Jul 24, 2018

Rethinking Visual Marketing Strategy in an Overwhelmed Online World

Five years ago, visual content was a game-changer. In an age where practically every marketing campaign focused solely on text-based content, the smart money was on those campaigns that began introducing visual elements to their strategy.

The movement started with images, then introduced videos, then transformed as gifs became accepted elements even in B2B marketing.

But today, that’s all changed. Any marketing campaign not using visual content is severely behind the curve. And today’s buyers are now inundated with too much visual content, making visuals less effective as a whole.

So as a marketer, how do you stand out from the crowd with your visuals? What do you have to do to cut through the noise to convey your messages and grab the attention of your target audience?

In this post, we’ll teach you how to rethink your visual marketing strategy from the ground up. We’ll help you regain the effectiveness visual used to have, and show you how to use each piece of content you publish to its full potential.

Visual is Complementary, not Superior

Let’s get one thing straight, visual content isn’t necessarily superior to text-based or any other type of content.

Yes, we’ve all heard the statistic that the brain deciphers visual content 60,000 times as fast as text, and we all know the proverb, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Yet there isn’t a single company that’s built up a marketing strategy using solely visual content.

Any brand that’s been successful with visual content marketing has used it to complement other content types. You can’t replace text with visuals. Instead, it’s important to recognize that each has its place. Figure out when your message is best conveyed with visuals, when it’s best conveyed with text, and when visual and text have to be deployed in unison to make your content most effective.

Think Minimal

In an Internet age where abundant overuse runs rampant, the only way to cut through the noise is to be less noisy. Minimalism has long since been an excellent visual marketing strategy, and for good reason.

The predominant ideology behind minimalism centers around contrast. High contrast, low-noise visuals are much easier for the viewers’ brain to process. In essence, you still get the visual stimulant, but without the confusion associated with a jumbled mess of color.

Interactivity is Key

It’s common sense:  it’s exponentially more engaging when there’s a way for readers to concretely engage with it. Interactivity makes a piece of content infinitely more memorable to a user, which in turn cultivates brand familiarity.

In the B2C space, no one does a better job combining visual and interactive elements into a single piece of content than Buzzfeed. Their quiz format essentially invented the fun quiz category that’s spread like wildfire on B2C blogs.

B2B marketing agencies can benefit from quiz-format interactive content as well, but many other options exist. For instance, you could create a tool that points out problems to your target audience that your company could help solve.

Or, you could develop a calculator that businesses can use to assess their performance with key metrics. Surveys are another excellent option because they not only allow you to use survey results to create other valuable pieces of content, but the answers you receive could also teach you a lot about your target market.

The only limiting factor with interactive visual content is your creativity.

User-Generated Content

Another unconventional way to boost user engagement with visual content is to get your users to create it for you. After all, when users create content for your brand specifically, that not only means that users will automatically be invested in the content you publish, but it also means that the burden on your content production team reduces.

At first, this seems impractical—how do you get your target audience to take valuable time out of their day to create content for your marketing strategy?

There’s a simple answer: make it worth their while.

My favorite way to get users to develop for my brand is to run contests, where the prize can range anywhere from tickets to a VIP dinner to free licenses of a product. Contests serve multiple purposes:

    1. Contests create social media buzz, provided you require contestants to post to social media using brand-specific hashtags.
    1. Contests allow you to limit prizes in whatever way suits your budget.
  1. Well-run contests mean that you’re handed a surplus of content from which you can handpick the best to publish.

Leverage user-generated content and get your target audience to create videos, take pictures, or make social media posts for you.

Get Cross-Platform

Gone are the days when one platform like Facebook or Twitter ruled all the others. To succeed in a world where there are a hundred and one different social networks and platforms for every niche interest, you can’t expect to succeed by simply focusing on one—you have to leverage multiple platforms.

There is, however, a flipside to this. What you shouldn’t try to do is get on every single platform imaginable. This results in a waste of resources as you spread yourself far too thin to build up any sort of significant presence on any platform. Instead, focus on publishing your visual content to the top 3-5 social platforms in your industry on which your target audience spends their time.

Use When Appropriate, and Not Anytime Else

If you use visual marketing as a catch-all, you’re just contributing to the problem! Visual content that’s not positively contributing to your message is not only a waste, but it brings down the value of your other high-impact visual content by making visual commonplace!

Once again, visuals aren’t a “get out of jail free card” you can use to inject liveliness into an otherwise bland content piece. In order for visual marketing to be effective in this new online world, visual content has to be carefully thought out and planned into your strategy, just like any other type of content.

Use it sparingly, use it deliberately, use it effectively.

Need help creating an impact with your visual content? Find out more here.

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