Visual marketing is and should be an essential part of each marketing strategy. However, these days, everybody seems to have learned their lessons and as a consequence, each brand, business, and individual is engaged in a way or another, in content marketing. This means that the market is quite crowded and unless you work in a very narrow niche, chances are that, you will have to face a fierce competition.
Competition, however, helps us better ourselves and in order to survive, we need to constantly adapt to new trends and technologies. We need also to learn from past mistakes and brainstorm on a daily basis for new strategies. This is the main reason I came up with the above title and hopefully, with this article, I will give some useful advice for a visual content strategy.
Why visual? Why is this important?
This is a question everybody asks and rather sooner than later, everybody gets their answer via experience. Rather than waiting for the reality to punch you straight to the face, let’s take a look at some of the most powerful and convincing visual marketing stats of these days:
Let’s start by admitting that visual content is the most important form of content for any marketing strategy. In fact, a third of the marketers think these ways and this is not a small number. 80 percent of the marketers use visuals in their social media marketing and this is mostly related to the way the brain works. I am referring to the human brain, of course, which is said to be capable of retaining visual information better than written text or audio.
According to the latest research, an average person needs only a few seconds to be distracted and move on to something new. Texts take a lot of time to be processed and even the shortest texts need more than 8 or 10 seconds to be read.
On the other hand, images are able to transmit the message almost instantly and moreover, they are easier to remember by the targeted audience. It’s no wonder that visual marketing is the most important trend of this century so far and that images and videos have become the best way to deliver a message and attract more fans, visitors or customers.
The things you need to do
We’ve already established the importance of visual content. However, in this crowded market, we need more than this if we want t to achieve success. Here are some of the best pieces of advice I can give you regarding this visual side of your content marketing process and strategy:
1. Analyze the market & the competitors
First and foremost, you need to know your audience. Who are they? What do they want? What type of content they use to consume and where?
What can you do?
- Analyze the market. See what goes and what doesn’t. Find out what types of products and/or services are popular and which are not. Then, try to adapt to the existing trends.
- Study the audience. I am sure that right from the start, you are pretty aware of the fact that you need to sell your products and services. And, that in order to do it, you need a customer base. Ask yourself these questions: What target group should I address? Who are the people that can buy my products and/or services?
- Study the audience again. Once you know to whom you are addressing your message, it’s important to know their habits and interests. Find out which type of content they dig and at the same time, how and where they do it.
- Study your competition. It’s a crowded market, I know. This can be a negative thing but again, you can look at the glass as half full. Why? Consider the fact that the competition will help you get better at what you are doing. As long as there are other similar businesses on the market, you have no other option but to improve yourself continuously. Also, you can use the competition in order to gather important marketing data. Study their strategies, their content, and their successes. Learn from them and adapt your own strategy accordingly.
A great example, in this case, comes from RedBull, one of the most popular brands of the last one or two decades. They embraced the social media phenomenon and at the same time, they have created their own media channel where their fans and supporters were invited to share branded content.
I am talking about RedBull TV, their main video platform that managed to become increasingly popular among fans of the alternative sports genre. They have obviously found their niche and they most certainly know how to attract fans of that niche as well. In fact, they do it so well that they did not even have to create content. Everything that is published on their video channel is user-generated content and this says more than enough about their strategy and its effectiveness. And that’s the power of RedBull marketing strategy.
2. Create a branded guideline – something that will differentiate you from other competitors
Your brand is the most important resource you have at your disposal when it comes to marketing. However, the brand is quite fragile in today’s online environment and this is why you need to treat it as such.
What can you do?
- Well, together with your main branding campaign, you can set up a side-campaign and come up with brand guidelines that will help you differentiate it from your competitors’.
- Brand guidelines are essentially similar to an owner’s manual that will teach the audience, the fans, clients, and collaborators how to use your brand.
- They will be referenced by everyone who touches and uses the brand and as a consequence, they are a great source of backlinks and at the same time, a great source for brand awareness.
A great example, in this case, comes from Jegs, a company that manages to make itself heard by building coherence through these guidelines.
3. Choose the top 3 social networks where your audience is
Social media is great for marketing but you will not be able to perform on all channels at once. Therefore, you need to select wisely where to promote your brand and/or services and the most important value here is the audience.
Yes, you need to be there where your main audience is.
This will not be an easy task. However, it is essential. Otherwise, you could end up creating and publishing content for the wrong audiences.
In general, social media channels are all about visual content. The type of content, however, differs from one channel to another and therefore, this is where you need to adapt.
