Learn why graphic design is so important for digital marketing and discover how to use visuals to improve the performance of your campaigns.
Digital marketing means promoting your business online. It’s different from traditional marketing (e.g. television, radio or newspaper), mostly because in digital marketing potential clients interact directly with you.
Since traditional marketing is often expensive and doesn’t offer a chance to target particular audiences, digital marketing is definitely the most important type of marketing for small businesses and startups. And since graphic design is an integral part of effective marketing, it’s very important to understand how you can use it in your marketing efforts.
Read on to learn how to use graphic design to improve your digital marketing.
Why is graphic design important for marketing?
Marketing design is the creation of branding, advertising and other visual elements used in promoting your brand.
In that definition alone you can see that design can often help to get people interested in your services or products, or help them discover your brand in the first place. Here are just a few critical reasons why you need good design in digital marketing.
It all starts with branding design
Yes, branding design also falls under marketing design.
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Your brand identity consists of your mission, vision and values, but also the way your brand looks, or your brand design. An established brand guide will help you create every marketing asset or branding asset more quickly and effectively, and raise brand awareness with your target audience
Creating a brand guide is an essential first step of any marketing strategy. It will make the decision-making process much quicker down the line, and save you a lot of time. A brand guide includes all the visual elements you should use regularly in designing for your brand (logo versions, colors, fonts, illustrations) as well as the tone of voice and key messages relevant to your brand.
Design speaks louder than words
Our attention span is only about 8 seconds long these days, so making a strong first impression is more important than ever. Moreover, it’s well known that people tend to remember only 20% of what they read, compared to 80% of what they see, so if you want your marketing messages to stick, you need to present them in a visual way.
If you think about some of the most iconic logo designs you’ll immediately see just how powerful graphic design can be. Nike’s swoosh represents movement and determination; Apple’s pictorial mark demonstrates a thirst for knowledge and superior design. The art of communicating visually means that you’re able to relay your brand identity in a more universal way.
Good design helps you stand out
Many people confuse marketing with advertising, which is actually just a component of marketing where of promoting specific products or services to a specific target market.
However, both marketing and advertising should help you differentiate yourself from your competitors. Hopefully, you’ve already identified your unique selling points (USPs) in your business or marketing plan, and you can use design to make that even more obvious for prospective customers.
Are you a mobile bank that is youthful, modern and digital compared to traditional banks? Use playful, hip designs to tell that story. Perhaps you have a family-run restaurant with a long tradition? Use retro pictures and drawings to inspire a sense of nostalgia and create an emotional response with your guests.
Digital marketing and inbound marketing
Digital marketing is a collection of tactics you use to attract potential customers online. Inbound marketing is a style of digital marketing that involves attracting customers to your business organically, by presenting solutions to their challenges or convincing them that they need you and not the other way around.
Practically speaking, inbound marketing involves regular blogging and SEO optimization, social media posts that engage users or offer informational or educational value and most importantly regular updating of your buyer persona intel, to allow you to provide value for potential as well as existing customers.
Digital marketing strategy checklist
Every digital marketing campaign follows a set of steps, from planning and goal identification to measuring the results of your performance.
However, every campaign should also correspond to your digital marketing strategy and help move your business along a course you’ve defined. Here’s a quick rundown of all the key elements of a digital marketing strategy:
- Create branding guidelines
- Define and track KPIs
- Create a calendar of marketing campaigns
- Create an email marketing strategy
- Review your website and SEO
- Create a social media strategy
- Develop a PPC ad strategy
- Consider a PR strategy
How to use graphic design in digital marketing
So, now that you have a better understanding of what digital marketing entails, it’s time to deep-dive into one of its most important components: graphic design.
We’ll guide you through examples of using graphic design to improve your marketing game and explain why and how each one works.
Graphics help websites rank better
If you know anything about SEO, you’re familiar with the importance of using the right keywords and useful content that will help your business rank better in search engines.
However, now that search engine algorithms are a lot more refined, it’s no longer enough to just stuff your text with target keywords (in fact if you overdo it, your site will be penalized for it and rank poorly).
