1 – Creating Visual Content is easier than other types of Content Marketing
For some brands – developing a visual content strategy, and developing visual content, would be significantly easier (and more productive) than generating other types of content. For me, the obvious examples are fashion brands, liquor brands, sporting goods brands, and consumer packaged goods.
What’s more effective, if you’re Oreo, for example? A blog recipe about a cookie cake, or a video showing how to make incredible cookie cakes (and many of them done by fans, I’d add)?
Would you rather see a blog post about how whiskey is made? Or would you rather watch a video by Jack Daniels about how whiskey is made?
Would you rather read a review about a blender? Or would you rather see an iPhone get chewed up in one?
The Blendtec story is quite interesting as a case study. Blendtec undoubtedly made some savvy moves in securing Jamba Juice, as well as key bar and restaurant chains, to adopt its blender instead of rival – Vitamix. However, “Will it Blend” is undoubtedly the reason why Blendtec displaced other competitors (such as Breville) in hardly any time. The first five videos cost only $50 to create. With help from platforms like Digg (which was different than it is now), the videos went viral instantly, scoring over 6 million views in their first week. (Source: Li and Bernoff, groundswell)
2 – Creating Visual Content is WAY HARDER than other types of Content Marketing
First, content marketing generally is hard. People who have been at it for 10-15-20 years all have gray hair and bleary eyes for a reason. Content marketing is the NFL playoffs of the marketing gig generally. While everyone reveres the big agencies and the Superbowl commercials, the real challenge is using content and demonstrating value without having access to a big media buy. Why? Because you have to earn your stripes.
Second, if generally content marketing is the NFL playoffs… then without question – VISUAL content marketing, and developing an effective visual content marketing strategy, is nothing but a daily exercise in winning the Superbowl. It’s all the fun of content marketing, with all the challenge of not writing. That’s why so many people are afraid of it, and wish they “could do” it better.
The simple challenge is storytelling with words is hard – but storytelling with visuals is remarkably hard because it requires remarkable clarity of thought, emotion, and understanding how “conversion” (i.e., “the sale”) results from influence thought and feeling in your audience.
If a picture is worth a thousand words – great. Let’s just accept that old saying for a moment as a metric. Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet” (which nearly everyone reading this most likely had to read at one time in high school) is about four thousand words.
Ok, other than the picture of Sir Lawrence Oliver doing “Yorrick” – what are the other three pictures going to be that tell that story with more impact, result, and conversion?
Not easy – is it?
Yes, Visual Content Marketing has a tremendous reward – but it also requires tremendous effort to do well.
3- Great Visual Content is a better investment than other types of Content Marketing
Plain, boring text is passé; visual is in. Science reports that we respond to visual stimulation much better than optical (pictures v. reading). In the case of reading, our brain decodes visual information 60,000X faster than text. It’s not surprising that YouTube has become the 2nd largest search engine (which we’ll talk about on item 7). Sites like Pinterest and Instagram have risen to popularity, and storytelling as the most effective branding strategy is gaining momentum. All fingers are pointing at one direction – visual content is growing bigger, and that’s where the future of content marketing is headed.
An infographic is likely to have a much longer shelf life (not to mention be considerably more shareable – which we talk about on item 12) than a white paper, a blog post, an article you’ve written, or a seminar you delivered. A video on a landing page increases conversion by as much as 86% (that’s without changing a thing). However, there are intangible benefits to strong visual content creation in your marketing:
- It builds brand. Consider for example Starbucks, who routinely shares images locally and nationally on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. This approach doesn’t just tell people what Starbucks is doing (or is about), it shows them. That content has greater impact on brand building than anything else Starbucks could do (for the same amount of money).
- It condenses down information into a visual image that should be (if done well) timeless. Infographics can be dated (for example), but many of them long outlive their original window.
- Visual images shared in social media are more likely to drive referral web traffic (and thus potentially all things being equal, conversions/sales) than other types of content development.
The clearest argument for investment in visual – the audience for it is getting increasingly larger. While marketers (some 68% of them according to a recent – 2014- survey) are focusing more heavily on blogging – the reality is the audience is largely shifting away from blogging as a medium (largely driven by smaller screens I’d argue) and embracing more often visual forms of communication. While it’s true that some people need to read something, others (and that group is getting larger I’d argue) want to SEE it. In a recent study by Simply Measured, they stated that “visual content drives engagement. In fact, just one month after the introduction of Facebook timeline for brands, visual content particularly photos and videos saw a 65% increase in engagement”.
