Consumer appetites for online content has only increased as web search and mobile use continue to rise. What is changing, however, is consumers' "tastes" for that content. Today, many consumers want to learn by seeing — a trend that is leading marketers to shift their approach toward strategic graphics and imagery in their digital marketing plans.
Consumer attention has shifted from engaging with text-heavy content to more visually appealing, short-form content, including visual updates, stories, ads and videos. Brands who can skillfully convey their messages by mixing these visual elements into their content recipe will be the ones winning with online searchers and customers.
In this post, we explore three areas of your digital marketing plan where you can start to make a visual impact that has the potential to affect your marketing and sales results.
Three Areas to Create a Visual Impact
As more and more businesses enter competition for customers online, a strong strategy is necessary in order to stay on top of current trends that put you in front of your target audience. Consider adding your visual touch in the following areas:
Your digital marketing plan should be all about leading visitors back to your website — whether it's a B2B site, e-commerce site or other branded site. This goal makes having a visually attractive website — with an emphasis on your homepage — a step you can't overlook.
Some of the most important elements to focus on in order to make a visual impact include:
- Homepage featured image. Make this image meaningful, impactful and relevant to the message you want to convey at first glance.
- Colors. The colors you use on your site should represent your brand and show consistency throughout your site. Color can create an emotional reaction or connection to your message and should be carefully considered when designing your website.
- Simplicity. Less is more when leading website visitors to the next action you want them to take. Adding images and graphics can sometimes cause a busy look to your website. Keep it clean, simple and easy-to-navigate.
Take a look at the Squarespace page below, showing original artwork from an actual Squarespace customer. The image shows the artist in her true environment as she's working. Other visual elements on the page include a simple and direct call-to-action, clear navigation and easy to read homepage text.
Jump over to our related blog post here for more inspiration to add visual appeal to your website.
Social media content has gone through an evolution, just as all web content has. Web content that started as sharing ideas through text articles changed to Facebook posts, then to short 140-character tweets and now is focused on storytelling through images, infographics and short videos.
So much of social media contains visuals now that Pinterest, a platform that features nearly all visual material, is now the 4th largest driver of internet traffic. You can learn some of the other visual trends in social media here.
The image below is just one example of adding visual interest to social media. The post shows a user discovering for himself a new way to attach multiple images on Twitter. His tweet is not just an example of him doing this, but he shares this idea with his followers, and in doing so, he shows it and educates those interested all at the same time.
Source: HS visual
Other ideas for including visuals in social media posts include:
- Add timely photos
- Add videos
- Add graphic treatment to stats and quotes
Blog articles published as educational pieces are not going away any time soon. Marketing research shows that 90% of consumers find custom content useful (Source: TMG Custom Media) and 61% of U.S. online consumers have made a purchase based on recommendations from a blog (Source: BlogHer).
So, if searchers still seek blog-style written content when researching topics, where do visuals fit in with your blog? Again, we come back to leading your readers to the "next step" through visuals. Relevant, well-placed and interesting visuals can guide your readers to take the next desired action. That action could be to read another blog post, go to your homepage or to click a CTA you've created.
A smart visual approach on you blog should include:
- Consistent Visual Theme / Format
How to do it: Depending on the blog platform you use, you may have pre-designed themes available to choose from; or you may choose to create a custom visual look for the blog if you have the design resources and budget. The visual theme should support the brand you're building. It should also be consistent, meaning that when a reader comes to your blog, he/she should be able to recognize "you" (your business) in your blog your posts; they should be visually consistent and set up and formatted in a similar way.
Where to use them: It's a great idea to publish original videos as stand alone blog posts or to embed curated or borrowed videos within your blog content to support points you're writing about. This is key because research predicts that 74% of all internet traffic in 2017 will be video.
- Original artwork or images
Where to use them: Original visual content, whether your own or borrowed from sites like Creative Commons or Unsplash, makes your brand more real and more approachable to visitors. Each blog post should contain a featured image that relates in some way to your blog topic. Other images can be used throughout the post to support your content.
Please Note!: Everyone can spot a cheesy, stock photo. In general, these make your brand seem unauthentic and unthoughtful. Avoid them if at all possible.
Visuals Create Understanding, Engagement
Your business's visual identity is a critical part of your branding and digital marketing strategy. Howeveer, creating a visual impact on the web is more than just showcasing beautiful photos or striking images. Your visuals need to tell your story, connect viewers to your brand and lead them to additional action and engagement with your business.
Find out about more ways to optimize your website with visuals and other essential elements in our free e-book below, "25 Website Must-Haves."
Image credit: Dooley