The benefits of using visual content are immense. Your brain naturally processes images faster than it does written words—as much as 60-times quicker—and research has shown that memory recall of marketing materials is improved by about a 50% margin when an image is included. We connect with imagery on a deep level, and as such, it can evoke strong emotions which we then tie to the brand presenting them. Visual content alone can be the subconscious reason a consumer takes action, either by making a purchase or clicking. It amplifies your likes, shares, and comments too.
High-Quality Original Content Performs Best
Before getting into how to leverage visual content, it’s important to note that all visual content is not equal. Grainy, pixelated, distorted, or otherwise low-quality pieces won’t help. Moreover, the human brain is wired to appreciate novelty. People have heightened responses to unique experiences and it’s actually these reactions which improve learning and memory. From a person-to-person standpoint, you need novelty in order to connect with your audience. Yet, if you’re using your images in digital marketing, there’s one other big reason to use unique imagery: Google. It’s well-known that the search engine prefers unique content, though many people only consider this angle when crafting written content. Whether Google actively rewards visual content when it’s unique or it’s the heightened engagement associated with original visual media which Google picks up on, one can only guess. The search engine does not release details of its proprietary algorithm to the public. What we do know, however, is that Google is always trying to provide people with more of what they want, and if you’re appeasing the humans who view your content, you’ll likely appease the machines ranking content too.
1. Maximise Digital Performance with Tags
We often think of marketing in terms of materials people see, but in the digital world, this is only one part of marketing. Some of the SEO value of your visual media depends on things your website visitors will never see—tags. If you’re using keywords as part of your SEO strategy, keywords belong in all the tags too, but only when it makes sense to include them. If you overdo it and start putting keywords everywhere, you run the risk of “stuffing,” which search engines frown upon.
File Name: Oftentimes, we save images on our systems under generic names, such as IMG123. Google and other search engines actually look at the file names, so be sure to create a unique and relevant file name before uploading an image to your site. For example, if you’re an event planner showcasing a Harry Potter-themed party, you’d want to change your image names to things like Harry-Potter-Party.jpg or Harry-Potter-Party-Planning.jpg prior to uploading.
Title: Most website creation platforms make it easy to add in titles, descriptions, and alt tags, simply because these are all looked at by Search engines too. Some platforms will automatically provide a title based on your file name, whilst others require you create one manually. Titles are sometimes displayed when someone does an image search on a search engine like Google, so make sure yours is relevant and clickable. A good rule of thumb is to keep all titles at 50-60 characters or less. Google shortens them depending on how much space is available on a person’s screen.
Description: Like the title, the description may show up when someone runs a search. Make sure yours is relevant, click-worthy, and try to keep it to 160 characters or less. Although Google has changed the maximum allowable number, the amount displayed will still vary based on the screen, so shorter is better.
Alt: Search engines want your site to be accessible to everyone, which means ensuring the visually-impaired still get the full experience of your site. How is this possible if they can’t see? Well, most use screen readers which read all the text on the page for them. Screen readers can’t “read” an image, but they can read alt image tags or little snippets on the back end of the site telling them what’s in the photo. There isn’t a limit on the number of characters allowed, but try to keep it concise while describing what’s in the image vividly enough that a person can understand what’s there even if they can’t see it.
2. Boost Blog Shares
Because images form the first impression, the primary image you select for your blogs will play a major role in how many clicks it gets. However, it’s just as important to include visual media throughout your posts, as research shows that blogs with an image every 75-100 words get twice as many social media shares.
3. Amplify Social Media Engagement
Engagement on social media goes through the roof when an image is paired with a post. On Facebook, you can count on 2.3-times more engagement, whilst Twitter users can expect a 150% increase in retweets. Whether you’re looking for comments, likes, or shares, using visual media is arguably the best way to secure them.
4. Evoke Emotion in Ads
A base philosophy explained in Marketing 101 is that people don’t make buying decisions based on logic. They make them based on emotion, and then come up with a logical way to justify their decision. You obviously need both, but the distinction here is that your images speak before your words ever do. Be sure you’re choosing images which relate to both your branding efforts and your core marketing message.
5. Don’t Overlook Video and Other Visual Media
It’s easy to think of visual content as photos and illustrations, but there is a myriad of options to choose from and benefits associated with each. For example, if you use the word “video” in your email subject lines, you can increase open rates by 19% and your click-through rates will skyrocket by 65%. It’s important to be mindful of your audience, though. Particularly as mobile use has risen, more people are watching Facebook videos in silence—to the tune of 85%. In other words, if you’re creating content for this platform, make sure it’s compelling without sound. It’s also worth noting that search engines aren’t presently “reading” the audio of videos uploaded to Facebook and YouTube, though this may change in the near future. Moreover, even though YouTube can auto-generate closed-captioning for you, which is essential for the accessibility needs of the hearing impaired, the auto-generated transcripts are so low in quality that they aren’t usually trusted by search engines and indexed. This means if you’re trying to get the most you can from your YouTube videos, you’ll want to manually create a transcript, so it gets indexed by search engines. Infographics can be beneficial too. Even if you’re simply creating a step-by-step guide to a process, you can increase traffic by 13% and improve how well people follow your directions by more than 300%. Indeed, images are powerful.
Get Your #VisualFuel from Splento
Obtaining professional visual content is an investment, but as you can see, it comes with great returns if you use it across various marketing platforms. We recognise this at Splento, which is why we make it simple for organisations to get high-quality original photos and videos from their events or everyday activities. We take care of everything, from editing to uploading your media to the cloud, so you can access and use them with ease, even while an event is in progress. If your organisation wants to harness the power of #VisualFuel in its marketing efforts, book photographers for your next event now or learn more at Splento.com.