Words like the ones you're reading now have been the voice of marketers since marketing began. Marketers treat words in all their variations — clever phrases, slogans, jingles, catchwords — as the tools of their trade. Their assets. The how's and why's of using them to effectively convey a message has occupied creative people and marketing mavens throughout the years. Today though, thanks largely to the maturation of the Web, visual content has become the marketer's newest asset. Visual content marketing is being used to convey messages more effectively than words alone can do.
When we speak of visual content, we're not saying a picture is worth a thousand words. Too often a picture is used as filler, hoping it will attract attention and “look nice.” We're talking about visual assets that can take many forms. A picture can be a visual asset, as can videos, screenshots, infographics, and others. It's all in how they're used.
Why Is Visual Content Effective?
It's because our vision provides the vast majority of information we take in and process each moment. According to John Medina, PhD, author of Brain Rules, visual content trumps text because our brain sees words on a page or screen as little pictures. We need to interpret each one, recognize them as words, then extract meaning from the string of words. All that takes time. On the other hand, images can give us nearly instant understanding.
That's not to say visual content can replace text. Text will continue to be the principal method for conveying information clearly, accurately, and (we hope!) unambiguously. Visual content, though, catches the reader's eyes and her attention.
For example, we've discovered that visual content is more than 40 times likely to be shared on social media than other kinds of content, and that relevant images get 94 percent more views than the same content without imagery.
It just makes sense. Visual storytelling is as old as the cave paintings found at hundreds of sites in France and Spain. Visuals help us tell our stories, but only if they're the right visuals.
Two Visual Content Trends to Watch
Video is an asset that delivers exceptional returns, especially when marketing to consumers.
- Shoppers who watch a video are nearly twice as likely to purchase than those who have not seen the product video.
- More than half of marketing professionals agree that video delivers the best ROI.
- Retailers claim purchases increase 40 percent as a result of video content.
- An eye-mapping study of search engine results pages showed that results with video received more attention than those without video.
Likewise, infographics improve marketing results and are growing in popularity.
- Readers spend more time studying an infographic than they do reading text on the same page.
- Infographics are liked and shared three times more often than other imagery.
- Nearly two-thirds of B2C and B2B marketers use infographics.
- Of B2C marketers, 63 percent of them rate infographics as effective.
There's a Four-Step Process
Visual content marketing is a process. It's more involved than creating some content and dropping it into your campaigns. In the Content Marketing Institute's 2016 survey, only 38 percent of companies felt their use of visual content was “Very Effective” or “Effective.” Some 62 percent ranged between neutral and “Not Effective at All.”
The metrics that define effectiveness start at ground level. Marketers need a clear marketing strategy, clarity on how success with visual content is measured, and regular communication among team members to fix what isn't working and improve what is.
Digital asset management is key to the process, too. According to our research, finding a visual asset known to exist is the biggest problem reported by five of six companies. Strangely, businesses report that employees look for media files 83 times each week, but cannot find them about a third of the time.
These challenges are all manageable if you have a clearly defined process for creating, managing, using, and measuring effectiveness of your media files. We've built such a process in four steps. Our eBook, written in concert with MarketingProfs, gives you the detail you'll need to begin — or to begin improving — your visual storytelling. We hope yours is an adventure story with a great ending!