7 Types of Designs That Will Improve Your Content Marketing
Design is an essential part of an effective content marketing strategy, so here are the types of designs that will take your content to the next level.
As a student of playwriting, I learned it’s always better to show, not tell. Well, although written content is necessary for helping your site rank high in search engines, audiences are much more likely to respond to pieces of content that also use visuals.
Here are a few eye-opening stats:
- People process visuals 60,000 times faster than text and remember 80% of what they see compared to 20% of what they read (Hubspot)
- Over 63% of businesses rely heavily on visual content in their marketing strategy (Venngage).
- The share rate for articles with an image for every 75-100 words is 200% (Finances Online)
- An impressive 95% of B2B consumers say content marketing impacts their purchase decision (Visme).
- Almost 80% of B2B companies have a content marketing strategy (Content Marketing Institute)
When writing a blog post, there are so many things to consider: who’s your target audience; what is their search intent; what are the relevant keywords, how does an article fit into your more complete brand story?
Well, the good news is that visual content marketing can help you with all of that.
For example, the cohesive blog covers created following your brand guidelines will immediately speak to your audience and help build brand awareness.
An excellent example is Semrush’ blog. The covers are simple, use only one colour and simple, flatline illustrations to convey what the article is about quickly.
Next, highlighting key pieces of information or breaking down complex processes and concepts into an accessible visual format will improve your reader’s experience.
These graphics will help grab their attention and sometimes answer their search questions quickly. In turn, this will usually entice them to keep reading, which will improve your bounce rates and help your site rank higher in search engines.
If images are surrounded by quality content relevant to them and are placed on a site with a high domain ranking, they also rank high in Google image search. Again, placement is critical, as it will help the search engine determine whether your content is high quality or not.
But, many people forget to correctly name their images and add meta titles and descriptions to help search engines understand what these images represent. Finally, massive file sizes that slow down your website are bad for SEO, so make sure you resize everything for web use.
Data visualization is one of the biggest trends in content marketing. As people’s attention span is getting shorter by the day, it makes sense we all wish to make complex data more digestible and easier to understand.
There are many different types of infographics, such as:
- Statistical: These can be simple charts and graphs or infographics that present research results and numbers. Usually designed with minimal text, you can also use other visual elements such as icons to make them more attractive.
- Informational: Used to present different pieces of information coherently. They are often divided into chunks with clear headings and have more text than statistical infographics.
- Timeline: Ideal for presenting the evolution of something, whether it’s historical events or a project. Design can help you highlight a specific moment in time. However, there should also be a clear through-line that connects that provides a visual sense of time.
- Process: Used to show the steps in a particular process. They’re chronological, so the order of things (left to right, top to bottom) is a critical design concern here, and design elements such as arrows will allow people to follow the steps in order.
- Comparison: This is perhaps one of the most used types of infographics in content marketing. Since people often turn to Google to find out if one product or service is better than another, giving them a quick visual summary of the two (or more) is a great way to improve your content.
Infographics are perhaps the most valuable piece of content, and this value shows. Hubspot found that articles with infographics get 178% more links and infographics receive 3 times more shares than any other visual content format.
Social media graphics
Although you could argue that social media is oversaturated with both written and visual content, the statistics point to the importance of making social media stand out visually.
On Facebook, graphics receive 105% more engagement than links, while tweets with images receive 150% more retweets.
So, if you want to create a shareable piece of content for social media, it needs to be accompanied by strong visuals.
Fortunately, there are several ways. You can create interactive stories or how-to videos with screenshots and screencasts (remember, people, remember visual information much better!).
You can even make use of popular memes and GIFs to give your channels a more playful tone if appropriate.
A great example to learn from is Hubspot. Their blog is known as the digital marketing bible, but it also excels at visual content marketing. They create simple graphics to convey exciting data and information or even to put a smile on the face of their audience.
And bearing in mind that they also manage to do that whilst keeping up a consistent brand identity, it’s pretty impressive!
Calls to action (CTAs)
A strong CTA is an essential component of any marketing effort, whether a landing page or an email. CTAs should be clear, catchy, timely, and inspire a sense of urgency for content. They should fit seamlessly into the overall user experience, and good design can help with this.
