/ Content Marketing / Creative/Design / Digital Marketing / Marketing Best Practices

“Content” is Dead. Visuals are King.


Right now, before even getting into the true meat of this article— the cream de la crème— your eyes have already darted thousands of times towards the images, unconsciously running a full once-over. Why? Because the brain processes visuals faster than any other type of content—identifying images in just 13 milliseconds. In fact, 90% of the information sent to the brain, is visual; and by 2018, it is predicted that as much as 84% of marketing communication will be visual—talk about needing to nail the first impression! Perhaps, we need to reevaluate the old strategy, “content is king” and swap it to “visuals are king.”

What does this mean for your business and marketing strategy? Picture it. As the saying goes, a photo is worth a thousand words, so save yourself some verbiage and add a little visual—in your emails, on your website, even on your social media handles. Here’s why:

First Impressions are Everything.

A study done by the Stanford Persuasive Technology lab noted that 46.1% of visitors discerned a company’s credibility straight from its website design. If you’re not greeting potential clients dressed up with visuals and looking the part, you could be potentially losing half of your business and never get the chance to wine and dine them—if you know what we mean.

We are a Generation of A.D.D.-ers.

A recent study showed that human attention span has dropped down to a mere eight seconds… (yes, likely less than the time it took you to read this), that’s shorter than that of a goldfish. If that’s not bad enough, our brains are (over) stimulated— receiving five times as much information on a daily basis than we did 30 years ago. What does this mean for marketing and communication? We need to capture audience attention and do it fast. Content with visuals gets 94% more views than that without, so do yourself—and your audience— a favor and break up that encyclopedic-like block of text with some eye candy.

Increased Engagement.

Social media is another outlet that has completely changed the way that companies interact in a direct-to-consumer capacity—so don’t miss the opportunity to increase engagement by integrating visuals for the eyes to easily digest. Tweets get retweeted 150% more with photos than without and a recent study by Adobe discovered that Facebook posts with images see a whopping 650% higher interaction than those without.

Try a (Visual) Call to Action.  

Try serving up some imagery dishes to give your audience a brain boost. People are able to follow illustrated directions 323% better than direction without visuals. They also recall 80% of what they see and do, compared to a mere 20% of what they read. Trying to integrate a CTA (Call-to-Action) or inform your audience about a sale or important up-and-coming event? Mix in a photo or illustration the next time.

The Future is Visual.

As technology and social media have continued to evolve, video has emerged as a key player in the future of communications. In 2015, on a daily basis, users were averaging almost 11% more time spent with digital video than on social networks. Video will likely play the most prominent and substantial role in direct-to-consumer visual communication. Today, four times as many consumers prefer watching a product video to reading about it; but perhaps, this should come as no surprise as we can gather the sense of a visual scene in less than 1/10 of a second. Lazy or time-saving? You decide.

Where can you include visuals in your communications with consumers?

  • Email marketing/email campaigns
  • Websites
  • Company blog posts
  • Social media
  • Fliers and brochures

Some examples of visual content are:

  • Images
  • Videos
  • GIFS, memes
  • Infographics


Still not convinced? Here’s one last tidbit for you—if this article had not included any visuals, you’d be likely to remember only 10% of the information three days later. Not to worry, since we integrated some beautiful aides, you’re likely to retain at least 65% of this. Guess it goes to combat the old saying— sometimes looks are everything!

We know— you’re welcome. Now get to work!


BRAIN RULE RUNDOWN Rule #10: Vision trumps all other senses. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.brainrules.net/vision

Cooper, B. B. (2013, November 13). How Twitter’s Expanded Images Increase Clicks, Retweets and Favorites [New Data]. Retrieved from https://blog.bufferapp.com/the-power-of-twitters-new-expanded-images-and-how-to-make-the-most-of-it

Effects of text illustrations: A review of research. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF02765184

M., O’Neill. (2015, May 7). The 2015 Video Marketing Cheat Sheet [Infographic]. Retrieved from https://animoto.com/blog/business/video-marketing-cheat-sheet-infographic/

N. (n.d.). 13 Reasons Why Your Brain Craves Infographics. Retrieved from http://neomam.com/interactive/13reasons/

Pinantoan, A. (2015, May 20). How To Massively Boost Your Blog Traffic With These 5 Awesome Image Stats. Retrieved from http://buzzsumo.com/blog/how-to-massively-boost-your-blog-traffic-with-these-5-awesome-image-stats/

Shrivastava, S. (n.d.). The Power Of Visual Content In Your Content Marketing Strategy. Retrieved from https://blog.rankwatch.com/the-power-of-visual-content-in-your-content-marketing-strategy/

