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Well-written text is crucial for your content marketing strategy, but you may be surprised to find that graphics are just as important as the words that go with them. Grabbing an image quickly from a selection of stock imagery is a common strategy for provisioning articles with photos, but this can be risky, because the wrong photos may be worse than no photos at all. Yet, including images in your content is critically important for the following reasons.

Stopping the Social Media Scroll

Images are an essential inclusion for content that’s shared to social media. In a text-heavy timeline, users will pay more attention to a post that includes an image. Viewers tend to spend more time looking at these images, and this higher interest level is a critical first step in getting that coveted click or share. Tweets that feature a picture generate 150 percent more Retweets than those that stick to plain text. The response is similarly positive on Facebook, where a post with an image will yield 2.3 times more engagement.

The key to getting these impressive results is to feature an image that’s contextually relevant to the post. Beware of stock images, as these can quickly become so commonplace on social sites that users scroll right past them. You need to use an image that’s unique, attractive, and well-suited to your content. Don’t use a generic image of fingers typing on a keyboard or a user sitting at their computer screen, as these could apply to dozens, if not hundreds, of relevant topics. Choose something eye-catching, and you’ll boost your responses in an instant.

Highlighting Key Text

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Image via Flickr by “Caveman Chuck” Coker

Custom images can help you highlight a key piece of text by setting it against an attractive backdrop. This combines important information with interest-grabbing imagery. Three days after hearing a piece of information, individuals remember about 10 percent of the content, but retention increases to 65 percent when a picture is used with text. Viewers retain more information from an image than from either written or spoken words alone.

Include an important quote on a beautiful piece of imagery, and you’ve added value to your content in numerous ways. Not only will your content be more memorable, it will also become more shareable. That beautiful quote is ideal for posting to a Pinterest board focused on inspirational sayings. It’s also an ideal choice for grabbing and posting to Twitter or Facebook. Whether you put your title on an image, use an image for an important fact, or take another approach, putting a few important words on a graphic is an effective way to increase engagement.

Making Statistics Sensible

Image via Flickr by realworldvisuals

Crafted carefully, your images can take an otherwise confusing or abstract topic and make it instantly understandable. It’s one thing to read about the percentage of a population that’s affected by something, but it’s much more compelling to see that same percentage in a different color in an illustration or graph to emphasize the point. Including images with a complex topic can help make it more digestible for your audience. If yours is the most understandable explanation of a trending topic, it will become a much-shared piece of content, serving an important need for readers.

Illustrating Important Points

Well-placed graphics can complement your text in an important way. If you’re writing a how-to article outlining the proper way to use your product, you can use graphics to give your readers a clearly labeled peek at the inner workings of the machine. Carefully designed illustrations can walk readers through anything from meditation exercises to blog setup.

Don’t limit your graphics use to instructional articles. Consider the value of a photo that shows your reader the white sands and turquoise waters you’re extolling at a popular vacation destination. Text can explain the details, but photos will properly illustrate the abundance available on the cruise ship’s buffet or show the rocky terrain of a hiking trail. Relevant, carefully chosen graphics will bring your topic to life in a way that plain text cannot, making your piece stand out in the otherwise cluttered landscape of online content.

Providing Sharable Items

Graphics are highly shareable, particularly when they’re designed with this purpose in mind. If you’re producing content about home design and DIY, your images of the finished product are ideal for posting to a Pinterest board. This is equally true of an appealing image of a finished dish in pieces with recipes and cooking tips.

Think about your target audience and consider how they use the internet. Which social sites are they most active on, and what types of graphics will perform best on these? Stunning travel, beauty, and food photos do well on Instagram. Twitter and Facebook are incredibly diverse, so you have room to succeed with nearly any relevant photo, provided that it finds the right audience. Always track engagement levels for your content so you can determine which types of photos perform best for you.

Breaking Up the Content

Graphics serve an essential purpose in breaking up large chunks of content. You may already be familiar with smart strategies such as incorporating subheadings, using bulleted lists, and keeping your paragraphs short. However, these still leave you with a lot of uninterrupted text. Adding graphics roughly every 75 to 100 words can double your social media shares. Consider revamping your content strategy to focus on formats that are heavier on the images.

Consider ideating for graphics-heavy pieces. For instance, a list of cabinet organization ideas could consist of images followed by short descriptions of the highlights in each picture. This shifts the focus from your text to the graphics, drawing your viewers in for a new experience.

If you’re looking for a quick and effective way to transform your content marketing, adding photos to your pieces is a smart choice. You can make your blog more appealing on the page, keep your viewers engaged, and make the content more memorable and easier to understand. When you add the benefits of more shareability and higher conversion rates from social media, you have a strategy that you can’t afford to ignore. Reexamine the images used in your content and see where you can improve your use of graphics.

How to Create Effective Titles and Headlines

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