A third of marketers believe that visual content is the most important format for their business, putting it just ahead of blogging. Just like the written word, it can come in different shapes and sizes, with live video, infographics, image snippets and short-form clips all ready and waiting to be deployed as part of a diverse content marketing campaign.
If you are looking to add a new dimension to your visual content output in the final months of the year, these five tips could help your internal and outsourced teams to succeed.
Experiment with infographics
Infographics should definitely be one of the most-used visual formats in your content arsenal. If you have just been switching between standard images and videos during the last few months, it is time to break out and create data-driven visuals capable of driving interaction on a variety of platforms. Infographics work just as well on webpages and in blog posts as they do being shared on social media sites.
They are also on trend. Infographics have seen the biggest usage increase among B2B marketers since 2016, according to research by Content Marketing Institute (CMI), and are the fourth most popular format overall. The combination of text and illustrations is particularly effective at educating and informing readers and is perfectly suited to tutorials, how-tos, research and data pieces.
The concept of the infographic is also maturing. Brands are now using something called ‘gifographics’, where infographics are presented in the form of a gif with moving graphs and charts. Marketing expert Robert Katai says that “they combine the power of an infographic in a format more likely to be shared by the audience”.
Optimise images with alt tags
Marketers are waking up to the importance of technical SEO in a world where Google will give preferential treatment to content that is optimised and displays specific technical characteristics. Visuals and, more specifically, images on your website should have alt tags or alt attributes that describe their function and what they represent. These alt tags can boost organic traffic to webpages.
Marketing expert Isaac Justesen explains: “A good alt tag provides context and helps visually impaired users … (S)earch engines can still read the alternative text to help rank a page.”
You should create alt tags for every image on your website. The tags should be descriptive yet concise, with a maximum of around 15 words. They can include brand-relevant keywords where possible, but most importantly, they should be written with the end user in mind, not a search engine. Alt tags should always be relevant to the content.
There are other things you can do with images to improve the readability and speed of your webpages. An Aberdeen Group study found that 40% of people navigate away from a page if there is a load time of three seconds or more. Compressing your images, resizing them, and using the right format will reduce rendering time and can improve load times.
Understand the rules of design
Technical SEO goes hand in hand with great website design. Visual content, be it a webpage or a blog post with images, should be built around a few basic design principles. Graphic designer Midori Nediger recommends adopting a ‘less is more’ mantra, balancing readability with style, using contrast to focus attention at certain points, and valuing the need for white space.
Marketers may have seen a few blind spots in terms of sound design principles. CMI’s Jodi Harris notes: “While the wealth of DIY design tools available online and on social media can give almost anyone the ability to create visual content, they don’t necessarily provide the know-how to do it well.” This can lead to pages being completely filled with text and images.
If you are struggling with the core tenets of web design, you could partner with an agency that specialises in the creation of web copy and content.
Use short form, long form and live video if needed.
Video is another format that is always evolving. The rise of live video has given brands a new opportunity to engage with viewers in a unique way, but is it right for you? Brands with a larger following on social media are the most likely to benefit from live video as there will be more people ready and willing to tune in.
That said, live video can still have a place for your business, especially if you want to drop a new product or service announcement or offer a behind-the-scenes look at your way of working. Being smart about live content and its uses will allow you to explore this new format without it replacing or taking up the budgets designated for tried-and-trusted video marketing.
Video marketer Joe Forte advises brands to experiment with runtimes. Short videos that run several times a week are useful for engaging audiences regularly, while longer sessions can be scheduled as an event for more in-depth Q&A sessions. Live video can also be repurposed as traditional video for publication on YouTube and for sharing on social media.
Use visuals to campaign internally
Visual content is very much focused on external audiences and targeting B2C and B2B channels, but there is also value in using it internally, according to Nadya Khoja. She believes that using content marketing workflows and teams to come up with memorable videos and infographics will help to communicate strategies and objectives to higher-ups better than with standard text documents that only have a few reference images.
You can also use visual content as part of your brainstorming process, and after getting the green light for your campaign, as a basis for your documented strategy. Khoja says that an infographic can clearly demonstrate what a team needs to do to achieve success. An infographic or visual template can then be used to tailor content for a variety of different teams. This can then be updated to highlight certain areas that “require immediate action”.
Finally, thinking of your writers and visual designers as separate entities during content development can hold back your campaigns. Getting everyone together as part of the planning process will enable you to come up with more relevant and targeted visuals for your audiences.