Over the past few years, there has been a surge in the utilization of visual content, and for good reason. Humans respond positively to images – 70% of our sensory preceptors are in the eyes and approximately 65% of people are visual learners. By utilizing visual content forms such as animated videos, infographics, blog images and presentations, brands are able to cut through the noise and engage a population of internet users who are notoriously attention deficient.
In a 2015 survey, 55% of content creators said they were going to prioritize creating visual content in 2016. In a separate survey, 60% of marketers predicted that the use of infographics will increase in 2016. If you aren’t already using visual assets in your content marketing strategy, you can bet that your competitors will be. Here are some of the ways you can get started with visual content so you don’t get left in the dust.
Incorporating images into your blog posts is one of the easiest ways to get started with visual content. It’s well known that blog posts should be structured into digestible chunks that are easily scannable so that people can determine whether the post will be of value before they commit to reading it (this is why list posts tend to do so well). For similar reasons, images can be used to quickly catch people’s attention and break up the long walls of text in a post.
You don’t need to pay the big bucks to get overly polished stock photography; free libraries such as Morguefile and Pixabay are excellent resources where you can find an abundance of images to complement your blog posts — whatever your niche happens to be!
If you have a high-quality camera, why not take some photographs yourself? Although it’s not always necessary, taking photos of your employees and clients and including them in your blog posts can humanize your brand. Additionally, there are excellent tools such as Canva which are perfect for creating unique, branded images for blog posts and social media. Canva features a simple drag-and-drop interface and is easy to use even if you have absolutely no design skills.
So long as you’re in a niche where comedy isn’t frowned upon, memes are another great tool for driving engagement. Simply head over to memegenerator.net and create your own meme using a number of different templates. By putting your own spin on a popular meme, you can really create a sense of camaraderie around your brand, particularly if your meme uses insider terminology which specifically pertains to your industry.
Videos and Infographics
While free and low-cost forms of visual content are highly recommended, occasionally you may find it worth your while to publish a premium type of visual content, such as a video or an infographic. While there are free tools which can be used to create both videos and infographics, outsourcing this work to professionals is recommended if you want the highest possible quality.
Badly designed infographics are a dime a dozen. It’s easy to spot when a company has published an infographic with the intention of generating backlinks rather than providing value to their audience. Good infographics are well thought out, utilize credible data, are structured as a narrative, feature compelling visuals and a consistent design, use minimal text and explain primarily using visual elements. Even if you promote your infographic like an expert, nothing will make up for shoddy design work or a lack of proper research (peer-reviewed journals are much better resources to quote from than wikipedia pages)!
Animated Explainer Videos
Animated explainer videos are probably the most expensive form of visual content, but their ROI can be significant. Evidence suggests that integrating a video on your landing page can boost conversions by as much as 80%! While stunning visuals are certainly a bonus, an explainer video’s effectiveness is primarily dependent on its script. In order to write a compelling script, you need to know your audience’s desires, ambitions and problems (hopefully if you run a business – you do know this!).
While some would recommend writing the script yourself, so long as you accurately communicate the vital information about your industry, company and customers, a good scriptwriter should be able to build a powerful, creative narrative around it. An effective script should succinctly explain the problem faced by your customers, describe how your product benefits their lives (benefits are much more important than features) and wrap everything up with a call-to-action.
With resources such as voices.com, you can find a high-level voice actor to narrative your video. Always pick a voice actor whose voice is appropriate for your demographic, and assess them on the recording quality of their samples just as much as their performances (clicks and pops in their audio are definite no-nos).
In regards to the visuals, clarity is the most important facet, but if you’re able to choose a unique visual style which correlates to the theme of your product, absolutely do so. Most videos are designed with a highly corporate, cartoonish style, so by stepping outside of this mold, you are immediately differentiating yourself. There are videos which are highly illustrative and others which feature retro, 90’s video game graphics, like this one from Panorama9.
Pick whatever style you like–as long as it is thematically congruent with your product.
Worth the Investment
While publishing visual content can be an extra investment, both in terms of time and money, it can make a world of difference to your audience (i.e. the important people who are paying you to keep your business going). Visual content keeps people engaged, which results in more traffic, more shares, but most importantly, a higher level of brand reputation. If you’re committed to the long-term mission of growing a brand instead of just the short-term mission of acquiring sales, visual content can be a hugely significant asset.
Jack Knopfler is the Lead Content Editor at Mammoth Infographics. He has a background in digital marketing and has helped clients in a range of industries to improve their presence online. @m_a_m_m_o_t_h