How to Plan a Visual Campaign, from Content Creation to Engagement

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Any marketer worth their salt knows that visual content is essential to the success of any marketing campaign. A stunning 91% of online consumers have watched the explainer video for a product or service, and social media engagement soars when you include infographics, photos, GIFs, and videos. But if you want to plan a visual campaign that will really reach and engage audiences, you’ll need to produce custom, quality content optimized for specific goals. Here’s how.

What Is a Visual Campaign?

Remember that old adage, “Content is king”? Well, text-driven marketing is now a thing of the past. Visual content is the new king, and that means that every marketing campaign should now be a visual campaign.

So what is a visual campaign, and how does it differ from the traditional marketing campaign? A visual communication campaign targets 1 or more common goals by strategically implementing and sharing visual content optimized for that goal or goals. A visual campaign is a series of branded media with a unified look and feel across assets.

Each piece of visual content should be able to stand on its own, and may have a more targeted or specific goal than the campaign as a whole. For instance, if a campaign aims to encourage people to buy a new product, one piece of content for that campaign may be a short video for Snapchat. While that video still aims to get people to buy the product, it’s more specifically targeted to engage the younger user base of Snapchat. (Read more about marketing to Generation Z.)

Visual campaigns may include graphic design, animation, interactivity, and more to aid in the delivery of the main message.

Determine Your Goal

Just as with any marketing campaign, if you want to plan a visual campaign that really reaches customers, it should have a clearly defined and measurable goal. What action should your audience take? What do you hope to achieve?

Setting a clear goal is vital because it will determine everything about how you orchestrate your campaign, from the types of content you choose to the design style and tone of that content — and where you share it.

For instance, if you’re trying to get an audience aged 50+ to buy your product, that’s a strong, specific, and measurable goal. You’ll want to produce the types of content this audience likes to engage with, and share it on the platforms they prefer. For instance, older audiences prefer more traditional 30-second spots while shorter is better for younger generations. So you’ll probably want to produce a 30-second-long video and share it on Facebook. A 6-second Snapchat spot would be pretty useless in this context — so having a clearly defined goal here will save you time and money.

Know Your Audience

Knowing your goal also means clearly outlining your target audience. You need to know how, where, and with what types of content they like to engage. This isn’t just about knowing what platforms to use when you’re sharing your visual content. It can also help you in making key design decisions.

If you’re working on a B2B campaign, for instance, you may choose a realistic illustration style and data-driven content, in addition to opting for a more serious, straight-talking tone. For a B2C campaign, you may have more leeway to play with fun, cartoony illustrations and lean more heavily on storytelling than data. All of this, of course, will be determined by the specifics of your audience and your goal, but you get the picture.

Define Your Visual Language

Now that you know your goal and audience, you can figure out what design style, fonts, colors, and tone will best fit your campaign. This is the visual language for your campaign — the cohesive, creative framework designed to reach a content campaign’s specific goals and target audience. Defining your visual language is important to do at the outset, for a few reasons.

First, a visual campaign is generally most effective when it has a coherent look and feel. This delivers a clear, singular, and simple message about your product or service to potential customers. That way, if they like your Twitter graphic enough to click through to your landing page, they’re not suddenly getting an entirely different message from what encouraged them to consider buying in the first place.

Second, it’s key to define your visual language early on, before you’ve produced a single piece of content. This goes back to the idea of saving time and money. Defining the design style, font choices, color palette, etc., for every single piece of visual content individually is inefficient, and will waste precious resources. Likewise, producing content and then changing your visual approach means you wasted that first piece of content. Define all of this once, and you’ll immediately have guidance for every piece of visual content you produce.

Opt for a Variety of Assets

Today’s marketers use 12–14 different types of visual content to achieve a single goal. From videos to infographics, interactive web pages to augmented reality, people are engaging in more ways than ever. So if you want to plan a visual campaign that can reach audiences in their favorite mediums, you need to opt for a variety of mediums across channels. 

Brands need to meet their customers where they are, sharing the types of content they most like to engage in. Chances are, your customers are on more than one platform, and that means you’ll need to create multiple types of assets, each optimized to the platform where it will appear. Subsets of your audience, too, might be more likely to respond to certain types of content than others, so you’ll want to give them multiple ways to engage. The more it feels like you’re speaking their language, the more they’ll want to listen.

Keep these strategies in mind, and your next marketing campaign will be truly visual — and sure to engage more potential customers than ever.

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 Hispanic 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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