When you publish a piece of content, it enters a complex environment where it competes with hundreds if not thousands of other assets for the attention of your target audience. Visual elements can not only make your content more engaging, but also less likely to get lost in the shuffle.
Search engines use complex algorithms to identify signals that indicate web page quality and relevance to specific keywords. Content that satisfies user search intent is one of the most significant ranking factors, according to Google Webmasters.
Visual assets support searcher intent by grabbing readers’ attention, providing additional context and clarifying concepts for visual learners. Plus, visuals make web pages look fun and inviting. Even text-heavy assets like white papers can benefit from data visualizations and branded imagery.
If you want to stand out from the crowd and appeal to more readers, add these visuals to your content marketing strategy:
Business decision-makers and consumers make purchases based on data, but not everyone has the time to read through lengthy reports and research. Infographics conveniently package important information in a manner that is easy to digest and share. You can embed them within blog articles, eBooks and case studies to give your readers’ eyes a break from blocks of text; or share them on social media platforms to increase the reach of your messages.
Top use cases for infographics include:
- Visualizing survey and poll results.
- Highlighting important statistics.
- Repurposing listacles.
- Sharing your company timeline.
- Product comparisons.
DIY difficulty level: Hard. A professional graphic designer will not only save you time, but also ensure your assets are branded consistently and display properly on all devices.
B2C infographic example:
B2B infographic example:
Video content is quickly becoming a preference for busy professionals and retail consumers alike. Cisco predicts that video will account for 82% of all internet traffic by 2022. Videos can convey useful information in a matter of minutes, making them perfect for customers who don’t have the time to read long articles. According to Wyzowl, 87% of businesses use videos as a marketing tool, up from 63% in 2017.
Video marketing use cases include:
- Product and service demos.
- “About us” videos.
- Event recordings.
- Customer testimonials.
- Live videos.
- How-to tutorials.
- Repurposing eBooks and articles.
DIY difficulty level: Hard. The quality (and quantity) of video content has increased dramatically in recent years. Your customer will notice if your content is anything less than professional.
B2C video example:
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Web pages consisting of text blocks and a company logo are boring. Today, web users expect experiences filled with colorful imagery and beautifully designed UI elements. Branded, high-quality images can break up the flow of articles, provide additional context and generate brand awareness.
Branded images could be stock photographs or illustrations that feature your company logo. They can help lend a cohesive look and feel to your website. Keep your brand colors in mind when using images in your content.
Branded imagery can be used to:
- Enhance blog articles.
- Brighten up text-heavy assets like eBooks.
- Create a consistent user experience.
- Spread brand awareness.
DIY difficulty level: Medium. You can probably add a brand logo to a stock image, but further design details may require the help of a professional designer.
B2C branded image example:
B2B branded image example:
High-quality photographs have the power to elevate reality and inspire action. Marketers have been using photography practically since the technology existed, and it has only grown more powerful over time.
If your company doesn’t have the resources to hire a photographer, stock photo sites can provide beautiful photos that enhance your marketing messages. Avoid stock images that look too staged or stiff; seek out photographs that add authenticity to your brand.
Use photographs in your marketing strategy to:
- Put a face on your brand.
- Show off your products and services.
- Share your brand messages on social media.
- Add visual interest to written content.
- Showcase products in your e-commerce store.
DIY difficulty level: Medium. Recent smartphone models are capable of taking crystal clear images, but they still require some post-processing to really shine. Marketers on a budget should consider high-quality stock imagery.
B2C photography example:
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One of the primary goals of content marketing is to drive prospective customers further along the buyer’s journey. Calls to action (CTAs) are powerful tools that can increase content engagement and improve time-on-site metrics. Plus, marketers can deploy them at any stage of the sales funnel.
For example, top-of-funnel content should include CTAs that drive readers to mid-funnel content. Further down, CTAs can ask more of readers as they become qualified leads. Contacting a sales representative is the ultimate goal of many B2B CTA strategies.
Use visual CTAs to:
- Drive traffic from top- to mid-funnel content.
- Encourage readers to contact the sales team.
- Ask readers to take a survey.
- Boost conversion rates.
- Request readers to subscribe to a newsletter.
DIY difficulty level: Medium. A visual CTA can be as simple as a clickable button, but they’re often more effective with some design elements and micro copy.
B2C CTA example:
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Storytelling and data are a match made in marketer heaven, because they appeal to two distinct parts of the brain. Stories engage the part that wants to get lost in a compelling narrative while data satisfies the needs of the logical part of the brain.
Data visualizations such as graphs and charts can communicate complex information in a manner that is intuitive and easy to understand. Data is essential for gaining insights about challenges and opportunities.
Use cases for data storytelling include:
- Conveying complex data in a manner that is digestible and interesting.
- Visualizing trends and correlations.
- Fleshing out press releases and white papers.
- Establishing your brand’s credibility.
- Improving reader retention of important information.
DIY difficulty level: Hard. Not only must you ensure your data is accurate and verifiable, but also that its graphical representation does not obscure its true meaning and value.
B2C data visualization example:
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Intangible digital products can be a challenge to market because it’s often difficult for readers to visualize what they look like from a text description alone. Business software is often complex, containing multiple modules that not every customer will use, which adds a layer of opaqueness.
Screenshots can illuminate the software user experience by showing readers exactly what the product has to offer. Screenshots are appropriate for social media posts and ads, as well as landing pages. Why tell your audience about your product when you can show it to them?
