It’s safe to say that in 2016, the internet runs on visual content. YouTube and Instagram are the two biggest traffic drivers worldwide, with Pinterest not far behind at number four. In 2012, YouTube averaged more than 4 billion daily views[i]; since then, the number of people watching the site daily increased byat least 50% every year for three years straight.[ii] By November 2015, the site was averaging 8 billion views, every single day.[iii]
Visual Content Drives Traffic
This trend of visual content being the biggest driver of traffic isn’t contained to just big sites, either. Statistic after statistic shows that when businesses include visuals with their online content, traffic invariably goes up:
According to one study, people were 80% more likely to read a piece of content simply because it included colored visuals.
Another study found that content with relevant images received 94% more views than content without images.
When emails included the word “video” in the subject line, open rates increased by 19%, click-through rates by 65%, and unsubscribes fell by 26%.
Photos generate 53% more likes on Facebook than the average post.
Infographics are the most shared type of content on social media, getting 3 times as many shares as any other type of content.
In addition to improving traffic, visual content also improves audience engagement:
When people hear a piece of information, they are likely to only remember 10% of it just three days later. But when they read information that is paired with relevant images, they remember 65%.
Eye-tracking studies have proven that readers pay closer attention to images that convey information than they do text. When a piece of online content includes relevant visuals, most readers spend more time looking at the images than they do reading the text.
When directions or instructions include both text and illustrations, people are 323% better at understanding them.
In short: visuals increase the number of readers who will engage with a piece of content, and help them understand that content better at the same time.
Visual Content Tips for Small Business
The most important thing to remember when including visual content is that it must be relevant to the topic. Simply embedding randomly chosen pictures and videos isn’t enough – online readers are smart enough to recognize when they’re being tricked. Not all visual content needs to be detailed graphs or thoroughly researched infographics, but they do at least have to have something to do with the subject at hand.
Custom visual content – especially video – can be very time consuming and expensive to make, placing it outside many small business’ marketing budget. The good news is that you don’t have to invest in creating your own stream of custom visuals to get the benefits of incorporating videos and pictures into your business content.
Take your own pictures: One of the best things about living in the smart phone era is that it’s not very hard for businesses to take their own pictures and upload them to the internet. Taking pictures of your products, work space, or staff at work can give you a good selection of visual content to include with social media posts and company updates.
Share existing content: Don’t have the resources to make your own company videos? No problem! Instead, look for existing YouTube videos that cover topics relevant to your industry and share those instead, with your own observations included. Likewise, when you come across an interesting or informative infographic, share it with your social media followers (with a note mentioning where it comes from, of course).
Use free images: Instead of paying the pricey licensing fees that most stock photo companies ask for, look for royalty-free/public domain image sites like Pixabay, or for photos published under Creative Commons licenses; just make sure that any images you use are approved for commercial use, and that you include any necessary attributions.
Embed images on social media: When you post third party articles or news stories on social media, be sure to include an image. This won’t lead people to your business site directly, but it will increase the number of people engaging with your social media feeds and sharing your posts, which will bring more attention to your accounts, which in turn will get more people to interact with your business online.