5 Steps to a Winning Visual Marketing Strategy

visual content marketing tips

Given audiences’ overwhelming preference for visual content over text-based media, every marketing strategy should be a visual marketing strategy. The Content Marketing Institute’s 2019 benchmark report on B2C marketing found that 69% of marketers had increased their budget for audio/visual content in the last year. That made it the #1 fastest-growing type of content.

While 85% of marketers use visual content already, 65% say they’d still like to learn more about visuals. That means they don’t feel confident that they’re running the most effective campaigns possible.

Want to know how to improve your visual marketing strategy? Follow these 5 steps to boost engagement and returns.

Visual marketing strategy trends

1. Do your research on how and where to share your visual content.

Different types of visual content perform better on different platforms. For instance, long-form, horizontally oriented video works great on YouTube, but won’t play so well on Instagram Stories.

If you’re creating and sharing visual content with a one-size-fits-all approach, you’re probably not seeing the results you want. Audiences go to particular platforms or channels because they’re looking for particular types of content. After all, you don’t sign in to Instagram to catch up on the news and you don’t turn on MSNBC to see cute cat pictures.

2. Lay out a visual marketing strategy for each channel and platform.

Do your research and make a plan for what types of visual media you’d like to create for each platform. They might vary in tone, style, size, and length depending on where they live.

It might be useful to lay out this plan in a spreadsheet so all your upcoming content is tracked in one location. That way, you can make sure that you’re reaching every segment of your audience, wherever they are, and on their own terms.

3. Create a visual language and a visual workbench.

You might be wondering how you could possibly produce enough content to fill out the 3+ social channels where you’re active, plus your blog, plus your website. … Such a proposition can look on its surface far too time-intensive and expensive.

But don’t worry — you don’t have to produce something entirely new for every channel, every time. Plan to create the type of visual content that you can repurpose as needed. A long-scroll infographic, for example, can be cut up into bite-sized pieces of one data point each and shared on Twitter.

Still, if you’re planning for the long term, there’s a better way to save time and money. First, you’ll want to design a visual language for your brand. A visual language will outline the design style, color palette, font treatments, icon styles, and more that you’ll use again and again. That way, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time.

Elements of a Visual Language

Next, create a visual workbench — essentially a toolbox of assets that you know you’ll be using again and again. If you have 3 core product or service offerings, shouldn’t you have an icon for each that you can use in every relevant mini-infographic, PowerPoint presentation, and brochure? If you cite the same industry-specific stats all the time, wouldn’t it be nice to have a graph of those numbers at the ready?

Benefits of a Visual Workbench

A visual language combined with a visual workbench empowers you to create new visual content in minimal time, without always needing to call on your designers for help. It’s essential for maintaining quality while establishing a recognizable brand look.

4. Assemble a team of highly trained visual communicators.

One common misconception about visual communication is that any graphic designer automatically knows how to do it. But that’s simply not the case. Designing an infographic, a motion graphic, or any other type of content that combines data, information, icons, and illustrations to tell a story requires special skill.

Most graphic designers don’t necessarily know how to accurately depict data on a graph. Or they might not be willing to dive in and understand the information they’re visualizing on a deeper level to ensure their designs are accurate and true to your goals.

So if you want to design visual content that tells stories, hiring someone with graphic design experience may not be enough. You’ll need to find designers — as well as researchers and content-writers — who are specifically trained in visual communication. A visual communication agency like Killer Infographics will specialize in these types of skills, and can also offer strategy advice based on their broad experience creating viral visual content.

5. Test and evaluate what types of visual content work best and refine your content strategy.

No one has the perfect approach right out of the gate. Even the best content strategy is always changing and improving as new data is gathered and as the communication landscape shifts.

Make sure to compare the success of the different kinds of visual content you produce. Consider whether certain design styles or mediums are performing better on certain platforms. You can even try A/B testing some assets to isolate what characteristics your audience responds to most.

Use the data you’ve gathered to adjust and optimize your visual marketing strategy.

Remember, developing a great content strategy is an ongoing process. But if you follow these 5 steps, you should see immediate improvements in engagement and a higher return on your investment.

Erin McCoy

Author Erin McCoy

Erin McCoy is director of content marketing and public relations at Killer Visual Strategies. She earned her BA in Spanish with minors in French and Russian, and holds 2 master’s degrees from the University of Washington: an MFA in creative writing and an MA in Spanish literature. She has won nearly 2 dozen awards in photojournalism, and has dedicated those skills to boosting Killer’s brand recognition and thought leadership in visual communication. Since Erin took on her marketing/PR role, Killer has been named a member of the Inc. 5000 for 4 years in a row; has been featured in such publications as Inc., Forbes, Mashable, and the Huffington Post; and has been invited to present at such conferences as SXSW and SMX Advanced.

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