Use screenshots to:
- Display your digital products.
- Help readers picture themselves using your product.
- Develop slideshow presentations for online and offline events.
- Make product one-pagers more inviting.
DIY difficulty level: Medium. Screenshots of complex software can be difficult to get. Annotating the images may require the help of a graphic designer.
B2C screenshot example:
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Memes and GIFs are fun because they allow internet users around the world to share inside jokes and quick messages. Memes are easy to make and share, but marketers should be careful how they use them. Some memes may look innocuous at first glance, but hide inappropriate meaning under the surface. Know Your Meme is a good resource for understanding the history and meaning behind popular and obscure memes.
GIF memes are an example of user-generated content that can add another layer to your messages because they include more information. Still, marketers are better off using quick GIFs rather than forcing readers to watch an extended scene. At the Brafton blog, we like to use Giphy to source our GIFs.
Use memes and GIFs to:
- Add humor to your blog and social media posts.
- Ride a viral trend to spread brand awareness.
- Make your brand more relatable.
DIY difficulty level: Easy. There are tons of free online resources for making your own memes.
B2C GIF example:
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Most blog platforms allow you to enlarge important quotes that you want readers to notice. Prior to the internet, magazines and newspapers used pull quotes to attract reader attention. Pull quotes are still a useful tool, but they can benefit from some extra visual elements.
Rather than simply enlarging plain text, marketers can add the text to an image to make it stand out. Depending on your brand, you might place text over a stock photo or a solid-color background.
Use cases for visual pull quotes include:
- Breaking up the flow of a text-heavy article.
- Calling attention to an important message.
- Sharing attention-grabbing messages on social media.
- Highlighting customer testimonials.
DIY difficulty level: Easy. There are many free web-based text and photo editors.
B2C pullquote example:
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If your brand publishes how-to blog articles and eBooks, you can repurpose them as graphical assets. Like an infographic, step-by-step visual representations of processes can improve reader comprehension and increase their engagement with the content. This type of collateral can take the form of a numbered list, flowchart or a series of instructions. Plus, you can add brand colors and logos to promote your organization’s leadership of thought.
Use visual tutorials to:
- Explain complex business processes.
- Instruct customers on how to use a product.
- Demonstrate industry trends.
- Establish your authority on a subject.
DIY difficulty level: Hard. A professional graphic designer will be able to create a visually interesting process breakdown that is easy to comprehend without becoming convoluted.
B2C tutorial example:
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Interactive content is engaging because it puts the reader’s mind to work and gets them to think more actively about your message. By giving your site visitors something to do other than read or watch a video, they’ll stay around longer and absorb more of your branded information. In fact, interactive content generates conversions 70% of the time, compared with 36% for passive content.
Examples of interactive elements include:
- Live customer polls.
- Scrollable company and product timelines.
- Quizzes and tests.
- Customizable products.
- In-browser podcast players.
- 360-degree video tours.
- Custom calculators.
DIY difficulty level: Hard. You’ll likely need a third-party app or a developer to produce responsive interactive site elements.
B2C interactive element example:
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For many people, slideshows are like a non-chemical sleep aid. They remind us of boring college lectures and business meetings that could have been emails. Nevertheless, slideshows can still be effective at conveying information to an interested audience. You probably won’t use a SlideShare presentation at the top of your marketing funnel, but it may have a place further down. Remember to keep slide text minimal – only include essential information.
Use slideshows to:
- Tell your customers a story.
- Share data visualizations.
- Repurpose company reports.
- Walk clients through your product catalog.
DIY difficulty level: Medium. Creating a slideshow is a straightforward process, but amateur efforts can bore viewers.
B2C slideshow example:
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Influencer marketing has become a prevalent strategy among B2B and B2C companies. Consumer brands tend to use platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to promote their products with influencer partners. B2B brands are more likely to leverage LinkedIn and Twitter to appeal to business decision-makers.
Influencer posts should be visual because they serve a wish-fulfillment need. Consumers want to look and feel like the influencers they follow. Business decision-makers want to be as successful as the influencers in their industry.
The potential benefits of visual influencer posts include:
- Expanding the reach of your brand messages.
- Developing thought leadership.
- Making your brand more approachable.
- Adding credibility to your campaign.
- Targeting of niche audiences.
DIY difficulty level: Medium. Anyone can hire an influencer, but brands that want to see ROI from this tactic need to establish strong, supportive relationships with their influencers.
B2C influencer post example:
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B2B influencer post example:
Excited about the innovations we will be unveiling at @Wimbledon this year…. for 30 years we have partnered with Wimbledon to deliver the most incredible data driven experiences. @IBM_iX @IBMServices #IBMiX https://t.co/RiY3nYXV3k— Matthew Candy (@matthewcandy) June 13, 2019
Visual content is great when your readers are already on your website or social media page, but how does it reach members of your audience who haven’t heard of your brand yet? Display ad networks can extend the reach of your brand and engage a new segment of your intended audience. Plus, retargeting networks can increase the number of impressions you make on prospects.
Use display ads to:
- Support brand awareness.
- Target lookalike audiences.
- Gather data on which CTAs convert the most prospects.
- Help new customers find your brand.
DIY difficulty level: Medium. You’ll need to develop attention-grabbing visuals and manage campaign spend across multiple ad networks.
B2C display ad example:
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Your marketing strategy needs visual content to succeed. Look at your existing pieces and try to determine which assets could use a little more support from engaging imagery.