The Rise Of The Visual Web

Gone is the heyday of text-only advertising through keywords and search engine marketing. A new sheriff is in town -- and it comes in the form of striking images that are driving high volumes of traffic across the Web. Beautiful design is a key element of online business in this era, which has resulted in more images and video all across the Web.

Thanks to the social media darling Pinterest, we have entered into a new era marked by the rise of the visual Web. Marketers need to adjust their online strategies to capitalize on this growing trend.

There's no doubt that image-based social network Pinterest had a phenomenal year in 2012, and it is poised to continue this momentum throughout this year. In fact, Pinterest is now the fastest-growing social network of 2012 -- and according to comScore, it has a global monthly audience of nearly 30 million visitors, up from just under 12 million at the start of last year. comScore reports that Pinterest has grown 4377% since its public launch in May 2011, with a steep uptick that started around December of last year.

Brands around the globe have flocked to Pinterest not only to create a presence, but to curate boards that showcase their company’s products and services. People are drawn to immersive merchandising, a trend that creates thematic categories that drive audience interaction and conversation around a brand’s content. For example, ZGallerie used Pinterest as a way to create boards around different design elements including geometric prints and colors like aquamarine and lemon that are expected to trend this coming season. When a person visits their board, they can complete a look or find other products such as lighting fixtures or pillows to complete the design.

Curation on the visual Web will forever alter the e-commerce landscape. Brands and savvy merchandisers recognize the appeal and power of Pinterest. Also, crowdsourced board curation can be used to re-merchandise legacy products through new categories to encourage product discovery, resulting in more top-of-funnel traffic. With the right Pinterest analytics platform, merchandising can now be optimized, with galleries, pages and feeds being updated in real-time with product images that are popular and trending on visual platforms.

Desktop computers are quickly being replaced by tablets and smartphones, which are ideal for browsing products online. This transition of marketing from text-based search to the visual Web is akin to top-of-the-funnel traffic shifting to bottom-of-the-funnel leads for sales. People are now using the visual Web to find inspiration and then clicking through to purchase items immediately.

To put the global influence of Pinterest into perspective, compared to Facebook, Pinterest drives an Average Order Value (AOV) of $169 -- while Facebook is $95 and Twitter is $71, according to recent research by richrelevance. On Pinterest, long-tail clicks keep the content valuable long after it is pinned -- 30% of the clicks on the pins happen after the 2 days, and well into 30 days.

Pinterest also has a 75% bounce rate compared to 90% for Facebook, according to BloomReach. When it comes to driving actual sales, on average, Pinterest results in $1.50 in revenue per visit, compared to $1.15 for text-based search and a mere 90 cents for Facebook.

Brands can learn a great deal from the appeal of Pinterest. If the platform is harnessed correctly, companies can create an online presence that showcases the latest products and services and drives sales conversions -- a must for marketers aiming to turn a minimal social media investment into a high-yield impact on Pinterest.

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