Bulletin of the Transilvania University of Braşov
Series V: Economic Sciences • Vol. 8 (57) No. 2 - 2015
Marketing engagement through visual content
Abstract: Engaging visual is a must in the modern marketing world. Wide access to mass
communication devices, with extended visuals enhancements, made visual content an
important point of interest for any publisher, on all media channels. The decreasing costs
and huge variety of types are premises for an easy and effective marketing investment, with
strong benefits for any company and its brands. Loyal customers are achieved and kept
through visual content; the lack of it in the general marketing strategy of any producer is a
question mark that can lead to a diminishing market share.
Key-words: visual content, marketing engagement, video, photo, brand image
Human perception is mostly visual. Over 90% of the daily processed information
comes from visual receptors. The written language started and probably will end
with pictures: drawings, hieroglyphs, icons, symbols. (No wonder that the word of
these days is “selfie”!)
There are several factors that have made visual content so important in present
It is easier to understand, often beyond the cultural and linguistic barriers.
It is shorter - and 95% of the B2B clients prefer short, visual, mobile-
optimized content (Taylor 2014). Users have now the shortest attention
span of all times (probably the proper name for this era is the light-speed
Most people remember 80% of what they see and only 20% of what they
Visual content is more likely to be shared across the respective platform,
between friends, family and business partners. It is eye-catching and has a
direct effect on human emotions.
Last, but not least, the affordability of the needed hardware (by
technological progress) and proliferation of the necessary software (very
1 Transilvania University of Braşov, firstname.lastname@example.org
easy to use nowadays, even by the newcomers of the field) made the
production of visual content much easier and a lot cheaper.
In conclusion, visual content is an important and valuable tool for modern
2. Types of visual content
There are three major types of visual content:
1) Illustrations, as any message conveyed by a static visual composition; this can
consist of drawings, photos and, as a newer development, memes. In all of
these the main part is the picture, accompanied by one or more pieces of text,
all with great responsibilities in terms of marketing.
2) Comics, as collections of images and text, structured in a certain order and
with a clear storyline. A special, modern, kind consists of infographics, which
present large amounts of information in a graphical structure, sometimes with
a visual “story” from the beginning to the end.
3) Videos, moving images in form of clips, short films which can tell a story or
convey a certain message, preferably both. Important subtypes are vines
(looping videos up to 6 seconds long) and gifs (looping slideshows of images,
packed in a single file).
From the marketing point of view, all of these have benefits:
- Illustrations are short, easy to comprehend (usually in seconds) and, of course,
simple as production process.
- Comics are good storytellers and more easily remembered.
- Videos are powerful through the dynamic of movement and good conveyers of
Using imagery of all sorts, companies can:
- Prove their expertise in the field;
- Develop a visual demonstration of the product;
- Present testimonials from current users;
- Tell little success stories, with the product as the main character;
- Transmit installation instructions and how-to manuals;
- Organize training sessions for the professionals.
For the content consumer or, in other words, the so-much-wanted client of the
publisher, marketing engagement is raised through visual content:
Visual information is processed much faster than the one presented in the
form of text.
Marketing engagement through visual content
Almost half of the viewers (46%) say the website design is the primary
criteria for establishing the credibility of the site (according to a Stanford
Persuasive Technology Lab with 2,440 participants).
Visual content is inspiring, with ideas on how to use the products, and
improves social engagement. Visitors stay longer if the message is presented
with compelling visuals.
From the publisher point of view, visual content is an important marketing tool:
The time needed for the comprehension of a visual ad is sensibly shorter than
the one necessary for a message consisting mainly of text.
Visual ads are more effective in convincing an audience to make a certain
decision (43% more, according to a 3M-sponsored study at the University of
Minnesota School of Management).
Visual content conveys emotions more easily and rapidly: very useful as long
as time is either not available (in case of highway ads, for example) or very
expensive (for television commercials).
Viewers are 85% more likely to purchase a product after watching a product
video (source: Internet Retailer).
Through visual content, the brand is “humanized” and easier to relate with.
As a consequence of the broad understanding of a visual message, marketing
costs for multinational companies are kept at lower levels.
On Twitter platform, the effect on retweets of an inclusion (versus otherwise text
only) is as follows:
Fig. 1. Change in retweets by inclusion (Roger 2014)
In a study on the impact of the Facebook timeline (Schoenfeld 2012), the
comparison between the engagement rates before and after the implementation of
the timeline showed that the brands gained:
- 14% in fan engagement;
- 46% increase in content engagement and
- 65% more in interactive content engagement, especially for the photo and
In another study (Sutton 2011) concerning pages with videos (and pages without),
the researchers concluded the following:
- Pages with videos attracted 2 to 3 times more monthly unique visitors;
- The average time-on-site spend per visitor was double.
