THE MAGAZINE FOR PROFESSIONALS

Show Me the Money

by Amanda Haar

Touch-up or Repaint

Even before we humans had words, we had pictures. And it seems our attachment to them hasn’t diminished much over the many, many years.

As it turns out, our brains are visually wired to receive and process information. In fact, 50% of our brain is involved in visual processing and 70% of our sensory receptors are located in our eyes.

That, no doubt, contributes to the fact that while people remember 10% of what they hear and 20% of what they read, they recall 80% of what they see. It’s safe to assume that some of that increased retention can be attributed to the fact that our gray matter processes visuals 60,000 times faster than it does text. If that number sounds a little overinflated, consider the following graphic description of a circle versus a textual one:

circle-winter2014

Some things are simply better understood and remembered when shown versus described.

For someone trying to market their business, that matters.

Simply put, sites with visual content rank better in search engines than those with text alone. Pages with more traffic get more engaged visitors, more engagement means more leads, and more leads mean more revenue. In other words, visual content isn’t just pleasing to the eye. When done properly, it’s pleasing to the bottom line, too.

CONNECTING READERS TO CONTENT

According to Elise Ouellette, vice president and managing director of Studio-C with Matter Communications, today’s consumers are more visually oriented than ever.

“People simply prefer to learn visually,” she says. “If they go to your website to learn about your company and services and it’s just text upon text, you’re going to lose those eyeballs and that lead. Plus,” she adds, “given the visual nature of the painting, property management and contracting fields, you’re missing a huge opportunity to show off what you do if you don’t include images or videos.”

While Ouellette’s company is often hired to create visual content for companies, she says it’s not necessary to hire others to create content for your marketing.

“Everyone pretty much has a phone with video and photo capabilities,” says Ouellette. “Before-and after images, customer testimonials, work-in-progress job-site stills and videos are all great visual content tools. They help people connect to who you are, what you do, and how others perceive you—and build a level of comfort that’s hard to achieve with text alone. Wherever you have an online presence, you should be including images.”

She notes that maintaining a visual content presence on, say, four platforms doesn’t mean four times the work. “You can shoot a 3-minute video to put on your website that you can then edit down to several 30-second clips to put on your Facebook page, YouTube or a blog,” she says. “You can use the same stills on Pinterest, flickr, your website. … You’re getting double, even triple, duty out of your images and you’re giving your company a bigger online presence by spreading yourself around different platforms. When someone searches for you, you’re going to pop up that many more times.”

Ouellette adds that it’s not essential to start out with visual content for every channel. “The most important thing always is to be true to your brand and put yourself in the places where your customers are going to look for you,” she says. “It’s better to be consistent with what you do than to be on every platform halfheartedly.”

START WITH YOUR STORY

As with any marketing effort, it’s important to consider your audience first. Specifically, what are their needs and/or pain points? With this understanding, you can start to craft the story of your company and brand through words and images that demonstrate how you can address their particular needs. Find ways to show how you can support them, whether they’re doing first-level information gathering or looking for support for their decision through examples and testimonials.

In addition, you need to consider where your audience (or audiences) can learn more about your company and services. Take time to visit those channels and pay attention to what people are accessing, what they’re liking, etc. Paying attention at this level will give you insight into where you can add value to your customers and where the gaps are in the industry. This will guide you in creating the right types of content—both visual and written—for your audience and the given channels of choice.

And don’t forget, posted content can and should be a source of inspiration for your site’s future content. Regularly review your keyword research and examine what’s working, especially on-site search terms, to see what people are looking for. If you have a customer service department, inquire about what people are asking—and complaining—about. Use those insights for creating content that is valuable, and optimize it for the terms people are searching for.

Your content will also drive your need to turn your attention to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media Optimization (SMO) efforts. On the SEO side, you need to think about how people are going to search for content like yours—what words they will use in their search—and adjust your image and video file names, captions, page titles, descriptions and key words to improve your visibility in search engine results.

SMO involves connecting and interconnecting all your social media content to your main website and to your SEO efforts. This allows you to do two important things.

First, you can build your reputation as a qualified resource across multiple platforms and establish yourself as an authority. By linking to and engaging with equally qualified individuals, you can create meaningful dialogues and build consumer confidence.

Second, by connecting your content across platforms and SEO, you can essentially guide online traffic where you want it to go. For example, if a prospect views a customer testimonial on YouTube, you can provide a logical next step and means for them to quickly connect to your website. Or, you can use a Facebook post to direct a follower to a related blog post where they can see more images or even a video, and learn more about you, your services, and your work. The point is to make sure everything is connected and easy to access.


FAST FACTS

90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual

40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text

Viewers spend 100% more time on pages with videos on them

Photos account for 93% of the most engaging posts on Facebook. According to KISSmetrics, photos

get 104% more comments, 84% more click-throughs and 53% more likes than text-based posts.

Pinterest generates more referral traffic for businesses than Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn® combined.

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