More often than not, when you think about content marketing, you envision a blog post with a few complementary images. As the world of content marketing changes, the question becomes whether or not this is the only form of content marketing worth investing in. 

In this age of information, where copious amounts of data, statistics, facts, and more can be received through a variety of media, is it smart to rely solely on informative blog posts? Turns out, visual content marketing is becoming increasingly popular and useful for companies that want to deliver the right information to their current or potential clients in a fast, informative, and fun way.

What is Visual Content?

Visual content includes infographics, memes, images, videos, and graphs—any format that turns valuable information into an engaging visual that suits a target audience’s habits and needs.It also enables you to engage your target audience through more channels. You may have an audience segment that is looking for answers fast—think millennials, business professionals, and working moms. Your 1,000-word blog post may not suit their needs for quick information. Taking your long-form written content and creating interesting visuals will allow you to speak to your potential customers where they are most engaged.

The Power of Visual Content

Visual content is effective because of the way our brains work. Our brains can process visual information 60,000 times faster than it takes to decode text. It takes one-tenth of a second for our brain to process visual prompts. Additionally, the average consumer has an attention span of about eight seconds, leaving you with a very short window to capture their interest. Visual content marketing thrives on three components: appeal, comprehension, and retention.

Appeal: Visually pleasing content is more attractive to users. Information that is visually appealing sparks interest before the information it includes can even be processed. Find creative ways to display your information instead of using plain text and bullet points.

Comprehension: Our brains are automatically able to interpret associations between different objects and allow instant comprehension. Images associated with an object are interpreted at a faster rate than text associated with an object. 

Retention: When a visual cue is identified or when an image draws an emotional appeal, our brain is able to make rapid connections to the already-stored information within our memory. This allows our brain to retain information longer and more efficiently. This image, for example, was used in a very successful Facebook campaign for one of our clients.

Why is Visual Content Important?

The science behind visual content is pretty compelling in and of itself. Beyond how our brains are wired, there are other reasons to incorporate visual content into your marketing efforts.

1. Visual Content Helps Capture the Target Audience’s Attention 

There are roughly 140 million tweets, two million video uploads, and 1.5 billion individual units of content generated on a daily basis. With so much information available each day, marketers and business owners need to fight for the attention of their target audience. According to data collected by Chartbeat, Americans stay engaged in an article for an estimated average of 28 seconds. Incorporating visual content into your marketing efforts is an effective way to keep your audience engaged within that short window of time.

2. Visual Content Can Increase Social Media Presence

The data overwhelmingly shows that visual content plays much better to the social media audience. For instance:

  • Content that contains relevant images has, on average, 94% more total views than content without images.
  • Views can increase up to 48% by incorporating both photos and videos in the content.
  • Tweets with images on Buffer receive 150% more retweets.
  • Infographics are shared twice as often as presentations and three times as often as plain documents through social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
  • Engagement rate of Facebook posts by category:
    • Photo—0.37%
    • Video—0.31%
    • Text only—0.27%
    • Link—0.15%

4. Visual Content That Goes Viral Can Increase Inbound Links 

Infographics, posters, videos, memes—all of these can go viral if enough people share your content through social media or other online platforms. It’s important to incorporate your logo, website link, and other relevant information in order to easily distinguish the content’s original source. 

5. Visual Content Is More Understandable

By adding visual components that help explain what your content says, you add value to your message and allow the target audience to further appreciate and understand it.

6. Visual Content is More Persuasive 

A study at the Wharton School of Business concluded:

  • 50% of people were persuaded by a strictly verbal presentation.
  • 67% of people were persuaded by a verbal presentation that included visual cues.

Visual Content Best Practices

By now we all know what infographics are and their important contribution to an effective SEO strategy. However, infographics and other visual content must be created in an effective and professional manner in order to maximize their true potential. Consider these best practices as you or your marketing team develop your visual content marketing strategy.

1. Know Your Target Audience

The goal of any piece of visual content is to captivate and maintain your reader’s attention and interest. In order to do so, you need to understand them and what they want.

Here’s how to create compelling visual content for your target audience:

  • Take the time to truly understand your audience and identify their demands and interests. Is your target audience data driven? Are they more attracted to visual and colorful content? Do emotional cues appeal to them more? These questions are important to consider when creating your visual content marketing strategy.
  • Do your research. Whether you’re examining social media trends or Google Analytics, researching the behaviors and interests of your target audience will help you design visual content that speaks to them.
  • Don’t be afraid to get specific. For example, an eco-friendly, cleaning company could choose a general topic like “Office Cleaning Tips” when creating an infographic, or they could go for a more specific topic that speaks to their target audience like, “Top 10 Green Cleaning Office Trends in the U.S.” Be sure to choose a topic that is specifically relevant to your target audience in order to increase the opportunity of spreading viral content.

2. Create a Compelling Message

Visuals are effective; however, visuals that tell a story are powerful. A good rule of thumb is to use visuals that elicit an emotional response. People have a greater tendency to share images that give them an emotional reaction. The bond between a powerful visual and an effective narrative is impactful. To create a compelling message, keep these factors in mind:

  • Keep your visual content geared toward the specific message you want to convey. Your goal should not be to randomly compile data. Instead, communicate your data through a single, centralized topic. 
  • Begin your visual with the most powerful piece of data at the top. By doing so, you will captivate your audience’s attention instantly. Maintaining an organized format will keep your audience engaged from beginning to end.
  • Delete any information that does not add value. Sometimes people will get so lost in all of the information available that they forget what is most relevant to their target audience.

3. Communicate Data in a Clear and Precise Way

The message that your visual content conveys should be clear enough that it could be communicated in a short sentence.  Keep the following points in mind to create concise and organized visual content.

  • Information that is gathered should be citable, accurate, and must align with the chosen topic.
  • Keep a consistent flow. Do not stray from the point you’re trying to communicate—ensure your message flows well both visually and intellectually.
  • Align your images with the topic of the visual content. Using simple and visually appealing images will make your content stand out. The point of using images is to aid the reader in understanding your message.

In this example, notice how using as few words possible clearly conveys the information that is most relevant.

Full-Service Marketing Agency: Content and Design Experts

If executed correctly, visual content marketing can speak volumes to your audience, driving traffic to your website, increasing page views, and bringing in higher conversion rates. Looking for visual content marketing support? Our in-house content and design experts are ready to help. Contact us to learn more and get started today.