Image Matters: Why Visual Content is Important for Digital Marketing

Posted by: Bill Cook 02/05/2015

While the digital landscape is changing daily, with new devices and apps seemingly straight out of science fiction being released, one thing remains consistent: the need for compelling images in storytelling.

Whatever the application — press releases, website images, social media, or anything else digital — visual content is a defining factor in helping your audience understand and connect with your products and service offerings. As far as digital trends go, incorporating visual content is one that’s here to stay.

Photo Credit: collegequest.com

Now You See Me
It’s not just about having any old image, but rather great visual content that engages the reader. Things like photos, infographics, graphic designs and videos can all help clearly communicate your message, not to mention boost your visual appeal online.

The recent boom in image-driven sites is proof enough that visuals matter, especially to the millennials that are flocking to them. Sites and apps like Vine, Tumblr, Buzzfeed, Houzz, and Instagram are among the fastest growing out there, with the majority of these relying on content created and distributed by amateurs — meaning that great visual content doesn’t always have to be made by professionals. Certainly, there are many instances in which professionally created visual imagery is required, but social media sites emphasize the importance of real-time, in-the-moment photography. Producing this type of visual content is key to staying engaged with your audience.

Volvo, the Swedish car manufacturer, capitalized off of this at the Super Bowl. They launched a social media campaign asking for people to nominate friends and family to win a brand new car each time a competitive car ad ran during the game. Tens of thousands of tweets, images, posts and other content took over social media, with Volvo trending globally at three points during the game. The contest blended corporate marketing with individual storytelling, and the campaign even took over the brand’s homepage, with an emphasis placed on images and video.

Not only are image-driven sites becoming increasingly popular, research suggests that our brains process visual content 60,000 times faster than text. Perhaps that explains the surge in websites and applications that focus heavily on imagery. Not only that, but that hefty statistic underscores the need to connect with our audience in the ways that most engage them. Connecting to your audience means understanding what drives them, and delivering it to them in a timely and relevant manner.

Below are a series of screenshots that illustrate the power of this visual imagery when covering important and timely debates and social issues. Taken from dangersoffracking.com, they feature simple yet compelling storytelling. The entire site revolves around the droplet that you see, and its journey though the earth. As you scroll through the homepage, icons pop up, along with links and information boxes. It’s simple, but it works.

Or how about this visual-based site, futureofcarsharing.com, run by the Collaborative Fund? Not only does it relay an incredible amount of textual information, but it does so while providing stunning visuals and interactive features as you travel along with the green car at the bottom of the screen. Fundamentally similar to the fracking site, it again shows the power of storytelling.

Show and Tell
Staying on the cutting-edge of emerging digital trends means embracing visual content as an essential part of communication. If you still need convincing that visual content is just as important as copy, consider this: 40% of people respond better to visual information than just plain text.

Did you catch that? Text is important too — after all, you can’t know everything about a product or service just by looking at it. But text alone isn’t enough to convince the consumer to take interest. If you can’t keep the consumer interested and engaged long enough to read your brilliantly crafted and perfectly wordsmithed copy, you’ve already lost them.

So, you know you have a great product. And you know that your target consumers will love your product, too. But how can you convince them of just how great it is if you bore them with boatloads of copy? It could be as simple as learning to integrate visual content into your already fabulous marketing campaign. Don’t just tell them — show them.