Updated May 2022
What type of content is most likely to drive engagement, increase sales, and build brand awareness?
We have plenty of content formats and channels to choose from for B2B content strategies—blog posts, videos, ebooks, podcasts. But with so many options, selecting the right format becomes a challenge.
If you’re not sure where to focus your efforts, I strongly recommend focusing on visual content.
Visual Content Is Remembered Longer and Drives Engagement
As the video below explains, if a person hears a piece of information, they’ll remember only about 10% of that information three days later. If a picture is added, 65% of the information is retained three days later.
Clearly, pictures aligned with text improve communication retention. If you’re investing thousands of dollars into a B2B marketing campaign, that’s a valuable piece of information to know—and it is even more valuable if you apply it.
Marketing research backs this up. In HubSpot’s 2020 State of Marketing report, marketers reported the most engaging social media content contained photos or imagery.
Fortunately, most B2B marketers already use visual content in their content marketing mix. Sixty-seven percent of the B2B content marketers surveyed in the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs 2020 B2B Benchmarks Budgets and Trends report said they use “infographics/charts/photos/data viz [data visualizations].”
Visual content for B2B content marketing is also particularly well-aligned with B2B marketers’ two primary goals for their content: Creating brand awareness and educating audiences.
But that’s not the only reason visual content is so powerful for B2B content marketing strategies—it’s also ideal for content repurposing.
Most B2B content marketing programs have historically leaned very heavily on text-based content. Witness this in the “Content Types B2B Marketers Used in the Last 12 Months” chart cited above; 89% of B2B marketers produce blog posts and short articles.
So B2B marketers have ample amounts of text-based content. If they want to maximize their marketing budget, repurposing some existing text-based content into visual content can be a particularly strategic plan. This is especially true if these marketers choose to repurpose only their very best-performing text-based content into a visual format.
These are just some of the reasons to use visual content in B2B content marketing.
The question is—how exactly do you use visual content for B2B content marketing? What specific types of visual content can be created, and how can they be used to drive engagement and conversions?
To answer this question, we gathered ten excellent examples of B2B visual content marketing. Use these examples for inspiration to drive your own content strategy.
Add Charts and Graphs
B2B buyers are especially data-oriented and often call for content to be more data-focused. Charts and graphs (and all other types of data visualizations) speak to this need.
One study from QuickSprout found that “blog posts with graphs and charts received the highest number of [WordPress] trackbacks. On average, they received 258% more trackbacks than blog posts with other types of images.”
Charts and graphs, like all images, can be especially effective if they are optimized for search engines. Simply adding an informative, keyword-rich alt tag will help, as will making each image’s file name descriptive and keyword-focused.
The important thing to remember with charts and graphs is they work best when they provide context for content.
At their best, data visualizations are used for “data storytelling,” a popular method of using several different statistics or data points to explain a larger theory.
If you work in B2B SaaS, you might be familiar with the graphic design trend of using illustrations in marketing materials. Many B2B SaaS homepages like DropBox and Trello show these types of clean, flat-design illustrations.
Computer-generated illustrations can be included in this type of content format for B2B content marketing, but I want to place particular emphasis on hand-drawn illustrations.
Like this one from Happify:
Many B2B SaaS companies use hand-drawn illustrations throughout their content. BuzzSumo used its brand illustrations to great effect for years. Google has been showcasing Google doodles for even longer.
Hand-drawn illustrations help content stand out and establish your brand, even if it is just a blog post header image shared on social media. They do require the assistance of an illustrator, but there are quite a few platforms that can help you find an artist up to the task, like Behance, Dribbble, 99designs, and Fiverr.
Share User-Generated Content in Image Format
B2C content marketers have used user-generated content to build trust for years.
B2B marketers can do the same, though you need to be cautious about the legal permissions required to safely use user-generated content.
Even if it does require extra time to get approval from your company’s Legal department, the benefits of “UGC” can be worth the extra effort. User-generated content often performs exceptionally well for social media advertising and can be even more effective if it is included on checkout pages or products and services pages.
Adding a headshot to a testimonial is one way to leverage visual content. Adding a photograph of a person draws the eye into the text and humanizes the information, like this example of a customer testimonial from KoMarketing’s website:
This type of B2B visual content is more casual than the formal, more traditional photographs of your business typically taken by a professional photographer. These photographs are basically employee-generated visual content. This type of content can do well on social media, particularly on Instagram.
So why would you want to ask employees to start photographing themselves and their teammates at work? Because while stock photos are convenient and look polished, they are often far less compelling than “real life” photos, especially if your company’s staff takes those photographs.
Here’s an example of a photograph taken in a company office by an employee leaving the firm. This photograph has a poignancy that a stock photo could never achieve.
Here’s an example from our own Instagram, during the COVID-19 pandemic while all of our employees were working from home, where we asked employees to send in pictures of their dogs for National Dog Day. This can be a fun tactic for employees and your company’s followers while giving your organization a little more personality.
