Visual Storytelling in Digital Marketing

Have you noticed that in recent years, content is continuously optimized for those with short attention spans in mind?

  • Medium tells you how long an article will take to read before you even get started
  • Snapchat stories are limited to 10 seconds
  • Infographics are in vogue as a way to quickly disseminate data-rich information

As attention spans shift, it’s fair to give some of the blame to technology. Studies show that human attention spans have decreased by 33% in the last 15 years from 12 seconds to 8 seconds, somehow even shorter than a goldfish’s attention span. When you think about the fact that the average person shifts their attention from their phone, to their laptop, to their tablet an average 21 times in an hour, the results from the aforementioned study start to make sense.

As a digital marketer, you have to find ways to capture your audience’s constantly dwindling attention span. Visual storytelling can be an effective way to meet your audience where they want to be.

Interactive Storytelling

Interactive storytelling is defined as storytelling enhanced by digital media. The most sophisticated forms of interactive storytelling utilize a blend of psychology, sociology, cognitive science, linguistics, design, computer science, and artificial intelligence.

According to Visme, “If done right, viewers forget they’re reading text, listening to sound effects, looking at visuals and scrolling down all at the same time and begin to experience it as a whole.”

Before you dismiss interactive storytelling as too complicated, take a look at potential benefits by the numbers:

  • 93% of marketers agreed that interactive content is effective in educating its buyers
  • 88% of marketers said that interactive content is effective in differentiating their brand from their competitors
  • 70% of marketers say that interactive content is effective at converting site visitors

An easy way to get started with interactive storytelling is with photos and videos. Use psychological principles and tap into emotions to make the story transformative.

The Visual Storytelling Difference

Since 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, visual storytelling easily stands out from other content. From the attention standpoint, visual images can be processed up to 60,000 times faster in the brain than text. Visuals make it easy to connect with readers, on a level not possible by text alone, and have the ability to convey complex subjects simply.

Furthermore, storytelling efforts that are rich with visuals are extremely social media friendly. On that note, they cater directly to the always-connected millennial audience (and rising Generation Z), and are just begging to be shared.

The benefits of incorporating visual storytelling into your marketing efforts are numerous, and science proves that it helps stories stick. Due to a phenomenon called neural coupling, the listener mirrors the storyteller, making the listener empathic. This causes the brain to produce oxytocin, the trust hormone, which helps build connections.

Changing Times: New Platforms for Visual Storytelling

Although visual storytelling is being adapted by many marketers, it isn’t easy to do well. But technology quickly evolves and marketers have to be constantly adapting tactics to be effective.

TV, which at one point represented the most effective way to reach audiences, has been experiencing a steady decline of users. Millennials especially are watching TV less and less. TV was overtaken by digital for the first time in Europe in 2016, as brand and video dollars migrated rapidly to mobile as a channel. In fact, it’s estimated that by 2020, there will be a 13x growth in video, and 75% of all mobile data traffic will be video-first. Mobile and video continue to be key drivers of the online ad market in Europe, representing a minimum 42% of the total display pie.

Platforms like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram have distinct audiences, with the latter two being more targeted towards millennials/Generation Z. Each platform experiences different user behavior, and offers unique environments to engage in.

Alex Collmer, founder and CEO of video post production platform VidMob says, “If Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat are the targeted platform, you have to capture your audience’s attention in the first few seconds. If they’re not interested in what you’re saying in three-four seconds, you’ve lost them.”

Interactive content like visual storytelling can help you reach out to your audience. It is a great way to capture attention and build connections. Though it may be hard to wrap your head around creating new graphical elements, you don’t need a big budget to use this tactic effectively. Ultimately, millennial audiences are most concerned with authenticity and storytelling—visuals just help make these things stick.

Mabbly, a Chicago digital marketing agency, can help you get started with a visual storytelling strategy that fits within your digital marketing efforts—get in touch!