Content Marketing

Why visuals are the most important element of content marketing

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This is the fifth in a series of videos culled from an interview about content marketing I did with Terry Foster of Cision Canada. Cision (the USA version) is also a sponsor of Convince & Convert and our Social Pros podcast. (here’s a post I wrote about their nifty content amplification tool).

For more of this series (and others) please subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Terry: When talking about budgeting for content creation, should people put a lot of money into the one that they are going to be able to knock out of the park and that they are hoping goes viral, or just grinding out good content on a regular basis?

Jay: Everybody wants the home run. That’s sort of the nature of business. But from a strategic standpoint, I’m a big proponent of the “more is better” approach. You’re better off having more trips, more at-bats, and stringing together a lot of base hits and doubles that eventually are going to succeed disproportionate to catching lightning in a bottle, because it’s really, really difficult to strategize for virality. Obviously, there are things you can to do maximize your chances that something jumps out of its container, but you can’t guarantee it.

Viral is not a strategy. In some cases, it’s hope, and I’m not a big hope guy.

Going viral isn’t a strategy, it’s hope. (click to tweet)

Terry: What medium do you think works best when creating content? Is it video, the old printed word, a nice mix of the two? Even audio, should we be podcasting?

Jay: I think podcasting is a huge opportunity and totally untapped in many cases, especially in B2B. I have a podcast called Social Pros. We’ve been doing it for a couple of years, which is actually been an enormous driver of my own business at Convince & Convert. I wouldn’t necessarily say that there is “a” medium that should be the one that you try, because it really depends on your customers.

But, certainly from a trend standpoint, the trend towards visuals in inescapable. Everything that we see out there is now about pictures and video, whether it’s about Twitter – much more visual now with photos in line; Facebook of course; Google+  - very strong on photographs; obviously Instagram; Pinterest; infographics; SlideShare; YouTube; Instagram Video; Vine.

Everything that people are paying attention to now fundamentally has pictures or video.

As an author, it actually scares me to death, because Johnny don’t read any more. Johnny don’t want to read. Johnny wants to look at pictures. If your brand doesn’t have a visual content strategy, you better get one and fast.

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  • http://rjrvtravels.com rickjmiv

    Haaa Yes – our post literate society.

  • http://www.edisonresearch.com Tom Webster

    Maybe I am screaming “get off my lawn,” here, but isn’t this then really content *advertising*, not content marketing? And in that case, I am not sure you need the modifier “content.” If Advertising is meant to direct attention toward something, or to turn on a prospect to an idea, then it’s hard for me to treat a Vine or a .gif as marketing in the “demand creation” sense.

    OK, now get off my lawn.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ jaybaer

      Fair point although I’d say the line between awareness and demand gen is blurring everywhere, not just online.

  • Kirk_Fetzer

    I agree on the importance of visuals. So what prompted One Thing emailers to be redesigned with so few of visuals? Maybe I’m confusing C&C with One Thing, but your emailers used to have visuals above the fold and now only text.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ jaybaer

      Thanks Kirk. I appreciate the question. About 25% of the list (randomly selected, including you) are receiving the text-only version. We are testing which approach generates more clicks. It appears to be the text in this case. I think because it’s easier to scan. So, we are probably going to move the whole list to the text version and see how that impacts results. Science!

      • Kirk_Fetzer

        Quick reply. You sure practice what you teach Jay. I like science. Sounds like a good test and scanning is a good guess. Of course, could also be that readers think there’s a rock-bottom deal on the latest smartphone…

  • http://www.industryinfographics.com/ Bill Roth

    As a visual content creator, I couldn’t agree more here Jay. However, as [visual] content proliferates – your advice still holds – maybe even more now. The visual content tsunami is only just ramping up, and ‘visual utility’ will be the key to breaking through and moving the needle (especially in B2B).

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ jaybaer

      Thanks Bill. As Eric Schwartzman commenting on Facebook a moment ago, we’re going from sound bite to sight bite.

      • http://www.industryinfographics.com/ Bill Roth

        I like that. Snackable visual, but I would also contend ‘snackable audio’ (podcasts) may take off as well. Even at double speed, can only get through so much before my workout is over!

  • http://www.dan123.co.uk/ Dan

    I agree. There is no better way to get a message across than use of imagery. Especially in Email Marketing world. One more thing worth adding – Content is King but context is Queen, and without proper targeting content doesn’t work. It doesn’t even go viral until celebrity touches it…

  • Jacob Lett

    As a graphic designer I have seen a disconnect in the value put towards good design and copywriting. The focus seems to be on getting stuff done quickly and as cheap as possible. We hear experts talk about how important headlines and intro copy are to getting clicks and shares. And now the importance visuals play in “attracting attention” to get clicks, shares, and user engagement. But it seems small businesses don’t want to invest in this valuable combo. I agree with the comment by Tom Webster. It is a lot more like advertising. Getting attention to then communicate something. Having strong copy matched with strong supporting visuals is like listening to music in stereo vs mono. How do you suggest attracting customers that “get it” and are willing to pay for quality vs just completing a task.