While some may use the convenience of the digital platform to store information, many use it more for communication—social media, advertising, promotion and brand development, training, education and enlightenment, entertainment and amusement, news and current affairs dissemination and debate.
For years the press were king of mass media and thus advertising. When radio became popular it shared the advertising market with the press. Then along came television. It added visuals to the real-time advantages of radio and added motion to the visuals in mass communication. It opened more alternatives for advertising and promotion and attracted even more research and analysis on the best prospects to advertisers. It has proven itself to be a very good platform for advertising and promotion, but is initially expensive and still not interactive with an audience. This is where the digital platform—built upon the internet, comes in. Finally, after about 50 years since television was introduced, along came this new digital platform that handled multimedia—textual captions, pictures, video and audio. Not only that, it was mass media that was interactive. For the first time we have mass audience participation that can be in real-time all over the world.
Of course real time is subject to an audience being logged in at the time. Unlike television though, most communication is stored for delayed consumption and response. The one drawback was how to capitalise on this media platform. Over time systems of advertising were introduced by owners of high-traffic platforms and services like Google and their search engine and the Facebook social media network.
There are a number of things to be considered when looking for the most effective forms of promotion. First is how to measure effectiveness. Next might be the platform to use. Then there is knowing the science of human perception and psychology, not to mention budget.
The use of “social media content” to generate sales leads and sales now constitutes a significant portion of many marketing budgets. Stelzner, an author and CEO of Social Media Examiner, revealed that 50% of organisations using social media in their marketing strategies reduced their marketing expenses while seeing improved sales (2016). In 2016, “B2B” (Business-to-business) “marketers allocated 28% of their total marketing budget, on average, to content marketing”—the same percentage as the previous year. “The most effective allocated 42%, and the most sophisticated/mature allocated 46%” (B2B Content Marketing 2016). While Facebook attracted the largest percentage of social media marketing business, LinkedIn had the highest appeal to the B2B marketers (Stelzner 2016).
There are differences in usage and effectiveness over a range of social media platforms between B2B and B2C (business-to-consumer) marketing groups. If you are a B2C trader then video is a good media to use. Audiences have been exposed to a rich media experience utilising audio and visuals, photographs, motion graphics, audio and video. Once exposed, it is hard to go back to a single medium like textual only. The trend now is less text and more visuals with motion—of course we can’t cut text out altogether, what we end up with is termed multimedia—a composite of text, visuals, audio and video.
Top priorities for B2B Content Creators in 2017 include “Creating More Engaging Content (72%), Better Understanding of What Content Is Effective—and What Isn’t (65%) and Creating Visual Content (51%)” (B2B Content Marketing 2016). According to Lidwell, there are a number of design principles that improve visual appeal and attention given to visuals—particularly images. This aids the effectiveness of images to portray or reinforce promotional messages (2017).
So how much impact do these various media types have on attention and conversion rates? Well the research has been done and continues to be monitored for trends. It is said that pictures attract 50% more attention than text alone. According to Pollard, photos on Facebook generate 53 percent more likes than text-based posts (2017). The quality of the pictures also impacts on conversion as this quality implies the same for the trading organisation and the product. There is merit in the expression “first impressions are lasting impressions”. It pays to show a professional quality promotion if that is how you want your brand to be perceived and remembered.
Speaking of memory and first impressions being lasting, people remember images and videos far longer than they do textual messages. https://www.fastcompany.com/3035856/why-were-more-likely-to-remember-content-with-images-and-video-infogr. This is a plus in advertising and promotion, as long as those memories are positive ones.
It is also said that graphics also attract attention and that motion graphics boosts that 20% further. According to McCoy “Motion graphics in particular are seeing a huge boom — and it’s no wonder, considering that they can help businesses grow revenue 49% faster” (2018).
Silent video receives similar attention to motion graphics, but adding audio boosts attention grabbing a further 20%. An audiovisual will get 90% more attention than text alone. The audio components attraction will vary depending on its complexity— sound effects alone, mood music alone, voice-over narration alone, recorded conversation or actual soundtrack accompanying video, or a combination of all of these synched to the video.
There are quite a number of design principles that help an audience focus on an intended object of promotion, particularly an image used in communication. Some of our favourites are “Signal to Noise ratio”, “Figure-ground relationship”, colour, “the Golden ratio” or “the rule of thirds” and “propositional density”. We don’t expect our clients to know these things but we like to point them out to impart confidence in our abilities as media producers.
Use of colour
According to Lidwell, colour can symbolise universal, cultural or personal meaning in the correct contexts. For instance, in culture “RED” can symbolise different meanings in different contexts. For example a wedding. Weddings are associated with new directional beginnings from purity. The west associates white with purity, India associates red with purity. White in the east it is associated with death, while in South Africa death is associated with red. In China red is associated with good luck. In the west red symbolises warning, danger, excitement and passion. In another context these colours may have little meaning. We westerner’s seldom give symbolic meaning to a red car for instance, but a red wedding dress would certainly raise some eyebrows (2017).
