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How to Improve Content Marketing with Design

How to Use Marketing Design in Content Marketing

Nov 26, 2021
10 minutes

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Written content can improve your SEO and help people discover your brand. But design can improve the reader’s experience and increase engagement.

Almost every professional website today has a blog section. However, content marketing is much more than that.

Read on to learn why you should develop a content marketing strategy and what types of design can help you take your content to the next level.

Why use design in content marketing

Content marketing is cheap and effective. It can be successfully implemented even with a small team (Content Marketing Institute reports that 52% of B2C organizations have a small or one-person content team).

And it provides big results. The same report from CMI shows that 81% of marketers say content marketing has helped them build brand awareness successfully, and 76% claim it has helped them build credibility and trust.

So, here are some ways in which design can help.

Building brand awareness

No matter how well-defined your brand strategy might be, or how innovative a product or service you have to offer, if you fail to make a strong first impression with marketing design, it’s unlikely that you can grow awareness of your brand.

For example, a whopping 94% of users will form an impression of a website based on its design, after looking at it for just 0.05 seconds! And since your website or landing page is the place where most people will learn about your business, it’s extremely important that you convey your value proposition with effective visuals.

Beyond those first impressions, using consistent graphic design in your content marketing will help you create a more professional brand image.

For example, we share snippets of our blog articles on our Instagram page. Last year, our page didn’t really have a unified look and although the graphics created were high quality, they didn’t help us build a memorable brand image.

mp instagram old.png

Our Instagram profile now looks much more consistent and professional. The more unified look of the posts helps people remember the brand and focus more on our content.

mp instagram new.png

Providing more value

Inbound marketing is a marketing methodology designed to attract people to brands organically, by responding to their needs and queries (rather than aggressively “selling” the product to people who might have no interest in it).

In that respect, content marketing is one of the most important aspects of an inbound methodology. This is a way for businesses to provide value to potential customers and leads in order to keep their attention for long enough to get them acquainted with the products or services.

Since people have a notoriously short attention span these days, providing value to them in the form of information can be difficult. That’s where graphic design comes in! While it might take a lot of time to read through an article, looking at an infographic usually takes less than a minute and still provides the reader with an overview and all the key information found in the article.

Repurposing content

Content creation is by no means an easy task at all. Creating something that is unique, engaging and informative requires a lot of research, proofreading and editing, and then often weeks or months of online existence to gain some real traction.

So, treating your content as a one-off thing is definitely not viable. If you’ve got, let’s say an article, that seems to be performing well or gaining some engagement from your audience, you should really think about ways to capitalize on that.

A great example of this is Buffer’s 2015 campaign called No New Content. The idea was to spend a month without producing new content, and instead repurposing what they have. The results were surprising. They managed to grow organic traffic by 4% and their SlideShare presentations gained almost 200,000 views.

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Getting more engagement

Facebook posts with images have a [2.3 times higher engagement],(https://www.jeffbullas.com/6-powerful-reasons-why-you-should-include-images-in-your-marketing-infographic/) while Tweets with images get 1.5 times more retweets. In other words, if you want people to engage with your content, there’s very little chance you can do it without images.

Whether it’s an enticing YouTube thumbnail, or a social post that triggers an emotional response, design will help you connect with your audience.

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Driving sales

In a world where people can easily access information claiming that “your product is the best” simply doesn’t work anymore. Similarly, if you use the same copy and design as everybody else, it’s unlikely that people will notice you.

Emotions trigger actions, as marketing campaigns appealing to emotions are 7 times more effective in driving long-term sales, profits and revenue than rational messages. And design can be a critical ally in evoking an emotional response with your audience.

Color psychology is a study of what feelings are commonly associated with certain colors and should be taken into account when designing marketing campaigns. Similarly, you should think about what kind of emotions you want to trigger in your audience and this is of course connected to your brand and your offer.

As a starting point, you might want to turn to Plutchik’s model of emotions that highlights 7 core emotions:** anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise, anticipation, trust,** and joy.

All of these are constantly used by marketers as a way to prompt their target customers to act. Here’s a good example. With a simple Photoshop trick, Pedigree appeals to the universal feeling of loneliness. While promoting a good cause (adopting dogs). And of course, this is another instance of inbound marketing, as people who wish to adopt dogs will also need to buy food for them and might come back to this brand in particular.

pedigree emotional ad.png Ads of the World

Visual content marketing ideas

Now that you know why good design can help you improve your content marketing, here are some ideas on the types of design you can employ.

Videos

Although it’s definitely the most complex piece of content to produce, we’re starting this list with videos, because of their surge in popularity when it comes to digital marketing.

In 2020, Hubspot reported that video became the most common type of content, replacing infographics and blogs. According to Wyzowl, most marketers claim that videos improve website traffic (86%) and sales (78%).

