No two organizations have identical content strategies. Yet, almost all organizations share three overall content marketing objectives:
- Expanding brand awareness
- Increasing brand affinity
- Increasing sales
Companies go about achieving these objectives in a variety of ways. They can also fail to reach these objectives by making critical errors. Let’s look at the major visual marketing errors that undermine content strategy.
Mistake 1: Bad SEO Limits Brand Awareness
SEO is the marketing discipline that strives to bring more people to your website when they are searching for the products or services you sell. Google is the largest search engine in the world, processing more than 63,000 search queries every second. For most companies, being invisible on Google is equivalent to having an invisible brand.
Although many companies have some sort of SEO campaign in place, SEO for visual content is frequently overlooked. Even by companies with four-figure per month campaign budgets. Two of the most important search categories at the top of every Google SERP (search engine results page) are Images and Videos.
If your website’s images and videos are properly optimized, they are far more likely to be highly ranked for relevant search queries. This makes more people aware of your business and brings more qualified visitors to your website.
Optimization for visual content is always important, but it is essential for any organization with a product or service that needs to be seen to be sold, whether it be industrial equipment or home décor.
Tactical SEO mistakes within the realm of visual content optimization include:
- Failing to insert primary keywords in file names
- Not using keyword-optimized alternate descriptions
- Failing to have a unique website page for each video
- Not displaying a transcript of the video on its page
- Failing to include video pages in the sitemap
- Not use keyword-optimized photo captions
- Failing to make image sizes mobile-friendly. Mobile-friendliness is an important ranking factor for Google.
- Failing to format, store and serve up images to facilitate fast website page loading. Loading speed is another important ranking factor for Google.
Mistake 2: Limited Visual Formats Equals Limited Brand Affinity
If you want people to fall in love with your brand, you must make learning about it easy and exciting for them. For some customers and prospects, well-written textual content is enough to get that job done. However, most of your website visitors today will be far more interested in engaging with visual content rather than sifting through paragraphs of text.
Video has become the first choice for content consumption for many customers and prospects. To illustrate, YouTube has more than 2 billion active users, and it is second only to Google in website popularity. Why? Because video has a “fun factor” that text is incapable of achieving. Message retention is far higher for video than text, and video can convey complex messages in a fraction of the time required for text.
Omitting the opportunities of video
Even when companies appreciate the value of video, they fail to incorporate it into their content marketing strategy. Often this is because production costs for video can be high, creative resources are limited, and/or the staff lacks the time. Companies facing these challenges can successfully add video to their content mix by keeping in mind:
- Videos need not be lengthy to be effective. In fact, short videos (two minutes or less) are more likely to hold the viewer’s attention — and in addition, short videos often rank higher in Google search.
- Videos need not have studio-quality production to be effective. Prospects and customers make allowances for a lack of polish if the content is useful and authoritative.
Companies often think of video in terms of showcasing products and services. Videos with this goal can indeed involve a great deal of cost and time to produce. However, video can also be deployed in a content strategy to increase brand affinity by personalizing the relationship between company personnel and viewers:
- A short video message from the CEO is far more powerful than a bland text description in the About Us section.
- Short videos from expert members of the staff give viewers confidence in the company’s expertise.
This type of video is easy to produce and can be used on multiple pages of the website as well as in offsite content such as email blasts, social media posts, and slide presentations.
Mistake 3: Bad Product/Service Imagery Is Bad for Sales
Great photos generate great sales leads and online purchases. But even companies with robust visual content marketing campaigns shoot themselves in the foot with botched execution. Allow me to relate a personal anecdote to illustrate.
I was looking for a stand for my vintage, long-handle safety razor. The type of stand that’s basically a heavy block of metal with a hole in which to insert the razor handle. I came across several beautiful-looking items on Amazon. But the item I found most attractive was not scaled, leaving me unable to determine how deep the hole was.
This left me wondering whether the razor would be stable. Not only did this problem prevent me from buying, but it also left me with a somewhat bad attitude toward the seller for overlooking something so obvious.
Little details like this are sales killers. Other mistakes that discourage purchases include:
- Failing to include captions that reinforce key product/service features and benefits
- Not including a caption that alerts users to buying options such as color and size
- Failing to provide context; for example, showing the product rather than someone using the product
- Using photos taken in poor lighting that transform a beautiful product into an ugly one
The many reasons behind poor product imaginery
One of the most common is cost. Some companies balk at what they perceive as the high cost of professional photography. However, keep in mind that ineffective photos do nothing to generate conversions. If budget is the issue, the best course for content marketing is to roll out images slowly over time, and/or limit images to those with the broadest use and most powerful impact.
Another common cause of poor product/service imagery often occurs with larger companies that have turned image creation into an assembly line process. For example, if an e-commerce company offering thousands of items is simply interested in filling the image placeholder with something, that “something” can turn out to be an image that does more harm than good.
If you’ve fallen into this trap, a great solution is to make “conversion value” – a box to be checked off before an image can be uploaded – thereby connecting the production team to the creative team.
In this case and in general, when your creative team communicates well with your production team, visual content achieves maximum results, with the best possible impact on content marketing.
Incorporating visual marketing into your overall strategy has become simply indispensable. It’s not always easy to get it just right, but watching out for these three major mistakes can definitely save you copious amounts of time and frustration.
About the author
Brad Shorr is Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, a Chicago-based Internet marketing company that specializes in SEO. With decades of marketing, sales and management experience, Shorr has written for leading online publications including Forbes, Entrepreneur and American Marketing Association