Visual marketing is understandably a well-documented part of marketing, but there's often plenty of room for improvement in terms of implementation.
The world of marketing is chock-full of boring and generic stock images that add absolutely nothing to one's content and serve only to make it look the same as everyone else's. Of course, stock images aren't the only no-no when it comes to defining a clear cut style with your visual marketing. but they're still not great.
With all of that said, that's not to say that all stock images are evil and you should stay away from them, but everyone should try to use them sparingly and, when they do, add some element of customisation to them.
A great example of using stock images perfectly would be Dig-In, who add their own flair and branding to differentiate their use of images from other content creators...
Anyway, this isn't all about the use of royalty-free images. Here's some more tips!
1. Make sure your images are high quality
It's the bare minimum really. You absolutely need and want to have pictures on your website pages and so do your visitors. With that said, you'd be better off having no pictures on your website pages if they all look like this...
Rubbish. Rubbish rubbish rubbish. I really hope no-one quickly scrolls through this article and just sees that picture without the context. That would be the opposite effect of what I want this article to do.
Anyway, with low quality or poorly-produced pictures on your site, people will automatically assume that your brand is comfortable with providing equally sh*t content and services.
Just as a quick aside, I'm actually quite fond of that picture. It was a bad example.
2. Be unique
This more or less goes back to the beginning of this article; have a unique brand style in your images and if you're going to use stock images, make them your own.
On top of this, try to get your branding involved in images and have a unique design element across your site. You'll have noticed that here on MarTech Alliance, we're quite fond of the humble hexagon and fun 90s motifs...
I know I work for us, but now when I see a pug or a hexagon, I think MarTech Alliance. It's exhausting. I'm always on.
3. Use branded infographics
Infographics are engaging and more eye-catching than a generic list of stats and graphs, etc. Another perk of infographics is that they also have the capacity to go viral in their own right.
It's pretty often that you'll see some infographic with 10 billion likes and shares, so why wouldn't you want a part of that?
According to this Content Marketing Institute report, infographics have had a 67% increase in usage among B2B marketers in the last four years.
To make sure you get the benefits of your infographic going viral, make sure you brand them, and have your branding in an area of the graphic that isn't easy to crop out. People love cropping logos out of images and then re-sharing them as their own.
4. Sort out your metadata
Make sure the filename, alt text and other details of your images are optimised for SEO. A huge amount of web traffic comes from image searches on Google and to benefit from that, you need to dive into the SEO bonanza of life.
Use Google Analytics to track any changes in your traffic due to images and change your alt texts and filenames to align with your page keywords and whatnot.
5. Be consistent
I mentioned the consistency of Dig-In earlier and if you look on their Instagram account, their branding is entirely consistent across literally all of their platforms, which is the ultimate way of using images.
I said that you should make stock images - and any images for that matter - your own, but there's really no point in making them all look fun and zany if they all look like they belong to different brands.
Branding is very important, but consistency in that branding is what makes it actually work.