MARKETERS have known this for a while: A well-suited image makes for a successful campaign. But how do images really work their magic? And how can you exploit the potential of visuals in a digital space already cluttered with countless images?
The truth is quite simple. As humans, we love looking at images. Our brains are designed to perceive the world visually, and we crave constant visual input. Images are so attractive because we devote more of our brain’s processing power to vision than to any other sense or ability.
Eyesight is so intuitive that we would rather look at images than text. Do you know that when you are navigating through endless search results, content paired with images consistently pulls in more clicks?
A lack of visuals in any content you put online often means it is doomed to be ignored. In fact, consumers are 60 times more likely to make contact with a brand that shows up with an image in search results compared to one that does not.
Understand them intuitively
As humans, we are not just happy to look at images. We are also intuitively good at understanding them. The speed at which we analyse an image is astounding and, in fact, we are able to feel the sense of a visual scene in an astonishing one-tenth of a second - way faster than getting the gist from any text that is read.
By and large, when promoting your brand online, always pair your content with visuals that will help viewers get a feel for what you are promoting. According to research, 94 percent more views are achieved with visuals than for content that is presented without images.
Search engines favour content with pictures, and they show results that contain heavy image files first. Choosing your image wisely is rewarding, as the quality of a picture positively influences viewers. A well-received picture can make up for mediocre content and improve consumers’ overall judgment on the product at hand.
They evoke emotions
More than any other type of content, images evoke emotions in us. These emotions are more visceral than those triggered by reading a story. People also make strong associations between these emotions and the content that evoked them.
When choosing what image to pair with your online content, make sure the images you select invoke some sense of emotion. A dramatic landscape can be eye-catching, but a dramatic landscape with a loving family in it can be emotional. Pairing your online content with awe-inspiring pictures that manage to express feelings of love, connection or freedom will allow your viewers to instinctively connect to your brand.
They are memorable
Easy to understand and able to evoke emotions, images stay in our heads. The benefit of pairing images to your online content is so powerful, as people’s ability to remember information after three days goes up from 10 percent in the case of text alone to 65 percent when the content is paired with an image.
Apart from grabbing our attention, triggering emotions and being memorable, pictures have one more power. As any marketer knows, images increase engagement. People do not just want to look at pictures; they want to share them and then they want to see more of them. In fact, content with images receives up to 40 percent more shares than content without pictures.
Since, as humans, we rely so much on our vision to perceive the world, we also make decisions based on what we see. We now know that part of the decision-making process happens in the visual cortex of the brain, meaning that the moment consumers lay eyes on your content, they are already thinking about what their next step is going to be, whether a social media share or answering a call to action.
While technology only accounts for a tiny fraction of all searches at the moment, visual searches rose from 250m in 2017 to 600m in 2018, which shows the magnitude of the change to be expected in the years ahead.
What goes into a successful picture?
Pairing your content with the right picture is easier said than done but, fortunately, there are some guidelines to help you choose the right one and boost those clicks. Bear in mind that consumers today have a lot of experience in judging pictures.
While images should represent your brand, its mission statement and its values, it is important to keep in mind that people are drawn to other people. Pictures with humans attract more views than pictures without.
Having a person in a picture means that not only will it attract more views and clicks, but that your brand will be perceived more positively by consumers, especially if the picture focuses on the face, increasing perceived trustworthiness even more.
How are brands already exploiting the power of images?
Brands are aware of the power of images, and they have been using them successfully in their marketing campaigns. To this end, visuals are vital to representing your brand, and ensuring that it stands out authentically against its competitors is a win-win. In order to be successful, the images you develop or select need to be consistent with the message you send across all channels and, to achieve this, it is important to develop and follow brand guidelines. Until we meet again, fill your life with memories rather than regrets. Enjoy life and stay on top of your game.
NB: Columnist welcomes feedback at email@example.com
ABOUT COLUMNIST: Deidre M. Bastian is a professionally-trained graphic designer/brand marketing analyst, author and certified life coach with qualifications of A.Sc. B.Sc. M.Sc. She has trained at institutions such as: Miami Lakes Technical Centre, Success Training College, College of The Bahamas, Nova Southeastern University, Learning Tree International, Langevine International and Synergy Bahamas.