Visual content is one of the most effective ways to reach and resonate with your target audience. As humans, we’re hardwired to absorb and recall visual information much more rapidly than text-based content.
The stats back this up: a recent MIT study found that we can correctly identify entire images after viewing them for less than 13 milliseconds.
It’s no wonder that more marketers are harnessing the power of effective visual marketing to boost engagement, inspire brand loyalty and boost conversations on all digital platforms (particularly social media).
But the key to visual marketing success is to understand how to use visual marketing effectively.
In this blog, we’ll reveal our top visual marketing tips, including:
- Hand picking the best media format to suit your message
- Serving the right message at the right time
- Crafting content that solves your audiences’ problems
- Using bespoke imagery to stand out from the crowd
- Being consistent with your visual identity
- Understanding how to design engaging visual content
- Playing with text and imagery in your visual content
- Optimising your video content to perform on social media
- Turning your data into visual content
- Leading with storytelling, not sales
- Measuring and tracking your success
Why is effective visual marketing important?
In a nutshell, visual marketing is the strategic use of visuals such as videos, imagery, graphics, GIFs and more to tell a story, draw on emotions and spark meaningful connections with your audience.
If you’re a social media marketer for a visual brand, this is something you want to start building into your Instagram marketing strategy.
But in order to be effective, visual marketing needs to use rich media. That means leveraging a range of visual formats to find the best method to communicate your message to your audience.
Plus, effective visual marketing need to be:
- Timely: delivers the right message to your audience at the right time.
- Relevant: tailored to your audience’s needs, goals and pain points.
- Accurate: shares factual information that educates your audience.
- Interesting: finds innovative, compelling and engaging ways to share knowledge.
- Understandable: communicates complex ideas in accessible ways.
Why does this all matter? Rich media has the power to build brand preference, boost brand loyalty and increase the chance of conversion.
By taking the time to master effective visual marketing, you’ll ensure every piece of content you share builds trust and rapport with your audience, and ultimately boosts their chances of purchasing from you.
How to use effective visual marketing
1. Handpick the best media format to suit your message
As we’ve explained, rich media is key to effective visual marketing. But, it’s not as simple as adding images, graphics and videos to every piece of content you create.
Instead, it’s all about finding the most appropriate media format for the story you’re trying to tell. By carefully selecting the most effective medium to share your message, you’re more likely to make a powerful and lasting impression on your audience.
So, what does that look like in practice? Here are some examples that show how to pick the best format for your message:
- Sharing recipes using how-to videos: this allows you to quickly explain the key steps of a recipe in an engaging, visual format that audiences can follow along with.
- Providing actionable tips in custom graphic carousels: this turns dry advice into a saveable piece of content that your audience can easily digest.
- Explaining stats or research using bespoke infographics: break up your long-form blog posts with visual infographics that visualise the complex information you’re trying to convey.
Example: Take this example from Gig Super Australia who have used the Instagram carousel format to share a series of actionable tips about how to communicate assertively in a professional setting.
2. Serve the right message at the right time
Timeliness is a key factor to effective visual marketing. That means you want to ensure you’re sharing the right content at the right time to your target audience.
This can easily be done on social media by reviewing your analytics and reviewing the times when your audience is most active. Plus you can also do this on all digital platforms such as reviewing your Google Analytics or your email marketing platform’s performance insights.
By understanding your audience’s behaviour, you’ll be able to deliver curated visual content when they’re most active.
Plus, it’s worth considering the type of content you’re sharing at different times throughout the day, and matching this to audience behaviour. If you’re planning to share an in-depth video tutorial teaching your audience a new skill, consider what times your audience will be most likely to tune into this content (such as on their commute home or when scrolling before bed).
3. Craft content that solves your audience’s pain points and problems
Every piece of content you share should be relevant and meaningful to your audience. By understanding the needs of your target market, you’ll be in the best position to serve them with targeted content that provides value.
Plus, the more you understand your audience’s behaviour, motivators and challenges, the better placed you’ll be to find the right visual format to suit every piece of content.
For example, let’s say your audience is always asking you questions about how to master a particular skill and you notice your top performing posts are video content. By crafting a how-to video that teaches them this skill, you’re designing effective visual marketing that is relevant and tailored to their needs.
4. Use bespoke imagery to stand out from the crowd
While stock imagery might seem like an easy way to share hi-res photography, it’s harder to create a lasting impact on your audience with generic imagery.