From the perspective of the consumer, the numbers are also quite convincing: 84% of people claim they have been convinced to purchase after watching a video, while 69% say video is their preferred way to learn about a product.

So, videos are a great way to boost your brand awareness and increase sales. But, as you might suspect they can be difficult and expensive to produce. Luckily, there are a few online tools that allow you to create simple videos even if you have no design knowledge.

Blog post graphics

The main reason why most companies have blogs is search engine optimization. By using the relevant keywords and writing helpful articles on topics that are relevant to their target audience, blog posts can rank high in search engines and get discovered by people who may not have heard of a specific brand otherwise.

On the flip side, you have to remember that people’s attention span is getting shorter every year. Currently, it stands at around just 8 seconds.

So, don’t think for a second that everyone landing on your blog will read articles thoroughly from beginning to end. Since most people will skim read articles, visual content is a great way to keep their attention and quickly relay the most important information.

We often use this tactic on our blog. For example, we wrote an article about the best sticker sizes. The article is supposed to help newbie designers or small business owners wanting to create DIY stickers with the common sizes for sticker design. So, as a way of quickly answering their search query, we’ve created this graphic with all the sizes and as well as a scale for what they look like in real life.

mp blog graphics example.png

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Infographics

The point of visual content marketing is to make information easy and accessible. And infographics are perhaps the best way to do that.

Some common types of infographics are:

  • Statistical: these include common charts and graphs, used to present data in a more accessible way.
  • Informational: used to highlight different pieces of information, such as tips or
  • Timeline: for visually representing the history or evolution of something, always have a beginning and end.
  • Process: used to break down a process, especially complex processes where more than one outcome is possible (think of popular flowcharts for example).
  • Hierarchical: similar to a timeline, however, the information is not organized according to chronological order, but importance.
  • Comparison: pros and cons table, comparisons of one or more products are a great content format since it provides people with simple answers to difficult questions.
  • Geographic: used to connect data or information to physical locations (e.g. how much does a graphic designer make in different parts of the world)

Social media posts

We’ve already mentioned that social media is a great way to create a connection with your audiences and build a more memorable brand.

Remember that, unlike your website, you are competing with others for your audience’s attention on social media, so posts need to be very eye-catching and convey information instantaneously. Large blocks of texts copied onto social media posts probably won’t do so well, as most people won’t be bothered to read them.

Here are some nice:

  • Step-by-step instructions: if you’ve written a long and complex guide, it’s good to break it down into digestible chunks for people who don’t want to, or don’t have time to read the whole thing.
  • Quotes: whether they’re an insightful piece of advice or information, or a thought-provoking quote for a famous person, these can really get people to pause and notice your content.
  • Polls and quizzes: get your audience engaged with a topic they would be interested in; it can be something directly related to your brand (e.g. why do they use your product or service), or something quirky or fun (just think how many Buzzfeed quizzes you’ve done).
  • Screengrabs: you can use them as a sneak peek of your content, or as a way to demonstrate how to use digital products; in the era of remote working, many companies also recorded their Zoom meetings to help audiences connect brands with the people behind them.

Here’s a nice example from Hubspot of an Instagram post which offers helpful information to their key target audience (marketers). It’s a combination of a process infographic and comparison which serves to educate people on what makes a good customer experience (CX) these days.

hubspot social infographic.png

Email marketing

Despite the ever-growing number of different channels to share content and build brand awareness through, email marketing remains one of the best-performing channels, with ROI up to as much as 4300%!

However, when it comes to using your email lists for content marketing, design is super important. Without an enticing discount or other offer, people will be less likely to open your emails and click through.

Similar to every single item on the list, good user experience in email design is all about quick and digestible information. Don’t use your company newsletter as a way to copy your entire blog content into email form. Instead, tease readers with the best pieces of content or provocative questions, or, again, give them value in the form of quick information.

Here’s a good example from Miro, a team collaboration tool. In this newsletter, they strive to help potential and existing customers make the most out of their software, whilst also including a link to their blog for those wanting to learn more about the product.

Need some content marketing visuals?

While it’s possible to create marketing design even if you’re not a designer with DYI software, ultimately it’s very time-consuming and often the results won’t be as professional and effective.

Instead of wasting time on aligning different elements or wrecking your brain on how to make a visual pop, be sure to focus on finding and highlighting the most valuable information. And rely on professional designers to translate this into eye-catching visual content.

For an inexpensive, simple and reliable design service to take care of all your visual content needs, be sure to check out ManyPixels.

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Danica Popovic

November 26, 2021

Having lived and studied in London and Berlin, I'm back in native Serbia, working remotely and writing short stories and plays in my free time. With previous experience in the nonprofit sector, I'm currently writing about the universal language of good graphic design. I make mix CDs and my playlists are almost exclusively 1960s.