Most companies agree that quality content is vital for any digital business. Actually, 93%1 of B2B marketers use content marketing as part of their strategy and the competition to produce the best content intensifies year by year.
But what about the photos?
The increasing competition brings skilled content writers to the market and makes companies willing to invest heavily in the right content.
Unfortunately, there is one area where many fall behind…images.
Time after time I see well-written texts that rely on solid research and most definitely give value to the reader. Sadly, it has become more the rule than the exception, that the graphic material is far below standard.
This opens a relevant discussion, that may turn out to be vital for the ROI on your content investment. Images and content marketing are undeniably related.
The importance of text vs photo
Why are we willing to spend thousands of dollars on a text agency to write quality content for us, but as soon as the content is published on the website, it gets smothered with irrelevant photos that don’t give value to the content?
If the photos are a part of the content, then why not pay for a photo agency, just like we do with text?
The brain processes images much faster than text and is the most important one of our five senses. It is the first thing customers see when they enter your website. These precious seconds can be crucial for the customer’s decision to stay on the website and for the impression of your product/service.
Also, the use of pictures and illustrations has existed for much longer than the use of text. Visual content is thus more naturally engaging and interesting for users.
Just think of social media, which has become a fundamental part of our everyday lives.
Platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, and Youtube are all platforms, in constant growth. We live in a world of information. Every day we are overwhelmed by data when we scroll through our different gadgets. In this constant competition to catch the customer’s attention, it’s all about getting people to stop up long enough to realize, that what you offer is exactly what they need.
And photos will simply more naturally draw people’s attention, which is super important for, for example, podcast art designs.
In my opinion, 25% of the time spent on content production should be allocated to finding, editing, and creating the right visual material. Image optimization should be a natural part of content marketing.
But why spend time on images and content marketing?
The wrong photo can damage the conversion rate
If it’s true that a picture is worth a thousand words, then it must imply that the wrong picture can say ten thousand words.
The photo has to support the material and your message. It’s extremely important to carefully consider, whether the pictures fit your brand and create the desired reaction for the reader. If you just put some effort into implementing the right photo it might enhance your results drastically.
However, pictures are way too often used as stuffing and have no relation to the content that it appears in. It’s interrupting the reader.
There are plenty of examples that show how adding a picture can be harmful to the conversion rate. If not being used carefully.
In many CRO projects, it has been possible to increase the conversion rate just by removing visual material. The material was of such bad quality that it took away attention from the rest of the content which was supposed to sell the product.
What a shame for all the hard work you have put into the text!
Images guide the eye
The following illustration clearly shows how pictures help guide the readers’ eyes. In the left photo, you will initially look at the baby’s face, and then look at the title and the text, because the baby is looking in this direction.
In the example on the right, the opposite is happening. Because the baby is looking directly at the reader, the attention of the reader stays here. Humans are drawn by faces and give them more attention.
The message is clear: The photo on the right is a friction in the way for the reader to pay attention to the well-written content, and thereby get information about the product.
The above example is a perfect illustration of the principle but is not the only case. As mentioned it has become rather the rule than the exception, that photos in a text are randomly chosen and don’t contribute to the value of the content.
There are a few ways in which photos can damage your conversion rate:
- The photo takes away focus from the important points in the content.
- The photo is conflicting with the content and confuses the reader, who can’t interpret the message.
- The photo is of bad quality which gives the reader reason to think the same about the product.
- The photo takes up so much space on a mobile phone that it disturbs the reading flow. The reader bounces from the site.
You can use the above as a checklist when you go through your own content.
And it doesn’t only apply to content on your website. It is also relevant for newsletters, PowerPoint presentations, etc., that you work with on an everyday basis.
Staging the photo
If you produce long texts and blogposts, images can be of enormous help. They divide the text into smaller parts and makes the text readable. A great rule of thumb is to use a photo for approximately every 350 words.
I mentioned the importance of prioritizing time to stage the photo: image optimization.
But what does this mean?
Image optimization is the process in which photos of high quality are edited to the right resolution, dimensions and format in the smallest size possible.
Many download a photo from a source and without any consideration insert it in whichever size, color scheme and format it was originally in.
However, this will rarely suit your content and you should, besides spending time choosing the photos, also spend time carefully optimizing the visual expression for every content that it appears in.
For every picture you insert, check the following:
- The photo is cropped in a way that puts the most important elements in focus.
- The dimensions of the photo are reduced to the maximum size it needs to be shown in.
- The photo needs to be compressed as much as possible depending on the context.
- The photo is edited in terms of color scheme so it fits the visual identity.
- The photo has a clear function and the text wouldn’t function without it.
- The photo has a naming that makes sense and is filled in ALT text.
- The photo gives value to the reader.
A good way to check if your photo is working is by split testing. In this way, you can find out exactly which photo gives the best ROI. Learn how to split-test your photos here.
The forgotten step: SEO and image optimization
SEO is more important than ever and its importance for modern businesses rarely needs an introduction. However, SEO is such a used discipline that many have a tendency to overlook vital aspects along the way. If your photos never show up on Google it is most likely because they aren’t optimized for search engines.
Let me emphasize:
Just like your text, visual content and photos are analyzed by Google’s robots. The photos are therefore a vital bare of your company’s main focus when it comes to content marketing and SEO. It enhances load speed, boosts the ranking of your site, and improves user experiences. For your photos to do well on the big web and to attract traffic to your sites, it is necessary to focus on even the simplest details such as file name, file size, caption, and placement.
The future of images and content marketing
In the big race to win the user’s attention, the competition will keep intensifying, and for now, images and content marketing are one of the best ways to create valuable interactions with your audience.
It is my honest belief that companies that win the race in the future will be the ones that understand that good content is not just well-written but also well-produced with the right visual effects.
There is no right answer as to whether text, photos, or video is exactly the right option within content marketing. It is rather a combination of all of them where the decisions depend on which part will create the most value for the reader, that has to spend his or her valuable time on the content.