The Online Importance of an Image in Digital Marketing
If you work in social media, you’ll already know that The Visual is King is digital marketing. From viral videos, to memes to pictorial lists an image online says more than a 1000 words, it speaks for your users in a way never seen before.
The fantastic thing about images and videos is that they are all-industry-inclusive. Social media and other online marketing techniques sate customers desire for information; add an image of your team, a ‘behind the scenes’ moment in your company or even a simply product video to the mix and you are giving the people what they want.
There are a whole muddle of avenues a brand can go down to make itself more visual and to make its marketing more image/video based. But getting the basics right is the most important.
Don’t Add Memes to Everything
So often companies forget that while social media marketing provides them with a personal insight into the lives of their prospective and current customers, people still expect certain behaviour from certain brands.
Posting a generic cat video to the Facebook wall of a red brick private school may appeal to students, but will it really appeal to the parents who have the income to be able to send their child to a £50,000 a year institution? Probably not.
As ever with marketing, one size cannot fit all so establishing exactly who your market is online and offline is the best way to ensure the visual marketing you use is going to bring you successes that effect your bottom line in the long run.
The Rise of Image-based and video-based Networks
If you still aren’t convinced about the power of visual online marketing, turn your attention to the social networks built entirely around one concept – image or video.
Imgur, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, Vine, YouTube and Snapchat to name a few are some of the most popular visual-share based social networks out there with millions of users on their books. And with Facebook, Google+ and Twitter’s great capacity for easy image and video share, it’s easy to see a direct correlation between the posts that prove most popular and the absence (or inclusion) of something visual.
And businesses haven’t been missing out! Brands that traditionally would steer clear of image based networks are succeeding on these networks using some cracking images and videos and a bit of imagination.
A few of my favourite brands often sell a product that in its traditional package is either boring or inaccessible to the ‘everyman’. Here are some great examples of brands taking a different tactic in their marketing and making what they do interesting using great visual marketing via their social networks:
An Infographic a Day…
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will know about infographics. But you may wonder what else they can do for your business since their popularity peak in 2012.
HTML based infographics have opened the doors for creative marketers to start making their products and services more visually accessible using infographics in their marketing.
Gone are the days of a list-style graphic with some funny facts and a strong call to action at the bottom (yawn) we are now seeing interactive infographics that ask us questions and take us on a mini journey during our lunch hour making us associate the brand who put it together with information, positivity and fun!
A cracking example of an interactive HTML infographic is: http://neomam.com/interactive/13reasons/
Moving Pictures = Video Content!
Who has sat for longer than they intended to on a Monday evening watching YouTube baking tutorials? The answer is ‘we all have’. Video content is so multi-functional, it’s not hard to see why so many marketers are shouting about it, myself included.
You can use videos to explain a product or service on your website, explain a cause or initiative, review products or give a sponsored tutorial to encourage others to buy a new product:
The Google Loon project for example uses a simple video to grow awareness of their internet balloon campaign. The advantage of which is an easier-to-digest way to present a new concept as well as a great method to encourage social shares as their video is hosted on YouTube.
Video content has been dubbed the future of content marketing, and it is predicted that by 2017 video content will account for 69% of all web traffic. The mind boggles. But is this really a surprise? If your business has something to sell, the likelihood that video content will make that sales process easier is higher than having a plain web page or static image.
Making money with video
Another way that businesses are taking advantage of the video content boom and the social network YouTube is by starting YouTube ad campaigns, targeting their audience before users watch a new video.
The concept is simple enough – but so many brands get YouTube ads wrong:
It’s imperative to target specific video content with YouTube ads as well as making the ads as appealing as possible within the 5 second ad-skip limit.
As interesting as the Sunday Times Arts section is (above) I was looking for a video about a milkshake made out of chocolate biscuits, arts and culture was the last thing on my mind.
While BBC Radio 6 captured my attention straight away by actually stating the name of the artist I was viewing (Queens of the Stone Age) before the video played meaning I was so intrigued I didn’t press the skip button:
Taking an Inside Look with Virtual Tours
Virtual tours are fast becoming popular with businesses UK and worldwide.
This form of visual marketing is the perfect balance between static image and video, providing prospective customers with the ability to view your premises from the comfort of their own home for as long as they like.
Unlike a walk-around video a virtual tour allows the viewer to take control and go at a pace that suits them. They can sit and stare at every angle of your brand from the inside out, learning more about you and get ‘wowed’ by the amazing facilities you have. You can essentially create a show home online that looks its best 24/7 more likely leading to conversions, enquiries and social shares.
Virtual tours are great for specific industries such as business unit space, office space providers, hotels, spas and restaurants, libraries and public buildings, residential sales and lettings and private accommodation such as residential care homes.
An example of a UK based company who have benefited very well from the inclusion of virtual tours to their online marketing is Sunrise Senior Living UK. Last year(2013) they added virtual tours to all 27 of their residential care communities’ pages on their website – a smart addition for a brand who rely on the visual ‘wow’ of their homes to entice new customers. Their care home in Cardiff is one of my favourites! 10 points if you can guess why.
List-based blogs sate the ever-pressing need for sound bites of easily digestible information, images, GIFs and video content that we love to view, read and share on our various social networks and brands are capitalizing on these sites to boost traffic, brand awareness and conversions.
Buzzfeed, Mashable, Sickchirpse and Diply are just a few of the extensive ‘list’ of these kinds of popular sites that post all day, every day on trending topics and real-time news.
Marketing on these sites is niche; if you’re going to sponsor a story, it had better relate to something topical or your audience may choose something else and your budget will have gone to waste.
Brands that do really well on these sites offer something by way of entertainment or information in a casual way. So, this kind of visual marketing isn’t for everyone.
One Image – A Thousand Shares
Visual marketing online is one of the most creative and fun elements of any online marketing plan; but that shouldn’t detract from the importance of visual marketing as a whole. From virtual tours to a post on Facebook, a well-placed image or video can truly say more than a text based update ever can.
However if your ultimate goal is to ‘go viral’, the chances are you will never succeed. The key to successful image or video marketing online is placement, timing, market instinct and knowledge and a little bit of luck.
Remember that visual marketing is an extension of your overall offline and online marketing efforts, so plan your budget and objectives accordingly! One size doesn’t fit all: