15 Ways to Use Visual Content Marketing to Capture More Traffic

Jonas Sickler SEO Manager
Key Points
  • The majority of people consider themselves visual learners. Without visual content, you’re missing out on a huge percentage of your audience.
  • Most marketers find visuals to be very important in their marketing strategy.
  • Visual content helps to attract eyeballs, drive traffic and increase engagement.
  • There are many kinds of visual content, such as photos, videos, infographics, CTAs, surveys, interactive tools, illustrations, screenshots, comics, memes, visual quotes, data visualizations, gifs, worksheets and presentations.
  • Find the types of visual content that work most effectively for your brand to connect and engage with your audience.

Visit OppenheimerFunds’ Facts vs. Feeling content experience, and become a better investor almost immediately. This is a perfect example of how visual content marketing helps you to understand the direct influence that emotions have on decision making as well as the implications on your investments. Meaning, don’t purchase that hot stock while you’re pissed off that your NBA team lost the night before and your playoff hopes are dashed!

OppenheimerFunds fact vs feeling

Once you’re past the introductory layers of Facts vs. Feeling, OppenheimerFunds walks you through an interactive quiz. At the conclusion of the quiz, not only are you measured on your optimism scale, you’re presented with an accompanying custom data visualization and music track.

Compared to a bland blog post, the experience is captivating. You can feel your affinity for the brand increase as you scroll down the page and enjoy the experience.

Whether you’re vamping up a current content strategy or designing a new one from the ground up, visual marketing connects your brand with a wider audience. Visual elements are a powerful method to attract your target audience’s attention. They compel readers to consume your content, engage with your brand and convert in becoming a new customer.

Not sure which type of visual content marketing suits your brand?

Read on to discover 15 different visual content types that can find a home in your content marketing and deliver stronger marketing performance.

IMPORTANCE OF VISUAL CONTENT IN YOUR MARKETING

People have different preferences when it comes to how they process information, including the format and type they prefer, and how much information they want in the first place. Those preferences shift from topic to topic and platform to platform.

Visual content makes your marketing strategy more effective. It lets you adapt to the changing demands of each topic or platform. More importantly, it resonates with your audience on an emotional level and moves them one step closer to conversion.

The same reader can reach the end of a 4,000-word New York Times essay and feel like they want more, or they can decide a four-paragraph Facebook post is way too long to read.


See How to 10X Your Content Production Without 10X the Work


VISUAL CONTENT MARKETING STATS

Why do people tend to prefer visual content vs text?

Approximately half of the brain’s neurons are dedicated to vision. When it comes to learning style, there’s a good reason not to ignore the visual learners: they make up 65% of the population. The human brain processes and connects to imagery more immediately than words. That means images control the first impression that forms in our minds.

In a Venngage study, 68.7% of respondents stated that visuals were essential or very important to their digital marketing strategy. Another 21.4% stated that they were quite important.

The preference for imagery shows in the massive number of videos people watch each day. More than one billion users watch over one billion hours of YouTube video daily. In fact, Cisco projects that by 2022, traffic from videos will make up 82% of all consumer internet traffic. And videos are not just likely to be watched, but also shared. LinkedIn reports that video posts are 20X more likely to be shared on the platform than any other type of content.

Video isn’t the only medium that benefits from our visual learning style. Infographics can increase web traffic by 12%. And according to one BuzzSumo study, articles with an image every 75-100 words receive twice the social media shares as articles with fewer images.

Ready to get started with visual content creation? Here are 15 popular examples of visual content marketing campaigns to help your brand stand out.

15 TYPES OF VISUAL CONTENT MARKETING STRATEGIES

Photos

Retail giant Reformation takes their product photos to the next level by making every ecommerce product page as photography-focused as a lookbook. Other brands create stand-alone lookbooks or highly visual catalogs. And high-quality photography isn’t just for hero graphics and landing pages, either. In blog posts, on social media platforms and wherever brands tell their story, photographs bring a layer of immediacy to their visual content marketing efforts.

