By Vincent Seville
You open your Facebook account and see that they have changed how it looks. Fonts are quite bigger and rounder, even the placement of elements are a bit different. This has happened many times before, but design updates still stir people up whenever it’s rolled out. Changes like this often leave people wondering about the rationale behind it, if companies just like to redesign for the sake of redesign.
But you see, the great thing about the digital space is it provides a more accurate data of how users interact with the platform. This is why although users might initially have mixed feelings about design updates, most of the time, they end up leaning into it. The social media network has gone through its own version of puberty a million times since it began, and if you were able to adjust and accept it then, there’s no reason for you to not do so now.
Visual Marketing Revolution
What we’re really saying is the main driver behind all design changes you see online is you – the user. Companies, big or small, have seen the value of establishing and consistently evolving their very own visual branding. It only makes sense as humans are visual people. In fact, 90% of the information sent to the brain is visual, mainly because we process it 60,000 times faster than text.
So if you have a business, you might actually want to take on similar steps and understand how visual marketing can be key to your entrepreneurial success.
Visual marketing has proven its value in the world of business. For instance, something as simple as using images on a brand’s social media posts has revealed significantly better results in engagement: 53% more likes, 104% more comments, and a staggering 84% higher click-through-rate.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Visual Marketing: The New SEO
Visual marketing is still marketing which means it’s all about understanding user behavior in terms of how they react and interact with visual cues. Its role has become harder and harder to ignore that it finally made its way to something that used to be so text-oriented: Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Yes, you read that right. Visual content is now part of SEO. It’s not really surprising, because, at the end of the day, SEO is about adapting strategies to fit the mold of online search behavior. The rise of data visualizations through infographics is a testament to how people want ideas and messages presented to them in a much easier and digestible way – a great way to improve your website’s conversion rate.
Additionally, a website that considers strong visual branding has also shown improved average time on site. This means that users tend to stick around when there are enticing photos, infographics and videos to engage with on the page.
As well, visual content can also attract quality backlinks which is an important ranking factor. This is also true for social activity which has been proven to have a positive correlation to search rankings as well.
In summary, if you’re looking to get SEO services for your small business, make sure to include visual marketing as part of your checklist.
How to Master Visual Marketing
Whether you’re new to the idea of visual marketing or looking to revamp and be better at it , we’ve listed down five fail-proof ways you can master it:
Encourage Engagement with User-Generated Content
One of the reasons brands are finding it challenging to invest in visual branding is the need to produce fresh visuals regularly. The solution? User-generated content. Studies have shown that 77% of online shoppers find customer photos to be more visually-enticing than professional ones when making a purchasing decision. Actual photos from customers are seen as visual reviews, which actually help users to have a better idea of how a product or service will work. Sourcing this can be easy as well, especially when there’s a whole generation of shoppers who want to share their authentic experiences on social media and video blogging.
What you can do: Ask your customers to post about your product, use a specific hashtag, and tag you on social media platforms like Instagram or Facebook. You can even give coupons and discounts to encourage them to do so. Afterward, make sure to mention and tag them when you repost their photo or video.
Establish Authenticity with Candid Snapshots
Getting professional photographs taken can be expensive and time-consuming. This is not something that would work in an environment as fast-paced as digital marketing. The onset of live-video streaming and “stories” have set an expectation that brands should always be ready with fresh visual content. This is why, as a business, you should start being more comfortable with using your smartphone to take candid shots. It may not always look as polished as professionally-taken ones, but it is highly associated with authenticity, a trait a lot of consumers deem important today.
What you can do: Take turns using your personal smartphones (of course go for those with better camera resolution) and be spontaneous but on-brand when it comes to posting. Social media is an avenue to show the human side of your brand, so take photos of your colleagues, your workplace, and all the play and productivity that happens in between.
Stay Efficient with Branded Stock Photos
While using stock photos may not be the best practice, they’re also not entirely bad. There’s no denying that it is an incredibly convenient tool for visual marketing, especially when you’re crunched for time and resources. Everything you could possibly need in terms of imagery and visuals can be found on stock photo resources – which you get for free or through a monthly-subscription. It’s an efficient way to consistently produce new visuals and graphics without breaking the bank.
What you can do: If you’re going for free stock photos, make sure to exert effort into making them as customized as possible. Edit it by putting typography, laying it out differently on a template, changing a few colors, or putting your logo on them so it can look unique to your brand.
Get Creative with Graphics
Designing vectors and graphics can also add value to visual branding. You can use graphics to present various information: from relevant statistics, and customer reviews, to infographics, quotes, and holiday greetings. Remember, you are expected to be a thought leader in your industry, but you also have to think of creative ways to share your message, so your target audience is equally informed and entertained.
What you can do: Create content buckets that you think will benefit from a graphic-design approach. Make sure to keep it aligned with your branding. You don’t want these types of visuals to look like they came from a different brand. Once you’re done laying out what sort of content to post, you can proceed with building a peg board to serve as your inspiration.
Stay Relevant with Live Videos
Live videos are continuously becoming more and more popular these days. You don’t have to have fancy equipment too as a good smartphone and a tripod will do. This format is taking your visual branding to the next level and its success all depends on the content. It’s also important to know that 72% of consumers prefer learning about a product or service through video and are able to retain 95% of the message compared to 10% when it’s via text.
What you can do:
There is a lot of visual branding content you can publish in live video format. You can post explainers, tutorials, interviews, or even live stream product launches. Just make sure to keep it short, simple, entertaining, and informative enough not just to capture your market’s attention, but to retain it as well.
Crazy Talented Visual Marketing Pros to Follow for Inspiration
Need inspiration? We’ve round up 5 of the best visual marketing geniuses you should follow:
Socially Sorted’s Donna Mortiz was the champion of Australia’s Best Business Blog in 2014. She is a pro when it comes to providing insightful advice on visual marketing strategies that could help you build a strong social media presence. Take a page from her book by repurposing blogs posts into visually-appealing Slideshare decks!
Dustin W. Stout is a multi-hyphenated pro when it comes to creating quality content. He is, first and foremost, a designer, but also a social media consultant and a successful blogger. If you need a vision board, look no further than his Pinterest profile where he collates images and posts on the various aspects of visual branding.
The co-author of “The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users,” Peg Fitzpatrick is the visual marketing expert you can trust for all things social media. If you want to learn how to find the perfect balance between words and visuals to connect with your online market, she is the best person to look up to for inspiration and guidance.
Lauren Bath’s Instagram account is a collection of breathtaking snapshots of her life as a sought-after travel photographer. The way she edits her photograph is something that would awaken the wanderlust in you. Every photo is so incredibly enticing that you end up not just looking at it but wanting to know the story behind it.
If informative and entertaining content is your requirement for better learning, then Kim Garst’s Facebook page should be bookmarked on your browser. This social selling and visual content strategist posts tips, tricks, quotes, and humor designed to help individuals and brands alike in their journey to establishing their visual branding.
So now that it’s clear why visual marketing is important and you have at least 5 ways to kickstart your road to mastering it, the first thing to do is to understand your market. Visual marketing is not about making things pretty, it’s about making things simple and valuable for them. Identify where they are in their customer journey, and see what sort of visual content will speak to them directly.