With the increased use of the internet, marketing isn’t what it used to be. Real-time connectivity and social media have changed the way that people find and digest information. The days of fliers and signage may not be over, but they certainly don’t rule the proverbial roost anymore. Audiences have a shorter attention span and expect new content as quickly as they can swipe through their screens. This inundation of content means visual content marketing has much more significance in the digital world.
According to HubSpot, 32% of marketers recognize visual content as their most important tool. This gives us some idea of how essential images are to any digital campaign. Crafting a marketing campaign that fulfills its purpose and gets results starts with understanding the basics of visual marketing. Keep reading to learn more.
What is Visual Content Marketing?
Visual content marketing is the use of images to convey meaning or to add information to marketing efforts. In short, it’s about using pictures to enhance or tell a story. According to a study done by Xerox, people are 80% more likely to read your text if it includes colored graphics or visual aids. That statistic is overwhelming and advocates for the use of visual marketing in nearly every instance.
However, many people make the mistake of assuming that any image, even one that isn’t relevant to the content, will attract more readers. The truth is pictures must be carefully cultivated and relevant to the bulk of the material. An image should enhance what’s being written, not detract from it in any way. That means identifying the keywords relative to the body of the content and finding or creating images that correspond with those keywords.
Before committing to an image and sharing it with the world, always consider legal and ethical compliance. Make sure that the chosen image is properly licensed, within fair use parameters, doesn’t violate any online community policies, and is accessible to every potential customer.
When preparing images to be included, it’s also a good idea to consider the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Being ADA compliant is becoming increasingly necessary and allows you to reach more people with your visual content than ever before. Putting in image descriptions along with your content allows those with visual impairments to understand the images being used and expands the reach of your content.
The Most Popular Image Types for Visual Marketing
Curating the perfect images to go with your content may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t always mean you have to create the images yourself. There are several options for acquiring images, and below, we’ve outlined three possibilities.
Stock photos are the most recognized and accessible images available to marketers. While most of these photos are generic, it’s very likely you can find unique visual content for a reasonable price. The real talent comes in choosing which stock image will best complement the brand. The problem comes if you rely too much on free images that are also being used by your competitors. It might be worthwhile to keep a running inventory of which images are making the rounds.
If it’s within your budget, it’s worth it to have a photographer take custom images for you. This may be more costly than the pool of stock images, but it can generate original images that can enhance your brand in a specific and original way.
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Infographics and Data-Driven Materials
Infographics and data-driven graphics are made using statistics or graphs that illustrate a specific point. An infographic combines this data with images and short blocks of text that work to better illustrate the point. Data-driven graphics are a bit different and can include graphs, maps, and charts. Putting the most important information in an easily digestible visual aid makes it more likely to reach your target demographic.
Customer Created Images
When customers post images of your product on social media or send videos of it in action to public forums, they’re creating very useful content. Customer generated content (CGC) is an important branding tool and works to increase awareness in peer-to-peer sharing scenarios. Photos gathered through CGC allow your target audience to connect your product or service to scenarios that may be relevant to them.
How to Measure Visual Content Marketing Success
It can seem difficult to measure the results from visual content marketing efforts. This is considered a less tangible asset, and the ROI requires monitoring of specific success metrics, such as an increase in conversions, page traffic, click-thru rates, and interactions. Before releasing any new ads or marketing materials that incorporate images, record all the current metric values relevant to the campaign.
As the new material circulates, you can measure its effectiveness as a part of the larger campaign. Many companies will use AB testing methods to measure the impact of content with one type of image, another type, or without the images altogether. They release two separate emails or sites to a control group within their target audience and gauge the response. Or, they will run their content with the various combinations for certain time periods without changing any other factors. Then, they can measure the difference in their chosen success metrics and see which content yielded the best results.
The most effective way to judge the impact of visual content is to gather data points over an extended period and study the behaviors of your target audience. It’s also a good idea to expand your education to stay ahead of the newest and most useful information on visual content marketing.
Fairleigh Dickinson University’s online master’s in digital marketing degree offers an accredited program that can prepare you to use visual content in new and exciting ways. Learn more on consumer behavior, digital marketing strategies and content marketing from staff with real-world experience. Our flexible online format means you can earn your degree on a schedule that works for you.