There was once a time that digital marketing was all about the text on your website. Messages were communicated with words; if you wanted to market any aspect of your business, the right words were essential. Of course, the written word is still an important part of the internet (you’re reading this, after all), but it is also important to point out that marketing has evolved.
Not only does your written content have to be perfect, but you should also support wording with impactful visuals by using well-presented and creative photos, infographics, and videos. Learning how to make short video is crucial for a brand! When these elements come together to communicate messages about your brand, it is known as visual storytelling.
If your business isn’t yet sold on the concept, just look at the success of social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok, where visual content has been a crucial part of their success. And the popularity of video content is clear for all to see; in 2022, 82% of global internet traffic comes from streaming videos and downloads.
In this article, we will take a look at why visual storytelling is so important, and what you can do to take your digital marketing and social media ecommerce to the next level.
Stay ahead of the competition
One of the most important reasons to embrace visual storytelling is for the potential advantage that it can give you over your competitors. In many industries there are still huge swathes of businesses that do not put any thought into or budget behind visual forms of digital marketing, preferring more traditional methods that they have used for a long time.
This really is something that can be very effective. In fact, statistics suggest that digital marketing materials using visuals receive 94% more views than those without. This shows just how effective it can be to make this a part of your marketing arsenal.
This is why it is so important not only to think about what you are doing but also to be aware of your competition too. If the companies that you compete for market share with are already investing in these sorts of visuals, you are behind where they are and you have some catching up to do.
Effective forms of visual storytelling
There are actually many ways to tell engaging stories with visual mediums. Creative extras, like infographics, will also support your visual marketing campaign, and it’s helpful to optimize visuals of the best social images using the right tools for social media platforms and websites. The most effective visuals are:
- Images – professional quality pictures are the cornerstone of effective visual storytelling. These could take the form of personnel, products, or more abstract concepts. Although it should be noted that realistic (rather than abstract) and eye-catching images that convey the product or point easily are generally the most effective.
- Videos – we have already discussed the growing popularity of videos and how they account for a huge proportion of current internet traffic. In fact, sales generated via live videos on social media platforms continues to see rapid growth year on year. Short-form videos (e.g. YouTube Shorts) are especially popular for brand-building, engagement, and reach. In a memorable, and bitesize format, they offer concise product information as well as being fast to view, and quick to digest.
If there is a mistake that many businesses make when taking their first steps into visual storytelling, it is that they don’t invest enough in quality. There is the definite tendency for companies to ‘make do’ when it comes to their early efforts with visual storytelling – but this is not necessarily a good way to work.
There is some argument to be had that if you are going to invest in visual storytelling, the quality needs to be as high as possible. Low-quality visuals can have the effect of making a business look amateurish. Much of this simply comes down to budget, and it really is sensible to spend as much as you can afford on your efforts to get them looking as good as possible.
Use the right equipment
If you want to get the best from your visual storytelling, you need to make sure that you are using the right equipment for the job. There is a dizzying variety of cameras, lenses, lighting setups, and other accessories that can create a particular visual style.
“It is crucial to know what you want to achieve from your project before selecting your equipment,” advises Matthew Barker, a camera specialist and director of equipment provider MPB “the type of camera you use plays a big role in how you tell the story and what you are able to show”.
It is key to understand your company’s budget. There is a huge difference in the content you can create if you have a decent budget behind you. Make sure that those in charge of budgeting are aware of this, as well as the success that can be had with effective visual storytelling.
If you are going to be spending money on quality equipment and investing in the type of visual storytelling content that is going to make a difference, you need to also focus on the channels that you are going to use the content on.
There are actually many different marketing channels that can use visual storytelling effectively, these include:
- Social media platforms – YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, etc.
- Email marketing
- Your own website
Remember that all of these channels will have a different demographic so it may be necessary to personalize the content you create around the platform it is going on.
Communicate your brand ethos
It is important that when you create your visual content, you are using it for the right reasons. Yes, you need to be pushing a marketing message, but it is often actually more effective to communicate your brand ethos. Show your customers and people new to your business who you are and what drives you.
Remember that not every piece of content you create needs to be sales-focused. This is the benefit of visual storytelling – you can do a much broader range of things with the images and videos that you put together. You could tell an origin story, show how you work behind the scenes or show off the changes you are making to become more sustainable.
Taking your marketing to the next level
Visual storytelling works because it taps into human curiosity. Your audience is much more interested in following a narrative and becoming engrossed in a story than it is simply looking at obvious marketing materials. This strategy works fundamentally because it is marketing that doesn’t look like marketing.
However, it is the perfect way to generate interest in the company as a whole and begin to build brand loyalty. You take your marketing to the next level when potential customers and clients don’t even recognize the work as marketing.