In today’s realm of content marketing, consumer attention spans are shorter than ever (eight seconds, in fact — shorter than that of a goldfish). Even if you craft the most original, well-thought-out 1,000-word article, we hate to break it to you: Chances are it won’t stand a chance against text laced with compelling images and videos.
Simply put, words are no longer enough.
Consumers expect visual content all the time because their daily lives are inundated with photos, infographics, memes, GIFs, and how-to videos, particularly on social media. Just take a look at your Facebook feed; we can bet that the majority of the content you scroll through offers more than just a line of text. (Not to mention, photo- and video-based apps like Snapchat have continued to rise in popularity with new filters and add-on components.)
The written word is always going to be invaluable to content marketers, but the fact is, our brains naturally have the capacity to process more visual content than text – with approximately 90% of information transmitted to the brain being visual. Most people are visual learners (approximately 65%), and using a strategy that appeals to these image-driven learners can only propel your brand forward.
At AZDS, we work extensively with luxury hotels and resorts and top-tier travel companies. When developing content for our clients, we pair engaging text with visuals that help to tell the story – whether we are highlighting a travel destination or conveying the benefits of business aviation. Presented in a way that the audience can relate to and quickly process, visual content is irreplaceable in drawing traffic to our clients’ websites and improving brand awareness.
With more brands using visual content than ever before (up 130 percent from 2015 to 2016), it is important to approach your visual strategy both creatively and efficiently. Here are our step-by-step guidelines for creating content that won’t flop:
Determine the Type of Visual Content
Similar to textual content, images and videos need to be high-quality and relevant to the story you are telling. While memes may be a humorous and effective way to promote certain brands, especially those geared toward a younger audience, they don’t have as much of a place in the luxury hospitality industry.
Exceptional photography is our most often-used form of visual content on our clients’ blogs (with immersive, 360-degree photography on the rise), followed by eye-catching infographics, videos, and graphic design elements. More technical brands can also benefit from how-to videos, testimonial videos, and presentation-style visual content.
Make It Personal
In an ideal world, you want to have your own high-quality visuals that stand out from brands using stock images that consumers have already seen before. Hire a professional photographer or graphic designer to craft original content, and make sure to personalize the layout and design of your infographics – always including your logo or brand name for easy attribution.
If your article highlights other brands, remember that it only takes a few minutes to reach out to them and ask for permission to use an image. (They may be more likely to share your article after publication too.) And when all else fails, look for non-generic stock images. There are more and more stock photo websites all the time that can turn up engaging photography.
Set the Pace
The great thing about visual content combined with text is that properly placed images and videos allow the reader a moment to breathe, which is exactly what you want for those aforementioned short attention spans. Add compelling images at regular intervals and your audience will be more likely to finish lengthy articles.
Use SEO to Create Links
In the same way that your SEO specialist optimizes text for search, images and infographics should be properly optimized to allow them to become available to greater audiences. This includes appropriate file naming and tagging, from using target keywords in your image title to using alt tags so search engines can index visuals in search results. It is also important to have the right image compression and make sure that images and videos are not iframed.
Consider Virtual Reality
On a different note — for those who want to take visual content to a whole new level — one of the greatest developments in recent technology has opened the doors for marketers to completely immerse consumers in their stories.
With virtual reality, couples can see what it would be like to wed at a destination property, luxury travelers can understand the feeling that comes with taking flight in a specialized private jet, and powder seekers can visualize their ride down a freshly coated ski slope. As brands step into a relatively untapped marketing environment, the opportunities are endless for great storytelling.