Visual marketing: it’s become a massive consideration for brands of all shapes and sizes, and for a good reason – visual marketing is about much more than a witty meme or shareable infographic. In fact, the visuals are a powerful mode of communication that stands out in the modern marketing landscape and helps companies forge deeper bonds with customers, communicate their personalities and priorities, and communicate in the most compelling way possible.
In short, visual marketing is a great way to tell your brand story and tell it well.
If you haven’t introduced visual marketing into your content strategy yet, or you’re wondering why you should consider doing more of it in 2020, this guide will tell you everything you need to know.
Let’s dive in.
What is Visual Marketing?
To put it simply, visual marketing is the process of using visual content, including graphics and images that you can see, read, or interact with, to share a brand message or marketing message. Types of visual media include:
- Interactive Graphics
- Motion graphics
- And more
While these types of content are universal throughout visual marketing, there’s a near-infinite combination of ways to use them. It’s this flexibility that makes visual marketing so popular and flexible among brands of all different shapes and sizes.
Why Should DTC Ecommerce Brands Care?
Anyone who thinks they can just ignore the rising tide of visual marketing is sorely mistaken. You see – while visual marketing has exploded in recent years, it’s much more than just a trend that will go away in a few months.
In fact, visual marketing is the literal wave of the future. As consumers become more discerning, content becomes more on-the-go, and brands continue to focus on personalization, visual marketing will continue to stand out as the one rare Jack of all Trades that serves all purposes.
Related Reading: Branded Content: Why It’s Important for Your Business
DTC Ecommerce, by the Numbers
To prove the point, here are a few visual marketing statistics you should know, from ImpactBnD:
- In 2017, 45% of marketers reported that between 91%-100% of their content contains visuals. By 2018, 56% said they used visuals in their content 100% of the time
- 88% of marketers say they use visuals in more than 50% of the articles they publish
- 40% of companies use stock photography as visuals, while 7% use videos or presentations, 4% use GIFs or memes, 12% use charts and data visualization, and 37% use original graphics, like infographics
- According to a 2014 MIT study, the brain processes images in as little as 13 milliseconds. This means visual content is easier to understand and engage with.
- Visual content is at once stimulating, attractive, educational, and engaging. The information contained in a high-quality visual can educate a customer while also give them something fun to share on social
- Visual content is easier for the human brain to comprehend than written content, and can help get your message across faster and more efficiently
- Visual processing and long-term memory work together, which means visual content is more memorable than other mediums of content
- As mediums like social and publishing platforms continue to grow, the saturation of visual marketing odes, as well. This is because both platforms mentioned above support the use of visual marketing.
- Visual content is a very engaging form of material, and users spent more time with it than they do with other types of content, like a blog post.
- Adding images to your media can increase its shareability and make it more popular among your consumers. According to a 2014 Stone Temple Consulting post, tweets with images earn 5-9x as many retweets and 4-12 times as many favorites as tweets without images.
Related Reading: The Future of Your Ecommerce Brand is Visual
4 Different Types of Visual Content and When to use Them
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and this is true when it comes to the use of images in visual marketing. Today, customers want more than just a text-dense website to interact with. Instead, they’re looking for sites with lots of imagery and high-quality UI/UX. This is where branded images come in – they’re excellent for breaking up the flow of text and generating interest and connection with customers.
If you want to create branded images, you could start with stock images (predictable and underwhelming) or original materials (easier & more affordable than you think). Add your company logo (keeping your brand colors in mind, of course), and you’re off to the races.
Here’s a great example of branded content at work:
Related Reading: DTC Brands With Compelling Visual Marketing
Video content has quickly risen to the top of the visual marketing food chain, dominating the scene as one of the most potent, in-demand forms of content out there. Today, Cisco predicts that video will account for 82% of all internet traffic by 2022. And for a good reason – video is a highly portable form of content. A well-made video integrates nicely with our on-the-go lifestyles and can convey a host of information in a matter of minutes. Because of this, they’re much more digestible than written content and perfect for busy consumers who need information quickly.
- Product and service demos.
- “About us” videos.
- Event recordings.
- Customer testimonials.
- Live videos.
- How-to tutorials.
- Repurposing eBooks and articles.
Here’s an example of a powerful marketing video, from Apple:
Infographics combine the best of both worlds – visuals and text in one simple, easily digestible package. Today, leaders and decision-makers want to make purchasing choices based on data, but many of them don’t have the time or desire to read through lengthy reports and studies. This is where infographics come in. Infographics combine essential information with compelling visuals to create a finished product that is both easy to digest and share.
Once created, infographics can be shared in blog articles, ebooks, case studies, and more.
For your reference, here’s an example of a great infographic, from Coca-Cola:
UGC or user-generated-content is any content— including videos, text, images, and reviews, created by customers rather than a company.
Seen as more reliable and trustworthy than branded content, UGC has become a significant content consideration for brands looking to create strong consumer relationships. Today, customers are 2.4 times more likely to interpret UGC as being authentic and trustworthy compared to branded content.
When appropriately deployed, UGC provides a critical credibility boost and a way to connect more deeply with customers. Here’s an example, from Warby Parker:
While UGC can be influential, it does come with some considerations. Primarily, who owns the rights to the content. According to TheShelf.com, the answer is always that creators own the content. Here’s what they have to say:
Here’s the thing – with something like UGC, your brand is dealing with the creative output of another person or organization. By default, the U.S. Copyright Law grants ownership of any intellectual property to the content’s Creator – this is true EVEN IF YOU PAID FOR THE CONTENT!
For UGC (and any copyright issue), ownership rights MUST be transferred from the Creator to the brand in writing. At the very least, there should be something in place to outline how content rights will be shared between the Creator and the brand.
Creators like bloggers, foodies, photographers, and videographers (not an exhaustive list) want credit for what they create, and they should get it. A lot of brands understand intellectual property laws, but don’t readily equate social media content with intellectual property.
Related Reading: How to Spot a Fake Influencer
The Importance of A/B testing Your Visual Content
If you want your marketing strategy to work, precisely where it comes to your visuals, A/B testing is critical. Designed to ensure that you’re targeting the right type of content at the right time, A/B testing can spell the difference between a successful campaign and an unsuccessful one.
Heer’s the formal definition of A/B testing, from Oktopost:
A/B testing involves comparing two marketing items with one small variation at a time to determine which one is most effective based on your given metrics. The more you tweak and refine your copy, visuals, and CTA’s, the more granular your understanding will be of what works and what doesn’t.
For your visuals, look into things like how text-only assets perform compared to posts with a photo, video, or GIF. Then, you can test variations among the visuals—short versus long video, pictures of people versus images of graphs, static image versus GIF, and so on.
Better visual marketing starts here. By following these simple steps, you can create a stunning visual campaign that shares the spirit of your brand and helps your company move forward.