Finding ways to attract and keep people coming back to your website or blog (and ultimately your business) isn’t easy. Nowadays, people are butterflies flitting around the web, stopping for a few seconds and then moving swiftly on.
This is bad news when it comes to building loyalty for your work. If you want to attract – and keep – an audience, visual content is one of your most important strategies. Don’t believe it? Here are six reasons why you should, and what to do to achieve the loyal audience you need.
1. Visuals Are Fast
A visual image chimes well with this modern tendency to flit around, as it’s something that is easy to quickly assimilate. Like fast food, only for your eyes – convenient, attractive, and calorie-free. What’s not to like?
Let’s face it, we live in a world where everything comes in snippets and bite-sized portions, as quickly as possible. We love getting the information we want, as soon as we can. Which means visually – visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text, so the brain is primed to accept it.
How: Utilize resources like Youtube as an integral part of your marketing, and insert videos as well as static images within blogs and web pages. Stop thinking in terms of just one image per page or article, and start looking for opportunities to use visuals creatively wherever you get the chance.
2. People Love Visuals
The main reason people love visuals is obvious – we are visual creatures. 90% of the information transmitted to our brains is visual, and we have all sorts of emotional connections to visual information.
There are solid statistics to back this up – an MDG Advertising infographic says content featuring compelling images averages 94% more total views than those that are pure text. It’s a statistic that also applies to other media – there’s a 14% increase in page views when press releases contain a photo, and a 48% increase when both photos and videos are present.
If that’s not persuasive enough, according to email marketing company GetResponse, an introductory email that includes video increases the click-through rate by 96%. The statistics are virtually endless.
In other words, when it comes to attracting people to your offering, you can’t beat a little help from visuals. People are hard-wired to find visuals easier to understand, and are instinctively drawn to material that contains them.
How: Learn to see great images as an integral part of your work. Lighten up on the text, and think hard about where in your copy you can place an appropriate image as you write.
Search for images as you go using keywords relating to your topic – for example, Googling the word ‘trust’ and selecting ‘images’ comes up with a great choice of potential visuals to choose from. This is a great way to generate ideas, but of course you have to be very careful about permissions and copyright – you can check with a site owner if you really like an image, but we’ll discuss how to source great images for free further down.
3. Visuals Can Boost Your Marketing Persuasion
This has been known for a long time – a 1986 study found that presenters who used visual aids were 43% more effective in persuading audience members to take a particular course of action than presenters who didn’t use visuals.
There’s another marketing benefit to visuals, which is the ability to spread the word about yourself more widely.
How: If you have high-quality images, you can post them on image sharing websites and allow them to be used in return for a link back to your website, blog and/or social media sites. This will naturally improve the number of visits to your website, and have a big impact on your local search results:
4. Visuals Are Friendly
Or at least they can be – visuals are a great way to add warmth to the words on your page, when used cleverly. Shrewd use of color and themes to match the messages you want to put across can make a huge difference in the way people see you.
For a freelancer, visuals hold a particular appeal as they give people a window into your world – your passions, your commitment, what you actually do. Visuals build empathy, and draw people in. You can show your audience (for example) where you work, who you work with, and your product or service, in the most direct way possible.
With such visuals you create an emotional link to your audience. If you can generate a bond through the images that you post, you will connect with people and draw them into your world and your work.
How: Some extremely successful freelancers use regular photos, memes and video posts on social media as a way of maintaining a “conversation” with their audience, establishing long-lasting relationships that are intertwined with links to offers of goods or services. They are selling, in other words, in a situation where interest and a warm predisposition to buy have already been created.
5. Visuals Are Honest
Granted, Photoshop has made us all a little – okay, a lot – more cynical about what we’re actually looking at, but a great image can still give much-needed credence to your efforts.
When it comes to building lasting relationships, it should go without saying that trust is important. And visual cues are vitally important in creating and maintaining trust. This means “showing” rather than just “telling” – using images or video to demonstrate your work, or your products, with brief (or even no) accompanying text. If your product speaks for itself, let it.
How: If you have a philosophy behind your work, use images to illustrate it – there are thousands of free images on “creative commons” websites like Pixabay, or Flickr, or you can take your own photos of subjects that chime with your approach to work and life.
6. Visuals Are Memorable
There are statistics that prove this to be true – statistics show that after 72 hours, viewers retained 10% of any text they had read, 65% of the images they’d seen and a massive 95% of the video they had watched.
If people remember your messages, they are more likely to remember you and become a member of that loyal audience you are hoping to grow. According to CSI, the only way to increase customer loyalty is to create memorable experiences that turn into positive stories about you, your organization and your brand.
What works for a large company can also work very well for a freelancer – there’s just a question of scale. You also have a great opportunity to focus in on your core audience that a larger business may not have.
How: Make sure that visuals are absolutely core to your marketing. You want imagery to be front and centre of everything that you do. Whenever you post a blog, create a web page, or send an email – think visuals.
Indelibly linking memorable visuals to products or services is challenging and takes time and research – for inspiration, think of the Budweiser Clydesdales or the Compare the Market meerkats.
Follow the same process that advertising agencies and brand experts do when they create memorable visuals – think hard about the ‘personality’ of your business and what you want to project to clients. Write down the top three characteristics of your business that you want to communicate.
Whatever you decide, select your colour schemes and imagery to match, and make sure you use them wherever an opportunity presents. In a world where imagery is taking over as the main medium of communication, only this level of thought and attention to detail will allow you to stand out from the crowd.
It should now be obvious that visuals are key when drawing an audience to your site and keeping them coming back for more.
Remember, visuals are a great way to create a trusting bond between you and your audience, which is vital when it comes to convincing your customers to purchase your services.
What techniques do you use to make sure your visuals communicate the right thing? Let us know in the comments!