The making of a successful marketing campaign is a long and complicated process that requires numerous different assets. The trick here is that the audience always wants to take in never-before-seen, original, and intriguing content. It is a constant headache for marketers and creative leads.
A “simple” and effective method of attracting your target audience to your marketing campaign is implementing appealing and engaging visual content.
Maybe that is not new information to you, but do you know exactly which types of images to use? Should they be perfectly styled or have a real-life vibe? Which visuals are the ones that will contribute the most to the success of your campaign?
We have researched several marketing campaigns from the past years and found a solution – authentic visuals perform the best.
What is so special about visuals in ads?
Humans are visual lovers. It is proven that people memorize what they see 80% better than what they read. According to Cision, the span of human attention is only 8 seconds. Furthermore, visual stimuli have the biggest impact on our emotional processing, meaning no other medium stimulates our emotions nearly as much as images do.
That’s exactly what makes visuals in ads so special.
- Using the right visual in your advertisement will not only grab your customers’ attention but, most importantly, evoke an emotional response, which was proven to be the main driver of our purchasing decisions.
- Emotions are also linked to forming stronger memories. This means that even if your customer doesn’t buy now, they are more likely to remember your ad because of the impact it had on them and return to you later.
- Original, authentic visuals do not only help viewers remember your campaign but they differentiate you from the competitors. They can improve your brand recognition and demonstrate your creativity and the effort you put into your work.
Take the picture below as an example. What do you see? A beautiful image of happy children playing in the forest. Now imagine trying to describe this happiness with words, without an image. It’s not as attention-grabbing, is it?
By adding an image to your campaign, you can boost the audience’s engagement. Moreover, they will remember it for longer. Why? Because it evokes emotions. These feelings make images more relatable than texts.
This does not mean that we should replace all the text with images. However, carefully chosen visuals can increase your ad campaign’s visibility, as well as skyrocket user acquisition and engagement.
How to recognize the difference between authentic and stock-looking images?
There are different ways for marketing teams to create images or performance videos for ad campaigns or other initiatives. Many companies opt for the old ways.
Instead of hiring a professional photographer or an agency, they make use of stock images.
The memes about staged images have been flying around for several years now. The reason for that is the total lack of authenticity in these photographs. We, as consumers, have become ‘immune’ to staged and fake-looking pictures. This type of image no longer conveys the right message to the viewers, making the marketing campaigns irrelevant and unsuccessful.
‘Hide the pain Harold’, who became an overnight internet sensation in 2011, is a great example of stock images and their non-authentic look. The awkwardness of the pose and the tension in his expression made him “the meme of the decade”.
If you are wondering whether the image you think of using in your advertisement is stocky, then just think of Harold. If there is an overlap between the look of your chosen image and Harold, you risk having your customer wincing with repulsion when seeing your ad, rather than gasping with amazement.
So, what does “authentic” really mean if we know what its absence looks like?
In the context of visuals, authenticity refers to humanized, lifelike, emotional content that people can relate to. Authentic visuals present life as it is, emotional and real, rather than cold and staged, with a beauty filter slapped on top of that.
To help you identify the key aspects that make visual content authentic, we have created this checklist (to understand it better, take a look at the image above).
- You can see a real person, in a real-life setting
- The picture gives you a particular emotion to which you can relate to some extent
- Weed out the white. The background and lighting used are also strong indicators of a photo’s authenticity. Watch out for plain, white surroundings, especially studio backdrops, and studio lamp effect
- The photo doesn’t look staged, aka. the subject’s expression is more natural and relaxed, omitting the Joker-like smile combined with cold, lifeless eyes
- There is no visible excessive editing
You can find more examples that showcase the difference between stock and authentic images here.
Other ways authentic visuals benefit your campaign
Original, authentic visuals do not only help viewers remember your campaign but they differentiate you from the competitors. They can improve your brand recognition and demonstrate your creativity and the effort you put into your work. It will make your campaign perform better by providing higher conversion rates. As a result, you will achieve your business goals faster.
This leads to another place where you will gain recognition – Google. As years go by, the search engine gets much more advanced. Google algorithms now value the quality of the content pieces and thoroughly recognize visual content.
Make sure to invest time in making the right decision when choosing what you will offer to the viewer, as everything that goes on the Internet lives there forever, allowing you to look back at your old experiences and grow from them.
We can for sure say that using outstanding visuals brings many benefits and only adds value to the campaign. So, what is the article’s main takeaways?
- The focus of your marketing campaigns shouldn’t only be on the quality of the text but also on the quality of the images and videos used to support it.
- Never go for the mainstream fake-looking images. Those will only bring your campaign down. Use authentic visuals that show real people and real emotions.
- Connect the visuals you use in your marketing campaign with the written content. Visuals are the ones that catch the readers’ attention because they are processed much faster than words.
And don’t be afraid to show the creative side of your campaigns. Good luck and stay authentic!
About the Authors
Viktoriya Stoyanova, Head of Sales and Growth-hacking, and Angelina Music, Junior Country Manager, work for JumpStory, an authentic stock image platform that contains millions of images, videos, illustrations, icons, and tools.