Visual Storytelling: The “Now” of Digital Marketing
It’s safe to say that we can no longer call visual storytelling the future of digital marketing – it is the now of digital. Visual storytelling has come a long way. As predicted by Chas Edwards in his article Why Visual Storytelling is The Future of Digital, the idea behind visual storytelling has evolved and now dominates digital marketing. He outlines it perfectly: “if brands want to engage with a consumer online (which is where their consumers spend time) they need to compete with publishers and social media sites that refresh their bins of eye candy every few minutes.”
Visual storytelling has broken barriers across all industries, especially B2C, and is certainly on a roll. Marketers are observing how powerful a visual message is and have adopted this to fit their strategy. Here is an example of how Autotrader is connecting with consumers by “finding original stories in every car.” They’ve recently created autoblog.com to excite car enthusiasts and get them engaging with their brand.
The Shift to Visual
Companies are reacting to this evolving trend by changing their website layout to highlight their message with images first and text second. Visual storytelling is a powerful tool because “people don’t buy products, they buy lifestyles” (Business 2 Community). To communicate effectively, you have to show them the whole image, along with the culture you’ve created for your product. Retailers tend to excel in this area. A great example of someone doing it well is Club Monaco. They’ve redesigned their blog to be visually appealing and included 1-2 sentence descriptors.
Gilt.com has adopted the visual storytelling trend by showcasing large images that target their market very effectively. Each of their images suggests a lifestyle to accompany the merchandise. They strategically place products in environments that compel potential consumers to visualize themself with Gilt.com’s products so that they’ll buy them. Photos are highly detailed and allow customers to experience the product up close, even though they are viewing them online.
Land’s End tells their visual story in the creative format of a blog. They feature new content that displays their products in an intriguing way. One example is their blog entitled “Customer Creativity by the Glass” where they display customers ideas, like how one person hung their Land’s End canvas tote bags on hooks to hold their wine.
By maintaining this blog, Land’s End shares a visual story and builds customer relationships by allowing their guests to submit their stories and photos.
A company that builds relationships with customers in the hospitality realm online is the Freehand Miami. They tell their story through crowd-sourced Instagram photos that express the culture and experience to be had at this unique hostel in Florida. Travel customers stumbling across this website wouldn’t think it was a hostel at first glance because their compelling storytelling is superior to some of the larger hotel chains.
It’s important to make the switch to a visual-first online presence. The Freehand Miami does an exceptional job, but many in the travel industry leave something to be desired in the visual storytelling department. Hotels are inherently rich with stories and should capitalize on this to build a compelling website that engages travel shoppers.
There are lots of easy ways to improve your visual storytelling. Other blogs on the topic of visual storytelling are available for you to explore, including More Visual Stories, More Traveler Engagement and Visual Content Takes the World by Storm…And Drives Engagement!