Why Visual Content Will Rule Digital Marketing in 2014

Social Media Today

Image source: Social Media Today

“Seeing is believing.”

People are more interested in seeing information rather than reading about it. Images and videos are the foundations of the internet’s new language, and they are likely to dominate the digital marketing scene in 2014.

What is Visual Content?

The main appeal of visual content is its ability to communicate complex messages very quickly. This is extremely useful to digital marketers, who are forever trying to capture the notoriously short attention span of web users. Visuals also allow marketers to set their content apart from all the fluff that’s floating around the web.  As Jason Korman of Gaping Void says, “We’re overwhelmed by data and info, we want things that make communications more simple, less complex.”

Visual content fits these criteria perfectly. Quality photos, interactive videos, unique infographics, and even fun memes and comics provide web users the information they need at a glance. They engage viewers almost instantly and the impression they leave lasts longer than mere words. Indeed, visuals are vital to the web, sometimes even more important than text. It’s almost criminal that it’s taken Google this long to put so much weight on them. This, fortunately, is about to change. In the coming months, visual content will be the focus of digital marketing campaigns and, if you wish to succeed in 2014, it would be wise you take heed.

Content Marketers

Image source: Socially Visual

Integrating visual content in all your marketing campaigns this year will help you differentiate your business from the rest of competition. This also gives your potential customers a quick view of your brand’s main points, while drawing them into the bigger conversation.

Why Now?

Visual content has been around for a long time, but it’s only in the past couple of months that it’s created a huge buzz . Take a closer look at the following factors:

It’s All in the Mind

The success of visual content in drawing in potential consumers is primarily due to how the human brain is wired. In a recent interview, Marcel Just, Director of the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon University, said that:

“Processing print isn’t something the human brain was built for. The printed word is a human artifact. It’s very convenient and it’s worked very well for us for 5,000 years, but it’s an invention of human beings. By contrast Mother Nature has built into our brain our ability to see the visual world and interpret it.”

Our innate ability to process visual information is what motivates us to choose content with photos or videos over plain text articles. This also supports the data gathered by MDG Advertising, stating that content sprinkled with compelling images get 94% more total views on average than those without. The more people who view your content, the higher the chances are of them buying your product, obtaining your services, or signing up for a newsletter.

The Rise of Mobile

Given that we’re increasingly becoming more dependent on mobile devices, it makes sense that we are even more inclined to choosing content that’s easy on the eye. We’re a generation of busy people and we don’t have the time to read through an entire 600-word article using our smartphones or tablets. We want high quality images, interesting infographics, and fun videos to give us the information we need. According to YouTube’s statistics page, mobile makes up nearly 40% of their total global watch time. That’s a lot, considering more than 1 billion unique web users visit the site every month. So, if you’re not producing any videos as part of your marketing campaign, you might not be reaching a huge section of your target customers.

For the Love of Social

These days, virtually every company worth its salt is on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. When it comes to advertising on these channels, visual content captures more attention from users than text-only status updates and posts. In fact, a study conducted by Simply Measured revealed that a month after Facebook introduced its timeline feature for brands, photos and videos increased in engagement by a whopping 65%. Facebook then recognised the promise of visuals and decided to buy photo-sharing company Instagram. The rest is social media history.

Apart from Instagram, which is predicted to be the King of Social Media in 2014, another photo-sharing website is gaining traction in the digital marketing world. Recent data shows that Pinterest generated more referral traffic to websites than LinkedIn, Google+, and YouTube combined.

So, what makes visual content so successful in social media? Not only are visuals more enjoyable to browse through than plain text content, but they are also very easy to share. In the social media world, shareability is vital to increasing brand awareness and ROI. But don’t take my word for it. Check out the results of a study conducted by AOL Research. The findings, released on April 2011, revealed that 27 million pieces of online content are shared online every day. If that was the number almost 3 years ago, imagine how many pieces of content are shared daily today?

Hello Conversions!

Of course, everything marketers do on the web is meant for one goal – getting more conversions. With visual content, you can get these in heaps! A well designed website, complete with relevant images, videos, and infographics, is likely to create a good impression on prospective customers and increase sales.

Also, the MDG Advertising statistics reveal that 67% of online consumers consider clear, detailed photos to be more important than product information or even customer ratings. One reason behind this is that visuals show people your products without actually telling people about them. This gives your customers the freedom to make their own assumptions about what you offer.

One of the most common complaints among online buyers is that they feel constantly badgered by brands to buy their product/service or that their product is the best. Wouldn’t it be nice to see a product and find out for yourself if it’s something that will fit your needs? Consumers certainly think so. Any way that you can promote your brand without scaring or spamming your target audience should be a strategy worth investing in.

What Can You Do?

The next step is to figure out how you can integrate it into your campaigns. Here are a few steps and tips that will help you:

  • Always Justify Your Images

Yes, using visuals can increase engagement and ROI, but this is only if you use the right images. It’s important to use photos only when they offer a better selling point than what mere text could provide. They should inform your target audience of the function and value of your products in situations where words may fail you.

Take, for instance, this image from cosmetics company Lancôme. They used professionally rendered images to show the benefits of using their product, in this case the DreamTone Ultimate Dark Spot Corrector.


These ads from cat food company Whiskas are also great examples. They’re truly unique and interesting, making them instant attention-grabbers.


Image source: Ads of the World

Big Nature

Make sure your visual content is unique, interesting, and inspirational without being pushy or over-the-top. This way, you can promote your products and services without pushing them down your customers’ throats.

  • Consider Product Type and Consumer Viewing Patterns

Aside from choosing the right type of visual content, it’s also crucial to select where you place and share it. This will often depend on the web browsing patterns of your target consumers. If you’re selling to a younger audience, like teens and young professionals, consider sharing in social media sites like Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram as these are the places young people frequent.

Another factor worth considering is the product type. If you’re offering merchandise that people typically use everyday like clothing, footwear, jewellery, and furniture, consider using more detailed images. Place thumbnails together with product descriptions. If possible, include a zoom feature that allows users to get a close range view of the item. If your main products are clothing, jewellery, and other accessories, it would also be a good idea to place a photo of a model wearing the item.

These features and details allow users to inspect the product as thoroughly as possible, helping them decide whether to buy it or not.

We’re all visual thinkers, nature made us so. We look at one image and we instantly understand what it’s trying to tell us. Tapping into this innate ability is essential, especially in a society where we’re bombarded by information we don’t have the time to read. Learn to use this to your advantage and your marketing campaigns will definitely reach new levels of success this year and in the near future.

Richard Eaves
Richard Eaves is a Digital Marketing Specialist for Smart Traffic. He developed a passion for SEO while working as a webmaster for some well-known high street companies. His particular specialities are technical onsite SEO and content development.

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