Content strategy tips:

  • Periodically comb through the content you have planned out and mark the pieces that could use rich photography to get to the next level, like blog posts and articles. Factor in the additional time or resources needed to work photography into the post.
  • Build additional blog posts around photographs first, coming up with the content that best showcases them. The results can be striking when imagery drives the piece instead of being added last.
  • Determine where photography can be produced as standalone content, as well, like a lookbook or slideshow.
  • There’s no shame in using carefully-selected stock photography for visual storytelling, but don’t let stock photos make you complacent about sourcing original photographs. Whenever possible, coordinate photography sessions that put your company and products front and center.

Videos

Home Depot finds video content so useful, they’ve created a vibrant resource hub full of DIY and how-to videos so they can better serve their customers. Apple’s video marketing highlights product features, showcase customers, and offer a glimpse at what’s coming next. Google’s videos provide moving looks at how customers are actually using search.

From creating YouTube playlists that share customer stories to using video as the format for your blog’s top ten lists, the sky’s the limit when it comes to working video into your visual content marketing strategy. 

Content strategy tips:

  • Video production is an intensive project that requires serious cross-department collaboration. Even if you outsource projects, you may still need to coordinate in-house content teams with a video production agency. Either way, seek buy-in early from all parties involved.
  • Some videos, like a product review, will be far less time-consuming than others. Factor in the appropriate amount of time for each type of project.
  • Your content team might be full of stellar wordsmiths, but script-writing is a difficult skill to replicate without training. Because of their production experience, scriptwriters understand how to break content up in a video-friendly way. As tempting as it may be to have your content team tackle the script, let the production team direct this part of the project.

Static and interactive infographics

IBM uses its technology to create custom visual content in the form of infographics. Similarly, Google leverages its field of expertise to talk about the evolution of the web. Both companies understand that infographics are a brilliant way to share information. They organize interesting but otherwise-overwhelming facts and statistics into a visually-pleasing, easily-digestible format that is perfect for sharing.

example of visual content

Companies that conduct original research and produce white papers can have even more success when they repurpose their research for infographic use.

Content strategy tips:

  • It’s great when infographics just come naturally when handling data(“This would make a great infographic!”), but don’t wait for those moments to happen. Instead, build the infographic into the strategy first. Then, your team will find the information they need to make the infographic happen.
  • Infographics will require cross-coordination between the content team and the design team, so plan accordingly. Because your company’s design department is likely to already have a full plate, many content departments choose to have their own “in-house” design team. If that’s not an option, you could consider partnering with a visual content marketing agency to meet design needs.
  • Remember that Google can’t read images perfectly (outside of image alt text), which means the average infographic contains a whole lot of fantastic content that isn’t searchable. Work with your SEO team to make sure priority information is presented on the page in a search-friendly format, too. For example, you can explain the data in long-form below the infographic without impacting the site visitor’s experience.

Visual CTAs

CTAs are an excellent way to use visual content marketing to improve user experience and drive conversions.

It’s far too easy for content marketers to slip into a routine in which they write their whole piece and then pop a call-to-action onto the end of it. Instead, work several different CTAs into each page to break things up and increase conversion rates. You can see this in action throughout the Terakeet SEO Blog, with multiple visual CTAs per post.

You can also allow the content to flow logically into different types of CTAs. Ulta, for example, uses visual CTAs throughout their website to help site visitors find exactly what they’re looking for.

Content strategy tips:

  • Reframe how you think about conversions, and you’ll discover opportunities for visual CTAs everywhere. Think about where your customers are in the purchase funnel and where they’d logically want to go next. Is that “Buy Now!” a logical thing to ask your customer to do at this stage? If you’re Nike and your user has landed on a blog post about distance running tips, are they ready to buy shoes? Or is it more useful to have them read more information? Compare distance-running shoe options? Sign up for your newsletter so they can come back when there’s a sale?
  • A/B test different CTAs to see what resonates the most.
  • Work with your UX team to establish CTA best practices and to weave CTAs effectively into the page.
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Quizzes and surveys

Disney has learned customers adore taking interactive quizzes, like this quiz about how much Disney customers know about a popular attraction. AIG turned the interactive quiz into a tool for giving actionable advice to parents. Quizzes can range from lighthearted and entertaining to useful, helping customers narrow down their product options based on their needs and preferences. Work them into your content creation strategy in a way that reflects your brand. 

