mix of still photos and other media with voice-overs from team members. One company engaged an industry analyst to video-tape an interview of its CEO at a high-profile trade show, creating a video they could publicize as well as post on their website and social networks.
Whatever you decide to do with your marketing, if you figure out how to tell your story in a visual way, you will eventually see that providing visual content can effectively separate your business from the rest of the pack and capture the attention of your target customers.