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Mantra for the Digital Age: Judge a Book by Its Cover

By Nicole Rideout, The Hoffman Agency


 

It’s true when they say that you never get a second chance at a first impression, and it’s no exception in visual content marketing campaigns; according to researchers at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, it takes less than two-tenths of a second for online visitors to form a first opinion of your brand once they’ve viewed your company’s website.

This means we have a split second (literally) to convince someone that our website is worth staying on. For content marketers working in a world with millions of online sources competing for users’ attention, it’s crucial to make that split second count.

Music and audio technology giant Sony competes in a global market of retailers all attempting to reach the same audience — music lovers and audiophiles seeking information about the latest and greatest in music and technology. To stay relevant among the plethora of music websites, Sony’s Music and Life site uses the power of visual design to break through the noise. Take a look at some of the visual content marketing strategies being used to maximize page views and create a better overall user experience:.

Visual Content Marketing Strategy No. 1: Infographics

Visual content representations are proven to help us to better absorb and remember information, so Sony designs original infographics to present information in a more effective way. These infographics are an informational tool to not only make statistical information more digestible, but also make it more interesting.

Examples:

In Sony’sBest London Underground Songs article, stations in the world-famous London Tube were matched up to songs inspired by these Underground stops. In order to visually represent this concept, songs (represented by music notes) were placed on top of the London Underground map in their corresponding stations.

London-Tube-Infographic

The Top Songs Around the Globe article revolved around a BBC project that identified cities thousands of miles away that shared the same taste in music. The infographic visually links each “musical twin town” with a color and a line to reinforce the idea of connection through music.

Twin-City-Infographic

Sony identified 5 2016 High-Res Audio Trends and developed an infographic complete with simplified icons to describe each trend. Visitors could read the entire article for more detailed information about each trend, or simply look at the infographic for the “Reader’s Digest” version.

2016-High-Res-Audio-Trends-Infographic

For the article “Return of Retro Music Players”, Sony created this infographic highlighting the rising popularity of retro audio equipment. Readers saw images of the different devices that were making a comeback along with statistics about the sales of these products. 

Retro-Music-Gadgets-Infographic

 

Visual Content Marketing Strategy No. 2: Feature Images

Since feature images are often the first thing a user sees when visiting a website, choosing the right feature image is one of the most important components of a visual content marketing campaign. To make the best impression on users, Sony uses feature images that are clean, clear and colorful and, most importantly, representative of the Sony brand.

Examples:

Top Madrid Music Venues

Madrid-Feature-Image

2016 Best Summer Songs

Best-Summer-Songs-Feature-Image

Best Workout Headphones

Best-Workout-Headphones-Feature-Image

Visual Content Marketing Strategy No. 3: Landing Page

The landing page acts as a digital fork in the road where users choose to enter or exit your site. Try to strike a balance of creativity and organization; you don’t want your users searching for content, so keep the landing page clean and easy to navigate. If it’s unclear where they should click next, users will quickly move on. Sony cleaned up the High-Resolution Audio website by creating four unique categories for content so that users would know exactly where to go to find new music suggestions, exclusive interviews with an artist and more — instead of placing all of the content on one page.

Before:

Old-Sony-before_top-2

After:

Current-Index-Page

 

There are several lessons in visual design for content marketers to take away from the Sony Music and Life site:

Visual Design Lesson No. 1: Keep it simple

Great visual design can often be boiled down to the concept of “less is more.” In a world of complicated technology, webpages need to be kept simple, which is why Sony opts for the minimalist approach.

Former Director of Google Web Products Marissa Mayer explains the importance of simplicity: “Google has the functionality of a really complicated Swiss Army knife, but the home page is our way of approaching it closed. It’s simple, it’s elegant … a lot of our competitors are like a Swiss Army knife open — and that can be intimidating and occasionally harmful.”

Visual Design Lesson No. 2: Focus on the visual elements that matter

When it comes to websites, research shows that people care less about all the bells and whistles and more about the core, fundamental visual elements, such as the homepage image and logo. Instead of getting caught up in the minute details of design, prioritize the most important visual elements of your site. Entrepreneur reports that people focus the most on logos, navigation menus, social media links, primary images, written content and search boxes.

Visual Design Lesson No. 3: Authenticity is key

A website should be a visual representation of your brand. Be mindful of your audience and keep the aesthetic consistent with your brand’s identity (this should include typography, color scheme, image style, etc.). Using visual design to present an authentic look inside your brand will help consumers remember your site long after they’ve logged off.

Sony’s Music and Life page used smart and simple visual content marketing techniques to become a go-to source for music lovers everywhere. By improving the visual design of your website, you’ll ensure you’re putting your best face forward online.

So go ahead, judge the book by its cover.


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