Another part of that is that search engines like Google can also crawl (or rank) images, which means an informative and useful graphic will come up in search engine results and potentially drive people to your website.
Finally, it’s well known that people need only about 50 milliseconds to make a first impression of a website. This is hardly enough time to read a significant part of the copy, but it can be more than enough for a user to make an impression about the professionalism of the company. So, better graphic design can mean lower bounce rates and more time spent on browsing your pages. Which in turn, will lead Google to favor your site and rank it better.
An example from our own portfolio is the remote job board Dynamite Jobs. Our team helped this company design a new website which led to an increase in job postings, as well as lower open rates.
Design makes content marketing more compelling
Content marketing involves producing content, whether textual or visual that attracts people to your business. It’s closely related to keyword research and SEO, but graphic design is also an incredibly important part as well.
Understanding how to use visual storytelling will make your content more digestible and appealing to audiences with an ever-decreasing attention span.
Designing for content marketing can mean appealing blog covers that will make your site look professional and regularly updated, or different types of data visualizations, such as infographics, graphs or charts that help break down complex processes and information into smaller chunks.
Finally, graphic design can also be very useful for repurposing content. For example, our design team repurposes our blog posts into Instagram microblogs that summarize the topics we write about.
There’s no social media without design
This is something you probably already know, but when it comes to social media good design is a must. Consistency will help you build a brand image, and quality, creative graphics will ensure your posts aren’t drowned out by thousands of similar ones you’ll be competing with.
Having a well-designed social media post doesn’t just mean people will stop and notice. Good graphic design can also ensure your posts get more engagement and shares. Even something simple like a product photo can be better with the help of colorful backgrounds or illustrative elements.
Illustrations can help your brand look unique and cohesive (much better than stock images could). For example, Slack uses a variety of different illustrations such as isometric, 3D and pencil, but they all use the signature brand colors giving this market leader a very strong social presence.
Even emails need to be designed
Email marketing is one of the most effective marketing tactics today. There were 4 billion email users in 2020, with the number expected to grow, while email marketing is said to have an estimated ROI of as much as 4200%.
So, it’s safe to say that you can’t afford to cut corners when it comes to email marketing design.
Ecommerce emails often use product photos to capture viewer’s attention, especially with abandoned cart emails. But this example from Boden really took it a step further with a fun GIF that helps viewers see an even greater variety of products as they change colors.
Investing in design can increase profit
When you’re advertising products online, people won’t be able to experience them first-hand (e.g. hold them) before they decide to make a purchase. Instead, you can use design to help encourage purchase decisions.
We’ve already mentioned that good web design will help keep people on your website, and attractive social images can boost engagement, and ultimately sales (90% of people buy from brands they follow on social media).
However, a study from Forbes also found that consistent brand presentation across all platforms can increase revenue by up to 23%. In other words, it’s not just about looking professional or standing out from your competitors - investing in good design can actually boost your profits.
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So you understand why design is important, and even have some ideas on what kind of design you’d like for your marketing channels? Awesome! But that still doesn’t make you a designer.
These days, there’s no shortage of DIY design platforms that allow you to create your own marketing assets, even if you have no design skills or experience. The most famous one, Canva, is a delightfully user-friendly program and there’s no doubt you’ll have fun using it.
But should marketers really design their own ads? Probably not.
First of all, as a non-designer it will be difficult for you to maintain consistency in graphic design (without sacrificing creativity or versatility that is), which will harm your brand image.
Next, the results might look uninventive and similar to thousands of visual assets people see from other companies every day.
Finally, no matter how hard you try or how many iterations you make, the final result usually isn’t nearly as good as you’d want it to be. We’ve heard this many times from our clients who attempted to create their own graphics before turning to ManyPixels. More often than not, the effort became a waste of time (and money, since a CEO or marketing manager need offer their expertise in different areas), as well as unprofessional graphics.
You can hire someone in-house, or opt for an outsourced option such as a freelancer or a design agency.
Unlimited graphic design services offer the most in terms of quality, flexibility and affordability. If you’d like to know more about it, be sure to check out the scope of service or book a personal consultation to see how we can help your business with design!