Visuals should be a must in a Content Marketing Strategy

The following is a guest post written by Gretchen from Canva. We are big fans of Canva’s easy to use software and approach to content marketing – so much so that we’ve previously featured them in our content marketing tool. We hope you can weave some of these visual insights into your content strategy. Enjoy!

Social media and other digital platforms have transformed the type of content that reaches audiences and, more importantly, keeps them engaged. When once you could get away with text-heavy posts, now they’re more likely to get ignored in favor of visual content that’s easy to digest and gets the message across at once. Nearly 66% of social media updates are made up of visual content and 50% of audiences have re-posted or shared a photo or video they found online. So it goes without saying images should be included in your content marketing strategy.

This is true across all businesses, no matter the industry or niche. When it comes to attracting readers and spurring online social interaction, visuals are vital to your content marketing strategy.  

At Canva we’ve experimented extensively with incorporating visuals into our content marketing strategy and we’re happy to share what’s worked well for us, as well as other good examples out there. Read on to learn how to enhance your content campaign.

1. Create list posts with multiple images

More images means more Pinterest traffic. We proved this with Canva’s Design School blog when we increased the number of images in our posts and found our Pinterest traffic rise by 62.5%.

How? By including a lot of high-quality and relevant images that contextualized the written content. This resulted in readers pinning multiple images from the same post, not just the featured banner image, as you can see from the screenshot below.

multiple images

Source: Pinterest

Another name for this is picture lists, which are one of the most highly shared forms of content on the internet and are a super-effective way to boost your blog traffic. The combination of three popular elements into one juicy post – curation, lists and images – increases their viral potential too.

It’s not surprising then that this style of content is popping up all over the place, as savvy publishers sit up and take note. Last year for example, The Guardian published the picture list ‘Overpopulation, Overconsumption’, which was shared over 715,000 times.

captureSource: The Guardian

Highly visual with just the right amount of easily digestible information to keep us scrolling down and hankering for more, picture lists can serve a range of purposes. They can:

Explain a concept


Source: Buzzfeed

Buzzfeed’s article ‘26 Pictures That Will Make You Re-Evaluate Your Entire Existence’ has been viewed almost 23 million times. Why? It’s a quirky, interesting idea explained in a simple, visual manner.

Tell a story

Stories evoke emotions and teamed with visuals they’re all the more powerful. Take Upworthy’s heartwarming story of the relationship between a father and daughter told through illustrations, which has tallied over 1.2 million shares.


Source: Upworthy

Show a comparison

Be it Cinderella or The Biggest Loser, we’re hardwired to love a good before-and-after scenario. Bored Panda’s picture list post of building transformations is proof of this with 374.5k shares on social media.


Source: Bored Panda

Describe a process

‘How-to’ style lists are incredibly popular because they make learning easy. Pictures help us retain the information we learn, and in turn we want to share this knowledge with others. Take Wholefully’s blog post ‘8 Staple Smoothies You Should Know How To Make’, shared a whopping 1.2 million times.


Source: Wholefully

Curate an original list

This type of picture list has massive scope. Canva’s own curated list ‘The 9 Graphic Design Trends You Need to Be Aware of In 2016’ is jam-packed with visuals and has been shared 42.4k times.


Source: Canva Design School

2. Summarize information in an infographic

Owing to their visual nature and ability to simplify complex information, infographics are another one of the most shared types of content.

If you’re planning on using infographics as a part of your content marketing however, make sure you get it right. Infographics should be simple, easily understandable and should avoid trying to explain too much in one go.

Here’s one we designed for a Design School article on doodling, which got thousands of shares.


Source: Design School

3. Support your content strategy with charts/graphs

Using charts and graphs within your content marketing strategy is another effective strategy, primarily because they make your content easily-digestible and more understandable. These graphics easily convey meaning without requiring too much effort from your audience, and consequently people are drawn to them.

Not only do they make content appear more credible, graphs and charts allow your audience to gain the same message from your article without having to read it word for word. This graph for example, which was included in an article on email campaigns, reflects quite easily the most effective subject line character length required to optimise click to open rates.


Source: Vero

Also, the visual nature of graphs and charts makes them far more memorable than text alone, and consequently they have a longer lasting impact. This graph from a Sproutworth article communicates its message very clearly.


Source: Sproutworth

4. Use images on Facebook for more social engagement

Research conducted by BuzzSumo of over 100 million Facebook posts shows that an article on Facebook that is accompanied by an image is shared over twice as much as one without.


Source: BuzzSumo

Whether you use photos, charts, visual representations, comics or annotated screen shots, keep in mind that the purpose of the image should be to create a visual cue that complements the information you’re presenting.

Images that evoke some sort of emotion are the most effective choice on Facebook, such as Humans of New York which uses photos of ‘real’ everyday people to accompany their story.


Source: Facebook

Key take aways for your content marketing strategy:

  • Create list posts when you can. They’re hugely popular, audiences love them and you’re sure to get you loads more shares and social engagement than a regular article.
  • Communicate it in an infographic. Never made one?  No problems, Canva has a huge collection of infographic templates.
  • Make sure every post you make to Facebook has a large, eye-catching image to accompany it. The stats support it.
  • Try to stick to the image to text ratio of one image for every 75-100 words. This ‘Golden Ratio’ will help maximise your post shares.

Feel free to share any feedback or visual content marketing insights in the comments below.