Many small and midsized businesses face a dilemma when creating visual content. Few have the time or resources to produce original, high-quality imagery for every channel, yet today's consumer expects a constant stream of high-quality images, photos and illustrations.
Next time you're gathering images for a blog post, pushing something out on social or sending out a newsletter, remember these situations where compelling visuals can make all the difference. With the right approach and help from sources such as iStock by Getty Images, you can deliver eye-catching visual content without busting your marketing budget.
1. Impress potential clients
As trivial as they may seem in the grand scheme of closing a deal, good visuals play a hugely important role in establishing credibility and shaping how a potential client or partner ultimately views your proposal. A recent report found that 86 percent of buyers look for visual content when visiting a supplier's site. So whether you're introducing a client to your services or trying to finalize a sale, be sure you've got first-rate, colorful images to back up your ideas. They can instill an early sense of confidence that may pay off down the road.
2. Make your website as engaging as a dream
According to a study by Nielsen, Web users only read between 20–28 percent of words on the average webpage. They scan the rest of the text, trying to determine whether it's worth their undivided attention or not. That's where good visuals come into play. Using photos and illustrations to break up the text helps keep readers on the page, and often adds context to the narrative. "Show, don't tell" is uttered ad nauseum these days, but that doesn't diminish the truth behind it. With proper selection and placement, weaving blue ribbon imagery into your content can keep users engaged far beyond their original intent.
3. Keep your newsletters from falling into the abyss
In a study of over 5,000 email campaigns, clickthrough rates were found to be 42 percent higher in emails with images than in emails without them. The truth is, these days, people are flooded with emails they never open. Don't let yours fall into the abyss that is the Gmail "Promotions" tab. Keep customers interested and your clickthrough rates up by including immersive, relevant imagery in your daily blasts. Of course, just like with copy, it's important to be thoughtful with your image choices and make sure they complement your message. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources available to help small business owners think like art directors and understand the concepts that images represent.
4. Make your social feed bloom with great visuals
Posting to social media without good imagery is basically a waste of time. Strong visuals have become a sort of unspoken currency among brands and their followers. On Facebook, for example, photos have a 37 percent higher engagement rate than text. And tweets with image links have double the engagement rate of those that do not. But this isn't just about likes and shares—it's about valuable engagement that can lead directly to sales.
5. Drive traffic back to your site
Imagine your CMO has written a blog post on cloud marketing. You've posted it on your blog, sure, but you're also syndicating it on Forbes, Business Insider and a few other sites to maximize exposure. The ultimate goal, though, is to get those readerships back to your site. When syndicating original content, good visuals can make a big difference in getting readers back to the source. Visual content is 567 percent more effective than text-only content in driving inbound links, so including a compelling image in your syndicated post is well worth the effort. This will set a precedent though, so make sure the visual content is equally, if not more engaging on your site.
6. Protect your brand's reputation
Whether you're a marketer or a social media editor, the source of your images says as much about your brand as the photos themselves. While it may seem tedious, copyright clearance must be handled with care and diligence, lest improper use come back to haunt you. There are, however, worry-free alternatives that provide images of excellent quality backed by a legal guarantee, as well as standard and extended license options for extra protection. Leave the legal stuff to the pros—your creative energy is much better spent choosing beautiful pictures.