Visuals Are Engaging.
Great articles are fantastic not only because of the information they provide but because of the way they present it. Good writing without visuals runs the risk of being ignored. According to a Sumo analysis, the average reader will just read 25% of an article. And that is only if they opened it in the first place.
Visual content is what separates your post from the thousands of similar articles online. Visuals have become as important as the text itself. At the same time, readers are becoming more critical of the quality of the visuals they are being exposed to. It is not uncommon for someone to skip a particular article solely because the graphics seemed outdated or the stock photos were overused.
Some Telling Statistics on the Use of Visuals in Marketing
The choice of visual content plays a vital role in the overall success of an article. Below are eight types of visuals that are still widely used and very powerful if placed correctly. Before we get to that, here are some statistics on the kinds of visuals that have been popular in recent years and the results they get.
Social Media Examiner’s own 2017 Social Media Marketing Industry Report found that 41% of respondents believe visuals are the most important kind of content. Blogging came second with 32%.
Related article: How To Deliver Your Message Quickly Through Visualization
A March 2018 survey of 564 marketers and creative professionals discovered the following trends:
- 75% of respondents said they always use a visual when posting to digital marketing channels.
- 65% of organizations share visual content with their audience at least once a day.
- 70% said the results of their digital marketing are usually better when they use visual content.
- When asked what type of visual content drives most engagement, 33% said custom video and 28% said photography.
- 67% of participants plan to use short-form video in 2018, while 66% count on photography,
- 57% – on infographics, and 41% plan to use more animated GIFs.
Research carried out by Venngage in 2017 has found the following:
- 60.8% of marketers stated that visual content was vital to their marketing strategy.
- 83.5% of marketers said that 71% to 100% of their content contained visuals.
- 65.4% of marketers used stock photos, original graphics, infographics, and illustrations most frequently in 2016.
- 25.7% of marketers claimed that charts and data visualizations lead to the highest engagement.
Types of Visuals to Prioritize
So far the clear favorites are graphics, photos, illustrations, and video. Those are broad categories, however, and leave room for precision. Before jumping to the exact types of content, there is one element of every blog post that deserves particular attention: the featured image.
1. Featured Image
The featured image is the image that is shown directly next to the title of your article. Depending on how you structure your website, the image may be above, below, or next to the title. Sometimes you may even have the title on top of the image.
The featured image is also what will likely entice readers who found your blog post on social media. If you use WordPress for your website or blog, you can choose a specific file for your Featured Image. When someone shares your post on social media, this image will be used. The better it captures the users’ attention, the better your chances of them opening your article.
For this reason, we, at DevriX, usually opt for a featured image that includes the title of the blog post. We make sure the picture is not too busy and that the text is easy to read. If you’re using a photo in several different colors and the text blends in at places, you can create a translucent panel and position your text on top of it, as we did here:
2. Data-driven Visuals (Graphics)
Data-driven visuals get the first place on this list because they arguably provide the most value to your blog post. Think about it – blogging is about creating useful content and sometimes you need to communicate data to prove your point. Quoting dry statistics or using a simple graph will likely bore your audience. Instead, you can turn your data into a graphic and keep things interesting.
Graphs and charts make it easier for your readers to understand your message, especially when complicated concepts or lots of numbers are involved. Even when dealing with large volumes of data, visualization makes spotting patterns easy. It also makes your articles look more professional and factual. If the graphic is visually appealing, it will increase the chances that visitors will share your article.
Considering the recent increase in popularity that video enjoys, this medium should probably have taken first place. Still, video is not yet as ubiquitous as other forms of visual content and not nearly as easy to produce.
Video is a great tool to explain a complicated concept in a short amount of time and not bore your readers. The combination of audio and visuals guarantees better understanding, and you can fit way more information in a video than a visitor would be comfortable reading in a blog post.
Related article: How to Use Marketing Videos to Drive Traffic to Your Site
A video doesn’t need to be fancy or long. In fact, a shorter up-to-the-point video has a better chance of achieving high reader engagement. You can look for opportunities to use video you already have, or create simple short videos using tools like Lumen5 which don’t require any video editing experience.
For an even better result, you can combine a video and a few images in the same blog post. According to Moz, articles with pictures and video get more than 4x the amount of In Linking Domains (IDLs) than articles with just text do.
Infographics have been very popular for quite a while now. It seems that everywhere you turn, marketers turn their content into infographics. And there’s a good reason for that – everything we have previously mentioned about graphs and charts applies to infographics as well. Infographics help explain difficult concepts and show patterns in almost any kind of data.
Infographics also grab the reader’s attention and prevent boredom. They make the information more appealing and memorable. They can sometimes make reading the whole article unnecessary, but at the same time increase the likelihood that it will be shared nevertheless.
These days infographics have deviated from the general vertical composition, and you can find shorter micro infographics, animated infographics (also called gifographics) and even interactive infographics. Many of those are geared specifically towards social media.