While the medium used in marketing communication does impact on results, the digital channel used also impacts on results. This would suggest a variance in results according to the medium/digital platform combination.
A report by Stelzner reveals
- “Video has become essential: A significant 60% of marketers use video in their marketing and 73% plan on increasing their use of video.
- Live video is hot: A significant 50% of marketers plan on using live video services such as Facebook Live and Periscope, and 50% want to learn more about live video.
- Facebook and YouTube hold the top spots for future plans: At least 63% of marketers plan on increasing their use of these social networks.
- Snapchat is on a growth trajectory: Only 5% of marketers are using Snapchat, yet 16% plan on increasing their Snapchat activities and 28% of marketers want to learn more about Snapchat.
- Facebook is the most important social network for marketers by a long shot! When asked to select their most important platform, 55% of marketers chose Facebook, followed by LinkedIn at 18%. Plus, 67% of marketers plan on increasing their Facebook marketing activities.
- Many marketers are unsure about their Facebook marketing: A significant 40% of marketers don’t know if Facebook traffic has declined in the last 12 months and 35% aren’t sure if their Facebook marketing is effective.
- Facebook ads dominate: A surprising 86% of social marketers regularly use Facebook ads, while only 18% use Twitter ads.
- Tactics and engagement are top areas marketers want to master: At least 90% of marketers want to know the most effective social tactics and the best ways to engage their audience with social media.” (2016).
B2B marketers claim the top metrics of content marketing this year are “Sales lead quality” (87%), while they continue to focus on creating engaging content, “citing that as the top priority for their internal content creators” in to 2017. 93% will use “Social Media Content—other than blogs” in their “Content Marketing Tactic Usage”, 81% will use blogs, 79% will use “Articles on their Website” and 67% will use infographics (2016). It is a different picture for B2C marketers.
When it comes to paid advertising for B2B marketing, there is a difference between usage and effectiveness. SEM (Search Engine Marketing) takes the lead at 66%, for usage and 55% for effectiveness, followed by Print or Offline Promotion at 57% for usage, but only 31% for effectiveness. The next most effective were “Promoted Posts” at 48%, however usage is only at 52%. A similar pattern exists for “Content Discovery Tools” where effectiveness is up at 45%, but advertising usage is only 14%. Across the board 51% will budget more for B2B Content Marketing in 2017 (B2B Content Marketing 2016). This tends to suggest that the percentage of usage does not correlate with effectiveness and that there is confidence in B2B Content Marketing.
Top Challenges for B2B Content Marketers are:
- “Producing Engaging Content 60%
- Measuring Content Effectiveness 57%
- Producing Content Consistently 57%
- Measuring the ROI (Return on Investment) of Content Marketing Program 52%
- Lack of Budget 35%
- Producing Variety of Content 35%” (B2B Content Marketing 2016).
Organic promotion through content creation.
The success of marketing is based on finding an audience that is interested in listening. The yellow pages worked because it had become the number one business listing where those looking for a specific product or service would go. They would use the Yellow Pages alphabetical indexing to find the industry that supplies their desired product—it was quick and easy . So when your advertisement was seen it was by an audience that was looking for you.
Broadcasting on the other hand relies on large audiences at a single point in time. The chance of someone looking for your product or service at that moment might seem small, but increases with audience size and television audience sizes are considerable. However broadcasting also offers opportunities for branding through continuous bombardment of trademarks, names and jingles.
For greatest effectiveness of advertising in other printed media like magazines and newspapers, adverts need to be attractive, both aesthetically and through cognitive intrigue. The newer digital platform is a hybrid of all these other platforms and more. It has the reach of mass media, the ability to support multiple media types, can represent printed media in electronic form, contains searchable business listings, is interactive—inviting audience participation, but most importantly is not owned by any one corporation or government. As such, many ordinary citizens have taken to it as a form of social communication that supports multiple media forms in a global arena.
It not only is providing a huge marketplace to promote products and services, but a platform to set up shop or showroom in a global virtual world. However it is still plagued with the same old problem of being seen among a crowd. You see, the rules to gaining attention are based on human perception and psychology and that is a constant.
In 2016 a number of marketing focused publications presented some insightful information on marketing trends and effectiveness. In a brief summary derived from them, there is a trend showing a significant increase in marketing through social media channels and other digital platforms like websites. The trend is moving more toward content creation using more visuals, audiovisuals and video.
There is however a variance in trends between B2C and B2B marketing. The use of more visual content is higher in the B2C trading sector (Stelzner and B2B Content Marketing reports as cited in Mawhinney, 2017). Regardless of the B2C and B2B trader differences, all promotion is a form of communication. It relies on memory retention to be most effective and when it comes to memory retention “Vision trumps all other senses” (Medina).
