Visual Marketing: What it is, When to Use it and How it Works!



February 23, 2021 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

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Images play an important part in our everyday decision-making. When marketers want to convey an emotion or highlight a product, they carefully select images to create a connection with the customer. When you use powerful images that tell a story, your brand message becomes something that people can identify and remember.

Visual marketing can increase sales through memory and association. With social media platforms like Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram, people want to research, see, and purchase all in one place. Service-based businesses can use visual cues to create a connection to their business, while a product-based business can show how to use their inventory.

Visual marketing should be a key part of your strategy, and you can use this article to help you plan which features you should focus on to get started. From the imagery on every marketing item to the colors of your website, adding visual marketing to your strategy ensures that you are ready to showcase your business to a busy customer who needs visual cues for quick understanding.

What Is Visual Marketing?

Visual marketing includes anything that has something to see in your marketing from your logo, uniforms, a paper brochure, your website, and your social media platforms. Anything that your customer can see that is in relation to your business is a part of visual marketing.

Why Is Visual Content Important?

Visual content is important because your brain can process an image faster than text. Images are valuable and can show off your brand and products that text simply can’t. Think about a business’ website. A professional website design can close a customer, while an outdated and slow website can cause a customer to click away. The visuals will hold the viewer’s attention and hopefully transform them into a follower and customer of your brand.

Image via Unsplash by @vitalysacred

Visual content, especially on social media, can drive engagement. This engagement can encourage social conversations, sales, and develop brand loyalty. Without visual content to see, a customer may not be able to fully understand what a product or business is about.

Types of Visual Marketing and Marketing Content

1. Images

A cohesive image style and professional logo are important for brand recognition. Whether you use stock imagery or hire a photographer to capture your brand just right, using images that complement each other and tell your brand story will help elevate your company.

To use images in your brand, consider what conversation you want to create. For example, if you want to show your expertise or help people, make sure your images convey that message. Once you know what your visual marketing message is, use social media to start sharing. Attend networking events and ensure your imagery is shown through brochures or your business cards. Design print ads for magazines and newspapers that are relevant to your industry. There is no shortage of outlets for you to display your visual marketing.

2. Videos

Marketing content with videos can attract more engagement and provide visibility for your brand. When creating marketing content, videos can show your brand’s personality easily. They can connect with your customers and show them how to use your products, plus the benefits of doing so.

Videos can be created specifically for social media and can become an integral part of a marketing strategy in today’s busy society. The first ten seconds of a video can capture an audience, so it is important to put forth a strong effort when creating a video.

Most videos explain the product or service, are promotional to share a sale, or look for an emotional response from the viewer. Tell a compelling story or share a behind-the-scenes video with your audience. Better yet, feature your customers in a unique video showing how they use the products. You may also choose to share videos of events you host, or expert interviews.

When creating videos on multiple platforms, be sure to create for each outlet according to its best practices. Facebook and YouTube prefer horizontal videos while Instagram stories, TikTok, and Snapchat showcase vertical videos. It is also important to note that before making a video for your brand, consider scripting it out and planning what shots you will need.

3. Infographics

Graphic visuals, also known as infographics, are used by marketers as a clear and quick way to present information. Infographics can include charts, histograms, tree diagrams, and mind maps, among others. When found on the internet, infographics are usually created in a size to best fit the social network they are being shared on.

The best infographics are simple and display information in a graphic that most people will find easy to understand. Too much information on an infographic makes it hard to read and can complicate the overall messaging. Colors play a big part in readability, and icons along with text can help organize the information you are presenting to your audience.

4. Data Visualization

Data visualization is a chart, graph, or other visual element that showcases and analyzes data. There are so many ways to render your data to make it visually appealing. It is important to decide what data you want to track before creating this type of visual marketing. A dot graph may be more effective than a pie chart, but you may not know until you decide what data to display. Venn diagrams are also a familiar way of data visualization that you may use in marketing collateral.

Simple graphs and charts can be made in Excel or by a graphic designer who has experience in more sophisticated tools like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. Canva is an internet browser-based design tool that comes pre-loaded with graphs and charts that you can use to design data visualization too.

5. User-Generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) consists of any form of content, such as video, photos, audio, or text, that is created and published by someone that is not an ad. This unpaid user shares this content to their own social media network, like Facebook or Instagram. For content to be considered user-generated, the creator must upload or post content to a platform they use to express their own opinions instead of sharing content created by others.

For example, an Instagram photo from a user that tags your brand is user-generated content that you may want to use in your own visual marketing. Best practice if you want to do this is to ask the original poster for permission and credit them in your piece of content.

6. eBooks

An e-book is an electronic book or file that a user can read on any digital device. Your audience may consume e-books from mobile devices, tablets, and e-readers such as a Kindle. An e-book is used for marketing purposes and can be self-published quickly to share a lengthy message to your audience.

