With the latest annual Shopper Experience Index from Bazaarvoice revealing a rise in “social commerce” and a reliance from consumers on digital platforms to buy products, the onus is now on marketers to create content that can pique awareness, nurture leads, and then close sales quickly.
The report recommended the use of “rich, visual content” to deliver the best experiences and engage people, who want information about products and other messages presented neatly in snackable and enticing posts on social media, within product copy and across ecommerce sites.
Visual content is something that you should be investing in already, even if it is only affordable bespoke images with text. There is often a misconception that visuals are more expensive than written content, but you don’t need to have a production company to produce something memorable.
Research from BuzzSumo found that visuals can drive a notable uptick in engagement on Facebook and Twitter. When used on webpages, they can also keep readers on the page and compel them to spend more time with your content, which can lead to action in the form of clicks and sales.
If you want to spend time crafting more visuals over the next few months to cater to new consumer behaviours and habits, here are some options you should consider. Just tailor each to your own objectives and you could drive the metrics and ROI you need to succeed.
Using plain text within a simple static image can be enough if you want people to remember important information, facts or statistics. Static visuals are great for quick and easy content on social media sites such as Instagram where you can post several images within one post, creating a storyboard of sorts that can engage audiences and boost social shares.
This humble image might not take much time to create, but it can make a difference when posted within a blog or an article, for example. You could use stock images here, but being more creative with your shots could pay dividends in terms of boosting completion rates for written content.
Research by Content Marketing Institute found that marketers in both B2B and B2C environments have great success when incorporating infographics into their campaigns. This is because visualising data through excellent graphic design – complemented by short bursts of descriptive writing – is an excellent way to serve up accessible and digestible content.
If you have recently conducted complex first-party research, infographics can showcase the findings within just a single, eye-catching image. This will grab the reader’s attention while informing and educating. They will also find it easier to retain and recall information from infographics.
An extension of images, authentic pictures try to capture concepts such as raw emotion and landscapes, which can be tied more closely to your brand image. Many photos that populate social feeds are polished and edited to perfection, which can detract from their impact.
Dove recently used photos of health workers as part of its ‘Courage is Beautiful’ campaign. Showing ordinary people and situations in this way can make your brand more approachable and relatable. Your campaigns are also more likely to stand out and be memorable as a result.
Short-form video works really well on social media and platforms such as YouTube. If you are investing in video for the first time, starting with a few explainer videos or tutorials is a great way to ease yourself into the medium. You can use short videos to explore a topic you are passionate about or to cover a subject that is related to the products and services you offer.
Extended behind the scenes
Bigger brands like to pull the cover back and show customers how their products are made or how they work on a daily basis. Dior recently used a series of videos to explore how to make premium clothing pieces, with stories in each highlighting what makes it unique.
There are a number of ways that you can use behind-the-scenes footage. It can be funny and quirky, or more serious with a poignant message. How you use videos depends on your brand and the tone of your campaigns. Try to experiment with longer-form videos to see what works for you.
One of the most affordable yet unique visual options is stop-motion animation video, which has been neglected in the past but has recently emerged as a fresh take for visual content marketing output.
Stop-motion animation uses a range of static images played quickly in sequence. Up to 30 images a second can be used, with each image cleverly manipulated to create motion. You might need a creative department to design something like this, but it can really be exciting for viewers to watch.
Visual best practices
Research and timing
Great visual content will get lost in the shuffle if it’s not targeted at your audience’s interests and posted when they are at their most receptive to content on social media. Creating a schedule based on the peak times for engagement on sites such as Instagram and Pinterest is a good idea, as is getting someone – either internally or via outsourcing – to take care of your social media management.
To make sure that your visual content is on brand, come up with colour palettes and fonts that are suited to your business. These will also help to shape the direction in which you take your images and videos.
Resolution and sizes
There is a variety of free tools, software and resources available if your budget is tight. You can use these to create, edit, customise and store all of your content. Finally, remember to use image sizes and resolutions that are tailored for your platform of choice. Content for Instagram Stories is usually vertical, for example, so keep this in mind.
By coming up with an eclectic mix of images and videos, you can kick-start your content marketing campaigns this spring, drive traffic to your webpages, and keep the people that are most important to you informed and entertained.