We’re officially into 2019, and the world of content marketing continues to undergo its own evolution. Only a decade ago, the role of a “content marketer” was just becoming a pivotal cog in any marketing engine. Throughout the past decade, the concept of content marketing as a practice has evolved from the strictly written word. Today, it includes more expressive forms of communication — particularly visuals, videos, memes, webinars, podcasts, and so much more.
Nowadays, content marketing has become synonymous with marketing as a whole. Marketers who work for large enterprise businesses engage in some form of content marketing throughout their day-to-day routines.
Many marketers — particularly those in brand, digital, or social marketing — see content marketing as a vital part of their jobs. These marketers use visuals and videos to connect with audiences who are eager to engage with interesting content. Guides forecasting 2019 visual trends will help these marketers make effective tactical decisions with content during the year.
How often are marketers using visuals?
To understate the importance of visual content is a disservice to any marketing strategy. Nearly 88% of surveyed marketers said they used visuals or videos in at least 50% of their marketing collateral. Additionally, almost half of those surveyed used visuals in over 90% of their marketing material.
Common trends shared amongst marketers are:
- Stock photography is the most common way to build a visual content library
- A minimum of 2 hours every week spent creating or sourcing visual content
- Auto-generation tools to recreate designs from previous creative inputs top wish lists
- Producing engaging visual content with consistency is the biggest challenge facing marketers in 2019
Among the most interesting trends are the ones related to time and budgets. Marketers around the globe can relate to two universal struggles:
- There is never enough time to create effective content
- There is never enough budget to scale content creation
Nearly two-thirds of marketers spent a minimum of 2 hours per week creating or sourcing visuals and videos. This is working time and dollars that many teams can ill-afford to spend. Yet, the importance of visual content for effective marketing requires that investment of time. That’s why many teams, especially at the enterprise level, choose to optimize creative processes with agile solutions.
There’s also a disconnect between what is spent on visual content and what marketers expect to spend on it. About 42% of marketers admitted to spending less than 10% of their overall marketing budget on visuals and videos. However, over 30% surveyed expect to triple the amount they spend on visual and video content in 2019.
Importance of Visual Content by Persona
Now that we have the lay of the land, universally speaking, the questions become more concentrated. How should marketers approach visual and video content in 2019 depending on their own priorities for the year? What are the differences in how a brand marketer uses visuals, compared to how a social marketer does? Does a digital marketer have a different visual playbook for the year?
Let’s look into that.
Brand Marketers Value Consistent Looking Visuals
Marketers who have “brand marketer” in their job title are most concerned with building the brand. They want to establish and expand upon the brand’s reputation. They also want people who view the brand’s visual content to automatically feel certain feelings. Those feelings should motivate the viewer to click and engage with the brand at a deeper level.
There are two substantially pressing challenges for brand marketers in 2019.
- Keeping up with how the average consumer engages with content
The fact is that people predominantly use social media to search for information in 2019. For example, nearly 65% of 2.4 billion internet users check Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and similar platforms for breaking news.
Mobile content consumption continues to rise year over year. In fact, mobile consumption will surpass traditional TV as the medium attracting the most consumer attention in 2019. What’s driving all of that time on mobile? The answer is apps.
- Apps account for over 90% of time consumers spend on a smartphone
- The average adult spends approximately 50 minutes per day listening to audio in-app
- Another 40 minutes per day is spent on social apps
- People will like or comment on interesting content that appears in their Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat feeds
- Many of us love to chat with friends on instant messaging apps
These behaviors lead to the second most pressing challenge for brand marketers.
- Standing out and competing against so much related content
Each of these apps is populated with near endless streams of visual content. Any update posted by a consumer’s friend to your brand’s most direct competitor could appear in the social news feed — depending on an individual’s tastes and interests.
There’s also the fact that mobile screens have very limited real estate. Only so much content is physically visible when someone scrolls through their social feed. That’s what makes it so challenging to capture consumers’ attention. If your content isn’t eye-catching, it could very easily get lost in the clutter of those feeds.
What’s a brand marketer to do?
There’s no denying the importance of visual content. But, a brand marketer believes in the importance of consistent visual content. Visuals or videos that align to a consistent look and feel have a much greater chance of standing out in those feeds. As a result, consistent-looking visual assets are more likely to capture consumer attention.
The same tactic applies to the apps where consumers listen to audio or watch videos. So, if you’re a brand marketer, this is a trend you can leverage. Put together a plan to increase your webinar or podcast output so that you can promote those assets and capture that eager market.
In the end, a brand marketer’s objective is to improve the brand reputation and increase brand recall. Consistent visual content, over a certain period of time, will subconsciously inform the consumer that it’s your brand promoting that content. The look and feel will also push visual triggers in people’s brains and help surface those feelings towards your brand which, as a brand marketer, is your primary concern.
Digital Marketers Want Visuals that Drive Conversions
A digital marketer is in a slightly different world from the brand marketer. The brand’s reputation is still very important. But, the importance of visual content to a digital marketer stems from the conversions that result from the content. That means that higher the number of conversions, the more effective the digital marketing campaign.
