How interaction and imagery can improve your content reach by 50%

Visuals and interactions are the key pillars of how we engage with content, affecting engagement, attention and retention. Rebecca Ley writes

Thinking about how our brains are wired to receive and process information led Nick Mason, CEO and founder of Turtl, to a pose fundamental question: could he improve the performance of content by having a better understanding of how our brains work? The answer, as he discussed at InTech 2018, is a resounding yes.

The power of images

The first pillar of good content – images – speaks to our primitive brain, explained Nick. “It was the first piece of content humans ever created,” he said, speaking at InTech 2018. Conveying vital information through images was the first way humans were able to communicate across time, and presented a survival advantage.

Vision accounts for two-thirds of the electrical activity in the brain, and up to 90% of our brain power is spent on visual activity, and that’s why it matters. So, asked Nick, why is the content status quo only one image per page? “It’s not uncommon to have unbroken scrolling text,” he said, “which is not visually persuasive. If we don’t use images we really miss a trick.”

When done right, including images in content can increase recall of information by 6.5 times. And if you need proof of the effect this can have on online content, know that articles with strong use of imagery get 94% more views.

Interaction

Interaction is all about shifting the reader’s brain from passive to active mode. But how do we capture and enhance it for great content?

People need to experience competence to be fully engaged, said Nick. This means feeling they understood something and are smart. A quiz is the perfect example of this: it’s a way of facing up to a challenge, being involved, and ‘making our own path’. Unsurprisingly, the New York Times found a quiz to be its most successful piece of content in years, said Nick.

Passive content is 5% effective, versus interactive content which is 45% effective, Nick explained. Quoting Marshall McLuhan, the father of modern digital theory, Nick added: “The medium is the message – you don’t need to change your content, you just need to package it differently.”

Marketers should move away from disposable content, which is often passive, dull and forgettable. “We regularly miss a huge trick by investing too much in the message and not the medium,” said Nick.

Sick of reading badly put together PDFs, Nick urged content marketers to rethink the way they present information. “From changing just those two things – visuals and interaction – you can raise your average read time from two minutes to five,” he said. "Increase your subscriptions and leads, and improve your reach by more than 50%.”

If that isn’t compelling content, we don’t know what is.

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