Content strategy tips:

  • Quizzes aren’t just fun and entertaining from a content strategy perspective. They can actually be a helpful way to glean audience insights or to guide your customers to a specific next step in the funnel. If you’re a bank, for example, your customers might be struggling to figure out what type of loan they need. If you’re an ecommerce company, look at the filters that help customers navigate the broader categories. Determine the qualities different customers are looking for when they use different filters, and build your quiz around that.
  • If you already know who your various customer personas are, use the different personas as your starting point. Decide how each persona would answer the same set of questions (Favorite book? Early bird or night owl? Etc). This is also a wonderful exercise in thinking more deeply about your audience.

Interactive tools

Interactive tools and calculators, like Progressive’s Name Your Price tool, are an excellent way to add value for your customers. And if the tool is useful enough, it might become a resource for an even broader audience. For example, ecommerce platform Shopify has a number of free tools that are helpful not just for Shopify customers, but for anyone interested in starting a business.

Content strategy tips:

  • Use long-tail keyword data along with direct feedback from your customer service and sales teams to determine the problems that customers need to solve. The direct feedback is critical in this process, because you’re looking for smaller and more specific pain points than the one that your product will solve. These pain points are excellent starting points for a tool.

Illustrations

From HelpScout, which creates custom illustrations for every blog post, to Trello, which peppers custom illustrations throughout its site, all kinds of companies work with illustrations to better communicate their brand image.

how bloggers use visual content

Content strategy tips:

  • Illustrations can be an effective and engaging way to replace stock photography on blog posts, presentations, and more. Custom illustrations can help communicate your brand personality in a unique way.
  • Keep the use of illustrations consistent throughout the piece.
  • Illustrations can be a deviation for well-established brands that rely on high-quality photography. Have higher-level conversations if needed to determine the role that illustrations will play for your brand. Establish brand guidelines about correct use.

Screenshots

For tech and SaaS companies, screenshots are an important way to illustrate how-to articles and punctuate blog posts with interesting visuals. Apple and Adobe, for example, both use screenshots in blog posts that feature new apps and games.

using relevant images in blog posts

Content strategy tips:

  • Compress and optimize screenshots just as you would a photo.
  • Don’t limit your use of screenshots to software walkthroughs. You can also screenshot search results, social media posts or anything else you can use to make broader points.

Cartoons and comics

When Google launched Chrome, they announced it through an entire comic book. Comics are a visually-appealing and genuinely-useful way to share information, and they can reinforce a fresh, creative brand identity.

leverage the power of visual content through comics

Content strategy tips:

  • Like illustrations, comics require buy-in at a high level to make sure everyone’s on the same page about how they reflect your brand.
  • While freelance comic illustrators are certainly a good option, comics are also a fun form of collaboration between in-house writers and illustrators. Writers can block out the story and write the content, then work with illustrators to execute the vision.
  • Like infographics, comics are likely to contain a lot of great content in a format that search engines can’t read. Underneath each comic, make sure there’s an HTML transcription of the content. This is also an important way to reach the people who rely on screen readers.

Memes

Nobody can jump on a meme quite like the Wendy’s Twitter account can, but that doesn’t mean you have to have an irreverent brand personality to join the fun. SEO software company Moz, for example, used memes to illustrate a major funding announcement years ago. Embracing memes signals a willingness to keep up with and participate in popular internet culture, and many brands can work that into their identity.

memes combine written words with images

Content strategy tips:

  • Research your memes carefully. Some memes have origins that can make the meme choice much more controversial than a brand intended. Or there can be context the brand isn’t aware of. For example, the Monterey Bay Aquarium borrowed language from the ubiquitous chonky cat memes to describe a cute, chubby otter at the aquarium. Then they promptly issued an apology when they learned there was more context behind the language used
  • Make sure that all meme use is handled by people who actually know and enjoy memes. It’s really hard to fake an understanding of internet culture, and brands frequently get it wrong. And when they do, it reinforces a brand identity that’s less “young and fresh” and more “guy who’s way too old to be at a college party.”

