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This is the guest post by Payman Taei.

We’ve written at length in the past about how visual communication is one of the most effective marketing techniques that there is in the modern era. It isn’t just the fact that human beings are visual learners – they also happen to love digesting ideas visually versus reading them by way of a wall of text.

According to one study, 31.7% of marketers said that visual content was a cornerstone of their 2017 marketing strategy. Another 53% of marketers said that between 91% and 100% of the content they published in 2016 contained some type of visual element.

From nearly every angle that you choose to look at it – from the fact that people follow better with directions to the fact that visual social media content tends to dramatically outperform content that is text-based – visual communication is the secret weapon you’ve been looking for.

However, it’s also important to understand that these benefits could come with a pretty significant cost attached to them if you’re not careful.

Because visual communication is so effective, you essentially need to be positive that your marketing message is on point at all times.

Visual communication is such a clear, concise and powerful way to convey ideas that if you’re too focused on the wrong things, those are precisely the ideas that your consumers are most likely to take away from your copy.

The Potential Downsides of Visual Communication

If that stunning Infographic you just spent all that time creating with a tool like Visme (which, full disclosure, I am a founder of) isn’t clearly conveying your ultimate message, how can you ever expect your readers to be on the same page?

Think about it like this: you’ve just created an Infographic that was supposed to be about all of the challenges you overcame when bringing your product or service to market. However, you’ve also included a lot of additional data points that – while interesting – ultimately serve as a distraction from that message.

We’ve also written in the past about how marketers are essentially storytellers and the “narrative spine” of your content needs to have a very clear beginning, middle, and end. This is another in a long line of examples of why this is not only true but essential.

But this is also a two-way street. If YOU are not clear about the story you’re trying to tell from the beginning, you’re going to get lost along the way. This isn’t something that you can afford to have to happen when your audience is so naturally captivated by the types of visual content that you’re creating.

If your narrative spine isn’t incredibly clear from the jump – meaning that you don’t live up to the promise of the story you set out to tell in the first place – your readers are likely to miss this point entirely because there is just so much else going on.

In many ways, tools like this Website Grader will be invaluable in terms of keeping your visual content focused and on track.

The chances are high that you settled on a topic for a particular piece of content like an Infographic or presentation because it was “the right message at the right time” – you needed a specific piece of collateral to help move your customers further down the sales funnel at the pace that you’ve dictated.

You had a goal that you wanted to accomplish – like driving more traffic to your website or collecting better, higher quality impressions – and this was the piece of content to do that.

If you use a Website Grader and find that you aren’t seeing the results that you’re after, the problem probably isn’t that your audience can’t follow directions – it’s that the directions were unclear in the first place. This points to an issue with your content, which will essentially send you back to the drawing board.

When crafting compelling visual content, it’s important to start with your audience and the “end result” in mind and work your way backward from there. You have a goal that you’re trying to accomplish – what type of collateral does your audience need to see in order to accomplish it?

Once you know the answer to that question, then you can begin to build the content around those ideas. But again, you need to make sure your visual collateral is as clear as possible and that your narrative spine justifies the decision to make something like an Infographic or a presentation in the first place.

In the End

Human beings are visual learners – they always have been and they always will be. This is one of the major reasons why visual content is so effective, but be warned – this does come with something of a cost.

If your visual content spends too much time focusing on the wrong things, rest assured that your audience is going to focus on those things, too. This is only going to put you farther away from your ultimate goals, not closer to them.

Only by making sure that you know what your message is and by crafting content that supports it will you have a chance at the type of success you need when you need it the most.

Don’t underestimate your audience – people are a lot smarter than many give them credit for. But they do need something of a guiding hand when it comes to marketing and moving down the sales funnel, which is precisely what your visual content is supposed to be.

About the Author

Payman Taei is the founder of Visme, an easy-to-use online tool to create engaging presentations, infographics, and other forms of visual content. He is also the founder of HindSite Interactive, an award-winning Maryland digital agency specializing in website design, user experience and web app development.