Medina claims that information heard reduces to about 10% remembered three days later. Add pictures and memory retention only degrades to around 65% in the same time period. This is also a higher retention rate than text alone can achieve (Medina, 2017). It is quite common to use visuals as “Mnemonic Devices” to help with memory recall as a picture really is worth a thousand words (Lidwell, 2017).
Stelzner (as cited in Mawhinney, 2017) presents the most commonly used media types in 2016 to be:
- “Visual 74%
- Blogging 68%
- Videos 60%
- Live video 14%
- Podcasting 10%” (Stelzner, as cited in Mawhinney, 2017).
“34% of B2C marketers say pre-produced video will be critical to content marketing success in 2017, 62% rated them as an effective content marketing tactic and 43% of consumers wanted to see more video content in 2016. 76.5% of marketers and small business owners in an Animoto survey who have used video marketing say it had a direct impact on their business (Mawhinney 2017).
Top priorities for B2B Content Creators in 2017 include “Creating More Engaging Content (72%), Better Understanding of What Content Is Effective—and What Isn’t (65%) and Creating Visual Content (51%) (B2B Content Marketing, as cited in Mawhinney, 2017). There are a number of design principles that improve visual appeal and attention given to visuals—particularly images. This aids the effectiveness of images to portray or reinforce the correct promotional messages (Lidwell, 2017).
While we can not answer what content is effective for your organisation, we can demonstrate the effectiveness of our images according to design principles presented by Lidwell (2017). The image below demonstrates a design principle known as “Signal to Noise Ratio”. If this image was promoting a transport company you would expect the rig to standout the most. This is clearly the case when the distracting background is removed in this animation http://gavinldigital.com/portfolio/composite-visuals/ (scroll down to the fiery orange & yellow truck image). The background is a distraction and considered as noise. Like it’s use in the electronics industry, a greater signal to noise ratio is desired.
As mentioned earlier visuals are currently proving themselves to be more useful than text in commanding attention and memory retention. But what are visuals? Visuals in this context refer only to graphic and photographic images. Although you could say video was visual, it is not classified as such here. Video has its own classification with its own metrics.
One category of visuals that fits between graphics, photographics and video are animated stills like the one above. They are also enjoying a resurgence in popularity as motion commands even more attention than still visuals. They are less expensive to produce than video, but are limited to very short duration in an infinite loop. They are best used with graphics, but can be produced from photographic media (as demonstrated above) but with considerable degradation in image quality in keeping their file sizes down.
Content is often repurposed. It may be used on an organisations website and later posted into social media groups. Elements of content may also be used in advertising, particularly visuals.
Subtle promotion is where a blog talks about things in a certain industry using examples of their own product slipping in a few positive features. The aim is to instil a little cognitive intrigue into the audience that they will visit your promotional webpage.
There is a design principle labelled “Aesthetic-Usability Effect” that infers “aesthetic designs that look easier to use will have a higher probability of being used” that draws a link with “first impressions are lasting impressions”. “In a study of how people use computers, researchers found that early impressions influenced long-term attitudes about their quality and use.
A similar phenomena is well documented with regard to human attractiveness—first impressions of people influence attitude formation and measurably affect how people are perceived and treated” (Lidwell, 2017). This principle reinforces the value of aesthetics in visuals and the risk of using non-professional quality visuals in advertising and promotion, particularly photographic images. Something for new startup enterprises to think about.
As if you haven’t got enough statistics to process. Here is a look into quite a comprehensive list of Marketing Statistics for 2018… https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics
Stelzner, Michael A. 2016, How Marketers Are Using Social Media to Grow Their Business, 2016 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, Social Media Examiner, California, USA. Retrieved September 2017 from https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/SocialMediaMarketingIndustryReport2016.pdf
Medina, John 2017, Brian Rules, viewed 13 November 2017, http://www.brainrules.net/brain-rules-video
B2B Content Marketing, 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America report. Retrieved September 2017 from http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/2016_B2B_Report_Final.pdf
Lidwell, William. 2017. Universal Principles of Design. Lynda video, 04:50. https://www.lynda.com/Higher-Education-tutorials/White-effects/193717/436477-4.html
Mawhinney, Jesse. 2017. 42 Visual Content Marketing Statistics You Should Know In 2017. HubSpot.com Blog, https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/visual-content-marketing-strategy#sm.00000a2uxdegrelcu9p2940unwebv
Pollard, Catriona. 2017. Why Visual Content Is a Social Media Secret Weapon. Huffingtonpost.com Blog, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/catriona-pollard/why-visual-content-is-a-s_b_7261876.html
Nielsen, Jakob. 2010. Photos as Web Content. NN/g Nielsen Group Blog, https://www.nngroup.com/articles/photos-as-web-content/
McCoy, Erin. 2018. Boost Your Conversion Rates With Motion Graphics. Forbes.com Blog, https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2018/03/09/boost-your-conversion-rates-with-motion-graphics/#20134cbf6186