April 15, 2021

Creating visual content with your customers in mind

BY CHENG LAU

woman taking a photo of green-leafed plants

There are a myriad of ways to showcase your business. And it’s easy to get distracted by all the possibilities. However, visual content, guided by good written content, goes a long way.

Whatever form of visual content you choose, make sure you focus on your customer. This means your content marketing will be appropriately targeted, and help you achieve your business goals efficiently and effectively.

What is visual content anyway?

We’d like to say visual content is anything other than words, but it’s far more than that. 

Simply put, visual content can mean images (static logos, photos, illustrations) and videos (including animation and GIFs). Some of these incorporate written content in a visual way, such as infographics, slideshows, or interactive maps.

And yes, memes and reaction GIFs count too!

Examples of customer-focused visual content

Let’s say you run ballet classes for adult beginners (your target customer) and want more enrolments (leads and sales). You might be thinking of doing one of the following: 

  1. Upload an unedited 30-minute video of a class to your website.
  2. Plan and script three short videos (30-seconds, one-minute, three-minutes) of students enjoying class, talking about their experiences. These could be shared on social media, as blog posts, or targeted paid ads.
  3. Jump on a hashtag challenge, create 15-second videos for Instagram stories, Facebook stories, or TikTok, and tag your students in them. They can share the posts on their own accounts, tag their friends, and generate word-of-mouth awareness.

The first option counts as visual content, but says very little about your business, and doesn’t emotionally engage your customer. The second option is strategically focused on customers, and can be used across different platforms, not just your website. The third option is emotionally-engaging, and if your target customers frequent those social media channels, they’re very effective for word-of-mouth referrals.

Why use visual content?

Good visual content increases audience engagement, demonstrates your understanding of your audience, and can improve your SEO ranking.

Research suggests we retain just 10% of the information we read, after three days. But accompanied by a picture, retention skyrockets to 65%.  And given current trends, video content will account for more than 80% of internet traffic by 2022. Depending on your business, you may need visuals to give customers a feel for your product or service, whether it’s with animation, an explainer, or a how-to video.

Know your audience to understand their decisions

Empathy is key to understanding your customers, their needs, and their motivations. 

In user experience (UX), we use real research data and observations to get an idea of your typical customer, and their decision-making processes. You can do this with existing data online, or through your own surveys.

With this information, we can put ourselves in the place of our customers and make informed and realistic decisions.

Use written content as your foundation

Written content drives your planning. Writing your initial thoughts down gives you something to see on paper, or screen, that you can rearrange, organise, and structure. 

This allows you to see a logical flow in the story you’re trying to tell in your content. From there, you can identify information gaps that need to be filled, and where to flesh out your story.

If you’re writing a script for a video, this is then your guide on the visuals you could use to convey your points. For example, if your script includes a student talking about the fun atmosphere of a class, this could be backed up by shots of them smiling and interacting with other students.

Decide on language and tone of voice

Decide on the voice you’re writing in. Do you want to be casual? An informative subject expert? Caring and nurturing? Perhaps a combination of these? This influences the words you choose, and how you phrase them. 

Understand what your customer connects with. In general, it’s a good idea to use plain English, avoid complex jargon, and speak directly to your customer, using ‘you’ and ‘your’.

Going back to our ballet for adult beginners example, you should avoid technical terms when talking about your classes. For example, instead of referring to “differentiated classroom activities”, you could say, “We can adapt the way we teach to suit the way you learn”.

Focus on one or two key messages

If your video is about the benefits of ballet, choose one or two key messages (your communication goals). This helps you keep your script tight, and prevents you from veering off on tangents. Consider what emotions you can arouse in your customer, to influence their decision-making. Your key messages may include:

  • The top three benefits (e.g. fitness, strength, enjoyment)
  • An emotionally-engaging hook, like encouragement and motivation (anyone can pick up a new skill for fun, at any age, in a low-pressure, safe environment)
  • Directions to your website for more information.

Plan ahead to make your work better, and easier

Consider your audience, message, and goals. Create a schedule and think carefully about how you might brief the creatives or digital content producers you hire.

A script, for example, provides structure and establishes the shot list, or the imagery you need. It can also save you time during the shooting, editing or processing stages.

You can also plan your visual content so that it can be repurposed across channels or platforms, saving you time and resources.

Choose the right channels for your content

Now that you understand your customer, you can narrow down where they spend their time, and how they receive their information. This could include:

  • Websites
  • Email
  • Social media channels including Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok.

This tells you the length, format and style of visuals you choose, how you design them, and the copy that may support them. Instagram stories, for example, are short and usually informal, backed up with captions for users who might be scrolling with sound off, or have hearing impairments.

Make your content fun and engaging

To catch your customer’s attention, consider making your content short and succinct, with one or two key messages in mind. It should engage your audience emotionally, too. Your customer should leave feeling positive about their connection with your brand. This is a must for video content. To take it to the next level, read up on some other simple ways to improve your video marketing content.

Use high-quality images and video

Good quality content is sure to impress. 

If you’re doing it yourself, today’s mobile devices come with excellent cameras. A few simple extras, like a ring light and a good editing app, can give your visual content that extra edge. 

Otherwise, a professional digital content producer is likely to already have the equipment and know-how to achieve the quality you need.

Provide a call to action for results

So you’ve successfully grabbed your customer’s attention, but now what? 

Time for your plans to shine! All the visual content you plan and create leads up to this moment. Make sure your customer knows what to do by including a call to action (CTA) at key touch points in the customer journey. For example:

  • Contact us today
  • Download the guide now
  • Sign up to get 10% off your first purchase

Whether through a video, image, or button, be explicit about what the action should be, and make sure it’s at the right touch point, wherever you know your customer is about to make a key decision.

Keep it accessible

Make sure everyone can access your visual content. This is digital content best practice, which ensures everyone has equal access and equal opportunity, and allows your business to stay compliant, and reach a wider audience.

Simple ways to do this include:

  • Providing captions or a transcript with your video
  • Using alt-tags (information read out by screen reader programs for users with visual impairments) to provide a detailed description of your image.

Need a hand with your visual content?

We can help you figure what visual content to create, how to create it, and how it should sit with the rest of your website, or content marketing strategy. Get in touch with us today.

(Images from Unsplash by @hamishkale_ and @ashima_pargal.)

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