Visual content comes in many shapes and sizes, but before you start creating it, you need to know why, how, and what kind of a difference it’ll make. We’ll cover all that and more in this guide.
Here’s a list of the subjects we’ll cover in the guide below:
So read on now and learn what you need to know ahead of creating truly stand-out visual content for your site.
What is visual content?
When it comes to engaging an audience, the simple truth is that nothing does it like visual content. Words simply aren’t enough in most cases, and to deliver a compelling message and engage your target audience, visual aids are essential.
Great visuals help companies, bloggers, and marketers to stand out from the crowd and go a step further than their rivals. Many businesses are still stuck in the old days of SEO when it was all about text.
However, in the modern landscape, visual content has now become dominant. Visual content might come in the form:
- Video content
Different types of visual content come with their properties and advantages, and each is suited to other uses and contexts.
Visual content marketing is an approach to marketing that puts visuals at the forefront and aims to convey important information in a visually compelling way. That visual content can be made for social media platforms and used to pull visitors to a website.
There are platforms and digital tools that make it possible to quickly put together unique visual content that can later be used for marketing purposes.
For example, these tools allow you to choose appealing stock images and overlay them with text that might promote a brand or a particular lifestyle to appeal to a specific target audience.
As well as still imagery, audiovisual content is also an essential weapon in a content marketer’s arsenal. Videos can be used in various ways, from engaging an audience with educational content to showing off a product from every angle.
Sometimes, the content will take the form of visual aid that complements a body of text, distilling the information or completing it somehow through a more visual lens.
It’s also important to consider the forms of visual content that many people might not regard.
For example, whitespace has a visual impact and can be very useful in the right context. Simplicity in design can be compelling when done right.
Most significant publications use font and font size changes to differentiate content and quotes and varying colors and offering markers within the text to break things up. And each publication does this in its unique way.
How is content marketing evolving in 2021?
Content marketing is a method of marketing that relies upon the existence of a clearly defined target audience. Once that target audience is understood, steps can be taken to create content intended to attract members of that audience.
The process of content marketing involves creating relevant and appealing content and then distributing that content. The distribution side of things is just as important as the creation of the content itself.
With the clearly defined target audience in mind, the right platforms for distributing content have to be selected. Different audiences are more straightforward to connect with on some platforms than others.
For example, if a brand were looking to create content to attract men aged 45 to 60, the content marketing distribution strategy wouldn’t focus on Instagram and Tik Tok.
Matching the content with the audience and then the audience with the platform is essential to a successful content marketing campaign and always has been.
Content marketing can come in many forms. Creating infographics that share complex information in a way that’s easy to consume is one famous example right now.
Viral content can massively lift the recognition levels of a business. And companies are increasingly making their podcasts as part of their broader content marketing strategy.
We’ve come a long way in terms of how visual content is used as part of a content marketing strategy. From the early days of color print in Sunday newspapers to the rise of the internet, a lot has changed and is still evolving.
Today, driving engagement and generating leads is done on a series of content hubs. The core social media platforms and places like Pinterest are tailored explicitly towards visual content and outbound links.
One of how visual content is changing in 2021 relates to greater targeting and personalization. Content needs to address the needs of a very specific demographic to find success.
Why should you use more visual content?
There are many reasons why you might be interested in using more visual content as part of your content marketing strategy. First and foremost, visual content is more comfortable to consume and understand.
This is something that’s backed up by studies carried out by the Visual Teaching Alliance. They found that the brain can process visuals 60,000 times faster than text. That immediacy is a massive benefit to marketers.
To put it simply, taking in visual content is easy, and it’s quick. We can absorb the information right away and understand rapidly compared to the time it takes to read a text block.
And many people will be put off by a wall of text on a screen, whereas they’ll be more willing to engage from the outset when presented with visual content instead.
When it comes to engaging with information, most of us are lazy, and we naturally opt for the funnier option and the option that demands less effort. Visual content has the benefit of being fun and engaging in a way that text alone rarely is.
It also acts as a greater intermediary between concepts and ideas and the denser sections that follow. You can hook a reader with a compelling and easy-to-digest visual before leading them towards more demanding text later.
Visual content makes people willing to engage with that denser content, whereas they might not get past that first hurdle of engagement if the visual element wasn’t there to draw them in.
Another function offered by good visual content within a larger block of text is breaking up the text. An optical element acts as a respite to the reader, providing them with a chance to take a break and avoid being confronted with a wall of text.
The piece’s visual structure can also be broken up nicely and be presented as more digestible when there are regular breaks for visual content. It takes away the sense of intimidation some might feel when presented with a long piece of writing.
What makes visual content great?
It’s time to consider what it is in particular that makes visual content so useful and so appealing. There are many ways to answer this question and a range of examples can be used to demonstrate the benefits of visual content.
One of the most significant ways visual content can be used is to make complex ideas easier to consume and understand, even for people who are not experts.
Presenting data in infographics is one such example of this, and it’s often done on financial blogs and news websites reporting on economic or market news.
