Today’s guest post comes from Connor Elsea, who spent two weeks working as a Rep Cap high school intern earlier this summer. Connor is a rising junior at Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts in Natchitoches, where he is president of the Computer Science Club. He’s also a software engineer and CEO of Elsea Labs, a technology company he founded in 2011.
If you’re using a blog as part of your company’s content marketing efforts, you’re probably paying a lot of attention to the words, but have you put any thought into the design? Not only does a quality image grab readers’ attention, and help them decide whether to keep reading, but it can also quickly and effectively illustrate the written content’s main idea.
A study on content performance by content marketing platform Skyword found that “on average, total views increased by 94 percent if a published article contained a relevant photograph or infographic when compared to articles without an image in the same category.”
Good graphic design helps draw readers in to engage with your content, which helps improve its effectiveness. For this reason, your B2B blog needs some basic elements of graphic design.
Start By Selecting a Good Image
No matter how frequently they’re used, many stock photos aren’t of high enough quality to be used on commercial sites. And even if a photo is high-quality visually, it isn’t necessarily engaging. A stereotypical bland stock photo will simply add another image to the visual noise surrounding every reader online. Instead, choose interesting images that will resonate.
“Make sure you steer away from images that look too posed — you know the ones, a group of business people, all the same age and height, all pretty, and one of each ethnicity,” says Amber Sawaya, a partner and creative director at Web development firm Sawaya Consulting. “Work with images that speak to your target audience and make sure that your image tells a story — a story that backs up your blog post.”
If an image evokes some sort of genuine emotion, whether it’s happiness, laughter, or surprise, it will draw the reader in further. Remember, even in B2B, you’re selling to people, not to businesses.
But Don’t Stop There
Though images are a large part of getting people’s attention, they’re not the only aspect of graphic design to consider. Font, kerning, layout and color all matter and help increase views and decrease bounce rates.
“We conducted A/B testing on a client’s blog design, changing only the typeface of the headings. Version A had headings and subheadings set in the default serif typeface (for example, Times New Roman) at 30 pixels and 24 pixels respectively, center-aligned in royal blue; Version B headings and subheadings were set in Aktiv Grotesk (a modern sans serif typeface) using the same sizes as Version A, left-aligned in a sea-green. Version A had an 84 percent bounce rate, whereas the bounce rate for Version B was 26 percent lower at 58 percent,“ said Brad Squires, founder and creative director of Bold Type Design.
A/B testing is a good way to experiment with design changes on your blog.
4 Steps to Choosing or Creating Good Graphics for Your B2B Blog
If you have a graphic designer on staff, he or she can help you choose or create graphics for your company’s blog. If not, find someone on your team who’s willing to do a little learning with these four steps.
1. Get Inspired
Step away from your role as a content creator for a moment and think of yourself as a content consumer. Scroll through popular industry blogs and see what catches your attention. Then ask yourself “What’s different about this post?” and use the answer to guide your search for the perfect image.
“A key factor and guiding principle is to always consider your audience. What are they looking for? Putting the reader at ease with a familiar image or images will help engage them on a level that goes beyond intellect — you want to try to speak to them on an emotional level,” advises Reputation Capital Creative Director Mike Redaelli.
2. Find an Image
Squires says he generally conducts a Google Image search of relevant image keywords to get ideas for images he can use in a design or blog post. From there, he either uses stock photography sites to expand upon his ideas or creates pictures and illustrations on his own.
Just remember not take the images you find on Google and use them on your blog. That’s illegal, unethical — and definitely bad for business.
3. Consider Customizing Your Image
Creating original images specifically to suit your needs or modifying existing images with elements such as overlay text or graphics are great ways to make images more appealing. For example, overlaying an image with a short snippet of text is a good way to quickly overview what your blog post is trying to accomplish.
“Spell it out loud and clear. Many people won’t take the time to read an entire article unless they know it suits their needs exactly. An overlay or pull quote can draw them in to read further” says Redaelli.
4. Peer Review Your Work
Show the image you’ve created to other people and ask them if it stands out, and if so, why. Use that feedback to alter the image accordingly and improve the quality of your future images.
Need help with graphic design for your B2B blog? We’re here for you. Contact us to have a conversation about how the Rep Cap team can meet your needs.
Reputation Capital Media Services is a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, marketing agency that helps B2B companies and their marketing agencies produce high-quality digital content, including blog posts, e-mail newsletters, white papers and multimedia. Our editors and writers are experts in their fields, which include HR technology, employee benefits, and financial services and accounting. Contact us for a free 30-minute consultation to find out how great content can help you attract and retain your customers.