A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

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  • 1/29/2018

    You may have seen one of the dozens of reports published over the last couple of years outlining the sharp downward trend of consumer attention spans. A popular and oft-shared report claims that most people today have an attention span of about eight seconds, less than a goldfish.

    The veracity of this report has been called into question, but what’s indisputable is that the competition for your audience’s attention increases every day. Even if your audience has a greater attention span than your favorite flushable pet, how do you compete with the proliferation of attention seekers and fragmented communication channels to capture and maintain the interest of your customers?

    The answer has less to do with what you’re presenting and more to do with how you present it.

    Smart middle-market brands have adopted the strategy of visualizing content to make the information easy to scan and simple to understand. This type of communication is proven to:

    • Increase customer engagement
    • Boost comprehension
    • Make content more actionable

    The Informative Infographic

    One of the most common types of content visualization is the infographic. This common technique uses photography, illustration, statistics and engaging graphic design to help the reader understand complex data by presenting visual equivalencies in an intuitive, easy-to-scan manner. Furthermore, infographics are liked and shared on social media three times more often than any other type of content.

    Infographics have been around for a very long time, as demonstrated by the infographic below created by Florence Nightingale as part of a report delivered to Queen Victoria in 1858.
    Infographics are commonplace today and are adaptable for every industry, market and segment. Other content visualizing techniques work better for some channels over others. It’s important to meet your customers where they are in terms of channel, device and interest.



    Digital plays a critical role in nearly every business active today. To reach the harried, connected customer you need to serve up bite-sized, easy-to-parse nuggets of information that entice and draw the viewer in to learn more. The final destination may be rich with content, but the visitor must be free to consume this information at their own pace, deciding for themselves when and to what extent they interact with your messaging.

    There are numerous digital visualization methods, such as email, banner ads and pay-per-click links, to name a few. But without doubt one digital method attracts more attention than any other, video.


    Video is the king of content, allowing the viewer to passively consume information with minimal investment of time or effort. It is much easier for a member of your audience to grasp a complicated concept conveyed through an explainer video that effortlessly walks that viewer, step-by-step, through the entire process. Studies show that given the choice of learning more about a product or service by reading written materials versus watching a video, the user almost always prefers video.

    This demand for video is only growing and 82% of all internet traffic will be made up of video by 2021. That’s only four years away! If you’re wondering where all this spare time comes from, consider 80% of audiences would rather watch live video from a brand than read a blog.

    Social Media

    The various social media platforms are an excellent way for brands to connect with their customers. Each platform has its own quirks, and you should strive to create content tailored for the strengths of each.

    Facebook:: Facebook severely limits the amount of text that can exist on graphical brand advertising. This means concepts should be visualized with bold, engaging visuals and minimal text to make that quick connection and encourage clicking on the image to learn more.

    Twitter:: The platform that made its name 140 characters (now 280) at a time has fully embraced images and video, allowing brands more flexibility in how they connect with customers. A tweet’s lifespan is less than 20 minutes in some cases, and on top of that, users are only retaining 10% of text-based information after three days. However, to speak to the power of visualization, if that same copy is paired with an image, users retain 65% of the information after three days.

    Instagram:: This platform has always been about the visuals, and smart brands continue to connect with beautiful, compelling visuals and photography.

    Additional channels to consider are LinkedIn, Snapchat and Pinterest. Make sure to align these platforms with your messaging and audiences when adding visual content to the mix.


    An unexpected contender for content visualization is the meme. It may seem juvenile or unprofessional, but there’s no disputing the meme’s power to convey a concept virally across the internet. Clearly not appropriate for all brands or all occasions, the meme nevertheless can provide a fun way to visualize a concept for the right brand and the right audience.


    Traditional/Mass Media

    Much of the discussion around the content visualization trend centers around so-called “new media” channels. But it doesn’t start and end there—the same easy to understand executions help boost engagement and understanding in traditional marketing tactics such as print, out-of-home, broadcast and direct mail.

    Moreover, these approaches are often thought of as “shotgun marketing,” but the reality is that all of these tactics have become more tightly targeted in the last decade. This allows you to create content that is not only visualized in a fashion that is easy to understand, but it can also be tailored to specific audiences.

    Visualize Consistency

    When visualizing your various messages, it’s important to apply the same high standards as you would any other aspect of your brand. This attention to detail ensures brand consistency for your audience.

    For example, if your social media team is pushing out shareable images on Facebook, those graphics should work with the infographics your sales team is putting into their presentations, and so on. Brand consistency is critical, regardless of the reach or impact any individual touch point may have. Developing a brand standards guideline and sharing it with all internal stakeholders will help this effort.

    Visualize Greater Customer Engagement

    Your audience is bombarded with an overwhelming amount of information on a daily basis, all competing for their shortening attention span. This trend is only going to accelerate in the near future.

    To make the most of each messaging opportunity, you need to develop strategies to lengthen each engagement and connect with your customers in meaningful ways. One of the most impactful methods is to convert your information and content into dynamic and captivating visual representations that capture your customers’ attention and keeps them coming back for more.

    Digital Transformation is an article featured in our 2018 Trends publication. Download your free copy here

    Additionally, if you are interested in learning more, listen to our corresponding thunder::cast episode.


  • Episode 72 - Trends Volume 9: Achieving Accessibility in Digital Marketing
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  • Meeting Your Customers Where They Live
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