If you look up the history of human communication, you’ll find that our ancestors used cave paintings as a mode of expression long before handwritten manuscripts. For thousands of years, communication was purely based on visual content.
Although we have become dependent on words to get our point across, illustration-based messages never really went away. They were only slightly overshadowed by textual content. However, in today’s social media age, both static and live visuals are regaining momentum as the most effective form of communication.
Visual content and its role in business
Visual content is appealing because it takes us through a journey that centers on a core message. While both text and image can guide us through a visual path, pictures allow us to arrive in the destination quicker.
Visual content encompasses everything that uses design elements to communicate a message. In the initial phases of customer attraction, visual communications includes everything from infographics to memes to logos to videos and beyond. As the customer journey continues, and especially when people get to the decision-making point, visual communication moves to live methods like those provided through visual engagement tools (like cobrowse).
The ultimate purpose of visual content is to influence your audience to find out more about your business offerings. As Donna Moritz, a visual content specialist, said, “Marketers need to think of their visual content as a doorway to great information. It’s not about just catching the attention of fans with visuals but having them take action on your content.”
Why visuals are a must
Graphics and media rule the business world today—and for good reasons.
- Humans are innately visual creatures. The human brain is primed to process visual information better than text. In fact, a 1997 study revealed that humans remember pictures better than words. It’s not that we need scientific data to confirm what we already know, but according to a 1986 study, the use of visual aids in presentations can boost persuasion by 43%.
- Graphics are widely popular today. Images and graphics tend to circulate faster than textual content because they are easier to grasp. Visuals are less demanding than words—one quick peek and you can process them with little trouble. However, the process of generating visual content isn’t easy. As publicity manager Lisa Loeffler advised, “Creating content that’s highly shareable should be your top objective. Remember to take the time to step back from your personal creative lens and say, ‘If I was a fan of my brand, would this resonate and inspire me enough to share it in my social communities?’”
- Visuals add warmth to your message. Visuals are generally regarded as friendly elements. The correct use of palettes, themes, and images can make a difference in how your audience perceives your brand. And of course, once you get into live visual engagement, you bring a more personal, human element into your customer relationships.
- Pictures foster an emotional bond. If you share images that tap into your audience’s emotional pool, you can create a link that will pull them closer to your brand. One great way to accomplish this is through live video. When customers can add a face to a voice, the emotional connection and level of trust skyrockets—and everybody knows just how crucial trust is in business.
- Visual marketing promotes brand loyalty. Today’s consumers are butterflies—always flitting, always in quick flight. They’re bombarded by a long parade of brands that brawl over their attention every minute of the day. Adding visual engagement helps you stand above the crowd, gaining a distinct competitive advantage.
Thanks to visual content, it’s now easier to gain and keep customer loyalty. All you need is to utilize powerful visuals that spark conversations and drive conversions among fans. By doing that, you can guarantee a long-lasting relationship with your clients.
Tips for using visual content for your business
Smart retail businesses know how to leverage visual elements in their customers’ journeys. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Match your graphic look with your brand identity. While planning out your visual campaign, ask yourself what brand image you want your clients to see. Once you know your brand identity, you can define a style to use consistently. Your visual strategy should not simply be a reflection of your brand but an embodiment of it.
- Optimize your images for different channels. Tailor your images to the channels you’re going to use, whether you’re talking about social media, live presentations shown via visual engagement technology, or answering customer questions via agent video. Take Donna Moritz’s advice: “Take off your marketer hat and step into the shoes of your fans. Then you will see that the styling and message of your visual content must vary from platform to platform.”
- Know when and where to use graphics. Notable blogs add a feature image at the beginning of each article. Also, they insert images after every 350 words. This slices up big chunks of text that may bore the readers.
- Follow trends to ensure relevance. Pay attention to what’s popular so your visuals are always trendy. The timelier and more relevant your content is, the likelier it is to draw attention.
- Apply the art of visual storytelling. Stories pique interest. Couple it with strong visuals and you have the recipe for audience engagement. As Martin Shervington from Google Plus advised, “Take people on a journey through your content, linking each element back to another. Visuals can make content fly, but you need to know the direction in which you want it to go, and where it can land. Engagement for engagement’s sake is a rookie error.”
- Beware of design clutter. As a business owner, you are expected to maximize the use of design in your campaigns. But you should be careful about overdesigning. The sin of excess is unforgivable among designers. Better minimalistic than glitzy and flamboyant.
The bottom line
Visuals are taking over as a primary medium of communication. It’s hard to stand out from the crowd, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Learn how to play your cards right. If you get ahead in the game, you can convince your audience to respond to your call to action.
Ready to take your journey to the next level with live visual engagement? Sign up for a personalized demo with a Glance representative today.
About Rick Enrico
Rick Enrico is the CEO and Founder of SlideGenius. He regularly publishes expert presentation tips on the SlideGenius Blog. You can connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.
About Glance Networks
Glance helps enterprise organizations create the ultimate customer experience with smart, omni-channel visual engagement solutions. We are one of the world’s simplest, most reliable and secure platforms that enable companies to see, show and share anything online, creating a frictionless path to great experiences in sales, support and customer service. The result is improved customer satisfaction and loyalty, increased revenue growth and operational savings. From financial services and healthcare to retail and travel and leisure, even the most advanced technology and SaaS organizations – we transform the customer experience for today’s business. Learn More »
Bogdan, Alla. “4 Ways Visual Content Improves Social Media Results.” Social Media Examiner. June 22, 2016.
Craik, Fergus I. M., Grady, Cheryl L., MacIntosh, Anthony R., et. al. “Neural Correlates of the Episodic Encoding of Pictures and Words.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. August 15, 1997.
Ewer, Tom. “6 Reasons You Should Use Visual Content to Capture and Grow a Loyal Audience (And How!).” Bidsketch. n.d.
Frey, Chuck. “Experts Share Visual Content Mistakes to Avoid.” Content Marketing Institute. January 16, 2015.
Koshy, Vinay. “7 Ways to Use Lip-Smacking Visual Content to Build a Blog Audience.” Blogging Wizard. September 30, 2016.
Lang, Melissa. “How to Use Visual Content to Get Ahead of the Marketing Curve.” 99 Percent Lifestyle. September 2015.
Patel, Neil. “Visual Content Strategy: The New ‘Black’ for Content Marketers.” Content Marketing Institute. November 2, 2015.
Perez, David Miralles. “Visual Content or Text: Which One is Better to Attract Readers and Grow Your Business?” Circa Lingua. n.d.
Radice, Rebekah. “9 Ways to Use Visual Content in Your Social Media Strategy.” Post Planner. n.d.
“Communication Through the Ages.” Atlassian. n.d.
“How to Use Visual Content to Market Your Business.” Adela Rubio. n.d.
Dickinson, Gary W., Lehman, John A., Vogel, Douglas R. “Persuasion and the Role of Visual Presentation Support: The UM/3M Study.” June 1986.