As a result, digital marketers are faced with two primary objectives to help achieve their goals.
- Connecting through a variety of channels
So, given the need to drive conversions, digital marketers need to source new consumers as often as possible. They need a variety of programs running on a diverse number of platforms. Those programs are powered by visual or video content and reach the digital traffic required to create those leads.
However, the ratio of traffic to opportunities is frequently very low. While there are no universal conversion rates, there are some guidelines to use as benchmarks. For example, web traffic conversion rates should not dip below 2-4%. If they do, that’s a strong indicator that the content being promoted needs to be refreshed.
Direct web traffic is only one pathway to drive those opportunities. Digital marketers also need efficient lead programs running on:
- Social media
- Display ads
- Marketing partnerships
- Third party referrals
- In-store e-display (in the case of retail brands)
All of these channels require visual and video content to attract consumer attention, build interest in the brand, and drive higher conversions.
- Pushing out content at faster rates
Digital marketers have very high lead and conversion targets. They’re running marketing programs across a variety of different channels. As a result, they need lots of content to run those programs effectively. And to do that, they need to push content to market at increasingly accelerated rates.
Agile content creation is a practice that recognizes the need to increase the speed to market. Marketers that push content to market at faster rates keep their digital campaigns fresh and intriguing to the target consumers. So, there’s less (if any) downtime between old and new programs, which improves efficiency rates and reduces costs to drive new leads.
What’s the best practice?
Digital marketers are primarily focused on engaging with people who could become paying customers. They need to consistently keep the doors to the brand open, so to speak. That means they need access to fresh content for every project.
The needs of the digital programs are met and maintained with access to quality visual content. Collections of premium visuals and videos can be licensed and adapted for any digital campaign. This allows marketers to go to market with fresh campaigns at faster rates. As campaigns are updated or refreshed, consumers remain attracted to what the brand has to offer. That attraction leads to interest, desire and, eventually, conversion into new business.
One key objective for digital marketers in 2019 is to budget for creative services that will help achieve those goals.
Social Marketers Need Content to Keep the Brand Top of Mind
Finally, we come to social marketers or social media marketers. Their objectives are a hybrid of the brand and digital marketer. They’re concerned about the brand reputation and want to create opportunities for lead conversions into new business. But, above all else, their primary concern is keeping people engaged with the brand.
In essence, the importance of visual content to a social marketer is keeping the brand top of mind in social networks. So, social marketers need solutions to two key challenges.
- Authentic content that improves the brand’s image
There’s a fundamental lack of trust between businesses and the consumers who buy from them. Recent studies show that nearly half of all global consumers distrust businesses. This lack of trust is fueled by the increasingly blurry line between real pronouncements and fake offers. Consequences of untrustworthy or inauthentic content include:
- Irritation at industry jargon or brand slogans
- Unfollowing of brands that engage in gimmicky promotions
- Suspicions of an advertiser’s of lack of integrity
- Consumer vows to never purchase from inauthentic brands
In recognition of an overall decline in consumer confidence towards brands, PWC’s Global Consumer Insights team surveyed the marketplace. They asked 22,000 consumers across 27 different markets which factors, other than price, would influence their decision to purchase from a brand. Over a third of respondents said “trust in the brand” was one of the top three factors influencing their decision to buy.
This insight into consumer behavior emphasizes the importance of visual content for social marketers. They need content that authentically reflects the brand identity, allowing consumers to develop feelings of trust and credibility towards the brand. This also paves the way for challenge #2 for the social marketer.
- Promotions that consistently engage people with the brand
Authentic content allows consumers to connect with the real personality of a brand. Rather than jargoned phrases or tagline slogans, people will do business with brands that show a more humanistic side to their business. So, visuals and videos that illustrate a business with integrity are more engaging to the consumer. Consistently engaging content means more people are more likely to engage with the brand.
Some social marketers will build a content library with visuals or videos that incorporate the brand colors, styles, and illustrations. Others will have content custom-made to a specific set of visual guidelines. In either case, the goal is to amass a collection of content that establishes an authentic look and feel for the brand that can be taken to market.
What social marketers need to engage consumers
Social marketers need the allure of authenticity baked into the look and feel of the content. Also, they need expansible creative solutions to produce all of that engaging content at scale. Once those pillars are in place, social channels can be consistently updated with fresh, authentic, and engaging content.
As a social marketer, you need enough volume and variety of content to regularly update the brand’s social channels. Ensuring those channels are consistently updated incentivizes consumers to check in with the brand. This workflow keeps your brand top of mind and also organically inserts your content into the social news feeds of your targeted consumers.
Underlying Importance of Visual Content is to Drive New Business
In the end, what matters to marketers — brand, digital, social, or those with any other title — is that visual content creates new business opportunities. Because of this, content marketing has become synonymous with marketing. Visuals and videos, if used effectively to support each type of marketer, make all the difference between a brand that achieves its goals and a brand that does not.