They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and if you look around at all the visual data that surrounds us, you would see it’s true. For example, take the humble road sign. Pedestrian crossings, railroad tracks and even back roads known for their high-traffic deer are all indicated using visuals without any assistance from text.
But why is that? Especially when, like most visual road signs, the information is extremely important? It’s because the human brain is conditioned to respond to images. About 30 percent of your neurons are visual, far and away more than any of the other four senses (the next closest is touch at eight percent). The large number of visual neurons makes it possible to quickly turn images into content, like you do when you read. It’s also why it’s possible to use one simple image to convey a powerful message.
In direct mail and direct marketing, visual data is critical for a number of reasons.
1. Graphics Allow for Quicker Communication
Many of today’s consumers rarely spend more than 20 seconds with a mailpiece. That means you have less than 20 seconds to show your prospect the value of your product. Because our brains process images 60,000 times faster than processing text, highly visual formats allow your prospects’ brain to process more information in less time, making it easier for you to convince them to keep reading. For instance, a bar graph comparing your pricing to your competitors’ will convey savings more effectively than simply listing prices. You’re saving your prospect work, and valuable brainpower, by providing graphics that do the work for them.
2. Visuals Help the Brain Remember
Neural research shows that adding a visual element can make data easier to absorb. This is especially true when the image is universal, like the exclamation point. If you put a large exclamation point graphic next to text, it’s sure to draw the prospects’ eye and inform them that what’s listed is important and your brain will be more likely to store it. While pundits are poking a lot of fun at this, “Jeb!” is memorable while “Jeb” is not.
3. Images Offer Another Point of Entry for Prospects
You’ve probably heard of visual learners, people who understand information better when it’s presented in visuals and colors. It’s no surprise that visual learners prefer images to text since they are more likely to understand information presented in graphics. Incorporating visuals into your direct marketing gives visual learners the information on their own terms, making it more likely that they will understand—and respond—to the offer.
Our reliance on visual data has become such an integral part of our everyday lives that it’s easy to forget how important it is. The next time you’re on the road, think about what life would be like if every street sign was only words on a white rectangle. Then, think about how your marketing piece could benefit from some shapes, color and images.
Check back next Wednesday for specific strategies on how to use visual data in your next direct mail campaign.
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