In our fast paced and hyper-visual world, content is being produced at historically rapid rate. This constant bombardment of endless information, plus our continually shrinking attention spans (chicken or the egg?), has created the ever-more urgent need stand out and get noticed.
To better cut through the noise marketers continue to ramp up investment in more visual assets (photo and videos) for their content marketing strategy. Further, images and text are more frequently being combined, often displayed in the form of memes or infographics. All of these tools greatly enhance the user experience and are easy to incorporate into any marketing strategy.
Why Visuals Matter
A 2017 visual content report showed that the value of visual content has increased over the years where now 74% of marketers use visual aids in all of their social media posts or ads, 68% in blogs and 60% in videos. Further, an additional study shows that individuals tend to retain visual information (especially when associated with text) 65% more than just plain web-copy.
Source: HubSpot Research
This coupled with the fact that posts or blog posts containing images tend to receive 94% more traffic than those that do not, demonstrates the absolute necessity of visual content being included in successful marketing campaigns.
So what can marketers do? There are few strategies to optimize your visual content to its highest potential to ensure that you not only gain an audience, but secure them.
Optimizing Your Visual Content
- Images: Optimizing your images for search is an important first step. Including an alt text is very important not just for users, but also for search engines. This text accompanies images by describing it and also replacing it if it does not load. Alt tags benefit your audience by supplying additional information to the image and is especially useful for the visually impaired. Further, it helps search engines understand the context of your content, the role of the image within your content and overall aid in further establishing your topical authority
- Video: Similar to images, optimizing for your video content largely involves the written information you add to it to provide web crawlers (search engines) with some context. As mentioned before, having a descriptive file name as well as a text below the video can accomplish just this. Further and somewhat recently, videos are now being shown with subtitles (especially on Facebook and Instagram) so viewers can choose whether or not they want the sound on. Tagging your video with relevant links in phrases containing keywords is also a great way to drive traffic and increase SEO. Again, be careful to avoid keyword stuffing.
- Infographics: Infographics are an excellent way to enrich boring statistics with some excitement. This content involves the blending of text and image to create a fuller, more colorful understanding of the data being supplied. Further, studies show that over 65% of individuals are visual learners, so why not maximize on these findings?
- Memes: As with everything mentioned above, memes are also forms of effective visual content and involve the combination of image with text. They are hugely popular, quickly go viral and are easy to make. Additionally, meme’s are easy to share on social media and usually quickly generate shares, likes and traffic.
Including a descriptive file name is also important to further optimize for SEO and to create user-generated content. Search engines want to know the relevance of the image to the topic you are addressing so any information helps. Further, including long-tailed keywords in any of these (alt text, file name, title tag, meta descriptions) aids in this process as long as you avoid ‘keyword stuffing’ and remain focused on the users.
Optimizing Creative For Your Audience
Recent technological developments can also accomplish visual content optimization but at a far faster and more efficient rate. Through the power of computer vision, machines can examine images in an incredibly detailed manner that far surpasses the abilities of the human eye. The machine is also able to identify distinct difference between different colors variations through the process of cluster analysis.
This process first enriches an image with data by discovering all of its elements such as what it is comprised of, colors, is it a person, place or thing. It then finds other images that are similar to it and places them into groups. After this, it compares them against each other to see which performs the best. This process uses data to find how individual elements of the image impact its performance, and can help determine things like:
- What camera angles drive the most results
- What objects help or hurt performance
- How people/models impact performance
- What colors are the most appealing
- What time of day or lighting to capture
Small things like this can have big impacts on performance and getting them right consistently can lead to big gains. After having a look at their skiing content, Visit Utah boosted engagement by 23% for this past ski season, just by understanding what types of content was performing.
Further, there are also technologies that combine this analysis with scheduling by not only help you determine the best image for your audience, but also the best times to post.
Stay focused on your audience
It is important to note that the visual content you choose as, well as how you optimize it, will depend largely on your target audience. For example, infographics are more formal and can be used in academic or business settings while memes tend to be more lighthearted and used for social media. Know who you are targeting, what they like and what they want.
Optimizing for search engines is a bit more consistent and really involves ensuring that you are tagging and linking to other sources as well as establishing topical authority. Further, technologies that use cluster analysis can automate this entire content marketing process to dramatically maximize your time and effectiveness.
For additional information on how to optimize for written content see our recent blog post, and subscribe to keep up on our summer series on the creative process and how to create content that resonates with your audience!