maxresdefaultIt is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but why is that the case? Statistics suggest that 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual, and that graphic information is processed an astonishing 60,000 times faster than text information. With this being the case, it seems obvious that if you want to communicate a message about your business you will stand a far better chance of making a lasting impression if you can do so with a visual image.

The image in question could take many forms. It could be an illustration or a photo. It could also be a video, or an animation. It could be a gif or a meme. It could also be a diagram, map, graph or chart. Some 40% of people respond better to visual information than just plain text, so if you can convey your message with a few simple words, then backing them up with a striking image will drive it home.

Image is everything

The area in which businesses most urgently want to get a message over is in marketing, and it’s in this field that visuals truly come into their own. Marketing, after all, is all about creating an image, and sometimes that can be difficult to capture in words. Text takes time and effort to read, and even the most carefully worded statement can be misunderstood. This is especially the case in a field such as marketing, where the message is often not just about straightforward information. Usually businesses want to communicate a feeling with their marketing – they want to create layers of emotional association around their product. This is so much easier to do with a visual image.

A picture of happiness

Imagine that your business makes online greeting cards. You want to convey how receiving one of your cards as an email could make someone’s day, and could spread happiness and warmth, which of course is a good thing. Just writing this down doesn’t manage to convey the emotional value of this act. But a short video showing someone receiving their online greeting card and spontaneously breaking into a beaming smile, then bringing their partner over to see it too, says it all without any need for clumsy words. Just a photo of the recipient’s happy face conveys much the same message.

Credible looks

Some 46% of people say that the design of a company’s website is the most important indicator of that company’s credibility. A good, professional look and layout with attention to detail suggests a similarly professional, focused and legitimate business. Although people say that you should not judge a book by its cover, first impressions do count. If the cover image and blurb are not attractive then we’re not going to read the book in the first place, and so will not be able to reach a more nuanced, informed verdict on its contents. Similarly, if a website looks boring, dull, slapdash or unprofessional, few people are going to bother investigating further to find out about the great products you have.

Come for the pictures, stay for the products

All analytics strongly suggest that prominent visuals attract far more traffic to a website than just plain text. Original images and videos also help with your search engine optimization. Posts that include some form of infographics grow traffic an average of 12% more than those that do not, and posts that include videos attract three times as many inbound links as plain text posts.

The fact is, the Internet is a visual medium, so visual images are the basic building blocks of any online marketing campaign. Social media continues to increase in reach and importance, and the strongest platforms are those that encourage visual communication. Photos on Facebook are by far the most interacted-with form of posting, and visual-based media platforms such as Pinterest, Flickr and You Tube continue to grow in stature. Future marketing trends will see businesses increasingly using social media to connect directly with their customer base, and smart use of visuals will be crucial to this approach.

Get the picture

So how can a small business improve its marketing by using visuals? An inexpensive place to start is by using stock photos to brighten up a dreary website. Dreamstime Stock Photos have a wide range of stunning photographs to suit almost any subject matter. These can be combined with text to create a unique image suited to your purposes.

Video presentations are also increasingly popular marketing tools. If you want to make your own video, the golden rule is to keep it simple and short. Paying a professional team to make you a high quality marketing video is generally money well spent; consumers who watch a product video are 85% more likely to purchase that product than those who don’t.

Not a good look

As we’ve seen, visuals are very powerful tools. They communicate a non-verbal message that in some ways goes straight to the subconscious mind, bypassing the filters of the rational mind. For this reason, they should be used very carefully. An inappropriate or ridiculous image can do more harm to your brand than no images at all. A poorly considered text statement can be retracted or explained with another statement, and will probably soon be forgotten. It’s a lot harder to undo the harm caused by an ill-judged image, which will stay in people’s minds far longer.

As long as you make sure that all your visual content stays on-message and conveys the same positive point, your images will be of immense benefit to your marketing. Not only are they easier to take in, visual images are much easier and much more fun for people to share.

The best marketing is when your customers do it for you. It has always been said that you cannot beat word of mouth advertising, but in the 21st century, a strong image that can be shared and passed around is worth a thousand words in a thousand mouths. The message is clear: if you want to make your mark, think visual.