Why Visual Content Marketing is Crucial for your Small Business
Chances are you’ve heard the phrase countless times: A picture is worth a thousand words. In content marketing terms, however, that ratio might well be much higher. The visuals you use as part of your content creation efforts often play a crucial role in determining whether your overall strategy succeeds or falls short.
So, what makes visual content marketing so important? It’s all about impact and imprint.
In some ways, vision is our most powerful sense. What we touch, taste, smell, and hear tends to be more ephemeral, while what we see can feel truly enduring, almost unforgettable. Visuals are also remarkably immediate, requiring far less time to process and digest than text or numbers. Not only do we often ‘get’ something we see within a fraction of a second, we’re generally far better at remembering what we’ve seen than what we hear or read – more than six times better, in fact. From a marketing standpoint, that makes imagery a massively important part of the finished product.
Now that nearly everyone carries around a high-quality camera and video device in their pocket, visuals have become a bigger and bigger part of all our lives. The idea of shooting and sharing video or photos with friends and followers far and wide is now commonplace, as is the prospect of viewing and re-sharing those visuals on mobile devices at any location we happen to find ourselves. As the number of ‘digital natives’ among us continues to grow, there’s no reason to think the general embrace of visuals will diminish.
In content marketing, visuals come in many forms, from photographs and videos to original artwork, animations and infographics (including interactive graphics), slideshows, screenshots, GIFs and memes. Generally, you’ll want to use most if not all of these formats in a broad mix across your content marketing efforts on different platforms.
Establish a consistent look and feel
You may already be aware of the importance of presenting a consistent brand image. Whether it’s a font or logo, a distinctive colour scheme or pattern, some brands are instantly recognizable through visual elements alone – think of the popular and long-running campaign for Absolut Vodka or the iconic Apple logo.
Whenever you create visual content, aspire to the same level of instant recognition by remaining consistent in your presentation. While the visual aspects themselves will change, you can use fonts and colours to create a sense of recognition that resonates with customers.
Use imagery and colour to convey emotions
Needless to say, not all the visuals you create have to use the same patterns, colours, and designs. Change things up and make your point clear with colours and images that convey the emotion or sensation you’re looking for. For instance, images of excited, active people, especially kids, can inspire a feeling of energy and action, while nature scenes often convey a sense of calm and relaxation. Colour-wise, we tend to think of bright, warm colours as being more active, while dark, cool colours are more passive. It’s the reason most SALE signs tend to be red or yellow, rather than blue or brown.
Make sure it looks good on mobile
As with any piece of content you create and post, it’s essential to make sure mobile users get the optimum experience. Otherwise, you risk alienating a growing, section of your audience, who now use phones and tablets for everything from web surfing and social media to watching videos and using apps. Right from the start of the creation process, make sure your visuals can be scaled to display across multiple devices and platforms, and make use of the appropriate tools and code to make sure browsers, social media apps, and search engines all know which image file size is the right one for each of them to display with your content.
Optimize visual elements for SEO
Like all your content, your photos, videos, GIFs and screenshots should all be accompanied by the appropriate ALT text and other tags to help make them searchable. Image searches in particular have soared in popularity, so make sure you’re doing all you can to get your visual content noticed by Google and others. As a bonus, this also helps accessibility, making your content more relevant and understandable to visually-impaired people who use screen readers.
Strive to create shareable visuals
In our connected world of social networks, it’s possible for great content to ‘go viral’ and get noticed by people across the country, or all over the world. If your visuals are suitably engaging, users will help amplify your reach by sharing the content with their audience, spreading your message to people you’d never reach be able to reach on your own.
Try taking some risks
As long as you believe it suits your business to do so, be willing to be bold in the way you use visuals. Try to stand out from the crowd by doing something totally new, different, and wild. Whether that’s relying on user-driven visual content for a campaign, or posting an image that demonstrates a stand on a trending topic (even something relatively trivial), you’re likely to generate increased levels of attention and engagement. Fight your fears, step out of your comfort zone, and you might just enjoy unprecedented success.
Steer clear of copyright infringement
If you post photographs that you didn’t take or don’t belong to you, make absolutely sure you’re not running afoul of any copyright rules by using them online or elsewhere. The vast majority of the photos and images posted online belong to the person who shot or made them, their employer, or someone else, and can’t be used without permission. If you aren’t going to take your own photos, use a stock image bank or photo-sharing site where quality images can be downloaded and displayed for free. Just make sure your competitor, or another business, hasn’t used the same image already – it could lead to confusion and negative associations among your customers!