E-books can include a mix of standard paragraph style writing, visual learning with infographics and charts, and step-by-step instructions with graphics. The information collected is put together over several pages to form an e-book.

7. Interactive Infographics

Interactive infographics combine traditional infographics with dynamic content. They are moving graphics that allow for interaction between the users. They can be simple or complex, and they can be essential to a marketing strategy. Development is key to these visual elements and may require an outside team of graphic designers. Many brands want to use interactive infographics to secure new customers, increase engagement, and encourage shares. Since customers are actively engaged with this type of visual media, they remember it and have a stronger connection to your brand.

Interactive infographics can dive deeper into a topic in the same amount of space. You can have question and answer sessions in this interactive graphic or show a flowchart from start to finish. They are eye-catching and are easily shared. This visibility of an interactive infographic makes the investment of time worth the result.

8. Animated Videos

Animated videos offer a quick visual to a reader by combining images, text, graphics, or illustrations into a moving piece of content. Shorter than a video (and much less of a project), these files can help make an impression and encourage viewers to learn more about your brand.

One popular animated video is a GIF. You can design GIFs to be a part of your conversational style on social media or in your emails. They are typically one- to three-second animated images and can include text or graphics. Since they are a silent animated loop, they are wildly popular and easy to share. GIFs are becoming part of our daily language, and they can provide a unique option for your marketing materials.

GIFs can be embedded into Instagram Stories, and there are many companies that use this tool in their marketing. When a consumer wants to share an iced coffee, for example, they can pull up a variety of coffee GIFs with branding on them from one of the big-name coffee companies. This adds to the visibility of those brands without having to spend a lot of money. Making GIFs that tie back to your marketing and resonate with your consumer can help push your messaging out to others.

9. Custom Illustrations

Illustrations are a playful and imaginative way of adding personality to your business. Since they can be customized to include any aspect of your brand, illustrations can become more than a logo.

You can use an illustration on your website, in an email message, or on any marketing material. Some companies choose to create an illustrated character to become the voice of their marketing campaigns. This character can be a person, animal, or object. This character can help share brand information without being too formal. Illustrations can keep an audience’s attention by making brand materials more interesting and by providing cohesion among your marketing.

Illustrations also include icons on websites and social media accounts. You may use custom illustrations on packaging or on instructions for how to use products. Your marketing can include any of these aspects for long-lasting impact.

10. Interactive Media

Interactive media is communication that relies on a user to engage with the information. Social media, video games, and apps can all be considered forms of interactive media, and when combined with marketing, allows a brand to directly connect with the consumer. Active participation is key. Television and radio originally required no active participation and consumers were passive. Things have changed over time, and now the internet allows interacting media to be easy and more convenient.

To be considered interactive, there should be at least one of the following elements:

  • Audio
  • Video
  • Animation
  • Moving graphics and images

Interactive media can include Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram in today’s technology. Users can share photos and information about themselves as well as play games and chat with others. Now that brands are accessible on social media, there is more available to customers.

Businesses can get creative with interactive media and try new things like smartphone apps. You can use an app to build an interactive marketing campaign that offers an experience that a customer cannot get elsewhere. Push notifications, which include a direct message to a user’s mobile phone or web browser, can create urgency for a special deal or new product.

Live video is another way of using interactive media in your marketing campaign. With Facebook and Instagram Live, you can provide a live video showcasing your brand while giving your users a chat room and community to talk about your products. You can provide a behind the scenes look at your business, answer questions about your brand, interview employees, or share something special.

Five Things You Need to Know about Visual Marketing

With attention spans lower than ever, it is important for marketers to reel a reader in with visual content. Boost your engagement with visual marketing and create a new strategy for getting clicks and shares on your content. Since content with visuals gets significantly more shares than text-based content, it is more interesting to your audience. Plus, readers can retain the information better because of the visual component.

1. Visual Design Is Part of Branding

When you maintain a clear and consistent brand voice, your copy and visuals appear seamless. These cohesive elements can mesh with your brand and make readers connect them to your brand and products. Whether it is the same color palette or the font, your visual design is already part of your brand. Continuously try to upgrade your efforts for long-lasting impact.

2. Visual Guidelines Are Key to Any Campaign

Everything from the fonts you choose to the colors of your logo is part of visual marketing and are critical to your branding. The overall story of all of these pieces together can help a customer like, know, and trust you. When creating a marketing campaign, consider making visual guidelines part of the requirements. Select what fonts, colors, and imagery to use throughout. Being consistent, especially in a competitive online world, can help elevate your business.

