A Content Marketer’s Guide to Finding Engaging Images

Michael Brenner on Mar 12, 2019 in Content Marketing

“A picture is worth a 1000 words.”

This old English idiom refers to the notion that a complex idea can be conveyed far more effectively with an image than with a description. Perhaps nowhere is this more true than in content marketing.

When compelling images are used, research indicates that you may get an average of 94% more views than content without visuals. Not only will images boost your engagement, they will help people retain the information. If someone hears a piece of information, they will remember only 10% of it three days later. If an image is included, that same person will remember 65% of what they learned.

But for some content marketers, knowing how to select a compelling image for their campaigns can be difficult. It’s something I have coached many clients (and even my staff) on throughout the years.

Here are the top tips for helping you select engaging images for your content, followed by suggestions on where to find them.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Relevant images help your audience remember your message and boost your brand’s SEO ranking.
  • 95% of purchasing decisions are based on emotion. Images help convey emotion.
  • There are plenty of online resources that help you find images relevant to your content.

Image Relevance

It’s no secret that customers are expecting a seamless experience when they interact with your organization. A major part of a good user experience includes sharing content with images that resonate with your audience.

An image that reflects your organization’s tone while also staying relevant to the copy that its paired with can not only further engage your audience, it can also help boost your SEO ranking. Search engines routinely scan the content that surrounds an image to determine what said image is showing. When done well, Google uses this as a signal to determine relevance.

A good way to determine if your images are relevant is to ask yourself the three questions in the infographic below.

Source: https://piktochart.com/blog/images-content-marketing/

Making sure that your image is relevant to your audience and the content that surrounds it is the first step. However, it’s worth exploring a few elements that all good images should possess.

Tips for Selecting (Seemingly) Original Photos

This is where a lot of marketers might get stuck. We all want to have an arsenal of photos, videos and infographics that were produced for us and that we can use at our disposal. However, this is often not the case. The search for unique images is made more challenging by extremely media savvy audiences as well as possible legal repercussions when an image is used illegally. (Do not get lawyers involved!)

For those who are reliant on stock images, do not despair. It’s a common problem for content marketers. While I will address the various resources available for finding images in another section, I want to give you a few insights as to how I go about selecting images that resonate with my audience while staying on brand.

  1. Size Matters – Making sure your images are the right size for your website is critical. If an image is pixelated or poorly produced, it will have a negative impact on your brand. Selecting high definition images that come in the appropriate sizes is a great place to start.
  2. Elicit An Emotion – A recent study indicates that 95% of purchasing decisions are driven by the subconscious, where a human being’s emotions are stored. Content marketers can use this research by finding images that evoke emotion, thus helping their customers remember their brand. Logan Chierotti wrote in his March 2018 Inc. article, “Humans are driven by feelings. So if you want the consumer to remember your product or brand, they must be engaged and impassioned by the interaction with your company.”
  3. Consistency – This theme continues to emerge over and over again in content marketing. From the tone used in your writing to the images you select, you want to make sure everything fits within the scope of your brand. For example, I would opt for a clinical tone, not conversational like you see here, on a health care client’s website. The same goes for the images we select for our clients. Consistency also applies to the cropping and filters you apply to your image. If all your images are black and white, you do not want to put a vibrantly colored photo in one blog post.
  4. Relatable – While the research varies on whether images of people boost engagement, one thing is certain. If you decide to use images of people on your content marketing campaigns, be sure that they reflect your target audience. For example, if your customer base is comprised of young professionals, using an image of a mid-50s C-Suite executive will not work.

Where to Find Visual Content

While using your own images is ultimately best for your content marketing strategy and keeping your legal team out of your day-to-day activities, there are a variety of image resources available to those who need them. Here’s a quick overview of what the terms mean (so legal stays out of your hair) and where you can find engaging images for your content.

Stock photos – These typically high-quality images give you the ability to filter through topics to find something that is relevant to your content. While often available for a fee, they can still come across as generic and you’re often limited to one usage, i.e. a single blog post.

Royalty free images – These high-quality photos are usually less expensive than stock photos and you can use them multiple times without paying extra. However, because of the lack of restrictions, there is an increased likelihood that your competitor may use the same image.

Best Places to Find Images

Here is the list of places we use to find engaging images for ourselves and our clients. While this list is not comprehensive, there is something for every campaign, no matter the budget.

For all images, please check the copyright status and attribution requirements. Trust me, it will prevent many future headaches.

Content Marketing Is More Than Words

It’s no secret that humans are highly visual beings and the evolution of the internet reflects that. While some writers I have worked with shudder at the thought of selecting visual content, there are plenty of resources available for us all to hone our skills at every aspect of content marketing.

If you shudder at the thought of selecting images, don’t worry. We will do that for you! Our Content Builder Service includes images. Whether you want 2 articles a week, 4 articles a week or more, we’ll make sure to select the right images to help you own the conversation in your industry. Get a Free Consultation.

Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider Group. He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and a top CMO influencer by Forbes. Please follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook and Subscribe here for regular updates.
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