Visual quotes

Visual quotes are an easy and shareable way to supplement your social media marketing or blog strategy. Grammarly’s Instagram, for example, is almost entirely visual quotes.

Content strategy tips:

  • While they can be used effectively, visual quotes can also become a rote, indistinct fall-back for your social media strategy. Keep it fresh by looking for quotes that will actually be new and useful for people. Feature interesting voices that reflect your brand.
  • The more specifically you can tie each quote to your brand story, the better.
  • Pay attention to engagement metrics to see which quotes are resonating.
  • “Brand” each quote using your brand’s font and visual style, the way Grammarly does. That way when they get shared, the connection to your brand won’t be lost.

Data visualization

During Thanksgiving a few years ago, Google Flights created a data visualization of all the flights taken around Thanksgiving. This was a great way for Google to make use of data they already had to produce interesting, visually-compelling content. In that sense, data visualizations are like infographics. Unlike infographics, however, they focus on one specific piece of data and play with the way the data is displayed to convey meaning.

Content strategy tips:

  • Think about all the research your brand has its disposal, from seasonal trends to search data to survey data. Then, pick one really interesting piece of information to visualize.
  • Real-time and interactive visualizations can really increase the “wow” factor of your content.
  • If you need inspiration and you’re prepared to fall down a rabbithole of fascinating content, check out Information is Beautiful.

Gifs

Dictionary.com might be everybody’s go-to authority for word definitions, but even they have discovered the power of the gif. They use gifs to punctuate blog posts, which breaks up their content in an entertaining way and provides a visual cue to help people remember new words. Gifs are a fun way to illustrate blog posts and other content, and the gif format can also be used for product images, banners, email, and on social networks.

 Content strategy tips:

  • Like memes, leave all humorous use of gifs to someone who’s fluent in internet culture. The context behind a gif can make more of a statement than what you signed up for.
  • To make product-related gifs, coordinate with your design team. These can be as simple as animating all of a product’s color options into a single gif, so the product cycles through color changes in the final gif.

Worksheets

Templates, checklists and other worksheets are a great way for brands to provide value to their customers within an overarching visual content marketing strategy. Like tools and calculators, these resources are a shareable, interactive way to establish thought leadership and help customers and prospects accomplish their goals, especially towards the bottom of the funnel. LegalZoom, for example, offers a number of downloadable forms and documents to help customers take care of certain tasks by themselves. And HubSpot offers free packages like their content promotion kit to help their customers advance their online marketing goals.

Content strategy tips:

  • The same rule from our “tools and calculators” section applies: focus on addressing micro-pain points instead of the broader pain points your products address.
  • Repurpose how-to posts to provide printable checklists and templates. For example, if Weber Grill writes a “how to throw a summer-themed backyard party” blog post, they could convert that into a step-by-step checklist to help people stay organized before their next big party.

Slides and presentations

NewsCred has a variety of services and products that cater to multiple industries. To reinforce their service offerings, they’ve created a resource library. This library isn’t filled with only white papers and templates, though. They also include links to webinars and presentation slides to give users a variety of different learning experiences. These slideshows and presentations are valuable, interactive resources full of content ideas that NewsCred can also repurpose in other ways (which they do in their massive library of posts, white papers, ebooks, videos, Top 50 brand spotlights and more – all searchable by industry or topic)!

So if your own how-to’s are feeling a little dry, reformat them as SlideShare presentations with visual CTAs. Then, use the resulting assets for link building and other purposes.

Content strategy tips:

  • If your company hosts webinars, host the slides later on your blog or SlideShare so the content can reach a wider audience.
  • Transcribe all slides and presentations so the content will be searchable.
  • If you have a lot of how-to’s scheduled into the content calendar, challenge yourself to turn some of them into presentations. The more instructive format can change the amount and type of information you share, and your audience will benefit.

Find the types of visual content that are a good fit for your company. And reap the benefits of fully engaging your entire prospective customer base.

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