Visual Content Strategy

What It Is + Why You Need It

Lisa Clark Posted by

Oct 03 2012

To draw users in with digital content, you need words and visuals. Let’s dig into the visual side of strategic planning for content.

WHAT IS VISUAL CONTENT STRATEGY?

When we say content, we’re talking about more than text. We mean images, videos, infographics, slide sets, and more. A strong content strategy will define what to tell and what to show through visuals. However, we find many people tend to focus on text. So, we often use the term visual content strategy to emphasize that those visual content assets need strategy, too.

Visual content is a powerful asset. It supports your words to better educate, entice, or inspire your users.  As Chuck Longanecker points out, the Square website explains its service with visuals. What could be a confusing written description is handled deftly by text, images, and video. (See below.)

square(1)

 

The Square website explains its product deftly with images and video.

Now that you have a sense of what visual content strategy is, let’s take a closer look at the benefits.

WHY DO YOU NEED IT?

Visual content strategy offers a host of benefits.

Getting and Keeping Attention

When you plan visual content well, you…

Create a strong first impression.
How your digital touchpoint looks will be the first thing a user evaluates. When you have effective visuals, a user will evaluate you positively and be more likely to stick around.

Focus users’ attention. 
Visual content cuts through online noise to grab the attention of all those “content skimmers” (people who scan your content before they decide where to dig in).

Highlight what’s important. 
When you support certain messages with photo, infographic, or video, you emphasize those messages more.

Building Your Identity

When you plan visual content well, you…

Strengthen your brand identity.
Today, you need more than a logo and web templates to have a distinct visual style online. When you apply a distinct style to your images, infographics, videos, and more, you become easier to recognize and to remember. Plus, you come across as different from competitors or other sources of content.

Make your site feel more credible.
Quality visual assets make your online presence more professional and, as a result, seem more credible.

Being More Influential

When you plan visual content well, you…

Simplify complex concepts to educate and persuade. 
When you convey big ideas with effective visuals and text, users will understand much faster than with text alone.

Improve action such as conversions.
For example, users are 85% more likely to make a purchase after watching a product video. Video allows you to show aspects of a product or service that are hard to show otherwise, such as how a shoe actually looks when someone walks.

Expanding Your Reach on Search and Social

When you plan visual content well, you…

Make your content easier to share.
What gets shared online? Most often, it’s images and videos. Visual content gets your message or your point to more people.

Improve visibility within search results.
Users can’t help but look at video or images that show in search results–a page full of words. (See example below.)

search

I saw an image from one of our previous blog posts shows up in a search result. Images draw your attention when scanning search results.

Make your content easier for users to discover on social media. 
Social media is a natural choice to share your visual content. This is especially true in light of the explosive growth of social sites such as YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram, which focus on visual content assets. When you strategically share your images, videos, and other visual content assets on social sites, you become easier to find on those sites.

These reasons are only the tip of the iceberg, but I think you get the idea. When you ignore the visual side of content strategy, you risk missing the opportunity to get people’s attention, become more distinct, reach more people, and become easier to discover.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Visual content strategy is such a rich topic, I can’t possibly cover it all in one post. So, in future posts I’ll share my two-pronged approach to visual content strategy as well as techniques and tips. And, for a handy summary of when to use visual content, check out pages 120-125 of Clout.