Are you making use of visual media in your content marketing strategy?
What if we told you that blog posts with images receive 94% more views than blog posts without images?
Your digital audience is continuously evolving. An average page visitor is more impacted by visuals than words. After all, it’s definitely more interesting to see beautiful images as compared to walls of text. You might notice that influencers on social media platforms have adopted this concept, and their entire brand revolves around quality visual assets.
While written content will always provide educational benefits for your readers, and help you to optimize SEO and keywords, aesthetic visual content is essential for leveling up your blogging. If you’re now interested in creating a visual content marketing strategy, you might be wondering what types of content to include?
We’ll cover that in just a moment, but a big hint is that you’ll want to focus on custom visual content vs stock. Custom content strengthens your brand, makes your website stand out, is often more appealing for your target audience than stock photography, and can even improve your conversion rates.
Visual Content 101
Before we jump into details about why visual content is essential in digital marketing, it is important to understand what it is exactly.
What types of visual content are out there?
Visual Content includes a wide range of visual assets from images, infographics, charts (and a vast array of other data visualization tools) to slide decks, Youtube videos, screenshots, memes, and diagrams.
These visual assets should be authentic and employed on websites, social media platforms, or any marketing channel your brand is using to reach your target audience, build brand awareness, and consumer trust.
As mentioned, visual content sticks with consumers far better than the written word. If you’re not using visual content in your marketing campaigns, then you’re missing the boat. And it’s a big one.
So if visual content is what consumers remember most, brands should be using distinctive, custom visual elements in their marketing – especially when it’s on social networks that demand shareability.
In actuality, stock images are a popular option. Let’s get a better understanding of precisely what function they serve.
Why Do Brands Use Stock Images?
With the rise in the importance of visual content for businesses and bloggers, content marketers had to look for a solution and often turned to stock images.
While visuals are necessary for any content strategy, one can only experience results when using high-quality, relevant images.
Stock images are readily available and high-quality; they exist for all purposes, business niches, and styles.
Stock images offer many benefits for businesses, especially small businesses, with a limited budget and who may not have a concrete branding strategy. These are affordable types of content that can be used on blogs, social media posts, and more.
Unfortunately, convenience and affordability make businesses overlook the benefits of professional photography or custom designs. What they don’t understand is other businesses, including competitors, might be using the same stock images.
Stock Images are Everywhere
Anyone who works in marketing, specifically content marketing, can recognize the same stock images. They’re seen in related blog posts, on video content, in ads, even in website design.
Going on Twitter, Instagram, or even LinkedIn, you will recognize some generic photos being used.
Stock images are convenient. Many of them are cheap or even free. You usually have full rights to use the images, as long as it pertains to your business. Often, there is no need to credit the original owner.
Sometimes, convenience comes with the price of originality. Your customers notice generic, boring photos just as you do! Don’t risk your brand’s authenticity, which could impact lead generation, conversion rates, and your brand’s overall marketing efforts.
Stock Images Are a Thing of the Past
There Could Be Legal Risks
Most stock images are in what’s known as the “public domain.” The public domain is where certain creative materials aren’t protected by copyright, trademark, or patent laws. But you cannot assume all stock images are in the public domain.
For example, let’s say you find a stock photographer you like. You download their entire collection. While most of their images are in the public domain, they may choose to place copyright restrictions on certain photos.
If you use these photos without their consent and against their copyright standards, they could enforce legal action against you. Invest some time and resources into custom content. This way, you can license the media to prevent other businesses from stealing it.
Consumer Trust Gets Lost with Stock Images
Trust is the most important quality you can establish with customers. While transparency and increased customer engagement are great ways to improve consumer trust, the right visuals can build your brand as trustworthy.
Custom Visuals Improve Your Reputation
Stock photos and other unoriginal content makes your business look like a clone of others in your niche. Regularly release content and always include high-quality visuals, whether these be self-created infographics or other designs.
