While blog posts, articles, white papers, and other forms of the written word will undoubtedly remain important components of the overall content marketing strategy, visual content not only adds variety but can communicate many concepts and ideas more effectively than text.
Visual content adds real value in B2B marketing. As reported here previously, images make your blog posts more likely to be read, your social media updates more likely to be shared, and your information more likely to be remembered.
Infographics, charts, and video are also ideal for presenting information on mobile devices, and vital for reaching the increasing number of millennial buyers in businesses.
Videos and infographics spring immediately to mind when thinking about visual content, but there is a much wider variety of ways to incorporate images in marketing. Here are nearly two dozen ideas to get you started.
Photos: Photography has been used in advertising and marketing since the late 1800s—most commonly photos of attractive models, or of products, or of attractive models holding or wearing products. But photos in social media or content marketing certainly needn’t be limited to what the camera sees.
Online image-editing tools like Canva, PicMonkey, and BeFunky make it easy to apply filters or add text, shapes, icons, and other design elements to pictures. The resulting photos can be used in a number of ways, including:
- Stylized photos
- Picture quotes
Video::Video production has come a long way since the first “home movie” cameras were introduced in the 1920s. Those devices were expensive, heavy, cumbersome, and even dangerous, as the film was highly flammable.
Today, video can of course be shot with any smartphone; edited in minutes using online video tools to add effects, transitions, text, audio overlays, and other elements; then shared across social networks, embedded in blog posts and web pages, attached to news releases, and/or emailed.
Different types of video can be produced to support different content marketing purposes, including:
- Live action
- Animated GIFs
Infographics: Infographics have become extremely popular (some might say over-used) in the past few years. They are unquestionably an engaging and effective way to present timelines, statistics, process flows and other types of information. Tools like Pictochart, Infogram, and Venngage offer prebuilt professionally designed templates that enable almost anyone to produce a polished product. What’s more, infographics aren’t limited to the common, static format, but may also include animated and interactive infographics.
And beyond the “big three” visual content types above—video, photos, and infographics—there are several other formats to consider for adding impact to your content marketing, including:
Flowcharts: These are excellent for visually displaying information like organization charts, website page maps, project and process workflows, and mapping computer algorithms. SmartDraw is one of the most popular tools for creating flowcharts, but alternatives include Creately, Lucidchart, and OmniGraffle.
Diagrams: These are a powerful format for explaining concepts (even content marketing), processes, and products. One of the most common uses of diagrams in product marketing is an exploded view drawing that shows the components and parts which make up a product as well as how to assemble it. These are generally created by engineers and designers using sophisticated computer-aided design (CAD) software, though they can be generated with simpler tools like SketchUp.
Interactive Visuals: Links and popups enable people to interact with otherwise static graphics. One of the simplest (and oldest) formats is image maps—-web graphics with clickable “hot spots” that link to other pages. These can be created fairly easily using tools like Easy Imagemap Generator or Mobilefish.
More sophisticated effects can be achieved with lightbox generators, which pop open a separate window containing a larger version of an image or other information when the user hovers over certain content. Or you can use a tool like ThingLink to add a variety of “hoverable” items types to an image, including diagrams, links, text, drawings, photos, and videos. This lab safety example shows several different types of pop-opens.
Presentations: Slide decks don’t have to be boring collections of bullets. The best PowerPoint presentations incorporate different fonts, background images with transparent overlays, contrasting colors, simple infographics, sketches, photo collages, icons, varying type sizes, and other effects to provide sizzle rather than sedation.
And presentations don’t have to mean PowerPoint for that matter; alternative tools like Prezi and Haiku Deck put a new spin on slides.
Maps: These can communicate so much more than how to get from point A to point B. Online map creation tools like ScribbleMaps, Maptive, and Google Sightsmap enable you to create engaging custom maps that incorporate images, overlays, markers, clickable areas, proximity circles, highlighted routes, and other effects.
Charts and Graphs: These aren’t just for business meetings—-they can add visual appeal and explanatory power to your marketing content as well. Charts and graphs bring numbers (even large sets of numbers) to life. They are great for illustrating trends or comparing multiple items across two or three dimensions.
Cartoons: It takes a modest amount of artistic talent and an uncommon sense of humor to do well, but cartoons can be a highly effective and engaging format for visual content marketing. Cartoon image can be used simply, as sort of a brand mascot, or in more sophisticated ways. No one uses cartoons more effectively to skewer the IT world than Scott Adams, or the marketing realm than Tom Fishburne (the “Marketoonist”).
Words matter. Your marketing content needs effective words. No question. But to really communicate complex ideas simply, and engage your prospective buyers, and get your content shared—it also needs images. Those may include photos, video, and infographics, but the possibilities go well beyond those formats, and are ultimately limited only by your creativity and imagination.