The State of Visual Communications and the Leading Role of Video

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Richard Verbeek is General Manager at LEWIS Belgium, a PR agency located in the industrious city of Antwerp .

LEWIS, one of the fastest growing PR and communications agencies in Europe, asked 442 marketing professionals from the US, Europe, South America and APAC for their views on visual content marketing. What are the success factors, budget and KPI’s for visual communications? 87seconds had a deeper look at the results and their impact on video communications.

Most remarkable, yet not surprising, is that marketing budgets are increasingly favouring visual content, with graphic designs and videos among the most popular investments. 73% of marketing professionals confirmed that marketing budgets increased, and 66% are inclined to spend it on visual content. When asked what makes visual content successful, respondents listed great production quality (66 percent), compelling image (42 percent) and interesting storyline (39 percent) as key criteria.

Richard Verbeek: "We believe that any successful company needs to rely less on words and more on images."

Without any doubt we can see that the communications in today’s corporations are more visual and “live” than ever. Video seems to be the key trend and medium in this evolution, with marketers freeing up more means for in-house productions as well as for external video agencies.

87seconds: “The study is a strong confirmation of what we preach; organisations today favour graphic design and video more than ever, and that is why no company can afford to ignore the increasing role of video in marketing and communications.”

The Research

LEWIS showed in their State of Visual Communications in 2016 that smartphones allow everyone to act as a photographer, designer, illustrator and videographer. And since almost everyone nowadays owns such a device and is active on a myriad of social media channels, it has opened a whole new array of marketing strategies that revolve around visual communication.

One of the core drivers of visual communications is video. Video communication has soared in the course of the past decade and has become a vital part of business’s marketing strategies. And that is for a reason.

So how is today’s state of visual communications? LEWIS gathered a facts and few figures first regarding online video, from several sources (Cisco, Perisco, Facebook), that seem to prove this unstoppable soaring. Hence the average daily video views on Facebook doubled from 4 billion to 8 billion between April and November 2015. On Periscope, 40 years' worth of videos were watched on Periscope during every day of July 2015. And most impressive, by 2017, 74% of all Internet traffic will be video. Just to name a few evolutions.

The ROI of Video Content

Obviously the following question emerges when entering or launching a video communications strategy: what’s in it for me? What’s the return on my investment? In terms of reach, audience, dynamics and didactics, it’s never a bad idea to consider video. Moreover, corporate video today is much more democratic and accessible than a couple of years ago, where the investment in resources and budget was also much higher higher.

So how do you actually determine the ROI of your investment?

First of all, it all depends on your objectives, your desired business outcome and the audiences you want to reach. That is why different stages in the customer journey clearly call for different KPI’s. This means an increase in your reporting, but also an increase in the insights gleaned from the reports. This will enable a rapid refinement and improvement of your visual content.

Below is an overview of various business goals and the appropriate KPIs when launching your visual content strategy:

  • Awareness
    For users that are just becoming aware of your offering, the most important thing is to get their eyeballs on your visual content. You should be measuring views and reach.
  • Interest
    When targeting users further along the buying cycle, you should measure viewing duration, time spent on page, and what pages the user visits next.
  • Demand
    When targeting users that are ready to buy, measure engagement, shares, and comments. Feedback can be invaluable as it allows you to target your future content offerings more effectively.
  • Advocacy
    When measuring the impact on those who have already purchased and are fans of your products, it is best to look at shares and sentiment.

The figures

  • Consumers who watch video are 1.81 times more likely to purchase
  • 90% of online shoppers said they found videos helpful
  • Visual content on social media is 40 times more likely to be shared
  • Videos are shared 12 times more than links and text posts combined

Humans are visual creatures

One of the most important reasons that video has taken such a prominent role in our everyday life is their eye-catching quality. Humans simply are visual creatures and we find it more easy to process visual information than written text. We process visuals 60,000 times faster than text. We remember shapes and images much more readily than we do words.

Moreover, videos bear the potential to simultaneously tell a (short) story, convey emotions, explain and inform your viewers. Good storytelling makes a connection between the facts and information about giving meaning to facts and figures, and on the long-run giving a reason to believe.

From theory to practice

Visual forms of communications are gradually taking the over hand. Businesses are increasing their investments, budgets are freed up and yet there are some barriers. How can you be sure that you get something out of the investment.

Luckily there are ways to measure the effectiveness of your video. Only publishing will not suffice. You must keep track of your video performance and adapt your strategy if your efforts don’t meet your results.

The research showed that the top KPIs according to marketers are the number of views (69%) and likes on social media (50%). But there is more to measure and the number of views and likes of a video. Views and reach are important metrics because they tell you how many people have had their eyeballs on your video.

On the other hand it doesn’t really say anything about how people have interacted with the video. If people have watched video but don’t take a next step, then you might have lost them. Go beyond those metrics and measure if people show interest in your content. Do they comment, share, or like your video?

You can even measure the Viewing duration. For how long did they watch the video? Or if the majority of your audience drops out after a certain segment, you might need to make some small changes to your video?

Okay, and how do I start ?

Well, the possibilities for visual communications are endless and new techniques are introduced on a regular basis. The most important thing is to set out a strategy and determine your goals upfront. Know exactly what you want to achieve with your videos, and you’re already one step ahead of everyone else!

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