Content marketing is, without a doubt, one of the best ways to digitally market your brand. Big or small, local or international, any brand can benefit from the creation (and promotion) of high-quality, entertaining, and informative content.
But if you want to take your content writing efforts to the next level, instead of merely honing your creative skills and talents, try perfecting your website’s design.
Wordsmiths often hate to be reminded of the fact, but humans are more swayed by visuals than by words. The best copy in the world, if formatted poorly and consisting of not much more than a large chunk of text, will be worth much less than one high-quality image.
Ideally, content writers and copywriters would think about the way to make their text visually appealing at the time of writing. Of course, this is not always the case. By working in synergy with a designer, they can lend their words a layer of appeal that may just turn out to be crucial.
Let’s take a look at the different ways you can use design to improve your content marketing efforts.
Any visual elements of a webpage are naturally processed much, much quicker than any amount of text. Reading a blog post or even very brief product descriptions simply take more time than looking at an image of the same product or glancing through an infographic.
However, you can rarely completely substitute words for images and vice versa. That’s why you’ll need to make these elements work together to:
In your blog posts, you want the images to accompany the text and prepare a reader for what’s coming. Here’s an example: in this post, Mozart Data utilizes the featured image to give the reader an idea of what’s about to come, ensuring they are ready to gather more in-depth information below.
image source: mozartdata.com
Many brands choose to be very puny in their posts, relying on memes and gifs.
Another great way to enhance your posts is to add screenshots. They can communicate the technicalities of a product or process much better than words and help you make your point effectively. Take a look at this post from Aura that achieves just the right effect.
image source: goaura.com
In short, you want the images to add something to the post. They might deepen it, enhance it, make it funnier or more informative. Merely adding any image (for the sake of having an image because that’s what Google likes) won’t cut it anymore.
You can also utilize design to (re)direct a reader’s attention. Ideally, your blog posts should feature CTAs. If they don’t, you might want to reconsider their purpose.
For the time being, let’s assume all of your content has at least one CTA. With the intelligent use of web design, you can slowly trickle your audience’s attention to it. This, in turn, will make conversion much more likely.
First, you want to establish some sort of hierarchy, both visually and in terms of your content. Content-wise, you want to introduce the CTA naturally rather than just slap it on at random. In the design sense, you want to use the Z-pattern or the F-pattern to attract attention.
By formatting your content that way, you will simply be embracing the way most people read content. You’ll be able to place the most important parts of the page where visitors are most likely to see them.
You then want to make good use of white space, or negative space, which does not necessarily have to be white but it does have to be neutral. White space makes it easier for the eye to focus on the rest of the page – i.e., the text and the visuals in the middle.
The CTA (or any other page element you want to highlight) should also be in a contrasting color to the rest of the page. A solid, vibrant color on a white background is what most blogs go for, and it works well enough.
A page’s design can also significantly impact its performance.
For instance, a conversion is much more likely if your CTA:
Another good example is in inspiring social shares. If you provide plenty of clearly visible options for someone to share your posts (and not just the usual sidebar widget that most blog posts have), you’re much more likely to inspire a reader to share your post with their own followers.
Not to mention, posts that are visually appealing are likely to get shared more than boring chunks of text. Keep in mind that social media is about visuals more than it is about text. An image will attract attention before a caption is read. In fact, quotes in image form are often the most shared.
You can boost the appeal and shareability of your content significantly by:
Here’s a post from Eachnight that comes with several very interesting, visually appealing, and share-worthy infographics. These visuals not only break up the text very well but also feature data that is further analyzed in text form. Altogether, they’ve made the entire post more digestible and appealing.
image source: eachnight.com
Given the nature of visuals, well-executed web design will make a lasting and memorable impression on your audience. It will prove more effective than an article they may or may not read from top to bottom.
When people who have come across your brand before come across a problem you can solve, they are likely to remember what your pages looked like, which colors you used, what your logo is like, and how the pages were designed. If they associate positive memories with your brand, they’re also likely to come back.
On the other hand, if they’ve had a negative visual experience and maybe found your website cluttered and heavy, they are much more likely to head somewhere else.
This is why design is crucial and why you have to ensure brand continuity across all of your media outlets. That goes for social media especially.
Try to incorporate the same visual identity across all platforms and all brand touchpoints. This will cement your brand in the minds of your audience and make it stand out much better from your competitors.
Take Coca-Cola as a rather obvious example. They’ve bound all of our memories, ideas, and thoughts to their signature red. They feature it everywhere, from TV ads to their Instagram page. Your brand may certainly be smaller, but the exact same principle applies.
Finally, let’s not forget the basic principle of content marketing: content repurposing.
When you publish a blog post, you spend a significant amount of time on research and content development. If your piece does well and a decent number of people likes, shares, and comments on it, it would be a shame to waste that success on a one-off piece of content.
Even if it doesn’t perform spectacularly, you should still consider turning it into a different format. This will enable you to share it across other platforms and promotion avenues.
Social media thrives on tiny slices of informative content. Infographics, charts, and quotes will draw more views and click-throughs if they’re adapted from the actual article than if you were to choose a random image to share your text with.
You can then share your new visual content on Pinterest, Slideshare, and a whole host of other websites made for image sharing. This will boost your link portfolio and bring in a wider audience to what was once a mere text.
If you choose to think of content as the delicious filling of a creme egg and the visuals that accompany it as the tasty outer chocolate shell, you won’t be far wrong, but you might also get a bit peckish in the process.
To use a non-chocolate metaphor, content and web design need to be perfectly married if you hope to outshine your competitors. This kind of approach will certainly help you gain that much-wanted attention of your target audience. Of course, it may take some getting used to, so don’t give up. With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to think of one when working on the other in no time.
Rukham is the Content Lead at Mailmunch. He believes trust should be the basis for all marketing communications.