4- Infographics are (at the moment) the most dominant form of Visual Content Marketing
According to blogger Jeff Bullas, the search for infographics increased by a whopping 800% from 2010 to 2012. In 2014, 39% of B2B buyers identified that they share infographics on social media frequently (Source). But what exactly is it about infographics that make them so popular in the first place?
They’re easy to understand in seconds, not minutes.
As the Internet grows, it brings us more data and more information each day. But who has the time (or desire) to read through pages upon pages of plain text to try and understand it all? No one—and our habits prove it. Mobiles Republic, a global news syndication company, released the results from its 2013 Survey of News Reading Habits and found that people are checking the news more frequently and for shorter periods of time. Infographics allow information to be displayed in a concise little package, so people can digest your content before you start to lose their attention.
They grab your attention.
Humans are known to be a visual species, but did you know that 90% of the information that comes to the brain is received and processed visually, making us more likely to store the information in our long-term memory? Given our reading habits are grazing in 15-20 second increment, an infographic is much more likely to be “seen” and “processed” than a blog post.
They’re easy to share.
Like we said, there’s a lot of information out there on the web. People want to share that information with others, and platforms like Pinterest and Instagram make it clear that people appreciate visual content wherever they can get it. In fact, people are 44% more likely to interact with a brand who posts images on social media. If you want your audience sharing content to their networks, interesting infographics give them something to tweet about.
5- The future of Content Marketing overall is on many tiny (and getting tinier) screens
Simple observation. How are you going to blog (the dominant form of content marketng) for this?
That screen is about the size of a matchbox for wooden matches. Good luck writing anything.
Consider these stats from the compilation below: about half of all U.S. adults now own smartphones; that figure rises to 76% for millennials. Nearly half of consumers say they won’t return to a website if it doesn’t load properly on their mobile devices. And mobile payments aren’t just for buying lattes—three-quarters of B2B vendors say they plan to offer mobile commerce by the end of 2014.
So your future screen size is either the size of a postage stamp, or roughly the size of a deck of cards. Not exactly ideal for text.
6 – For B2B – Infographics may be one of the best (if not “the” best) type of visual content marketing
A 2014 survey by Demand Gen revealed that a higher percentage of respondents are using visually appealing content such as videos, infographics, and interactive presentations. According to the report, in 2014, the use of video content increased by 8% to 58%, while infographic usage increased by 9% to 52%. Interactive formats such as Brainshark and SlideShare increased in popularity as well, up from roughly 21% in 2013 to 28% in 2014.
Unlike last year, when most common content formats gained in popularity, the top two content types of 2013 (white papers and webinars) dipped in usage. Case studies (73%) overtook webinars (67%) as the second most popular form of content in 2014.
According to the Report:
The shift in content sharing is an even greater example of the buyer’s preference for clean content that is quick and easy to digest. Of the 11 content types listed in the survey, B2B buyers are most likely to share blog posts, with 40% identifying that they share them frequently. Coming right behind blog posts are infographics (39%) and videos (37%), with all three top content formats vaulting ahead of last year’s fan favorite, white papers.
Neal Patel, founder of KISSmetrics, built several of his businesses using Infographics almost exclusively. Although Neal has said that infographics don’t deliver quite as well as they used to, he’s one of the few to do infographics “by the numbers,” and the benefits of them for B2B can’t really be understated in terms of publicity and SEO:
At KISSmetrics, we’ve created a total of 47 infographics. An infographic on average costs us $600, which means we have spent $28,200 on infographics in the last two years.
Within the two-year period, we’ve generated 2,512,596 visitors and 41,142 backlinks from 3,741 unique domains, all from those 47 infographics.
From the social media perspective, in the last two years, the infographics have driven 41,359 tweets and 20,859 likes.
If you decided that you want to buy 2,512,596 visitors, it would cost you $125,629.80 if you paid 5 cents a visitor. If you bought 41,142 links from a service like Sponsored Reviews at a rate of $20 a link, you would have spent $822,840. And that wouldn’t even give you high quality links. We naturally got our links from sites like Huffington Post and Forbes.
If you want to buy 41,359 tweets, it would cost you $82,718, assuming you paid $2.00 a tweet. It would also cost you an additional $41,718 if you paid $2.00 a Like.
