Image from Harry's blog
The following was previously published in an earlier edition of Marketing Insider.
A solid content marketing strategy is essential for online businesses looking to grow. Content marketing has been shown to generate three times as many leads compared to outbound marketing (while costing 62% less), and it’s also credited by 72% of successful marketers as a major contributor to growth, according to a recent study by Kapost.
Many businesses, however, are failing to capitalize on the full power of content. That’s because perfectly crafted copy isn’t the only key to success. In reality, 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, according to recent research published in the Educational Communications and Technology Journal. That makes nonverbal content, including graphics and video, an essential but often overlooked piece of the puzzle.
If you haven’t considered the design side of your content strategy, now’s the time. Here are five ways graphics can boost your chances of success.
1. Makes text easier to digest. Word-heavy blogs are no fun for anyone, especially the reader slogging to get through them. According to research out of the University of Minnesota, the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text, which means that by adding great visuals you’re saving your readers a ton of effort, and also keeping them engaged. A well-placed illustration or infographic allows the brain to take a quick break before returning to reading, delivering key information in the speediest way.
Harry’s is a brand that achieves a seamless visual style between content on its Five O’Clock Magazine and its Instagram account. It even incorporates animation into blog posts (see image above) to make them much more engaging.
Airbnb’s blog also blends illustration and contrasting visual styles to brilliant effect to create effective content -- along with cool photos of what Airbnbers can see on their travels:
2. Drives impressions. We’re living in a highly visual age. Just consider the rise of platforms like Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and Pinterest. It’s even been shown in research by PR Newswire that articles with images get 94% more views than those without, which is not surprising given a whopping 91% of people (per a recent report on DemandGen) now say they prefer visual content to written content. More impressions equals more eyeballs on your brand, service or product -- and that means more sales.
3. Increases engagement and shareability. Not only will great design improve the amount of impressions you get, it will increase engagement and content shareability as well. By studying one million online articles, for example, BuzzSumo found that those with images inserted every 75-100 words were shared on social media twice as frequently than those without.
4. Improves brand recall. A content marketing plan should be many things: creative, informative, useful, easy-to-consume. Most importantly, it must be memorable. This is where graphic design is essential.
Humans are excellent at recalling images; words, however, not so much. Studies published on Brain Rules by John Medina show that if we hear a piece of information, three days later we’ll only remember 10% of it. Pair that information with a relevant image and memory recall improves to 65%.
You’ve worked hard to get that potential customer to your blog. Don’t give them a chance to forget you.
5. Differentiates you from the competition. The internet can be a bottomless pit of boring, uninformative, repetitive content. But incorporating great creative gives you the chance to show, rather than tell, customers why your brand or product is different.
Whether it’s thinking about color psychology and how this impacts your messaging, incorporating video content into your blog posts, commissioning illustrations to communicate complex concepts or ideas, or trying something that simply hasn’t been done in your sector, there are countless ways to stand out from the crowd graphically.