There’s plenty of truth in the saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. There’s a fundamental difference in the way our brains process images and words. Our visual system has evolved to process images essentially in parallel, whereas text, which only appeared a few thousands ago, must be processed one character at a time. The result is that our brains process images 60,000 times faster than words, conveying complex ideas and emotions that stay with us for longer than words on a page. This is great for digital marketing purposes.
This biological leaning towards images is a prominent factor in the rise of the Facebook-owned photo sharing platform, Instagram. From January 2013 to September 2015, the number of Instagram users quadrupled, from 90 million to more than 400 million. At the end of 2015, there were 14 million active Instagram users in the UK, and this meteoric rise looks set to continue.
Digital Marketing: The rise of visual marketing online
Instagram is best suited to lifestyle brands that target younger consumers, typically the under 30s. One of the main attractions for Instagram users is the ease with which pictures can be uploaded and shared. This has helped Instagram carve out its ever expanding niche.
While Instagram is now the biggest and arguably the best photo sharing platform, it was not the first to tread this highly visual path. The first visual marketing platform of this type was Tumblr, which was followed by Pinterest, a popular picture sharing site that allows users to ‘pin’ or ‘re-pin’ pictures of interest.
The intent behind the use of these platforms differs, so it’s important you choose the right tool to sell your brand. While Pinterest is used by people to visually showcase their dreams and desires by creating a pictorial ‘wish list’, Instagram is predominantly a tool for users to document their lives.
The power of visual content
Just a few years ago, embracing visual content simply meant putting a couple of pictures in your blog. Now, images are no longer just an afterthought. Lifestyle brands that produce a regular stream of high quality visual content are reaping the rewards, and with Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook, they have the perfect tools for the job.
One of the real benefits of a visual marketing campaign is the potential for user-generated content. This means your users can effectively do the job of marketing your brand for you. Until recently, very few brands understood just how powerful user-generated content could be, but now they’re finally starting to embrace this customer-led digital marketing opportunity.
Authenticity above all else
The real benefit of user-generated content (UGC) is its unmatched authenticity. According to research from Olapic, 66 percent of UK consumers seek out UGC when deciding which products to buy; while 39 percent of UK customers are more likely to buy clothing that’s been ‘modelled’ by another customer.
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The conversion rates show just how powerful user-generated content can be, with 4.6 percent of customers making a purchase when photos of customers are used. This jumps to a conversion rate of 9.6 percent when shoppers actually interact with the customer photos. The same effect can be seen when UGC is used in Facebook ads, with some brands experiencing a 50 percent increase in click-through rate.
While the visual content landscape will undoubtedly evolve in the next few years, the principals behind visual content are unlikely to change. Customers want to interact with content they can trust. They are inundated with adverts and other marketing messages, but prefer to seek out user-generated content they can engage with. Brands that understand the power of UGC can use this supply of fresh, cost effective imagery to drive their digital marketing in 2016.
The help you need to connect with your customers
Visual marketing isn’t just a growing force in digital marketing; it’s actually becoming the most effective way for businesses to connect with their customers online. As a leading digital marketing agency in Hampshire, we understand the power of content marketing and can help you create powerful visual messages that inspire and engage your audience. Please get in touch for more information.