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Information overload? Visual content is the answer

There's a gap between the information consumers want and what they're getting

The social, mobile Web has disrupted businesses in more ways than most people realize. It has impacted the expectations of our customers and our employees who expect social media-like experiences.  And it has changed the way we interact with internal and external communities to develop products, communicate to the marketplace, and win new customers.

According to CEB, as much as 60 percent of the buyer journey is complete before prospects reach out to vendors in a business-to-business transaction. And when they do reach out, it is often for a contract and a price.

How can brands compete? By establishing relationships that build trust. Your buyers are looking for brands that know how to connect in a human and emotional way. In fact, the CEB’s latest report  shows that “emotional” marketing messages beat “promotional” ones by a factor of 2 to 1.

The bottom line: Talking about your products or “solution selling” is the quickest way to be shown the door in a selling situation. So how do you communicate to your potential customers?

informationeyeAccording to Nielsen, 27 million pieces of content are shared each day.  And Statistic Brain says that our average attention span has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds—one second less than a goldfish!

We check our phones 150 times per day. We check our email 30 times an hour. And the amount of information in the world continues to double every 18 months.

All this available information and data is creating a battle for customer attention between brands, publishers, and each one of us who creates content. More importantly, it’s forcing businesses to think and act like publishers.

That is why “Content Marketing” is one of the biggest buzzwords in marketing. It requires businesses to create content that their customers actually want. Content that helps them. And it is such a hot term right now because it is one of the biggest gaps between the content marketers create and the information our customers are looking for.

That is why more than 90 percent of marketers are using content marketing, but only 42 percent rate their content marketing efforts as effective, according to a recent study.

If everyone is creating content, how does a business break through the noise? How do we reach our customers in a way that engages them?

Articles with images get 94 percent more views than those without. And posts with videos attract three times more inbound links than plain text posts.  A study by 3M showed that 90 percent of the information sent to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text.

And this holds up when you look at how the social world is evolving. The meteoric rise of sites like Vine, Instagram and Pinterest, as well as the efforts by Facebook and Twitter to add more visual elements to their platforms are simply following the trend that visual content is the best way to reach short-attention-span audiences in a world filled with so many content choices.

I recently asked my own social media followers “What was the best content of 2013?” All of the responses pointed to videos.

Now, let’s flip the conversation to one of the most hated of corporate tools: slides. You don’t often hear Slideshare mentioned as a top social network. But according to Comscore, Slideshare is used by business owners and business executives at a rate five times any other social network! Slideshare may be one of the biggest content marketing opportunities for brands.

Tomorrow: How to take advantage of visual storytelling. Tools and tips for incorporating visual content in your efforts. 

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Want to hear more from Michael Brenner on content marketing?  Register now for The Big Rethink; use code EWMWMBRB for an early registration discount.