Better visual marketing in eight easy steps

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Understanding the value of a quality visual marketing strategy is essential for digital advertising success. 

Between Facebook video, visual tweets, messaging apps, data visualization, and live-streaming video, consumers see visual content virtually everywhere they go online.

A quick look at the numbers reveals that images are swiftly enveloping the Web:

  • 63 percent of social media content is now made up of images.
  • 95 percent of marketers report that their visual content is more effective than text.
  • The average mobile YouTube viewing session is 40 minutes long, with an increase of 50 percent year-over-year.

If you’ve ever doubted the value of visual marketing, it’s time to get on board with the trend.

However, a byproduct of this image and video outbreak is marketing clutter. With everyone producing more visual content, it’s increasingly difficult to stand out – and we all know what happens next. As much as image-rich messaging appeals to consumers, content blindness is always waiting in the wings.

The solution? Take your content up a notch with these eight strategies for better visual marketing:

1. Say it with original pictures whenever possible

Always look for opportunities to convey your message with unique images that are easy to view and share. If you have stats to offer, create an infographic. If you’re promoting an event, snap a timely or seasonal photo. Even run-of-the-mill job listings can be embellished with images that lend interest and garner attention.

2. Use animated GIFs

They may be everywhere, but they remain a fun way to engage audiences. Salesforce’s blog post, For Visual Learners: 10 Animated Gif Stats about Marketing in 2015, aligned each point with an animated GIF as a way to further illustrate and support its research. The GIFs give curated stats personality and memorable flair.

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3. Be real

Much of today’s visual content reads as forced or staged, so when you’re creating yours, steer clear of tropes and stereotypes.

How many can you count in this episode of Optimum’s The Unmovers ? (Answer: Too many).

Don’t blow your budget on stories that have been done to death. Instead, make your original video content feel fresh and new, like Samsung did with its documentary project The Connected Series on Vimeo.

4. But don’t rule out stock photography

Authenticity may be all the rage, and original visual assets will definitely differentiate you from your competitors. That said, stock photography is a powerful support system that can prove to be invaluable for brands with limited production resources. Make stock photos your own by applying filters, changing the contrast or saturation, and cropping to fit your brand’s visual identity. Once you identify a look you like, always stay consistent.

5. Take all the help you can get (from your customers)

Few brands have an easy time of generating enough visual content to feed multiple digital channels and appease their customers. User-generated content is a near endless source of visual assets for your brand.

Take a cue from companies like Patagonia, which invited its “ambassadors and friends” to share images of their outdoor adventures throughout the climbing season in Patagonia. The result is a huge gallery of images that reflect the brand’s rugged personality and supply content for social accounts like Patagonia Climb on Instagram.

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6. Create content for every part of the marketing funnel

Design content that will resonate with leads, prospects, and existing customers. Every piece should serve a clear purpose, whether it’s an animated explainer video meant to boost product awareness, or an image-rich contest for your most loyal customers.

7. Leverage hashtags

This is one of the easiest ways to extend the reach of your visual content. Include established brand hashtags – like #GoPro, #GoProGirl, #Hero3 – but supplement these with additional hashtags that are popular with your Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter fans.

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Relevant tags that are already being used can help your visual content gain traction, such as GoPro’s use of #360, #MusicMonday, #GreatWhite.

8. Don’t forget the audio!

Before you say it with pictures, consider how sound might play a part. Your first few frames are what will draw viewers in, but user-initiated audio can really enhance your overall message – and even become central to the experience, as is the case with this user-generated video curated and revined by Burt’s Bees.

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