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Visual Content Marketing Makes Everything You Do Better

How Humans are Optimized for Visual Content (And Why it Matters)

Silverback Strategies



Visual content marketing world continues to evolve. We see continued emphasis on visual content through significant updates to almost every major social media/sharing platform:

  • Facebook's 2019 F8 update announcements included new tools for Instagram and an emphasis on VR development. Facebook has also made News Feed and Ads Manager changes in the recent past that highlighted and prioritized features like social video and multimedia content. 
  • LinkedIn has gone "all-in" on B2B video with video for Sponsored Content and Company Pages, according to Phil Spitzer. "Native video (represents) the next evolution of LinkedIn...(and) lets you engage with business decision-makers throughout the buyer’s journey on Linkedin," Spitzer notes. 
  • Twitter has taken steps to become a major video player, as well. "We want to make sure that people can find credible content and engage safely in conversing and connecting with that content," Twitter's Sarah Personette told AdWeek. "All of the in-stream video sponsorships and in-stream video ads enable our clients to put their content in front of high-quality premium audiences at scale that is brand-safe — full stop."

There’s also the growth of Facebook’s Watch platform, IGTV, the increasingly robust data and creator tools available for YouTube advertisers and creators, the monstrous growth of Amazon’s Twitch, and much, much more.

But why?

What is Visual Content Marketing?

Our brains have been optimized for visual experiences. We have evolved to add sophisticated language skills to compliment our visual abilities — but reading printed text is not a natural experience for our brains.

“Processing print isn’t something the human brain was built for,” Marcel Just, Director of the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon University, said in an interview with Neiman Reports.“The printed word is a human artifact. It’s very convenient, and it’s worked very well for us for 5,000 years, but it’s an invention of human beings. By contrast, Mother Nature has built into our brain our ability to see the visual world and interpret it.

Visual content marketing is the use of multimedia — games, video, photo, design elements — to capture attention and drive user action while incorporating the tactics we traditionally consider to be digital content marketing (lead generation and nurturing assets, email marketing and social media management).

Visual content marketing moves users through the buyer's journey, answering specific questions and moving users towards conversion points while providing interesting, enjoyable experiences in a format that can be more powerful than the simple written word.

Visual Content Marketing Works Because Our Brains are Made for Looking.

We look at the street as we drive, at the TV as we watch Netflix, at one another when we speak, at our phones as we scroll through Instagram. We constantly crave new visual stimulation. When we see something interesting, we lock in — it's science.

"When subjects direct attention to a particular location in a visual scene, responses in the visual cortex to stimuli presented at that location are enhanced, and the suppressive influences of nearby distractors are reduced," according to the Laboratory of Brain and Cognition at the National Institute of Mental Health. 

What is visual content marketing good for? These cravings have increased as our brains to become hyper-optimized to absorb and decipher complex visual information in milliseconds. Visual content marketing takes advantage of our fine-tuned processing power.

People talk about "short attention span" as something that's bad — we've simply learned to make decisions much faster.

According to TED-ed, “Technology has begun to rewire our nervous systems—and our brains are being triggered in a way they never have before in history.”

So how, as marketers, should we adjust to this constant need for visual stimulation? Visual content marketing is the answer. 

Understanding Visual Content Marketing

Visual content marketing uses graphics, images, and video to convey information in an engaging format and attract people to the information that’s important to their customer journey.

Facebook is changing its News Feed. The goal: prioritize the content shared in groups and events as well as content that sparks relevant and meaningful communication because engagement is a much healthier state of social interaction than passive scrolling. 

And where are those new group recommendations going to start? In the places where people already spend a lot of time in Facebook — the visual components of the platform.

"We're also making it easier to find and engage with groups throughout the Facebook experience," the Facebook Community Blog reported on April 30. "We'll start recommending groups that are relevant to what people are doing within Marketplace, Today In, the Facebook Gaming tab and Facebook Watch. For example, if someone is watching Red Table Talk in Facebook Watch, we'll show them an option to join the Red Table Talk Fan group so they can watch and discuss each episode with other fans...We're also piloting a new gaming groups feature that will allow members to create different chat threads and connect around topics of shared interests."

