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5 Scientific Reasons Visual Storytelling Will Grow Your Business

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Matt Wujciak


“I’m a visual learner.” We’ve heard it time and time again. Whether you’re trying to come up with an excuse for falling asleep at your co-worker’s presentation, or you can’t figure out why your 8-year-old refuses to do homework on anything but the latest iPad, we’ve heard the excuse before. Only it’s not an excuse. We all indeed are visual learners. And some marketers are beginning to take notice.


Increase Product Retention

One of the very first steps in the customer experience journey starts with the interaction potential customers have with your brand, including the media they consume. Your click-through rates and Google Analytics numbers may be promising, but are they actually consuming your content? A recent study by John Medina, molecular biologist and NY Times bestselling author, showed that our information retention increases from 10 – 65% when adding visuals to written content. Not to mention, 83% of human learning is visual. Regardless of the media platform, if you are trying to sell a product or service, your message is 55% more likely to be processed and remembered if you are adding some form of an effective visual to the content (perhaps embedding informational infographics of a product feature into your blog post about a new launch, or regaining the attention of a webinar audience with stimulating images). 


Impact Purchasing Decision

Visuals do not simply impact retention; they also influence our decision-making. Jan Brascamp, assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University, conducted a study to answer this question. What he found was that the visual cortex (the part of the brain that processes sight) can impact our decisions and perceptions without any help from the more “rational” areas of our mind associated with decision making. The cognition of the visual cortex begins the process that taps into consumer’s emotions and desires, not reasoning. It’s like seeing a Saquon Barkley jersey at MetLife stadium (where you’re surrounded by Giants visuals) and buying it in-person for 4x the Amazon price. “That is one sense in which our study is counterintuitive and surprising… The part of the brain that is responsible for seeing, for the apparently ‘simple’ act of generating the picture in our mind’s eye, turns out to have the ability to do something similar to choosing, as it actively switches between different interpretations of the visual input without any help from traditional ‘higher level’ areas of the brain.” Embedding visuals in marketing content will generate a higher chance of not only getting your message retained by potential customers but driving them to purchase the product.


Builds a Following

Adding visuals to content can emphasize your message, keep people scrolling through your posts, and leave them with your brand name in mind, only to subconsciously stumble upon it later. Embedding a few visuals to a video, webinar, presentation, newsletter, or social media post can add variety and intrigue the audience while making the message clear and concise. In addition to using charts and graphs to drive points home, it is also beneficial to mix in cartoons, photos, and screen captures to keep readers wholly engaged. Viewers are constantly asking themselves subliminal questions throughout a piece of media: Should I keep scrolling? Should I click on that ad at the bottom? Do I trust this Sigmund Freud imposter? This can create a complementing balance of insightful information with visually appealing and engaging content. 


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Competitive Advantage

Visual storytelling strategies are becoming increasingly important with digital marketers and creative influencers. That doesn’t mean the playing field is even, as some content creators are more effective at getting their message across than others. For example, a good graphic designer might occasionally use the color red in an important Facebook ad, which is more likely to stimulate viewers in a powerful infographic, according to the Psychology of Color. A good developer might use the right shapes and visuals to create a story that triggers warm emotions as viewers scroll down a landing page. Why not apply creative concepts like these across different outlets and media platforms? For example, many email marketing campaigns and newsletters use the same plain text practices in 2019 as 1999. Visual storytelling is a way for organizations to utilize creativity to not only get their message across and appeal to subscribers but differentiate their brand on a reasonable dime.

AirBnB Email Ad 

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Visual storytelling can be a grey area when it comes to a digital marketing budget. It might be easy to focus on the expenses of high-quality video footage, production, graphic designers, etc., and avoid certain content strategies altogether, until the organization can comfortably afford the investment. However, many resources are free, easy to learn, and are easily scalable as you start to grow and acquire that desired marketing budget. Visual storytelling does not need to be expensive and perfectly produced to be effective. Real stories that allow you to be vulnerable and authentic in front of your audience will often outperform big-budget projects, and free visuals are a great way to capture that authenticity.