Plus, it’s more likely that other brands are using these images too, making it difficult to build a strong visual associate with your brand.
Investing in your own professional imagery will solidify your brand in the eyes of your customers and ensure your visuals are enticing, engaging and unique.
Plus, by using imagery of you, your team and the work you do (rather than generic stock imagery shots), you’ll personalise and humanise your brand with rich, engaging visuals.
Example: Take a look at how the women’s health brand Kin Fertility have leveraged the power of bespoke imagery to give their social media content a cohesive and compelling aesthetic.
5. Be consistent with your visual identity
This might seem simple, but the colours, fonts, and imagery you use to represent your brand have a significant impact on your overall visual marketing strategy.
Consistency is key as this is what will enable users to remember and instantly recognise your brand. These cohesive visuals build a sense of familiarity with your business.
So how can you ensure your visual marketing is effective and consistent?
- Create brand guidelines: this acts as a framework to give structure to your visual content, including which fonts, colours and imagery you use to represent your brand. This framework should be used and followed when creating content for every social media platform and digital touchpoint (including your website, email newsletters, blogs and eBooks).
- Use graphic templates: take the guesswork out of creating content for your brand by designing and using graphic templates. These can easily be designed in software such as InDesign or Canva and will ensure your visual content feels cohesive and branded every time. Plus, this is great if you’re working with freelancers, contractors or a large team. Simply plug in the new details to these templates, hit download and you’re ready to go.
- Select a cohesive colour scheme for your visual content: whether you apply a particular filter to your imagery or simply focus on highlighting a handful of brand colours, keep your visual content consistent with a branded colour scheme. Draw on your brand colours and ensure every post you share fits within this colour family.
Example: See the power of a strong visual identity in action. The team from organic period care brand TOM Organic have a cohesive colour scheme and branded graphic templates to ensure every post feels uniquely them.
6. Understand how to design engaging visual content
Even if you’re not a graphic designer or photographer, there are simple steps you can take to boost the visual impact of your assets.
Whether you’re capturing photography or designing graphics for your business, keep these creative elements in mind to make a lasting impression on your audience:
- Have a single focal point for each image: position this at the forefront of your shot to draw the viewer’s eye in and capture attention.
- Follow the rule of thirds: when framing your image, considering where you place your subject. Think about leaving plenty of negative space, the positioning of key figures and using framing to create dynamic visual interest.
- Capture photography in natural light: this will ensure your shots are well lit but not overexposed and ditches the need for flash photography.
- Be careful with filters: while it’s tempting to edit your images, don’t overdo it as this can make your photography look unnatural – less is more.
7. Play with text and imagery in your visual content
Pairing text and imagery can be a powerful way to communicate with your audience. This is a key element to creating rich media, which helps to boost brand salience and ultimately inspire audiences to spend with your brand.
There are plenty of ways to do this. You might add text overlays to your hi-res photography to create bespoke social media graphics.
Plus, you can easily add captions or text overlays to your video content or Instagram Stories videos to communicate your key messages in text and audio.
When pairing text and images in your content, make sure to:
- Carefully review your spelling and grammar to ensure there are no typos
- Use branded fonts to give your visual content a cohesive aesthetic
- Consider readability and make sure your audience can easily understand any text overlays
- Use negative space to give you text room to breathe and avoid cluttering your imagery with too much information
Example: See how the team from furniture brand Koala have blended text and imagery to share extra value with their audience and inspire them to engage with their content.
8. Optimise your video content to perform on social media
Nobody wants to watch a video that’s badly cropped or scroll through pixelated images. That’s why it’s essential that you understand what dimensions you need to resize your content on social media.
And video content is a powerful tool to reach and engage with your audience. In fact, a recent survey from Hubspot revealed 54% of consumers wanted to see more video content from a brand or business they follow.
To help your video content make the most meaningful impact, be sure to:
- Add captions: 85% of all videos on Facebook are played with sound off, so use captions to ensure nobody misses your key messages.
- Get straight to the point: aim for short, punchy videos that are 10 to 30 seconds for the best engagement (unless you’re sharing to IGTV, where longer form video content of up to 15 minutes will perform best).
- Go vertical: resize your videos to vertical (4:5 ratio) to maximise engagement on mobile and ensure your content grabs the attention of your audience.
