How to create an effective visual content marketing strategy

Visual content marketing is a digital marketing strategy that allows you to communicate with your target audiences using an engaging visual format that can grab their attention within seconds. Read the article to find out what exactly visual content marketing is, why it is an extremely powerful communication tool and how to create a successful strategy.

According to a famous saying: a picture is worth a thousand words. And indeed, it is true, at least in the digital marketing world. The constant flow of information and content to which users are subjected on a daily basis has gradually led to a reduction in their attention span, making online communication more difficult. This is certainly a disadvantage for brands, companies and for all those who aim to use digital channels to achieve certain objectives such as increasing visibility, brand awareness, promoting products and/or services, etc.

However, there are marketing and communication techniques and tools that allow you to overcome this obstacle, as they help to engage with the audiences by grabbing their attention and keeping them hooked. Among these there is visual content marketing.

Let’s see what it is, what are the advantages, the best practices and some examples of brands that have made visual content the strongest point of their digital strategy.

What is visual content marketing

Visual content marketing is a form, or we should say a sub-genre, of content marketing. This strategy is based on creating and posting visual content with the aim of communicating, entertaining, informing, arousing emotions and/or curiosity and provoking reactions in users.

Thanks to their originality, immediacy and ease of sharing, graphic contents are among the most effective elements with a high emotional impact. This is why they are essential today. If, in fact, a few years ago users paid much more attention to the textual content itself and images were often considered an additional element or sometimes not even considered in the design of a post, today there is rarely a site or a social media page without visual content, because of the added value and impact they convey to what we publish.

Why visual content marketing is important

Human beings better understand and interpret information when it is presented within a visual format: about 50% of our brain is involved in visual processing and 70% of our sensory receptors are placed in the eyes.

Both marketers and users have confirmed that visual content is truly one of the most effective formats available. According to the results of studies carried out within the digital marketing sector, 49% of professionals consider it extremely important for their strategy, 22% important and 19% say that their activities could not exist without it. As for users, some researchers have found that when they listen to information, they are likely to remember only 10% of it three days later. However, if the same information is accompanied by a relevant image, users will remember more than 65% of it after the same time period.

That’s why photos, infographics, videos, memes and gifs are very powerful and successful communication tools that find more and more space within the digital marketing strategies of brands.

How to create a visual content marketing strategy

Like all strategies, visual content marketing also requires thorough analysis and planning.

Identify the goals of your strategy

The first step revolves around the definition of the objectives we wish to achieve. Let’s ask ourselves how we want to leverage visual content, how it can improve our strategy and what are we seeking. There can be several answers:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Increase brand reputation
  • Lead generation
  • Increase engagement
  • Ask for an action
  • Sell a product/service
  • Increase website traffic
  • Gain a competitive advantage

Obviously, there is not a unique perfect way to do all this, nor content that allows to completely reach each goal. As we have written several times in our articles, marketing is mainly performed with tests and trials, in order to understand what works better and what does not appeal to our target. What can certainly help at first is to analyse the type of content and format that performed better and therefore are best suited for our audience.

Analyse your target and identify the right platforms

A good marketing strategy should put the user and their needs first. We should think about who could be the potentially interested users and what their needs are, then asking ourselves how our company can satisfy them.

To do this, we can create the Buyer Personas: invented but realistic characters that represent the needs of our potential customers, even the unexpressed ones. In a nutshell: let’s identify with our potential customers, ask ourselves who they are, what needs and desires they have. Let’s give them a name, a face, a personal and work experience to make them as real as possible. Creating these identikits allows us to get to know our customers better and get closer to their mentality: the more we know our target, the more we have the opportunity to tell them the right thing.

Let’s then move on to the analysis of the digital platforms available, in order to understand on which of them we can meet our audience.

Define the type of content

The digital world provides several types of visual content, each one with its own characteristics and advantages. Before analysing them in detail and considering some examples of visual content marketing strategies used by some brands, it is important to remember that the content we choose to publish must be of high quality. It does not mean that we necessarily need a professional video maker or graphic designer. But the contents should be well done and in line with the objectives we want to achieve, while graphic elements should be consistent with the coordinated image of our brand. In addition, pay attention to copyright, to avoid incurring penalties and fines.

Images and pictures

The first type of visual formats that we have available are certainly images and photos. This type of content is still the most popular and extremely important today: statistics show that posts with images have 94% more views than text-only posts.

Videos

One form of content marketing that is becoming more and more popular is video marketing. Videos, thanks to their ability to capture users’ attention and keep them watching, appear to be among the most effective, original and creative visual content that we can include within our visual content marketing strategy.

93% of marketers said that videos play a fundamental role in their marketing strategy, while 86% of companies said they use video as a communication tool.

