From choosing which products to buy, to interacting with other humans via a smartphone screen, much of our lives are now filtered through images. Research shows that in the age of tweets and Snapchats, humans now have shorter attention spans than goldfish! This has been further compounded by the rapid adoption of mobile technology, which now revolves around compact, clean, and concise visual information.
As the world’s volume of digital content grows by 200% each year, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for traditional marketing methods to reach consumers – hence why more and more marketers are incorporating visual content into their campaigns. However, unless a video is particularly well executed or an image is brilliantly composed, you’ll get passive views at best and people switching off completely in the worst case scenario. Your grasp needs to match your extended reach.
Types of visual content
Let’s do a quick rundown of the three most powerful forms of visual content available to us:
Video and motion graphics
Since the dawn of HTML5, video has become so utterly integrated with the web experience that we barely even notice it anymore. You might have observed that many sites, such as that of GoPro, have filled traditional ‘banner’ or ‘header’ space with full-screen, high-quality video frames. That’s because digital video – be it live action or motion graphics – is the cornerstone of digital visual content today.
Video content enables brands to speak directly to viewers through an audiovisual narrative – giving products a human voice. People are much more likely to give videos the time of day, and this is reflected in statistics: posts with videos receive 300% more inbound links than traditional text posts.
However, video falls flat in one major way. It is too inescapably linear; to communicate a message in its entirety requires that viewers stick with a video for a good few minutes. Striking a fine balance between grabbing attention and informing viewers comprehensively with video is difficult. Tools like YouTube analytics can provide some assistance, but unless a video is exceptionally well-made, the problem of attention span still remains.
Simply put, infographics combine textual information and graphic representation in order to inform and explain. They do this by breaking down large chunks of information into small parts to create a succinct yet informative narrative. This is where the potential of infographics resides – in enabling viewers to quickly scan and process a lot of information.
If properly constructed and promoted, infographics can maximise engagement through capitalising on the combined strengths of visual and textual data. However, their efficacy rests largely on the quality of the layout, script and visual elements.
Designers (like us) have to juggle concise language with impactful imagery. If an infographic fails significantly in these areas, it will not be effective.
Slideshare is sort of like a Youtube of presentations, allowing everyone easy access to an endless database of informative and well-made digital presentations. Most significantly, it represents the perfect platform to share concise, visual/textual content. In 2013, 45% of the presentations on Slideshare averaged 24 words per slide, and the number of images used increased by 53%. As the platform develops, the quality of presentations is rapidly rising.
Presentations offer one obvious advantage over infographics: they can convey much more information whilst retaining the benefits of visual communication. However, this has restricted them from the general public to an extent – many of Slideshare’s users are themselves involved in business. As such, any product or service you market using the platform must be very specifically audience-oriented.
Injecting visual content into a campaign
It’s important to note that each visual form has its own particular function and place, and is not appropriate in every circumstance. The primary function of visual content should be to inform or entertain first, and to sell second. For example, you wouldn’t use an infographic to advertise a product directly – and if you did, it probably wouldn’t be as effective as a good video ad.
Visual content shouldn’t just be seen as a fix-all bandage you can slap on any digital marketing campaign. It’s no replacement for market research, SEO analytics or blog campaigns, for example. However, if used in conjunction with conventional marketing techniques, visual content has the potential to truly supercharge your digital marketing campaign.
Sterling Williams is the Lead Conceptual Designer at Mammoth Infographics. His background is in graphic design and internet marketing. When he’s not helping clients to turn their ideas into infographic masterpieces, he enjoys creative writing, playing with his labrador and honing his jiu-jitsu skills.