If you are not using infographics, it’s time to give them a chance. There are lots of easy-to-use tools to help you create eye-catching visuals without any graphic design skills. One of those that we, at DevriX, like a lot is Visme.
Related article: 5 Tools to Create Stunning Visuals For Social Media
Screenshots (also called screen captures) are probably the easiest way to add visuals to a blog post. They are ideal for showing how particular apps or tools work or how to set up anything online. When writing step-by-step instructions, make sure to include screenshots to illustrate each step and help the reader follow you.
You can also make the screenshots clearer by inserting arrows, boxes or circles, or some explanatory text. These will direct your reader’s attention to the correct part of the image and will help them connect it to the text they are reading.
6. GIFs and Memes
GIFs and memes are generally very informal and should be used with caution. That being said, they are a great way to show your brand’s human side and to convey emotion. Those are also great content for short social media messages and they’re something almost all users will stop and look at.
Some marketers are afraid to use them, and in some contexts, this is a valid position. However, there are ways to make even a GIF or a meme look understated and neat by using muted colors and tones that don’t disrupt the browsing experience. These types of visuals should be used sparingly
A great example of a situation when GIFs are called for is when you want to make a short looped video of a couple of screenshots to show how to do something or to showcase a product, as we did in our Visme blog post.
GIFs and memes should be used sparingly. As long as your brand values allow it, you can tap into these powerful mediums as they have the potential to go viral. Remember to have fun with it. You will connect with your audience better by presenting something that’s humorous and relevant to their lives.
Illustrations help your articles stand out in a sea of stock photos. When explicitly created for the blog post, they tell vivid stories and ensure you connect with your readers and remain top-of-mind. Illustrations don’t need to be fancy, but they should still be created by professionals if they are to look professional.
You can use illustrations to boost your brand identity or add a fun touch. We, at DevriX, like to show off our DiXy every once in a while and use it as a common element between the different pages on our website.
Illustrations in writing are much more than fun digital decor. They help reinforce and further develop your point and make your text more memorable. When done correctly, they can even leave a lasting impression of your brand. Who wouldn’t want that?
Quotes are not technically a visual per se. To ensure they are visible, however, it is always a good idea to make them part of a suitable image, possibly including a portrait of the author of the quote. If you are quoting an influencer, make sure to let them know in some way (for example, by mentioning them when sharing your post on social media). This way you will increase your chances that they will share your article with their audience.
If you prefer to highlight the quote and not make it an image, you can ask your readers to tweet it. Services such as Click To Tweet help you to encourage your readers to share the quote and the whole article by just clicking on a link. Quotes add value to your posts and are also some of the most shareable pieces of content, use them often.
The above mentioned Venngage study found out that only 7.6% of marketers believe that stock photos have the most impact of all visuals. Photos, especially stock photos, have lost some of their appeals, and so they take the last place in this list.
Photos can still be beneficial. High-quality, detailed images of your products are a must if you have an online retail business. The better the images, the higher the probability of a sale. Photos of your team also convey trustworthiness and will give your visitors the feeling that they already like you. Pictures of your team members, who are well-known, or of your supporters also boost your authenticity. The keyword here is relevance. Photos should be very relevant to what the text is about.
When it comes to blogging, things are no different. Ideally, you should use visuals that you’ve created, including photos, in all your posts. Of course, this may not always be possible. If you plan to use stock photos, prepare to make them your own.
Cheap and even free stock photos can be found all over the Internet. The main risk here is that they are not yours and you cannot control who else has used them. If your readers have seen a particular photo before, they may have a negative subconscious association with it that can work against you. Always check who has used a specific picture before adding it to your blog post to minimize this risk. The easiest way is to do this is in Google Images.
Whenever possible, use your own photos. They should still be relevant because an irrelevant picture you made is still hardly better than a high-quality stock photo. Also, if you can, definitely hire a professional photographer. Your products and your team should be on your website, if not you could be losing out on opportunities to create trust and raise interest.
If you must use stock photography, make it your own. Even small changes to the image can set it apart from all the other uses of that particular photo out there. Photo manipulation will take a bit more time but will ensure that the image truly reflects the content of the blog post.
Related article: 12 Reasons Why You Should Be Doing Visual Content Marketing
Now that you know a bit more about some of the most effective types of visuals, you can start creating more original content and relying less on stock photos and other generic images. Once you do, you will find out that articles usually provide plenty of opportunities to visualize the most important parts.
At first, you may feel a bit overwhelmed by the prospect of creating more visuals. However, if you think about them as visual communication and not as art, things become more manageable. You may even find you enjoy this type of creative process.
One thing to remember when it comes to all kinds of visuals is image optimization. (We wrote a whole article on the topic of image SEO.) Making some specific changes to your images and adding some extra data when uploading them will ensure that search engines “read” them correctly and that the images help the on-page SEO of your article. At the very least, you should always choose the smallest possible image size, as large files can negatively affect site loading.
We are very interested in hearing your opinion! What kinds of visuals do you use in your blog posts and what are your plans going forward?