The range of videos we can produce is very wide. Based on our objectives, we can choose whether to produce a corporate video; explanatory videos to highlight the characteristics of our products or services; video tutorials to clarify how a product works; demonstrative videos that include consumer/user testimonials; or even videos of events made for special occasions or that show the daily life of our company.

An example of a corporate video commissioned on the occasion of our 10th company anniversary, created with the aim of describing the business, its mission and its values.

Infographic

Infographics are a very popular visual format in the digital world. They allow you to pass information on, engage readers and grab their attention within seconds. The visual component makes it possible to create a more immediate communication and transfer data (even numerical ones) and information in a more direct way.

TO LEARN MORE: How to create an effective infographic: tools and tips

From theory to practice: Mc Donald’s

US-based fast food restaurant chain McDonald’s has created a series of infographics as part of its campaign to inform customers about how products are actually prepared and shut down critical voices about the quality of the food. Infographics have proved to be the most suitable format for this purpose, as they combine information and data with a much more attractive graphic layout than textual component alone.

GIFs

GIFs, acronym for Graphics Interchange Format, are bitmap digital images born in 1987 from an idea of Steve Wilhite. He created a format that worked on all computers and that was light enough to be loaded even in case of slow internet connections. When the World Wide Web became popular, and later with social networks, GIFs have become one of the most popular formats along with Jpeg.

This animated format is more creative and immediate than static images. GIFs are often created for the launch of a new product, to promote a certain event or on the occasion of some holidays.

GIFs allow brand to communicate with the audience in a more conversational and creative way. Brands also gain visibility and increase brand awareness thanks to the high sharing rate of GIFs among users.

From theory to practice: Starbucks

The digital marketing team of the US coffee shop chain Starbucks usually uses funny GIFs on their social media pages and let users enjoy GIFs that include references to a particular time of the year or some of their flagship products.

Meme

The term “meme” comes from a neologism invented by the evolutionary biologist and science populariser Richard Dawkins, from the Greek word “mímema” or “imitation” and refers to ideas, behaviours or actions that are spread mainly through social networks and blogs, often becoming viral. Memes generally take the form of an image, a GIF or a video and currently represent one of the most effective communication tools ever, thanks to their ability to evoke emotions, make fun of a certain topic and be remembered, as well as being a content that strongly encourages users to share it.

We could choose whether to create a new meme from scratch or use an existing one and adapt it to our visual content marketing strategy. The first choice is certainly more difficult: the creation of a new meme requires more time and resources, but there is a concrete possibility that it will become viral and reach a large number of users who will associate a certain content with our brand, if it is done properly.

From theory to practice: Gucci

In 2017, Gucci, the Italian luxury fashion house, launched a meme-based campaign on its social media to promote the new Le Marchè des Merveilles watch collection. For the #TFWGucci campaign, the brand asked artists from all over the world, including @williamcult@beigecardiganm and @emilianoponzi, to create a series of memes that embodied the “That Feeling When Gucci” concept.

Through this meme campaign, the luxury brand has tried to demonstrate that it is ahead of its times and, above all, get closer to an audience of very young users.

Create an editorial calendar

After having chosen the social media and the types of post that are most suited to our needs, we can finally create an editorial calendar. It will help us to plan and track the distribution of content on the various platform, its focus and frequency.

Identify the right trends

The digital world is constantly and rapidly changing, being up-to-date will give users the idea of a dynamic company that is informed on the latest trends.

Videos are spreading both as native content and advertising. They are able to entertain, obtain more engagement and give brands the opportunity to communicate a specific message. Their attractive format performs better than, for example, a simple text message. Infographics are also proving to be a constantly growing format, as they are able to quickly communicate a significant amount of data. They respond to the requests of users that need to understand complex information in the quickest way possible.

Measure the performance

In the end, to understand if our visual content marketing strategy is effective, we must constantly analyse the results that we obtained: you can use monitoring platforms such as Google Analytics and analyse the so-called vanity metrics (links, comments and shares) made available by the platforms themselves.

Let’s not stop there though: we should listen to our audience to actually understand what they think about us and our content.

Your turn to go from theory to practice

Let’s now see what are some of the online tools available that can support us in creating our visual content.

Have you ever used visual content to give your marketing strategy an extra push? What works best for your brand? Tell us about your experience in the comments and contact us to learn more about our digital marketing consulting services.

Published by

Ilaria

Since I was a child, my school career has been driven by a passion for what I wanted to do when I was grown up. So I graduated in modern languages and cultures at the University of Pavia and now I'm studying journalism and communication at the University of Bergamo. Today I do what I like most: I work in the technical publishing industry dedicating myself in particular to social media and digital marketing at Eos Mktg&Communication, the publishing house of the international ipcm® magazines. If I had to describe myself in three words according to my hobbies and interests, I would say: globetrotter, shopaholic and motorsport-addicted.

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