Words, words, words.
Do you ever feel like you spend all day reading?
And as a business owner and marketer — do you ever wonder how you can make your words stand out from everyone else’s?
You’re right to be concerned! Every day, the average office worker receives 121 emails.
That’s a lot of information to process.
You may wonder if your email marketing messages are even welcome.
I have good news for you: 72 percent of consumers say email is their favorite mode of communication.
They prefer to hear from you in their inboxes.
But because we know their inboxes are crowded, let’s talk about how to make your message stand out from all the rest.
Visual marketing: A challenge and an opportunity
One simple way to stand out in the inbox is to make your marketing visual with images.
Wait … don’t run off! Images and visual marketing aren’t just for designers.
Anyone can learn to use images to draw attention to their marketing messages.
If you’re not a confident visual marketer, this article aims to help you take the first baby steps toward becoming one. Read on to get started.
How to get started with visual marketing
Visual marketing means conveying your messages using images, not just words.
But why not stick to words alone?
Language is processed in particular parts of the brain. The language-processing parts stay busy — we’re reading and listening to language from the time we awake until we close our eyes and lay our heads on our pillows.
Images are processed in a less busy part of the brain, separate from the verbal processing parts. And images are processed fast — in just 13 milliseconds, according to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study.
The good news is …
As a business owner and marketer, you can take advantage of this speed to make your message stand out in inboxes!
One baby step you can take toward becoming a confident visual marketer is to get into the habit of adding images to your marketing messages in email and on your website.
Write your marketing message first, then look for an image to:
- Illustrate the concepts you’re talking about
- Entice your reader by depicting an attractive end result
- Grab attention and encourage people to read more
If you’re ready to dip your toe into visual marketing, read on for three simple tips that will help you get started.
Step 1: Bookmark your favorite photo sites to make image search fast
Have you ever suffered from self-induced stock photo hypnosis?
OK — I totally made that up. But you know what I’m talking about, right?
It’s that woozy feeling you get after scrolling through page after page of little thumbnail photos, looking for the “best” photo to use in your marketing.
Let’s avoid that fate! Start by picking favorites.
- Find a handful of stock photo sites that reliably feature images that work for your business
- Choose no more than 3-4 sites total
- Bookmark those sites in your browser so you can find them easily
- Do NOT use Google Image Search to look for photos to use — you could get yourself into legal hot water
A few free stock photo sites to consider are:
- Pexels, for beautiful free images from talented photographers
- Pixabay, for a wide variety of images and robust search with filtering
- Unsplash, for gorgeous images of landscapes, objects, and people
If you’re a Constant Contact customer, uploading an image to your email messages is easy: it’s a drag-and-drop or one-click task.
I’m often asked about paid stock photos. My go-to site is Shutterstock.com. Constant Contact customers are able to access free and paid images from Shutterstock right inside your account!
Step 2: Get choosy about your stock photos
Not all images are created equal. Let’s go over what to look for and what to avoid as you scroll through those thumbnail images.
Show the “after” photo. Prospects and customers are attracted to your product or service because of the transformation it delivers. They buy the result — not the process by which you deliver the result.
So when searching for photos:
- Avoid showing your customer in their “before” state. Don’t show the hungry person — show them once they’re satisfied!
- Avoid showing unhappy or angry people. Remember, the best images sell the transformation — show what that evolution looks like once it’s done.
- Avoid showing messy spaces or “before” type photos. There’s a place for “before and after” photos … but in the immediate environment of an inbox, you’re safer sticking to the “after” image.
Don’t chop off heads. Human beings are hard-wired to respond to faces — they signal what humans are feeling! Scroll past images that show everything-but-the-face. Keep looking until you find a photo with a happy/satisfied expression that communicates a feeling.
Avoid photos that are too busy. Remember, people are “reading” your image to extract meaning. If you have a choice between a visually busy photo or a simple one, choose the simple one.
Step 3: Find an image editing platform to learn and love
Back in the “old days,” (like, fifteen years ago), you had to be a professional designer with access to expensive tools like Adobe Photoshop if you wanted to edit images yourself.
Today, you don’t need expensive software tools to crop, add filters, or add text to your images. You can do these basic image editing tasks using free online tools.
Here are a few free tools to get you started:
- Canva, for smart tools that allow you to design everything from an image to a book cover
- PicMonkey, for friendly, easy-to-use (but powerful!) image and design editing tools
- In-app editors like the one in Constant Contact, for on-the-spot cropping, sizing, and light editing
A warning (and some advice): When you first start editing images, any platform will feel unfamiliar and awkward. The only way to push past the discomfort is to continue to use the same platform consistently over time.
Make it a goal to find an image editing tool that you like and use it until you feel comfortable with everything it can do for you.
When you find the right tool and get comfortable with it, your visual marketing confidence will soar.
Let’s make this the year you put visual marketing to work for your business
Your prospects and customers want to hear from you in their inboxes.
But you’ve got some competition there!
Use images to stand out from all the other messages your prospects and customers see.
To take your first baby steps toward using images, start with these tips:
- Bookmark a few favorite photo sites to make image search fast
- Practice avoiding “bad” images: people with their heads chopped off; “before” images; overly busy images.
- Find an image editing platform and use it until you feel comfortable with it.
Visual marketing is here to stay. Make this the year you become a confident visual marketer so your messages get noticed, read, and clicked!