This may be exactly why “real” photographs perform better than stock photographs: We see ads so often that we can almost subconsciously tell a stock photograph from a real photograph as we scroll through newsfeeds. We have learned to filter out ads.
A photograph taken by an employee, which looks like a social media photo taken for a personal account, interrupts this filter. Even if it’s only for just a second, a B2B buyer’s eye may stop to consider what looks like someone’s personal post. If your messaging is just right, that one-second pause may be enough to engage the buyer and compel them to click through to your ad’s landing page.
The photographs used in these messages don’t have to look like a professional photographer took them. Definitely keep the photos professional, but perfect lighting and angles are unnecessary and may even suppress engagement.
Summarize Text-Based Content into Micro-Infographics.
Micro-infographics are smaller than your standard infographic, and they’re one of the best ways to repurpose text-based content.
Here is the process:
- Select a few of your top-performing blog posts
- Highlight 5-10 key facts, sentences, or statistics from each post
- Ask a designer to convert the text into visually-compelling information
Here is an example of a micro-infographic:
Notice this is not a full infographic. It doesn’t need to be. It’s short, punchy, and conveys important information in seconds. Plus, you’ll have enough images for several dozen excellent social media posts, which helps further amplify content already driving business. And these visual elements can also be added to the existing blog posts.
Scroll-Triggered Animations, AKA ‘Parallax’ Scroll Animations.
Content does not necessarily have to be blog posts or white papers. A product features page or a company’s home page also has content, and that content can be animated to appear more dynamic and interesting.
This can be done with scroll-triggered animations, or “parallax” animations.
Google’s “How Search Works” page is an excellent example of this type of animation. For every aspect of how search works, Google presents a headline, a few lines of summary text, a link to a page dedicated to this topic, and an interesting animation that illustrates how the feature works.
Here’s one section from “How Search Works”:
Animations like this often require a skilled developer and a designer to create an effective animation that both communicate well and that works on every device and platform, but you can also use WordPress plugins like Scroll Triggered Animations to make implementing these types of visuals easier.
Add Infographics To Written Content.
Infographics have long been one of the most effective visual content formats available. At KoMarketing, we’ve created dozens of infographics and extensively used them in our marketing.
Infographics can be repurposed from existing content, like a particularly in-depth blog post, an ebook, or a research study. They can also be developed as a completely new content project.
If you know of a series of statistics that can tell a particular story or show the state of a specific aspect of your industry, an infographic may be particularly well-suited as a content format for that information.
Infographics can also be broken up into micro-infographics and shared on social media platforms like LinkedIn.
For more information about infographics, see our blog post, How to Create an Infographic From Start to Finish in 5 Steps.
Engage Readers With Interactive Infographics.
Upgrade the standard infographic by allowing the user to change how the infographic looks by dragging bars, clicking charts, or adjusting the view year by year, for example. The interaction increases time on page—and it shows the content the user is most interested in.
Quartz’s This is every satellite orbiting earth interactive infographic is an excellent example of how engaging this type of visual content can be.
Pinterest Pins (Yes, Even for B2B).
Pinterest might be more popular with B2C companies, but there are quite a few business-to-business companies leveraging it effectively. The most successful of these seem to have “pinterized” their strategy and the look of their content to complement the platform’s feel while still attracting B2B buyers.
Squarespace’s Pinterest page is an ideal example of this “pinterization” of a B2B brand. Their Pinterest page has the distinctive look and feel of Pinterest, and Squarespace seems to be consciously demonstrating how their product can help Pinterest’s audience.
Cisco’s Pinterest page offers a template for how to organize your content on this platform. Note how they have organized their visual content into Pinterest boards for blog posts, infographics, customer quotes, and videos.
Add Hand-Written Quotes to Social Media.
Not all visual content has to be created by a graphic designer. Just as amateur photographs taken by employees and customers can lend authenticity, writing out quotations, statistics or anything else can help to “stop the scroll” and capture attention.
One of the best examples of this is hand-written notes on napkins or post-it notes. These don’t take more than a minute or two to create, and they often attract more engagement than a more professionally designed graphic would get.
This example, from Sima Dahl, is part of a series of quotes written out on napkins. It’s an interesting, creative way to create a series of messaging points.
B2B Visual Content Marketing: Final Thoughts
Visual content marketing fulfills many of the needs B2B marketers have right now. It helps:
- Increase engagement
- Make your content more memorable
- Repurpose existing content so you can make the most of your budget
- Provides content formats that attract different types of B2B buyers
If your B2B content strategy has not yet prioritized visual content, now is the time. Use the examples above to inspire your visual content strategy. Start with one or two formats and see what your audience responds to.
Reach out to us on Twitter if you think we have missed any key B2B visual content marketing examples!