Your content marketing strategy can make or break your company’s reputation. If successful, it can attract new traffic to your site, earn you more conversions, and encourage more brand loyalty, but if you aren’t successful, it could leave readers with a negative impression of your brand.
One of the keys to improving your strategy in 2017 will be making your content more visually appealing— and there are a number of different angles you can take to do it.
Why Visual Appeal Is So Important
According to Single Grain, the readability of your content has a direct bearing on reader engagement, with formatting alone potentially responsible for a 124 percent increase in usability. But why is visual appeal so important in the first place? Shouldn’t the content itself matter more than how the content is presented?
- – Visuals attract attention. First, understand that the content marketing space is crowded. Thousands of businesses are running successful content marketing campaigns, and consumers can only read so many posts in a day. if you want to succeed, you need to stand out—and visuals help you do that.
- – Visuals differentiate your content. You can also use visuals to give your content a distinctive “feel,” ensuring a consistent and memorable experience for your readers (which encourages repeat visits).
- – Visually appealing content is easier to digest. Content that features a strong visual format is easier to understand, digest, and remember than content that is visually disorganized. According to Brain Rules, information jumps from 10 percent to approximately 65 percent when a visual is introduced.
- – Visuals allow you to guide readers’ eyes. With practice and ingenuity, you can use visuals to guide your readers’ eyes to key areas, forcing them down a track that could lead to a conversion opportunity or some major insight about your brand.
- – Mobile devices demand higher visual appeal. The rise of mobile devices also demands the introduction of more visual content. Since mobile devices have smaller screens and are often used on the go, visually accessible content is often prioritized over less organized content. With 80 percent of internet users owning smartphones (a number that’s growing), it’s time to satisfy that demand.
How to Make Your Content More Appealing
Try using these tricks to make your content more visually appealing and reap the benefits we listed above:
#1. Write shorter sentences.
Writing shorter sentences makes your information easier to digest. On the surface, it may seem like a longer sentence is better. Longer sentences carry more details and are able to describe things more thoroughly than their short counterparts. However, they also put more strain on the eye and force readers to remember more information before they get to the end. These sentences may work well for your upcoming series of fantasy novels, but if you’re trying to appeal to as many people as possible, you should strive for shorter sentences.
#2. Organize shorter paragraphs.
Paragraphs are useful ways to organize your information into visually recognizable chunks, but in the context of online content, they’re not necessarily useful. The problem is, big chunks of text are hard to skim, and harder to follow than in a physical novel. For readers who are impatient or pressed for time, you need to offer an alternative format—even if all your individual text chunks could conceptually flow together in a single paragraph. Try to limit each section of text to fewer than 100 words, and you’ll immediately notice an improvement in readability.
#3. Use sub-headers.
One of your greatest assets in visual content improvement are sub-headers. These are brief subtitles that you can include throughout your content to label sections according to their topics and direction. There are many advantages to this; sub-headers help readers visualize the distinction between sections and give them a stronger sense of changing direction when necessary. They also give “skimmers” anchor points they can use to get the gist of what your content is trying to say. Finally, they prepare readers for the content they’re about to read with a short summary or takeaway, which they can refer to later if they want to recap what they’ve just read.
#4. List everything you can.
According to Grammar Girl, vertically organized lists are easier to read and more memorable than their in-sentence listed counterparts. They also more referenceable, which is advantageous for skimmers and for those with poor short-term memory. Whenever you have a list of information to give your readers, organize it with bullet points, numbers, or some other vertical integration technique.
#5. Play with bold and italics.
You should also experiment with using variations of bold and italic text to emphasize key points within your content. Depending on your application, these could be used to highlight key points in your paragraphs, inform skimmers of the key takeaways from your post, or could just be used to make your post more playful and visually engaging. Bold and italics, if nothing else, keep your readers from getting bored.
#6. Rely on charts, graphs, and illustrations.
Whenever you can, include visual imagery in the body of your content. Most people are visual learners, which means they’re better at remembering things that are visually demonstrated to them. A chart or diagram will be more memorable and more interesting than the same information spelled out in textual format. You don’t have to be a master designer to create these images, either—even a simplistic stick-figure drawing can help you visually illustrate a point.
#7. Use a bold header image.
Finally, make sure your post has a bold header image. This is important to help draw your reader’s eye on your blog page, and will also help your post stand out when you start syndicating it on social media. The image should be related to your content, should be original, and should have some strong coloration or features to help it stand out.
No matter who your audience is, these tips will allow you to create more visually appealing, attention-grabbing forms of content. Your specific audience may require even further considerations; for example, some audiences respond better to infographics, while some audiences prefer to read the majority of their information.
Play around with different options, and test them against each other in a live environment. The more information you gather, the better and more visually interesting you can make your posts.