4. Stay close to your audience but don’t forget about the brand
Brands who communicate are obviously more popular than the brands that don’t. You need therefore to actively engage with the audience.
- Answer their questions.
- Publish valuable marketing material.
- Respond to critics and praises as well.
- Offer immediate price quotes when asked.
- Write to your audience regularly.
- Thank everybody that makes a purchase etc.
As for the visual content strategy, the most important thing you can do on social media is to be consistent.
Consistency with the brand and its core values is essential.
What does this mean?
It means that all your branded visuals should not be missing from standard communication. Make sure to include your logo in your page/account’s cover photo and if possible, on all social media posts that contain visuals.
Also, it may help you greatly should you be able to adjust your messages so that the branded colors – if any – match.
Here are two simple yet cogent examples from Honey Brunches of Oats, a North-American cereal brand.
Observe how the logo is present, although it occupies only a small portion of the post. Also, the main branded colors are present as well in both images.
5. Use new features from the top platforms
When it comes to the Internet and Internet-related trends, everything moves at a rapid pace. All major social media channels are releasing new features every year and sometimes, even more frequently. It’s only natural, as they compete with each other and at the same time, they have to adapt to what the audience wants from them, the same thing you, as a marketer do as well.
Recently, Instagram has launched a new feature: a brand new video channel dedicated to mobile users. This is not an information a marketer should ignore, as every new launch of this sorts comes with a new opportunity for content marketing and advertising.
We’ve all seen how popular Instagram stories managed to get in just about a year after launching. Also, there are other channels such as Facebook Live and Medium Stories that can also help you get your message out there.
It’s important not only to use whatever means you have but at the same time, to keep sharp and be informed about anything that happens within the online environment. And, if something new appears, at least try it.
One of the first companies to take over IGTV right after launching was Chipotle, with a Video designed and conceptualized especially for this platform.
Their numbers were not impressive but still, they were as good as they may have expected from their Instagram account. With 10,000 views, the video managed to get the message to the designated audience and remember, we are talking about a brand new marketing platform.
The same advice applies to Instagram Stories, for instance, or any other newly launched social media channel that has the opportunity to become popular. You can also use YouTube as a marketing platform. You need a good strategy, some inspiration, and a few professional video processing skills to do it but the results can be quite unexpected and impressive for any type of business and/or brand.
6. Create content with professional tools:
When it comes to banners and animated content, there are a few things that should be considered as paramount as the designing process itself. And, one of the most important things to consider here is the file format you will save your files in.
For instance, if you are considering creating banners, static or animated whatsoever, I suggest working with tools that allow you to save in HTML5 format. One of these tools is Bannersnack. I always use it because apart from the HTML5 feature, it also gives you plenty of stock images for free and inspirational examples to work with. Also, it stores everything in the cloud and therefore, all your banners will be ready to be embedded into web pages instead of having to upload them on local servers each time you want to deliver a message.
Also, HTML5 banners, whether static or animated, are a great choice for advertising banners, especially when you deal with social media marketing. Instagram Stories ads, for example, will allow you to deliver full-screen ads that are mobile friendly and at the same time, responsive and quick loading.
On the other hand, if you are dealing with video files and need a quick, easy to use and professional app to work with, I suggest Wave Video, an online tool designed and developed for this kind of files. Also, check out Filestage’s overview of top 10 video marketing software.
7. Analyze & measure
Now, that you know how to deal with visual elements and how to include them in your marketing strategy, there are also a few things to consider if you want to be successful.
As you may already know, there is no infallible campaign as there is no one who can do everything without making at least one mistake.
The important thing here is to learn from said mistakes and move on.
What can you do?
- Measure everything. Analyze your results and see how close to your goals were they. If there is room for improvement, learn from the past campaigns and try to better yourself.
- If you are using multiple channels, try to evaluate them as well. See where you get your best results from and which channels you can ignore in the future. You cannot hope to be the best everywhere but you can hope for it on at least one or two channels, where your audience is.
Based on your findings, you can later change or improve your strategy.
Visual marketing is one of the most important and efficient tools you have at your disposal for maintaining and developing your online business. As a marketer, you can not ignore the latest trends and at the same time, you need to keep an open mind towards the constant changes the market suffers. This article was meant to introduce you to the whole visual marketing idea and provide some helpful advice on regard this part of our strategies.
What do you think about the steps I have chosen and what other pieces of useful advice can you give to our fellow marketers?