We live in an age of marketing where “traditional” marketing methods alone are not enough to leverage your agency’s brand. As I’ve mentioned before, marketing is going digital, and in fact, I believe that in 2015 and 2016 coming up, digital marketing should be considered the next era of traditional marketing. Mastering the digital marketplace should be one of your top priorities when it comes to crafting your perfect marketing strategy, and I’m here to inform you that if your content isn’t visually appealing, you’re missing out.
Why Visual Content?
The million dollar question is this, why does content nee
d to be visual? In reality, there is a simple answer: visuals get a whopping 94% more engagement. The thing about visuals are that they give the same content a new perspective, a stronger focus, and a more successful delivery if done correctly. Suppose that you had crafted a beautiful marketing strategy, but simply left visual content out of it; what will happen is you’ve now mastered social media and SEO and you’ve made yourself easy to find, but once customers, clients, or prospects make it to your content, they won’t be engaged. Instead of delivering your message or having your customers keep your brand in mind, they make bounce away from your web page in a small amount of time (which can hurt your bounce rate) or simply never read your content to begin with. Visual content will get you more engagement from your audience, and if you don’t believe me, then check the numbers, because stats don’t lie:
Tweets with images receive 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites and 150% more retweets.
Socialbakers.com looked at the top 10% of posts made by more than 30,000 Facebook brand pages and found that posts with photos saw the most engagement—accounting for a whopping 87% of total interactions.
Images and photos are the most important tactic in optimizing social media posts.
70% of marketers plan to increase their use of original visual assets in 2015
95% of B2B buyers agreed that they preferred shorter content formats.
Social Media Examiner recently asked marketers which forms of content they most want to learn about in 2015. Creating original visual assets took first place.
Stats provided by HubSpot
While crafting your visual content marketing plan, it’s important to keep your brand in mind. At Paradiso Insurance, we have a set of branding guidelines that were crafted by a professional graphic designer who we outsource work to. Once our branding guidelines were complete, we passed them onto our in-house marketing specialists, who now follow these guidelines while crafting any visuals and other content to help us get more engagement as well as keep our brand fluent and clear for our audience to understand.
There are several components included in our branding guidelines. First we have our logo, which we keep uniform in all of our visuals, only differentiating between a detailed logo, and a simplified logo. Next, we have our color schemes, chosen by our graphic designer, for us to use in our branded elements to include in our visuals. We also have photography guidelines, which tell us to use pictures of our staff as a top priority, and only use uncopyrighted stock images when appropriate to delivering a specific message. Our photography guidelines also state that we should use authentic pictures that include an American flag in the footage as part of capturing our branding theme, the American Dream. Our guidelines even mention which fonts we should use, and provide us with a specific set of shapes we can use on our visuals. I highly suggest you consider hiring a professional and getting your branding guidelines straightened out, so you can stay consistent with your brand while delivering a powerful message through engaging visual content.
Your Visual Content Strategy
So you’re ready to go visual on your content marketing… excellent, let’s get you started! First of all, as I tell many agencies, it is critical that you hire an in-house full-time marketing specialist for your agency to take care of producing content and managing your online presence, both your website as well as your social media networks. At our agency, we have our marketing specialists controlling our visual marketing process, because our job as agents is to focus on making sure our customers are properly protected, and visual content takes time.
First off, you’ll want to get your marketing specialists started with crafting visuals. There are both paid and free online services that you can use to make visuals, of which I would suggest trying out PicMonkey or Piktochart. Both of these services are free to use, and are great for beginners, and will even set you up with tutorials during your first time using each service after you sign up. When your marketers are ready for advanced visual crafting, and your agency is ready to follow a specific set of branding guidelines like how we recently implemented, then I would suggest getting your marketers set up with the Adobe Creative Cloud suite, this way they can use Adobe Photoshop to craft professional level visuals for your marketing efforts, and it may help to get them a course online if need be to learn the software proficiently.
There’s one more thing you need to know to plan for marketing your visual content, and that’s where to put it online. A good rule of thumb is that wherever you can put visual content, take advantage, but there a few key places where visuals will come in extra handy. Always be sure to include visuals with your blogging or online articles if it’s appropriate, just as I have done with this article. You’ll also need visuals for your company’s home page on your website, as well as blog covers to attract more attention to your agency’s blog. As for social media, you’ll want to posts visuals to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram. While posting to Google+ (specifically from mobile devices), Instagram, and Pinterest, you can use location services to tag your agency, and any posts that get engagement will include your agency’s phone number, website, and address in front of a wide audience. While posting to Facebook, you’ll be allowed to include large amounts of text with your visuals in case you need to get a strong message across too. And with Twitter, remember, your tweets only live a short life, sometimes seconds. Be sure to make sure your Twitter visuals are concise and to the point, and are aesthetic to the eye so you can capture the lower attention span of this social network’s audience. Also be sure to use thoughtful and relevant hashtags on your visual posts to get more engagement, but try limit your hashtags to three per post, or you may push prospects away from appearing desperate for their attention.
If you’re new to visual content marketing, then I’ve equipped you with everything you need to get started right away. But, for those of us who are a bit more advanced and would like to take their visual content marketing to the next level, I’d like to leave you with a few advanced strategies that may help you ramp up your game. First, take a look at the Content Marketing Institute’s article, Use Visual Content to Engage Your Audience: 9 Tips and 25 Examples, and keep in mind that their strategies will work for your brand too if you put your own spin on things. After that, you could also take a look at their article, 27+ Handy Tools for Better Visual Content Marketing, to help make your process smoother and tighten up any loose ends. Lastly, I would advise you also take a look at Social Media Examiner’s article on How to Take Your Visual Content to the Next Level, to help you get an extra edge on your competition.
And as always, Happy Marketing!