Your customers are smart. They can see when your business takes the easy way out with content creation. Not only that, but competitors are always looking to better their content strategy —and maybe possibly win over your customers. Avoid this by making your content stand out, in both utility and aesthetics.
Need to Innovate with the Times
Our culture is always changing, and the modern customer enjoys this fast-paced lifestyle. Stock images make you seem outdated. On-trend custom visuals will build brand relevance and help cement your place as a leader, not a follower.
Think of your Social Media Platforms
Needless to say, you’re not the only company in your niche on social media. Stock images will make you blend into the crowd. Create custom visuals and add them to your social media marketing strategy. This way, you look authentic and will catch the eye from different customers.
You Won’t Achieve Brand Storytelling with Stock Images
Storytelling offers more than just a way to connect to your audience. When your brand masters telling its story, you’ll achieve brand consistency. The voice you use with your written content needs to match your visuals. This can’t be done with stock images; differentiation is impossible.
What Storytelling Offers Your Brand
Stories do more than entertain us. They connect us. The right story can influence your audience and inspire them to take action, making storytelling an essential part of your brand’s content strategy. Your entire content strategy should revolve around telling a story. Crafting your branding into a narrative creates opportunities to build relationships with your audience.
If you can communicate the right message to your target audience, the result would be improved conversion rates, user experience, and customer retention.
Other benefits that storytelling offers include:
When you think about your visual branding, think of the story you want to tell. Make sure your visual and written branding are seamlessly connected.
Using Custom Visuals in Storytelling and Brand Consistency
Your custom visuals should be well-planned and outlined to communicate effectively. Think about the message you want to convey to your audience and how your content can reflect this.
There is a whole repertoire of tools at your disposal, from Canva for beginners and individuals to the Adobe Suite for professionals.
Regardless of how you’re making visual content, you’ll find different branding elements to use in all of your visuals. These elements include color schemes, designs, fonts, and more.
Keep your branding elements in-sync and consistent (without sacrificing creativity) for the best brand messaging.
How Should You Customize your Visual Content?
Localized Content is Essential to Building Your Brand
Localized content is created for a specific geographic area. If most of your customers are from the same location, you’ll want to optimize your strategy just for them.
While you might already use local SEO and other local marketing techniques, including localized visual content in your strategy can offer many benefits.
Think Local for Your Social Media Strategy
Google isn’t the only platform focusing on local algorithms. Social media is putting a bigger emphasis on local marketing; for example, you can open up your audience when you use geo-tags in your Instagram posts. Localized visual content can help social media channels recognize your brand and connect with your audience.
Here are some key benefits and ideas you can immediately employ on your social networks.
Easy to Remember
There’s nothing your audience recognizes more than their hometown. Optimizing content with local icons entices your customers and gives them a way to connect to you. Your local images and designs will be easy to remember, and prospects will be more inclined to make a purchase.
This type of visual content is easy to incorporate – have a photographer take a picture of a recognizable feature in your city and post the image on social media, relating your brand to your town.
Localized content creates stronger engagement between you and your customers. You’re tapping into a unique local culture. Your images will relate to your audience, making them more likely to support your business.
This is a big opportunity to make use of current local events in your marketing, consider including a seasonal banner or sale feature into your e-commerce landing page.
Offers Better Insight Into Your Company
When you utilize local images, you give your local audience insight into your company. You can post pictures of your business location and give them a virtual tour of your office or store.
You can participate in local celebrations and share these images on social media. You may even tailor your designs to local imagery.
Gets Your Audience Involved
Local businesses have many opportunities to connect to their audience. You can easily photograph your customers (with permission please) at your business or using your products and use this as in social media posts as part of your visual marketing strategy.
Making the locals themselves part of your business will bring you closer to your customers, which will ultimately increase brand awareness and revenue.
See examples of how major brands like Uber, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and Google have utilized our visual production platform to produce localized content around the globe.
