Visual content, done well, can be incredibly popular. Infographics, videos, data visualizations, and other forms of visual content can generate tons of engagement and attract links to your site.
More importantly, visuals help tell your story. Visual content can be an incredibly powerful marketing tool, one that helps your target audience remember you – better than a 1,000 word text article alone (no matter how great it is) ever could.
Here’s what’s trending in visual content marketing for 2017, according to a survey of 300 online marketers from Venngage, a platform that helps you create free infographics.
1. Visual Content Usage is Growing
In 2016, 53 percent of marketers said they published content containing visuals between 91 and 100 percent of the time. That was an increase of 130 percent from 2015, up from 40.5 percent.
What it means: People pretty much expect visual content all the time. So give it to them – or else people may move on if they’re greeted with nothing but text content.
2. Stock Photos Rule
Stock photos are the most popular form of visual content, used by 35 percent of the survey. Original graphics, including infographics, were used 30 percent of the time. Other forms of somewhat popular visual content: videos and presentations (15 percent); charts and data visualizations (14 percent); and GIFs and memes (5 percent).
What it means: While stock photography is a fine option, it can also lead to having incredibly boring pictures, or pictures that people have already seen dozens of times before. If you use stock photos, use wisely. And how is video usage that low still?
3. Infographics Get the Most Engagement
Infographics (and other original graphics) had the highest engagement, according to the survey. Even though stock photos are used the most, they don’t generate much engagement (just a measly 7 percent). Charts and data visualizations performed decently (25.7 percent), as did videos and presentations (20 percent), while GIFs and memes performed best 5 percent of the time.
What it means: Use original graphics whenever possible, and use more charts, data visualizations, videos, and presentations whenever possible. Also don’t be afraid to show a little humor/personality with funny GIFs and memes – these can get tons of engagement on social media.
(Fittingly, Venngage turned their survey into an infographic; check it out at the bottom of this post.)
4. Marketers Don’t Spend Much Time Making Visuals
The overwhelming majority of marketers (71 percent) spend less than five hours a week making visuals, according to the survey. Meanwhile, 17 percent spent between 5 and 15 hours, and 11 percent spent more than 15 hours a week producing visual content.
What it means: There is no “right” amount of time to spend here. You have to do what gives you the most return on your investment. If you’re spending too much time on graphics and not getting a return, then cut back; but if your visuals aren’t generating any interest, maybe try spending a little more time to make them more interesting or compelling.
5. Marketers Prefer DIY Tools
Graphic design tools were the favorite choice for 46 percent of marketers. For the remainder, 30 percent used an in-house designer and 24.1 percent used a freelancer designer.
What it means: It depends. If you honestly have the skills do create nice-looking images yourself using graphic design software or tools, then do it. But if not, find someone good, whether it’s in-house or freelance, who can create interesting visuals that generate engagement.
6. Consistency is a Huge Challenge
Creating visual content is hard – but the biggest challenge is consistently creating engaging visuals, according to 36 percent of the surveyed marketers. Three other big challenges cited: being able to product well-designed visuals (29 percent); reaching a wider audience (24 percent); and finding reliable and interesting data (10 percent).
What it means: These challenges are real. So if you’re going to use visual content, you need talent/creativity, data (original research/stats, ideally), and a content strategy. All these pieces won’t guarantee your success, but they will greatly increase your odds.
7. Visual Content is ‘Absolutely Necessary’
Yes, 60 percent of marketers believe visual content is essential to their 2017 marketing strategy, while 31 percent said it was very important and 5 percent said it was important. As for the 2 percent who think it’s somewhat important or unimportant – what the hell, guys?
What it means: Visuals matter to marketers, because people respond to them. So if you’re still an unbeliever, it’s time to get out of the stone ages!
8. Visual Content = Less Than 20% of Budgets
What percentage of their marketing budget was spent on producing visual content in 2016? For 56 percent of marketers, that number was 20 percent or less.
What it means: If it’s done right, visual content can be incredibly valuable for months or even years, bringing in prospects, leads, and new customers. Perhaps consider a bit more time and budget to create better visual content and more of it in 2017.