There are tons of marketing tools out there you can use for building landing pages or crafting email marketing campaigns. Although many offer great pre-designed templates, you should still consider customizing them, especially the essential element, the call to action.
If you’re a non-designer, you might think that the only effective way to do it is bright colours and giant letters, but in reality, just CTAs should also adhere to the general principles of good design.
Take a look at this example from Blue Apron. The clever copy is a great way to inspire a sense of FOMO (the wording of “reject $30 off” and the timer). However, the design is not overly loud, thanks to plenty of white space and a soothing colour like blue.
The CTA button is a contrasting colour. However, instead of the red that many colour psychology findings associated with aggressive feelings, it’s orange: often associated with optimism, imagination and communication.
Of course, well-designed emails are essential for your content marketing, as well as sales. Here’s another excellent example from Aisle, a manufacturer of sustainable period products.
You’d expect an innovative company like this to produce some high-quality and engaging content. Still, when you also receive a beautifully designed email like this one, you’ll likely immediately sign up for their mailing list.
Instead of overly used pink palettes, the brand used these muted colours and simple shapes to create a more elegant, minimalist feel.
Research suggests that stock photos are the least effective type of visual. Of course, this comes as no surprise. Your customers will likely have seen the same photos many times, and these often don’t inspire a sense of trust or authenticity.
However, original photos are a different story altogether. Especially with e-commerce, around 75% of people rely on product photos before committing to a purchase.
Of course, you might not have the skills of a professional photographer. Still, if you have a talented graphic designer on hand, who knows a thing or two about photo manipulation, you can end up with a tremendous web-friendly product shot that will convince people to buy.
Adding effects like duotone, small illustrations, or gradients is another way to make stock photos more exciting and in line with your brand's style. Many big companies and corporations use these tricks, so it’s perfectly fine for a small business to try something similar.
A great example to look up to is Buffer. They often combine photos with simple shapes and illustrations, which perfectly fits its youthful and hip nature.
Custom illustrations are one of the most effective ways to make your designs unique and eye-catching. There are plenty of free ones you can grab online, but ideally, you’d create something that perfectly fits your business.
When it comes to content marketing, illustrations are a powerful asset to have. You can use them in all the content above formats and standalone elements such as, for example, mascots.
Who can forget about Duolingo’s incessant owl or Mailchimp’s cheeky monkey? Characters add personality to your brand and can help increase brand recognition.
Of course, you should choose the style of your illustrations carefully, following your brand’s style. Here are a few of the most popular ones:
- Flat: Simple 2D illustrations that have gained massive popularity in recent years are a perfect, versatile visual asset for businesses to use across the board.
- Line art: This type makes a lot of use of negative space and usually gives designs a gentle, elegant look.
- Photorealism: This is a very complex type of digital illustration that mimics photography.
- 3D Illustration: Unlike flat design, this style is used to depict objects in 3D and is often used in product design.
- Pencil or charcoal: For a more traditional look, these types of illustrations offer a lovely vintage feel.
If you have time and creativity to spare, then consider including comics in your content marketing strategy. Of course, the first thing you need to assess is whether your brand suits this kind of light-hearted content.
Comics is an excellent tool for compelling storytelling, ultimately what good content marketing is all about. You don’t want people to land on your blog to learn about your company simply.
The goal of content marketing is to teach your audience something or make them feel something.
One creative example of this comes from Cisco, a producer of telecommunication hardware. As part of their campaign to promote new cyber security services, they created a graphic novel focused on internet safety.
The approach works for several different reasons. First, it’s fun, creative and probably unlike most marketing campaigns from a similar milieu. Next, it features a main character (called Super Smart), which allows for more excellent emotional investment from the reader.
Finally, it’s a way for a brand to share information without being drab or salesy. The comic tells the story of how important it is to stay safe online and, implicitly, that you need a trusted service to help you with that.
No matter how much effort you put into writing valuable and informative content, your marketing efforts won’t be successful in the long term without good visuals. Graphic design makes content more engaging and helps people remember information better.
In that respect, it’s also seen as more valuable content and helps you for a more traditional lookThesebuild trust and reputation for your company.