It is estimated that around 65% of people are visual learners and 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual; whilst images are processed 60,000x faster in the brain than text.

Research from Search Engine Journal has shown that including relevant images with content improves a user’s willingness to read it by 80%, and increases views (compared to content without relevant images) by 94%.

Stats aside, we all know that content with images is generally more enjoyable to read and easier to understand; but it can be difficult to decide exactly how to wield the power of the image. We’ve pinpointed three key ways you can harness visual content in your digital marketing.

Visual on social

The increasing prevalence of Instagram and Snapchat over other social media platforms, as well as the steady popularity of the image-based networks Tumblr and Pinterest, highlight the enthusiasm amongst users for the more visual aspect of these platforms. The speed and ease of both browsing images and communicating using them can be considerably preferable to text-led platforms for busy people armed with Instagram filters.

However, it’s not solely on image-based platforms that you can utilise the popularity of visual content. The popularity of memes and especially gifs, due to their inherently sharable and reusable nature as well as sites like Giphy (which allow users to create their own gifs) are examples of how visual content is taking over even text-led platforms.

When Facebook announced last year that it would be supporting animated gifs on the platform, it was widely considered late to the party. Twitter has already gone so far as to launch a gif search, allowing users to search and browse a gif library by keyword or category; which they have stated is in response to the fact that in 2015, users shared over 100 million gifs on the platform.

You’re not restricted to the novelty of gifs and memes however; adding any kind of image to your social media post boosts your chances of engagement - all of the best-performing social content has a visual element. Facebook posts that use photos are 87% more likely to get shared, and tweets that have images attached boost their chances of being retweeted by 35%, according to Social Media Examiner.

The rise of video

Syndacast has predicted that 74% of all internet traffic in 2017 will be video. The widespread acknowledgement that YouTube, Snapchat and Vine reign as arbiters of user-generated viral content has nevertheless led to much greater engagement with video in general, for instance when it’s used for by brands for marketing and advertising purposes.

This means you can successfully ride the wave of video by creating branded video content. General branded video use can be broadly split into video as social content, and video embedded on brand websites. Visitors to your site or followers of your social media accounts are now much more receptive to this as a form of communication as part of the current popularity of video, rather than the ‘trying something new’ that it might have been seen as a few years ago.

As long as your video content fits in with your brand and is not incongruous to your site or general social media messages, it can be very rewarding. Videos on product pages work especially well; Add Infographic found that 64% of consumers were more inclined to buy a product online after watching a video about it, and Search Engine Journal found that users were almost twice (1.81x) as likely. Video as incorporated into your home page, meanwhile, is part of a growing creative trend; whilst incorporating video into email can increase click-through rates by as much as 65%.

Infographics/data visualisation

A small step away from the more fun, viral nature of video content and image-based social posts, is the (also considerable) rise of infographics and data visualisation. Between 2010 and 2012, searches for infographics increased by 800%. They work because they can break down complex data and lengthy copy into eye-catching and easy-to-read visuals.

Blocks of data, report and research findings, and sets of statistics turned into visually-appealing infographics, become significantly easier to insert into blogs and website pages and share on social and via email. It has been found that when people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of it three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that information, people retained 65% of the information.

Although not all data or copy works as an infographic (opinion pieces, for example, or considered analysis), good examples include how-to guides and tips about products, key research findings needing emphasis, and vital pieces of information and statistics that are important to your users and customers but need to be broken down.

Concerned about resourcing?

Not all visual content needs to be created by you. Visual content can very easily be user-generated by your audience; be it them using your products or utilising your services, images can be a key way of letting your users tell your story. While this is unlikely to be the case for infographics, user-generated video and social media images could be invaluable to telling your brand’s story.

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