Ever since the inbound methodology was introduced to the world, content has reigned king. As you undoubtedly know, content marketing is all about providing readers with valuable information, neatly packaged into an engaging story.

But the web is becoming increasingly crowded with content and it’s becoming more and more difficult to get noticed. And so marketers must continually ask, “How can I break through the noise?”

New Web Content Every 60 Seconds

Source: SmartInsights

As I will argue in this post, the answer lies in creating snackable, easily digestible content with strong visual components — otherwise known as visual marketing.

Visual snacks are what today’s internet users want to consume more than anything. And visual content is more likely to receive engagement, to be shared and to drive action.

Luckily, getting started with visual marketing doesn’t have to mean reinventing your entire content library. By taking a fresh look at the content assets you already have — white papers, e-books, landing pages, digital brochures and more — you can improve and update your content to make it more visually engaging.

First, let’s look at some numbers that demonstrate the sheer importance of investing in visual marketing right now.

Why should I use visual marketing?

Consider the following points:

Content marketing should be about ease of use for the reader. The human brain processes images up to 60,000 times faster than text. Think about it. It takes hours and hours for a novel to evoke the same levels of emotion that a film can evoke in only an hour and a half.

The same goes for your sales and marketing content. Compelling images and video allow your visitors to absorb and understand your value proposition much more quickly.

The more engaging your content is, the more likely it is to generate and convert leads. When Dropbox first uploaded that (now iconic) magic pocket video onto their homepage six years ago, conversions skyrocketed by 33 percent. The video did what a text-heavy product page or list of features could never do: visually demonstrate a technically complex cloud service to non-tech-savvy people in a way that both made sense and entertained.

The lesson is clear. The more engaging your content is, the more likely it is that your visitors will consume it and eventually develop an interest in your product.

You have very little time to capture your audience’s attention. In an analysis of 650,000 articles, Sumo found that the average visitor reads only 25 percent of an article’s text. And as attention spans continue to decrease, even that number is likely to dwindle.

Visual marketing helps to reverse this trend by allowing you to grab your audience’s attention more effectively. A powerful image can get your message across in a mere fraction of a second. And in today’s world, usually a fraction of a second is all you have.

Visual marketing helps reinforce the message your content is aiming to convey. According to research shared by HubSpot, when people hear or read information, they’re likely to remember only 10 percent three days later. However, if that same information is paired with a relevant image, people retain 65 percent three days later. That’s an increase of 55 percentage points!

If you pair your copy with relevant imagery that supports your message, it will vastly increase the chance that your labors produce lasting impact.

Visual marketing is more likely to be shared on social media. In a recent survey, BuzzSumo found that articles that include an image once every 75 to 100 words receive double the social media shares as articles with fewer images. Putting a greater focus on visuals will increase social shares, which means more eyes on your content.

Visual marketing is becoming one of the most popular and effective marketing trends. A recent report published by Social Media Examiner found that 37 percent of marketers believe visual marketing is the most important form of content for their business, second only to blogging at 38 percent.

Source: SocialMediaExaminer

You can also look at the flip side of this: 63% of marketers don’t yet realize the importance of visual marketing, meaning you have a chance to get ahead!

How do I incorporate visual marketing into my content strategy?

Hiring a team of developers and designers to enhance your content is one option, albeit an expensive one. A common misconception about visual marketing is that it requires lots of creative expertise — but that’s not necessarily true.

There are many easy-to-use tools (some of them free) that can help any marketer or brand owner create visually compelling content (or transform existing content) themselves.

But regardless of whether you have a team of professionals, or you’re doing it all yourself, there are a few best practices to keep in mind while (re)creating content:

  • Keep it relevant and helpful. Don’t just add images for the sake of it. Pictures should reinforce your message and add value to your content. The same goes for animations, background videos and other visual effects. If you overdo it, these can become a distraction instead of a distinguishing crowd puller.
  • Keep it short and snackable. Remember to make things easy on your reader by keeping the text to a minimum. Don’t use words where you can use relevant visuals to communicate your message instead.
  • Keep track and iterate. This goes without saying. Everything you create should be measurable, and all your changes should be kept track of — whether it’s a video, landing page, brochure or anything else. Testing variations will reveal what works and what doesn’t.

Do this and you’ll increase views, grab more attention, boost engagement, boost shares, communicate your value proposition faster and leave an impression that lasts longer.

Do it really well, and visual marketing will positively transform your content efforts. Your content will work harder for you — helping you stand out from the crowd and reach your readers with material that really resonates.

About the Author: Daan Reijnders is the Co-founder and CEO of Instant Magazine, a content management platform that amassed 1000+ clients all over the world in under 3 years. He’s a digital marketing veteran with years of experience in managing both SaaS companies and creative agencies.