Plenty of emphasis is placed on the benefits of visual elements in content marketing, but text still has its strong place in creating effective content. The internet was once a text-only environment. Today, with high-definition imagery — both still and video — easily added to sites and common throughout the web, content creators need to have a clear understanding of the comparative advantages of text vs. visuals in content marketing.
Which is best: text or visuals?
Much of the answer depends upon the specific product or service, audience and viewer response goals. A product that is tangible or visual by nature can be effectively marketed through visual means.
Products or services marketed to a younger demographic (18-34) or brands that rely on word of mouth can also rely much more on visuals as the core marketing element. And products or services that do not require sophisticated technical understanding before purchase or use can also benefit from a visual-heavy marketing plan.
Visual imagery is processed by the brain 60,000 times faster than text, so combining concepts with meaningful, appealing images or videos ensures long-term memory. It also takes less time and effort to create in most cases.
At least 65% of the population are visual learners, and the average human attention span is around eight seconds, with first impressions being formed in 200 milliseconds. This means the visuals should not only provide value but stand out in a way that’s also attention-grabbing.
Photos and infographics increase readers’ emotional response and implementing color increases retention by 39% and increases the likelihood of viewers reading the included text by 80%. That said, pairing an attractive image with relevant information delivers a retention rate of around 90%. Similarly, when reading text, one’s visual brain converts the words into a representative image, either recalling a memory or through imagination.
Content with images gets 94% more views at the outset than content without images. Pictures and videos account for 90% of the information our brain absorbs and are 40 times more likely to be shared throughout social media.
All of this strongly points to the advantages of visuals in your content. Still, despite the aforementioned research statistics that reinforce the power of visuals in one’s content marketing, the persuasive capabilities and other advantages of lengthy text can never be discounted, especially thanks to SEO.
Text is the foundation of SEO. Keyword-rich written content will increase the chances of being ranked on a search engine and help generate links, which could boost rankings. On a more technical note, it can provide optimal page speed, mobile loading and minimum web server issues.
Text is also critical to provide customers with an in-depth understanding. Complex or highly technical information often requires thorough paragraphs of clear, methodical explanations so that the reader can study the words, re-read as necessary and take the time to absorb all of the information. Some may retain the same words spoken in a video, but many people are text-based learners and lose focus hearing too much detail spoken in a video or seeing it jammed into a busy infographic.
Legal rules or policies are best spelled out in text. Many people still love to read, too, simply because it better suits their learning style. Some even find visuals distracting to a certain degree, and sometimes viewers just happen to be in situations where they can’t watch or listen to a video.
Additionally, visual content, specifically photos or infographics, increases readers’ emotional response and implementing color increases retention by 39%, and increases the likelihood of viewers reading the included text by 80%. That said, pairing an attractive image with relevant information delivers a retention rate of around 90%. Similarly, when reading text, one’s visual brain converts the words into a representative image, either recalling a memory or through imagination. When people are only given information audibly, the rate drops down to just 10%.
Despite all of the persuasive stats favoring visuals, 73% of marketers prefer blog posts and articles.
Nonetheless, it’s essential for a brand to include both text and visuals in its marketing strategy.
According to Insider Intelligence, “Most B2B buyers prefer an experience that does not include a salesperson. B2B buyers decide when, how, and where they will engage with a company. They want a 100% self-serve scenario and prefer to research content for answers to their questions without talking to anyone.”
A combination of text and visuals would be most efficient to ensure the brand message reaches its intended audience with no questions left unanswered.