3. Simplify Your Marketing Campaign

Having too much text can overwhelm the reader in any marketing collateral. You may feel like you have to share as many details as possible with your audience, but try to stay selective. Only provide what information is absolutely necessary so that your audience will want to know more. No one wants to feel overwhelmed, and you should always aim for clear and concise information.

4. Measure Your Marketing Efforts

When you implement visual marketing into your strategy, it is important that you set benchmarks so you can measure if you are meeting key performance indicators (KPIs). One way to do this is by looking for a percentage increase each month in visibility (for example, reach and engagement) or in sales, email subscribers, or another metric you are trying to use to grow your business.

A/B testing is one way that you can strategize messaging and measure which converts. A/B testing is the process of testing two different visual marketing pieces with the same audience to see which creates more results. Social networks like Facebook have built-in options for A/B testing inside their Ads Manager. By testing customer response to online advertising, you can see which messages and images work best. You will then be able to determine if your visual marketing is working, and which aspects convert best.

5. Evaluate Any Change

If you find that you want to refresh your branding and associated visuals, be careful. Changes can help evolve your brand and give it a resurgence of interest, but it can also do the opposite. Big brands that change their logos and messaging have sometimes met criticism from customers who preferred the previous look. If you change too much from your original brand, customers may not recognize you anymore. Media can scrutinize your design decisions, and you may have misunderstandings about what your brand is.

When branding is done correctly and your visual marketing has taken off, it might feel exciting to try something new and go off-brand for a campaign. However, think about your consumers and how they might feel when they see your new messaging. Can they still recognize you when they pass your store on the street or see an online advertisement?

Six Perks of Visual Marketing Components

  1. Visual marketing makes impressions that lead to engagement. Visual marketing helps make a connection with your audience faster as they look to imagery to tell a story. Visual marketing typically incorporates custom designs to include illustrations, animations, and videos so it stands out.
  2. Visual marketing equates to shareable content. Images, infographics, and videos have a higher engagement rate on social media than other types of updates. Since the visual marketing messages are engaging, they are more likely to be shared.
  3. E-commerce success is somewhat dependent on visual marketing. Customers feel more drawn to products when they are visually appealing.
  4. User-generated content is a great marketing tool. Not only does UGC give your audience real-world application of your offering and what your brand is about, but by utilizing user-generated content and giving credit to your customer, you can promote brand loyalty.
  5. Your competition is using visual marketing. If your competition is using visual marketing, then you must too if you want to compete for your part of the market share for your industry.
  6. Marketers are investing in visual content. Because visual content is known to work, marketers and advertisers are using more and more visual content to tell their brand’s story and, ultimately, increase sales.

Owned vs. Earned vs. Paid Visuals

There are three different types of visuals to combine in your visual marketing for an effective marketing effort. They are:

  • Owned Visuals: Owned visuals are assets you have control over. Think about the visuals you have on your website, social media accounts, signage in your retail store, mobile apps, and more. Owned visuals are useful because they can naturally lead to an increase in earned visuals and is generally pretty cost-effective with a nice return on investment.
  • Earned Visuals: Earned visuals are those that come for free from others, who can include online influencers, the media, and your customers or clients. They may share a photo of themselves wearing your product or a video talking about how your course helped them in some way. The audience of these visuals views it as authentic and relatable content.
  • Paid Visuals: Paid visuals are those associated with some type of paid marketing campaign. Paid visuals can take the form of social media advertisements, display ads on a website, or a branded commercial during a prime time television show.

How to Stand Out With Your Visual Marketing Strategy

Follow these steps to get your brand to stand out:

  1. Start with your story. Just like your written content should tell a story about your brand or what you’re showcasing, so should your visual marketing assets. Write out your story before you begin.
  2. Create powerful graphics. Because your audience can consume your visual content in different ways, make your visual elements so strong that they can stand on their own without supporting text or audio.
  3. Track the numbers. As with other types of marketing, you should also measure the effectiveness of any visual marketing efforts.
  4. Keep your audience where they are. If your audience is already engaging with your visual content, try not to let anything, like a third-party app or unnecessary website plug-in, interrupt them and drive them away from what they’re consuming.
  5. Learn from industry experts. If you look hard enough, you can probably identify which brand in your industry is making an impact online with their visual marketing. Take note of what’s working for them and what’s not so you can use the data for your own campaigns.
  6. Stay organized. As you build your reservoir of visual marketing assets, you may find that it becomes more difficult to remain organized. However, organization is crucial if you want to be able to quickly find what you need when you need it. Consider using an asset management tool to store all of your visuals, then implement a system so you can locate your assets quickly and easily.

Visual marketing is one of the more effective ways to make an impact on your audience. Paired with complementary written content and stellar design, you may notice your brand awareness and company sales increase exponentially.

Author Image - jross

CopyPress writer

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