Visual content doesn’t merely have to elicit passive engagement from the reader either. It’s not commonplace for websites to use interactive visual content that encourages the reader to play a part in the content they’re consuming as they consume it.
The medium is the message, which has to be taken into account when creating visual content. In other words, the content and the way it’s presented visually have to match the tone of the article or the values of the brand.
A playful visual style would work for, for example, a company selling soft drinks. But a website focused on reporting hard news has to adopt a different visual aesthetic.
The typography and whitespace use might be more elegant and less busy for businesses looking to convey a more professional and trustworthy visual style.
All of these typographic elements in combination play a part in conveying a particular message to the viewer. And it’s this messaging that’ll dictate the viewer’s perceptions of the brand or platform.
With this in mind, it’s important to note that not all visual content is good content. When used poorly, visual content can distract and confuse a reader, lowering the quality of their user experience and making engagement harder.
This can be seen in how screenshots are often poorly used within the context of articles. They can be used well, but when there’s a lot of text in a screenshot that’s then embedded within another piece of text, it can sometimes become messy and confusing.
How does visual content improve the user experience?
We all learn differently and the same applies to the individuals who make up your target audience. Anyone making content that will appeal to a broad range of appeal has to take this into account.
Some people find that they absorb information best when it’s delivered aurally; others preferring reading text. Some people learn when they have practical opportunities to learn in a hands-on way, and others learn better with the help of visual aids.
If you want to make sure that as many people as possible absorb your message, it pays off to combine different methods, and that’s what visual content marketing makes possible.
By combining visual elements with text, and using audiovisual content, different delivery methods can benefit the maximum number of people possible.
It’s also true that visual content can impact the user’s mood and emotions. And with the right kinds of visuals, this can make it easier to engage people with your ideas. They’ll become more receptive to the messages you’re trying to get across to them, which, in the end, might result in better conversions and increased sales.
We know that 90% of the visual information transmitted to the brain is visual, and it’s visual information that informs our emotions, moods, and decision-making processes.
Studies have also found that visuals help to stimulate stronger emotional reactions in humans.
Our minds put together visuals and emotions when it comes to remembering details. Anyone looking to engage a user and encouraging them to respond to your message should be looking to make use of visual content.
All of this matters because of what we already know about the way in which emotional responses impact conversion rates and engagement.
When the right emotional responses are provoked by implementing good content, time spent on a page will increase, and the number of clicks and scroll events that take place.
Positive emotions such as anticipation, trust, joy, and surprise are all linked to higher conversion rates. Those are the emotions visual content is most often looking to elicit.
Visual content sounds like a lot of work. How can I compete if I’m just starting?
If you’re worried about how you’re going to compete in terms of the visual content you’re able to offer, there are a few things you should know.
First of all, by merely making an effort and taking steps to implement and enhance visual content, you’ll already be ahead of the many blogs that aren’t even trying.
Only making an effort to include visual content and improving the quality of that visual content over time is an excellent place to be. As we said, many, many blogs and websites are doing far less than that right now.
You’ll also quickly find that it’s not nearly as hard as you might think to create visual content yourself. If you’re interested in creating your illustrations, for example, you can use Adobe Illustrator or an Adobe Illustrator alternative.
Some templates can be used to streamline the whole process and get you to where you want to be with your content. These are the right places to get started, so don’t worry about first studying graphic design or anything like that.
The guiding principles to follow when creating visual content for your site should center around the user’s experience and their journey when using your platform.
Strive to make the reader happy and help them engage more quickly and openly with the ideas and information you’re looking to convey. Lead them from one experience to the next in a way that’s digestible for them, and that doesn’t overwhelm them or bore them.
Over time, you’ll get better at understanding what your readers and users respond best to. You can then adapt your visual content and make it as appealing as it can be to your target audience.
How to make money with visual content?
If you want to facilitate greater profits and conversions with visual content, you must first ensure it’s custom-made for your work. It has to be hyper-relevant and speak to what your target audience is looking for when they come to you.
Maybe you want to use interactive maps or infographics to convey information or illustrate a particular point. If done correctly, this kind of content can complement the text and replace some or all of it in some cases.
The user experience journey also matters a great deal.
Understanding where users want to go and how they get it is essential. It’s rarely about making sure your readers read to the last sentence of the article. Instead, it’s about taking them to the climax of their particular journey.
You might want to direct them towards a particular page or encourage higher conversions. It’s up to you to clearly define the journeys you expect specific types of visitors and personas to take when they’re using your website.
Keeping your users on the site is often part of the challenge and something you’ll need to work on. That should involve using links with visual appeal that encourage the reader to learn more and eventually lead to product pages or landing pages.
The right visual elements can draw people towards particular opportunities or CTAs.
A highlighted advert for a webinar or a standout newsletter sign-up box are examples of this. Give readers the chance to continue their journey with you and pull them towards those destinations using visual elements.
Where to learn more about visual content?
There are many resources out there that can help you understand and implement visual content better than you’ve ever done before. If you’ve got this far, you’ll already have a better understanding of visual content and its undeniable value.
You can learn even more about interactive visual content with the help of this ebook.