Hailey Friedman December 23rd, 2019

How to Use Design to Amplify Your Brand’s Content Marketing

We’re all familiar with the phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” And the same is true for good design.

Whether you’re viewing a print advertisement, a website page, or a blog post, the design has a major impact on your perception of the information and the brand. 

Think back to the last time you read a 3,000 word blog post with absolutely no images, no thought put into the layout, and no charts or graphs. Unless the information was incredibly compelling, your experiencing reading the blog post was probably pretty unmemorable. Maybe you even stopped reading and clicked off the page half way through. Being “unmemorable” is something that brands today can’t afford if they want to be competitive and win business. 

And that is exactly what is at the root of this article—why marketers need to make design a priority in their content marketing. According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), over 90% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketers are using content marketing to engage with their audience and generate leads.

Those statistics prove that your prospective customers are facing content overload. To break through the noise, your brand’s marketing assets need to stand out. In fact, you could argue that the design of your content could be the difference between a new customer and a lost sale.

Content + Emotion = Better Sales 

You might be wondering how design even fits into a content marketing strategy. After all, you don’t often use the words “writing” and “design” in the same sentence. Writing itself isn’t inherently visual, it’s about getting the facts onto paper and shaping it into a compelling and informative argument with the intent of generating intrigue.

But here’s the thing—design is linked to emotion, on both a conscious and subconscious level. When you decided to stop reading that boring 3,000 word blog post, it’s because you didn’t feel a connection to the content or the brand. The experience didn’t trigger an emotion that made you want to learn more. 

We also know that emotion has a huge impact on your brand’s ability to sell to customers. And the design of your content marketing assets can change the way people feel when they’re engaging with them. For example, most people would agree that seeing data laid out in an infographic is much more powerful than reading it in paragraph form. 

The design of your content also determines how accessible it is. That’s one of the reasons why videos, webinars, and even podcast hosting are effective lead generation strategies for many companies. You could publish a podcast script as a written Q&A on your blog, but it’s not as accessible as being able to listen to it passively or skip to sections you’re most interested in.

5 Tips for Using Design in Your Content Marketing

A good content marketing strategy starts with—you guessed it—good content. Part of that is using marketing analytics to track the types of content your audience is most interested in. But there’s always room to level up, and integrating good design into your content marketing is one way to do that. Here are some design tips that you can integrate into your content marketing to increase engagement.

1. Use Stock Images Sparingly

Stock photos can be both a blessing and a curse for marketers. On one hand, using stock photos will save you a lot of time and money. But they tend to lack authenticity and are often overused. That can make your content feel generic and uninspiring.

The images you use in your content as just as important as the writing. In fact, content that has images gets 94% more views than content without visuals. If you are going to use stock images, be very selective and use the ones that feel the most real. Better yet, pull out your camera and stage a mini photoshoot in your office for photos that show off your brand’s human side. Another great way to limit your use of stock photos is to use screenshots or create visuals with your data, and paste them throughout the content. 

2. Invest in Infographics

Marketers and consumers alike are drawn to infographics. Using infographics can boost your site traffic by 12%, and over 40% of marketers say that infographics are the most engaging form of visual content. Infographics can feel like a daunting task, especially if you don’t have a designer on staff. But there are dozens of tools that can make infographic design a breeze.

Infographics are a great addition to your content marketing because of their versatility. You can add an infographic to a relevant blog post, cut it down into snippets with the most compelling data, and even post it on social media. Infographics are the most effective way to illustrate data, charts and graphs, and make the information memorable. They are easy to digest, highly shareable, and some even go viral.  For example, if you're a Realtor in Chicago, you might consider publishing infographic and data visualization for specific neighbourhoods, like the info found on this page from ABODO.

3. Publish More Ebooks

When it comes to content marketing assets, ebooks are one of the most effective forms of content. It allows you to put a high volume of information into an easy-to-read, easy-to-digest format. Unlike traditional blog posts or white papers, ebooks don’t feel like information overload. It’s a great way to implement design into your content and drive your audience to learn more.

According to HubSpot, your brain can process visual information nearly 60,000 times faster than plain text. So in your next ebook, make sure you’re including images, screenshots, charts and graphs to help you readers remember the highlights. A combination of text and graphics can convey your information in a way that evokes emotion and creates a sense of urgency for the reader that will make them more likely to convert.

The Bottom Line

Good design is an important element of any effective content marketing strategy. Using design can amplify your content, attract more prospective customers, and entice readers to take action and learn more. There are dozens of tools, marketing courses, and resources available to help you determine which types of assets to create, and how to infuse design into your strategy. Marketers today need to be using their content to differentiate their brand from others in the industry, and using good design can help create a lasting impression and elevate your brand’s identity.

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Hailey Friedman

Hailey Friedman has led growth for startups in San Francisco and around the world, and writes about her wildly successful marketing and lead generation tactics on her blog Growth Marketing Pro. Today, Hailey is Head of Marketing at Improvado, a tool built for marketing and analytics leaders to unify all their marketing data into a single source of truth. She’s also the President of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of Badass Marketers and Founders, a highly curated Facebook group and community of over 15,000 professional marketers.

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