9. Turn your data into visual content
While stats can be a great way to share information with your audience, it’s hard to keep audiences engaged with data and numbers. That’s where the power of visual storytelling can come in handy.
Rather than simply throwing percentages and stats at your audience, consider ways you can share this data in a more visual way. That might be turning a few pieces of data into an informative Instagram carousel or even an in-depth infographic that you can inject into your next blog post.
Did you know that infographics are one of the most popular types of content marketing formats used by marketers? And there’s a good reason why.
Visualising data helps to make this dense information easily digestible and approachable. Plus, it’s much more shareable than stats on a page, which can help your content to reach new audiences too.
Example: The team from ethical super fund Verve Super have crafted an engaging infographic that breaks down the complex topic of budgeting and cashflow into an easily digestible graphic.
12. Repurpose your content into visual assets
Every blog, eBook, email newsletter and video you create is brimming with the potential to be repurposed. That’s because these pieces of long-form content contain stacks of tips, interesting insights and quotes that you can easily share with your audience in new, visual ways.
The key to repurposing content successfully is to focus on your most popular pieces of long-form content. Look for your most clicked blog post and most viewed videos as a starting point for repurposing (as your analytics already indicate a strong level of engagement from your audience).
Next, dig out a range of tips, quotes and stats that you can reimagine into pieces of visual content (such as infographics, tip tiles and bite-sized videos).
There’s plenty of reasons to repurpose long-form content into short, snappy pieces of visual content. In a recent study, 35% of users reported they prefer to engage with short, narrative-style Instagram Stories – indicating the power of bite-sized video content.
There’s stacks of benefits to repurposing content, including:
- It extends the life of every piece of long-form content you create: it’s about working smarter not harder and drawing on your existing pool of content to produce new posts that you know your audience will love.
- It ensures your entire audience sees the best bits of your content: even if they don’t read the full blog post, they’ve scored the top insights in an engaging infographic or carousel.
- It helps your audience absorb the key points of your content: visual marketing is a much more effective way of communicating messages with your audience, which makes repurposing written content into visual assets is a powerful strategy for building trust and brand preference.
12. Lead with storytelling, not sales
Here’s the thing: people don’t buy things. They buy the way things make them feel and the lifestyle they create.
That’s why it’s important to design effective visual marketing that draws on your audience’s motivators and emotions, rather than going in for the hard sell straight away.
By taking the time to build rapport, trust and a personal connection to your brand through visual marketing, your brand will be top-of-mind when your audience is ready to seal the deal and make a sale.
So, how can you build storytelling into your visual marketing strategy?
- Focus on benefits, not features: rather than showing what something does or simply sharing a tip, focus on how it solves problems or provides value for your audience. Spotlight the key pain points that it solves and draw on their emotions to spark interest and engagement.
- Educate and inform: your audience might not even realise they have a problem that needs solving, so it’s your job to use visual content to educate them about the solutions you can provide.
- Inspire action: once your audience is aware of their problem, it’s time to use visual content to inspire them to take the next step. Embed strategic calls-to-action into your graphics and video content to get them to contact you, read more on your website or even buy your product.
12. Measure and track your success
While creating visual content is an important first step, the real work comes from reviewing your analytics.
These results and data are what should inform your visual marketing strategy moving forward and will help you to get the best impact from your visual marketing efforts.
So, what metrics should you be reviewing when assessing the performance of your visual content?
- Social media content
- Interactions/engagements: this covers every kind of interaction users have with your content, including leaving a comment, sharing the post to a friend or saving a post for later. Be sure to track your engagement rate to see which posts are performing best with your followers.
- Conversions: effective visual marketing will compel your audience to take action, so make sure you’re looking for key stats such as profile visits, website clicks or even sales to see if you’re content is inspiring conversion.
- Website content
- Time on page: this indicates how engaged your users are with the content you’re sharing, and how deeply this content is resonating with them.
- Bounce rate: the higher the bounce rate, the less relevant the content is to your users. A high bounce rate might indicate you need to switch up the visuals or messaging in your blog or website content to better resonate with your audience.
When it comes to effective visual marketing, understanding your audience and solving their problems is what will make your content convince and convert. By optimising your visual content for each platform, strategically repurposing posts and regularly reviewing your analytics, you’ll be in the best position to craft a compelling visual marketing strategy that will have a significant impact on your bottom line.