What this means to marketers: visual content increasingly offers an opportunity to drive users into deeper and richer social conversations. People want to discuss what they've seen. 

Instagram recently updated its algorithm to show more posts the app thinks users will “like.” It is based on past behavior to similar content and machine vision analyzing the actual content within the post. As pictures and videos receive more likes, the more likely they are to show up at the top of a follower’s feed.

Instagram also implemented IGTV this past year to give businesses and influencers a way to post long-form videos and engage in new ways with followers.

As marketers, understanding this ongoing shift toward visual is imperative, which is why first, we look to science.

Stats That Support Visual Content Marketing

Vision and visual processing are two of the most researched areas of cognitive science, giving us insight into why humans are so receptive to pictures, videos, and other visual information and why it is a great way to interact with consumers. 

Human brains are made for visual processing. Visual content is easier to digest and retain.

  • Combining relevant images with text increases how much your audience remembers by 650%.
  • People remember 80% of what they see and do and only about 20% of what they read.
  • 50-80% of the human brain is dedicated to visual processing such as vision, visual memory, colors, shapes, movement, patterns, spatial awareness, and image recollection.
  • Our eyes can register 36,000 visual messages per hour.
  • 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual.

Colors capture our attention.

  • 81% of people only skim the content they read online.
  • Visuals with color increase people's willingness to read a piece of content by 80%.
  • Color differences between the content and the background enhance people’s ability to focus their attention on the content itself.
  • People read colors advertisements 42% more often than non-colored advertisements.

 Studies show that color:

  • Increases recall by 82%.
  • Increases brand by 80%.
  • Increases comprehension by 73%.
  • Improves readership by 40%.


Our brain loves to be stimulated.

  • If you hear a piece of information, three days later you will only remember 10%. By adding an image, recall can increase up to 65%.
  • The average attention span of a human is 8 seconds, compared to a goldfish that is 9 seconds.
  • When available, 59% of senior executives would rather watch a video than read text.
  • People following directions with text and illustrations do 323% better than people following directions without illustrations.

Visual information is fast to consume. We can understand it in only an instant.

  • Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text.
  • It takes up to twice as long to process and recognize words.
  • Studies suggest we are 10x faster at taking in image-related information.
  • An MIT study published reports “we can understand the meaning of an image in only 13 milliseconds” -- 10x faster than the blink of an eye.
  • The brain takes less than a second to process visuals; it takes 150 milliseconds to process an image and another 100 milliseconds to attach any meaning to it.
  • We can remember up to 2,000 pictures with only a little learning.

Make Visual Content Marketing Part of Your Strategy.

Everyone else is trying to steal your prospect's attention, all of the time. The volume of content available online means marketers only have a split second to grab users’ attention. 

Research has shown that visuals captivate users’ attention and lead to greater engagement on your social media.

Visual content...

  • Increases brand recognition by up to 80%.
  • Improves readership as much as 40%.
  • Increases comprehension by 73%.
  • Can be up to 85% of the reason people decide to buy your product or service.
  • Is more than 40x more likely to get shared on social media.

Did you know...

  • Facebook live videos have an engagement rate of 4.3% compared to 2.2% for non-live videos.
  • Tweets with images get 150% more retweets, 89% more favorites, and 18% more clicks than without images.
  • Social media users watch on average 1.5 hours of video content a day.
  • Facebook posts from brands that include images earn 87% of all engagements on Facebook.
  • Articles with an image every 75-100 words or so received double the social media shared articles with few pictures.

Improve Your Digital Marketing Program.

Silverback Strategies can help build out a visual content marketing program that improves your paid search and media, SEO and performance marketing goals. Learn how — contact us today.