In the 18 months period after the introduction of videos on site pages, the publishers
- 157% more search engine traffic;
- 100% increase in unique visitors and
- 63% more page views.
3. Visual content in action
There are many examples of successful applications of this visual content strategy
across the markets, as it can be seen in the following.
For the “Death of the Office” presentation from Intuit, the infographic is
drawn in real time, as soon as the visitor scrolls down the page. Rows of data are
revealing right in front of the viewer’s eyes, almost like the movement along the
page is essentially creating the presentation.
Instead of simply describing the technology, Volvo Trucks opted to show it
in action through one of the most memorable demonstration. They employed a
celebrity (Jean-Claude Van Damme) to do one of his famous splits with the soles of
his feet on the mirrors of two Volvo trucks driving backwards. This clever ad was
viewed for more than 80 million times (half of the views of the channel itself) and
raised the number of subscribers to over 126 thousand.
Equally impressive is the Hybrid Graphic Novel on Peugeot website, where
the new HYbrid4 technology features are explained throughout a visual, fast-paced,
graphic novel style adventure. The main character has to escape from different
dangerous situations, using various styles of movement; every step of the way was
transformed into an opportunity for the producer to describe, through an analogy, the
functionality of a specific feature.
The Old Spice campaign “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” consisted
in a series of clips shot in one take in an amazing (almost magical!) over-the-top
style, with the help of the charming personality (and voice) of Isaiah Mustafa. The
Marketing engagement through visual content
ads had up to 51 million views and pushed the number of channel subscribers to
almost 500 thousand. The series was cleverly followed by another series of 185
video responses to the viewers questions, all made in only 48 hours, a marketing
strategy that had huge benefits for the brand, in terms of notoriety and goodwill.
In a similar manner, BMW promoted the products of the brand through an 8
parts mini-series, staring Hollywood star Clive Owen, in which an important part
was played by the company cars. Each part was enjoyed by more than 2,5 million
viewers, resulting in a very efficient exposure with positive consequences for the
Fig. 2. Build Your Own Engine (GE 2014)
With a brilliant marketing move, General Electric took the visual content strategy
even further, publishing at Thingiverse the 3D printing schematics for a jet engine
(scaled, of course). Using that, anyone could make, in the comfort of their own
home and with the help of a 3D printer, a functional mini-model of a real jet engine;
the so-called “toy” gave the users a feeling of the real-life engineering and was a
surprisingly good recruitment tool.
4. The Future of Visual Content
Due to its importance, visual content receives a lot of attention from marketers
worldwide. According to the researchers (King 2015), the main trends concerning
this area of communication are the following:
Video becomes the content of choice, already dominating the social media
As a result of the introduction of their own video sharing platforms (or
services), YouTube will lose the first place in this field, but it could retain the
position if all devices are taken into consideration (aggregate views).
Technical innovations will change marketing (for example, there are already
available 360 degrees videos, which allow the user to change the viewing
angle of a video clip in real time, while watching).
Campaigns will change the focus from the information to the experience of
Visual marketing will reach new heights, across old and new platforms.
Direct buying (from almost all platforms) could become the norm: therefore,
visual content will have much bigger role in marketing, because will be
directly linked with a potential purchase.
Visual content has to be a focal point in any marketing strategy, because of its strong
relation with the human nature. The important impact of images and videos, along with
the ease of today’s production of graphical content, are critical factors in favour of
marketing engagement through visual content. With the help of images, in any form they
present themselves, brands can achieve the desired reach and recognition, making
marketing investments more efficient.
King, Cindy. Social Media Marketing Predictions for 2015. Available at:
www.socialmediaexaminer.com. Accessed on: 01 Jan.2015
Rogers, Simon. What fuels a Tweet’s engagement? Available at: www.twitter.com.
Accessed on: 10 March 2014
Taylor, Glenn. B2B Content Preferences Survey. Available at:
www.demandgenreport.com. Accessed on: 11 June 2014
Schoenfeld, Adam. The Impact of Facebook Timeline for Brands. Available at:
www.simplymeasured.com. Accessed on: 21 March 2015
Sutton, Adam T. Content Marketing. Available at: www.marketingsherpa.com.
Accessed on: 14 Dec. 2011