SEO and Visual Content Go Hand in Hand
Your team likely already understands the value of SEO. While keywords and linking will help you rank in social media, visual content is also a big part of your strategy.
Would you be surprised that the right custom visual content can increase your website traffic?
Improves Website Stats and Time on Your Site
You not only want to attract customers to your website, but you want them to stay. Custom visual content is the best way to intrigue customers and keep them searching around your website.
The visuals you use also have a lot to do with this metric. Use videos and infographics to generate the most user engagement. At the same time, provide social network sharing buttons so they can spread content they enjoy.
Conveys More Information
A picture can say a thousand words. And this is true with custom visual assets. While long-form content ranks highly in Google, your audience may not read your entire blog post. Visual assets are a great way to break up chunks of text into sections.
If you use the best visual content, your audience can take in your message quickly.
Improve Your Linking Strategy
Great online marketing can improve your linking strategy, but so can visual content. Backlinks are important because they increase website traffic and improve web page domain authority. In other words, you’ll be a more credible business in Google’s eyes.
How do web pages find other great websites for outbound links?
They will look for brands that post original content, including stats and insights on trending topics. Visual content makes this content readable and more engaging, resulting in content with amazing linking value.
Image Optimization and Alt Tags for SEO
Visual content provides great opportunities for optimizing SEO. Meta details, such as alt tags, improve your search engine rankings. You can also optimize your custom images by adding description tags. Both alt and description tags should include your primary keyword.
An optimized image for every piece of content you create can help Google crawl and index the page more effectively.
Use Video Content to Increase Time on Site and Social Sharing
78% of web users watch videos every week. Google knows this and will raise your search engine rankings if you include video in your strategy, especially YouTube videos. Google owns YouTube and thus links its search engine platform to the video-sharing site, helping you rank in two different search engines.
As with all content, you should focus on creating custom and high-quality videos. Not only will your brand appear more professional, but you’ll engage your audience better.
Stop Using Stock Photos for Social Media Posts
At this point, your company likely has social media pages and a concrete social media marketing strategy. From writing a tweet on Twitter to filming a story for Instagram, these platforms maximize your reach and generate interest from your target audience.
Social media is the best place to use your custom visual content. You can post your images, infographics, videos, and more on your social media channels, increasing the size of your audience.
Improved Social Media Presence
Your social media presence represents your audience size, promotional efforts, and search volume. If managed positively, it can land you more external links. The best way to improve your social media presence is by using high-quality images and other media in your posts that audiences want to engage with.
Think about using competitions or giveaways periodically.
Unleash Your Creativity
While web pages are a great place to express your artistic side, it’s easier to reach your target audience via social media.
Entice your following by releasing unique and creative visual content that ties into your digital branding. It’s much easier to experiment on social networks where feedback is almost instantaneous.
Different Media Options
Social media’s visual content expands continuously. Your options are endless—you can upload images, video, infographics, live content, animations, designs, create filters, GIFs, memes, and even more.
Diversify your visual content for the best results.
Don’t forget to keep a look-out for the newest platforms (there was a time no one cared about TikTok or Snapchat) and focus on those which your target audience uses.
Extensive Tools and Resources
The best part about optimizing visuals for social media is that it’s easy to take a high-quality image or record a live video using only your phone. There is an ever-growing assortment of tools for creating and editing – whether it be pictures, designs, videos, or even animation. Explore tools like iMovie, Canva, Adobe Photoshop, and Boomerang.
In any case, you always have the option of using professional content creators to ensure you only post the best visual content.
Visual Content Improves Your Digital Presence
Custom visual content should be an integral part of your digital marketing strategy. From videos to branded visuals, this type of content accelerates customer engagement and grows your audience organically.
Visual content benefits every aspect of your marketing strategy, including SEO, social media, and even video marketing. Overall, consistent, high-quality visual content makes your business stand out and is a crucial factor in building your brand image.
So what are you waiting for? Build a fully customized visual content strategy with the best creators, on StudioNow’s visual production platform.