Visual Marketing: What’s Out There and How it Benefits Business Owners

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Visual Marketing: What’s Out There and How it Benefits Business Owners

The digital landscape is changing rapidly, and in recent years the driving force has been visuals.

Consequently, we’re seeing a greater emphasis on visuals in social networks and, thanks to the introduction of HTML5, we’re now able to view more visual content on our mobiles and desktops.

Many companies are looking at this shift from words to pictures as a viable marketing option. But which types of image based content is best to target your audience and what benefit will they have for your business?

Here are a few ideas.

Images on Social Media

Social media is a platform which connects companies with their customers on an informal level. This includes the sharing of pictures.

A recent study showed that image posts receive 120-180% more engagement than text based posts, suggesting that visual digital marketing tactics are increasingly important in a company’s marketing strategy.

Image based content started to gain traction through the rise of the smart phone camera, as more and more people started to share their everyday images on their social networks. The popularity of image based content saw the creation of purely image based social networks such as Pinterest and Instagram.

Screenshot taken: 08.04.2014 taken: 08.04.2014

However, more established networks are following suit, with Facebook revamping it’s Newsfeed in March 2013 to give posts with images more prominence. And in October 2013, Twitter’s new design also placed a greater emphasis on photos, with images automatically showing up in the newsfeed.

Businesses can use images on social media to personalize their brand. Pictures from the office or staff days put faces to the brand which is refreshing and engaging for an audience.

Plus, if you’re an e-commerce site, adding pictures to your updates allows you to showcase your products in a more true to life form – and we all know that nothing sells a product better than a picture. But don’t make the mistake of making your visual updates overly ‘salesly’; your audience will see right through them.

Dolls Kill are an American fashion label who showcase their clothing in genuine circumstances. For example, he’s a sneak peek behind the scenes of a recent photo shoot:

Dolls Kill Facebook Screenshot taken: 08.04.2014

But if you think your niche doesn’t lend itself to visual updates, you couldn’t be more wrong. General Electric’s Instgram account is packed with beautiful and mind-blowing pictures of their manufacturing process. Here’s a photo of an engine they’re currently working on:

General Electric InstagramScreenshot taken: 08.04.2014

If your immediate products and services wouldn’t make interesting pictures, think about crossovers with other visually engaging areas of your business.


Infographics are visual aids that lay out data graphically in a way that is easily absorbed. They are presented in a linear format and sometimes colors and different fonts are used to segment the information, making it easy to read and understand.

Infographics have become a popular method for people and businesses to share statistics in a fun and interesting way; although hard data is still contained in the graphic, infographics are far more accessible, even if the information is for an industry professional. Plus, they are more likely to be shared on social networks.

Screenshot taken: 08.04.2014 www.nhsemployers.comScreenshot taken: 08.04.2014

These graphics are popular on social media websites, such as Pinterest, where businesses use infographics to share text information in a user-friendly way, so they can attract the interest and engagement of social media users.

Some companies get a little out of hand with their infographics, creating an image that requires a great deal of scrolling, which results in the viewer becoming bored and defeating the purpose of the infographic. Less is more in my opinion!

Video Content and YouTube Advertising

Video content is like the modern day gold rush with more users watching video online than ever before.

Video content has been dubbed the future of content marketing, and predictions say by 2017 video content will account for 69% of all web traffic.

The popularity of video content may be attributed to the video social network YouTube. YouTube allows users to upload their own videos which can be shared and watched by potentially millions of users who visit the site daily. Although some think YouTube content is mainly cat and music videos, there are a number of ways that businesses are utilizing this social network to boost their conversions and new customer numbers.

Many companies now broadcast their new products, trade shows, interviews, and corporate events on YouTube, allowing customers more behind the scenes access than ever before.  Take NASA for example. Once a highly classified organization, now they regularly publish behind the scenes videos of their projects:

NASA YouTubeScreenshot taken: 08.04.2014

One way to boost your video content is simply by creating your own shareable videos. This can be in the form of a promotional video or a video tour. Some companies try and turn all content into a video, however not all content is suited to video. If your message does not require visual aids then forcing it to a video format is not going to be viable and will probably result in a loss of trust from your audience.

Another way businesses are taking advantage of the video content boom is by investing in YouTube advertising.

Bad YouTube Ad placementScreenshot taken: 08.04.2014

YouTube ads sit at the start of YouTube videos and can be skipped by the user after 5 seconds. Placement of the ads is essential to success so, for example, if you’re placing an ad on a YouTube cooking channel aimed at 18 – 24 year olds, an advert for Olay face cream may not prove to be the best method to gain conversions.

A major benefit of video content is it is cheap; it can be filmed on a camera phone or with a digital camera, making it accessible to businesses of all sizes. But it you want your video to be good, it needs to be high quality and say something useful or entertaining.

Virtual Tours

Virtual tours are fast becoming popular with businesses in the UK and worldwide.

Tours allow prospective and current customers, access to a 360° view of your premises at their convenience. If your prospects have a busy schedule, this form of content is ideal and has shown to increase inquiries.

Unlike traditional video tours, a virtual tour allows the viewer to take control and go at a pace that suits them. They can sit and stare at every angle of your brand from the inside out, learning more about you and get ‘wowed’ by the amazing facilities you have.

One company that has benefited from the addition of virtual tours is Sunrise Senior Living UK. In October 2013 they added virtual tours to all 27 of their UK care homes’ websites, including Sunrise care home of Frognal House, situated in a beautiful historic country building.

Sunrise Senior Living UK Screenshot taken: 08.04.2014 www.facebookcom/sunriseseniorlivinguk

But don’t take my word for it.  Since including virtual tours in October 2013 Sunrise’s web traffic increased by 2.90 percent compared to the previous year, and in January 2014 it was up by 19.67 percent compared to January 2013.

It isn’t all blue skies and rainbows

While the ‘old fashioned’ walk-through video with voice over could be done with a standard digital camera, virtual tours are a lot more complicated.

A Google virtual tour requires a Google certified photographer which can be extremely costly. Before you enlist a certified photographer, consider whether you’ll see a return on your investment. It wouldn’t make sense for a small shop to have a virtual tour if they have a limited digital presence.

Virtual tours also become an issue when the premises are too large, this can be very time consuming and could leave viewers frustrated or simply bored.

Visual marketing online is one of the most creative and fun elements of any online marketing plan; but that shouldn’t detract from the importance of visual marketing as a whole. From virtual tours to a post on Facebook, a well-placed image or video can truly say more than a text based update ever can.


Featured image created by author’s agency


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Sarah Bradley

Sarah Bradley is Head of Social Media for the Digital Marketing agency, Receptional based in Bedfordshire. Sarah is a specialist ... [Read full bio]

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