In total, if you were trying to game Google and get the same results as we did at KISSmetrics, you would have spent a total of $1,072,905.80. Now, that’s a lot of money, especially if you compare that number to the $28,200 we spent on creating the infographics.
7 – YouTube is actually the second largest search engine in the World
8 – Short-format content draws more Engagement than long format
Some stats from research done about short/long content:
- 45% Of Viewers Will Stop Watching A Video After 1 Minute & 60% By 2 Minutes (Source: Marketing Sherpa)
- Videos that are 15 seconds or shorter are shared 37 percent more often than those that last between 30 seconds and 1 minute. (Source: Jun Group)
- Lululemon, one of the first brands to use Instagram video, gets about seven-times as many comments on its Instagram videos as it does on its photos. (Simply Measured)
That said, we read this report by BuzzSumo with great interest. Buzzfeed is the king of short form content – the Guardian one of the last bastions of long-form news. It’s worth the read – but I don’t believe it’s really contraindicative of the fact that people prefer short form content given the fact that on average people spend about 15 seconds on a site before deciding to move on.
9 – A good Visual is actually better than a great headline
Ok copywriters – write me a headline better than this image. Go.
10 – Visual Content builds a brand that is recognized offline
11 – Visual Content Marketing can be your doorway past the gatekeeper of information overload
Long story short – your brain sees an image in about 13 milliseconds. It is able to do this because “seeing” is not a singular function within the brain, it happens in several areas at once. The key being the “primitive brain” that determines on an emotional level whether or not the information “seen” should be processed by the rational brain.
In other words – if your visual content strategy focuses more on the heart than on the head – you’re more likely to be sent to the consciousness despite gatekeeping and objections – because the primitive brain goes “WOW THAT WAS COOL!”
12 -Key Focus with Visual Content Marketing is to be “Shareworthy” in all that you create
Your goal in a visual content strategy is not to be getting lots of traffic (I mean that helps) – but actually to empower sharing. Sharing = traffic = seo juice = all the stuff you want.
Johnny Carson, the “king of late night,” who built the most profitable show in the history of NBC (even still), said this – people will pay more to be entertained than educated. That is indeed the truth. So focus with your visual content on entertainment first, education second. Honestly, there is much to be learned about great visual (and great content) generally by watching Carson. One of the best documentaries on Carson was “The King of Late Night” by PBS American Masters. Carson was the original inventor of the “viral content” and the “meme” type formats. It’s well worth your time to watch the show.
The core of what made Carson’s content work was this – Show me something funny, something witty, something important. Make me feel. Make me wonder. Make me want to like you. Make me feel it’s worth my time to spend time with you. Make me feel you’re my friend, and I’m your friend, and we’re in this together.
This video, created on “spec” for a contest by Chevrolet by director Lee Choi, created such a stir in the world that it got MILLIONS of views in a few days of its release, and caused both Ad Week and Chevrolet to address it. People were pissed at Chevy – problem was – it wasn’t even a real commercial.
It wasn’t even the one that won the contest – it wasn’t even one with an honorable mention (which is stupid).
Honestly, I still can’t watch it without being attacked by the invisible ninjas peeling onions. It’s amazing for a 60-second spot. I’d never run it for Chevrolet – but Choi’s approach to visual content and storytelling is an amazing example.
Make me feel – make me want to share. Three million people (just on this version of the ad) saw it – it was one of the most viral ads of 2014 – including ads in the Superbowl… which I think you’ll agree… were all lame by comparison. (By the way – perhaps the hidden “14th” thing you didn’t know – hiring a talented director for your video production makes a difference.)
13 – Strategy, and not budget, is likely to be the biggest challenge with Visual Content execution
This guy (Mike Dubin) beat Gillette – a company with an 800 million dollar TV budget and the best agency talent on the planet.
These guys had 20+ million views within a month for a commercial for women to spray their toilets… literally “breaking the internet”. It cost about 15K bucks to make the ad. Poo-Pourri is an unbelievable story – plain and simple. Strategy over budget.
One piece of advice – follow your OWN strategy, don’t copy someone else’s. When Mike Dubin did “Dollar Shave Club” it was funny. Dollarbeardclub – not so much. (Ok, it’s a little funny – but nowhere near as effective as DSC was.)
You may not be able to outspend the competition – but you can out think them. Visual content strategy magnifies your budget’s effect (potentially) if your strategy is novel.