Whether you're launching a new product or planning a conference presentation, the quality of your visual content could mean the difference between success and failure.

How do you ensure that your visual content not only offers readers relevant insights and real value, but performs well across platforms? Here are the six characteristics every successful piece of visual content needs to have. 

1. It minimizes text.

A recent study by marketing company Siege Media took a look at 1,000 of the most-shared infographics on the web, and found an average word count of just 396. Why so low? Considering audiences only read about 20 percent of a web page that has 600 words or more, you just don't have much time to pique their interest. The visuals, not the text, are what will make them stay, engage, and share. 

2. It incorporates custom design. 

Stock icons, illustrations, and photos are impersonal, a dime a dozen, and only vaguely good at their job. How would you feel if someone described your company like that? Custom design may have a higher price tag at the outset, but it increases conversions by communicating your brand's commitment to quality and ensuring a personal touch. 

Illustrations made especially for a particular campaign belong exclusively to you, and help boost brand recognition since they're more obviously yours and yours alone. Custom sound design and music for a motion graphic are perfectly timed to align with the visuals and communicate emotional tenor. You invest in delivering a quality product or service--but if you don't invest in proving this to potential customers, you may not have many customers at all. 

3. It commits to a strong color scheme. 

Siege Media also reports that 73 percent of the web's most popular infographics had a recognizable color scheme. It's easy to see why. Visuals that incorporate too broad a variety of colors tend to look muddled, busy, and unfocused. Triadic color schemes--those evenly spaced around the color wheel--and monochromatic palettes are among the most popular. 

Make sure that, if you're incorporating multiple pieces of visual content into a campaign, they have a consistent and recognizable palette. This can go a long way toward giving your content has a distinctive and instantly recognizable look, without having to be overly branded.

Similarly, consistent font and design style usage are just as important. These maintain clean, engaging content that offers maximum value to the reader. 

4. It's optimized for its platform. 

While LinkedIn users are more likely to read infographics with up to 502 words on average, Pinterest lovers are the least likely to tolerate text. And while health-related infographics perform best on Facebook and Pinterest, business or industrial visual content performs better on LinkedIn and Twitter. 

Why should you pay attention to these distinctions? If you're posting content optimized for display on Instagram on your brand's Facebook account, you may be losing out. If the format of your visual content--from dimensions to overall size or video length--doesn't display well on the platform where it appears, you may be needlessness losing out on crucial conversions. 

Format isn't the only factor. Considering that 81 percent of millennials are on Twitter daily while Facebook is a fast-growing market for seniors, you might want to reconsider the tone, wording, or visual presentation of different aspects of a campaign depending on what audiences you'll most likely reach on each platform. 

5. It delivers the message quickly.

You only have a few seconds and a few words to convince someone to keep engaging with your static visual content, and the same goes for video. Nielsen and Facebook report that 47 percent of a video campaign's conversions come from the first three seconds. 

A similar study Facebook conducted with MetrixLab found that the most successful videos have several characteristics in common. They incorporate brand identity in the first three seconds, they include the brand during half of the length of the video or longer, and finally, they feature the key takeaway right away rather than at the end.

Likewise, utilizing powerful data visualization can cut to the chase immediately, and convince viewers more quickly of your message. It's one of your most useful tools.

6. It's paired with great SEO. 

Even some of the most seasoned SEO experts find it challenging to optimize visual content for search engines incapable of scanning the actual content of an image. Pairing your motion graphic or infographic with 300+ words of summarizing text on the same page as well as the smart use of alt tags and metadata can make all the difference. Check out my guide to SEO for visual content

A piece of visual content that doesn't incorporate each of these features risks disappointing your goals for engagement or failing to communicate your brand's true value. Implement these tactics today to see a quick boost in your shares and conversions. 

Published on: Jul 3, 2018