How is visual inspiration replacing traditional search

Most people are now used to searching online using Google or similar. And digital marketers know how to exploit keywords as part of their SEO strategy. But where does the consumer’s need or desire to search come from?

Increasingly, it comes from consumers finding inspiration in what they see online or on TV. Visual stimulation can be a more powerful driver of action than words alone. We see this inspiration as critical to the start of the sales conversion funnel.

For visual inspiration to be successful, you need to promote your brand in a relevant and engaging context. One that creates a sense of belonging with your audience. When your target market associates your brand with their own aspirations and values, you can nudge them in the direction of liking, desiring, and potentially buying your product.

This is a growing trend as brands employ more creative approaches to displaying their products online. Consumers have fallen in love with platforms like Pinterest and Instagram because they provide rich images that convey elaborate, emotional stories. Big e-commerce brands, such as ASOS and Top Shop, are also moving in this direction. Clothes are no longer simply shown against a plain white background; they are worn by actors or models in exotic locations doing exciting things.

When you understand your target audience in detail, you can find people they feel an affinity with. It may not always be a famous person. One of the strengths of social media influencers is their authenticity and the common ground they share with consumers. They portray a style or fashion that is inspiring to the audience they have created. Their lifestyle resonates but is also accessible.

Once you’ve inspired, it’s time to act

In the past, watching an online video about your favorite sport might be entertaining and informative. But, it could also leave you feeling a bit empty. You’d been fired up to take some sort of action – buying those new running shoes to re-start your training maybe – but you couldn’t act on those emotions. Technology now makes this easy. No need to interrupt the video and go to another website, just hover over the shoes, find out the price and buy immediately.

Online advertising can interrupt and jar, ruining the user experience. But, interactive content doesn’t need to be pushy or shouty with lots of obvious call to actions. You can make it part of the story. For example, an adventure travel video can feature a great-looking tent or jacket. Viewers can hover over the product and see detailed technical specifications.

Many websites are still split between educational and entertaining editorial content, and the ecommerce section where sales are made. Now they can come together in a smooth transition. This is not about selling in the old fashioned sense. It cannot be intrusive. It gives much more power to consumers who only interact with the brand if they want to. Watch this video for a great example of how Nike is putting all this into action.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and answer any questions!

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