Watson, L. (2015, May 15). Humans have shorter attention span than goldfish, thanks to smartphones. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/03/12/humans-have-shorter-attention-span-than-goldfish-thanks-to-smart/

Trafton, A. (2014, January 16). In the blink of an eye. Retrieved from http://news.mit.edu/2014/in-the-blink-of-an-eye-0116

/ Content Marketing

User Generated Content: The Secret Weapon You Aren’t Using


Hand taking top view shot of table.We’re blogging, we’re info-graphing, we’re creating listicles, and gifs, and videos, and images. We need content for our emails, our website, our Snapchat, our Instagram, our Tumblr. New channels for marketing your brand seem to pop-up every day. And in our efforts to help our brand stand out above the rest, we’re all creating more content than ever.

And to be honest, we’re likely all creating far more content than we have to. Why? Because our customers are already creating content for us.

What is User Generated Content?

User generated content is, as the name reflects, content that is generated by the user, a.k.a. your customer, and often comes in the form of a review, photo, video, blog post, or a social media post.

This type of content isn’t created as a result of hour-long strategy sessions, persona development, or a deep analysis of your past content performance. This content is created by a real customer using your products or services in a real way, and sharing it with others.

And with proper permissions, you can post user generated content pretty much anywhere you need content, from your website, to social channels, to emails, to landing pages and banner ads.

Of course, like any piece of content, you don’t want to just use it for the sake of using it. Make sure you have a strategy around the types of user generated content you want to collect, how you’ll use it, why you’re using it, and how you’ll measure its success.

But Is User Generated Content Effective?

65% of millennials feel that user generated content is more honest and genuine [http://investors.bazaarvoice.com/releasedetail.cfm?releaseid=649677] than content put out by brands themselves. 86% find that user generated content is a good indicator of quality products or service.

So yes, user generated content can be extremely effective as it gives consumers an objective view of your product or services, showing your brand and building its reputation in a way that your marketing department can’t.

How Can I Get User Generated Content?

Getting user generated content isn’t as difficult as some marketers may think. Really all you have to do is ask for it.


Reviews are one of the oldest forms of user generated content. But don’t anticipate that customers will actively think to go and leave a review on your website after they’ve received their purchase. About a week or so after they’ve received their product, send a quick follow-up email asking them to let you know what they thought.

Often just asking for a star ranking (i.e. 1-5 stars) and a simple description of their experience with your product or service is enough, but you could also take the review process one step further by asking customers to upload a photo of them using the product.

This tactic can be especially useful for retailers looking to create content shaped around how actual customers are wearing the items they sell. Not only does having these customer images make it easier for potential buyers to see what a certain item could look like on them, but it also allows retailers to show of the versatility of their pieces without having to pay for a stylist, models, etc.

Social Media

As social media has grown in popularity and new channels have been born, it’s become one of the best ways to gather user generated content.

Brand specific hashtags and special promotion hashtags are easy ways for consumers to tag images of how they’re using your products in their everyday life; for millennials in particular, social media is the way they find new products. Statistics show that 68% of 18-to-34 year olds are more likely to make a purchase after seeing it on an influencer’s or friend’s social media account.

Taking the time to create a clever or memorable hashtag [https://blog.hootsuite.com/4-excellent-user-generated-content-contests-using-social-media/] allows you to take advantage of content those users likely would have been posting anyway.

But don’t just promote hashtag campaigns on your social media channels. Include it on your website, in your email newsletters, on non-digital advertising spots, etc. to maximize the exposure of the campaign and the potential for engagement.


If you want to obtain a lot of user generated content in a short amount of time, a contest is the perfect way to go.

There are a number of tools you can use to help you run your contest, but in some cases, you can keep it even more simple than that.

Take for instance, Kissmetrics, a B2B behavior analytics platform, that created a Pinterest board to house all the entries for their Messy Desk contest. The entry with the most re-pins won. It was a fun, simple contest that engaged their audience, helped promote their brand through sharing, and gave them some fodder for their blog.

How Can I Get Started with User Generated Content?

First, think about where you might have some gaps in your content strategy, or where you could use some added support. Maybe you’re not seeing the type of engagement you’d like on your Facebook page, or perhaps you need some fresher content to liven up your monthly newsletter.

You then want to consider your goals around user generated content, regardless of whether you’re doing a one-off campaign, or if this will be part of an on-going effort. When you know what you’re working to achieve, you’ll be better equipped to determine where to seek out user generated content and how to ask for it.

Finally, always make it clear that the content you’re sharing is from a real customer. Your brand should engage with this user and their content as if your brand is a person and the customer is a long-time friend. This can help further promote engagement and help you drum up even more user-generated content.