With so many businesses telling a compelling story with words, how can you leverage something that’s more distinct and engaging? Visual content creation is the answer, and it’s your ticket to staying ahead of the curve. In fact, the 2018 Social Media Marketing Industry Report found 32% of marketers agreed visual content was the most important asset in their strategy, with blogging in second place at 27%.

Imagery isn’t only most preferred, it’s also more memorable. Research presented in “Brain Rules” by John Medina shows that people are only 10% likely to remember information they hear, but if that information comes with a visual, memory recall boosts to 65%.

Essentially, imagery makes content easier to understand, digest and share. That’s why, as a marketer, it’s so crucial to have the right content creation tools up your sleeve.

Why is visual content creation so important?

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, and this certainly rings true when it comes to marketing. Great visuals convey a message that simply doesn’t come across the same way with words. According to the Betahaus Academy, 46% of marketers agree that photography is a must when it comes to visual storytelling, and with good reason – content with imagery gets 94% more views and is 40 times more likely to be shared on social. In short, visual content gets you:

  • Increased impressions.
  • Boosted engagement.
  • Improved traffic to your site.
  • Generated leads.
Content with imagery gets 94% more views and is 40 times more likely to be shared on social.

Written content still plays an important role in marketing, don’t get me wrong. But it’s the visuals that bring the words to life. High-quality images, gifs and quirky videos are a few of the many ways to grab the attention of your target audience and inspire them to dive deeper into everything your company has to offer.

What types of visual content should you create?

Determining what types of visual content make sense for your business depends on what your goals include, and where you want to see your content shine and connect with your audience most.

From search display ads and email CTAs, on-site imagery and social networks, there are so many channels to tell a compelling visual story.

Do you want to go viral, or do you want to create a launching pad to one of your downloadable assets? Or both?

These questions can help you determine which types of visuals can best support your content goals. Consider the following content types to incorporate in your marketing strategy:

Photos may be the most traditional type of visual content, but they still pack a punch. High-quality images give your brand a face and make readers more curious to dive into the copy.

Custom illustrations are a more unique approach to imagery, using high-quality designs and drawings that create brand awareness and help your company stand out in copy.

Infographics display complex concepts in a digestible and highly shareable format. Plus, pairing data with graphics makes the information you’re sharing, as well as your brand, more memorable.

Screenshots are the perfect type of imagery to consider when you want to highlight an important step in a process or guide.. They can also add another layer of clarity and can be useful when you’re trying to make a point in an article.

Memes come in handy when you want to make your readers laugh or make your content more relatable. From the Distracted Boyfriend to Nick Young, you have plenty of memes to choose from based on your audience.

GIFs are another fun and visual way to make an impact on your readers, as long as they’re relevant to the article. GIFs are great because they’re easily shareable and show you’re up to date with the latest trends.

Videos are often the most efficient, effective way to convey messages, illustrate complex ideas and persuade stakeholders.

Calls-to-action can be more than a sentence at the bottom of a blog post. Using imagery and colors in graphic design can better catch the attention of your audience.

Graphs and maps are useful assets for displaying hard statistics in a more consumable way.

With so many different options for visual media, you’ll have no problem telling your brand’s story and making your eBooks, blog articles and landing pages pop.

11 of the best visual content creation tools for budgets big and small in 2019

There’s nothing quite like a team of specialists who can curate and deliver a bold content marketing strategy. However, having a variety of visual content creation tools that are easy to use can help your team convey a message that’s stronger and more fascinating.

From 100% DIY to full-blown agency assets, there are plenty of options for designing stellar visual content. Here are our top visual creation tools for 2019:

1. Adobe Creative Cloud

With the right software and skillset, you can transform blog templates, photos and video into cinematic sensations. The plethora of editing tools from Adobe Creative Cloud can elevate your marketing campaigns to the next level. Photoshop is a classic, but that’s not the only product Adobe has to offer. In fact, you have 21 different ones to choose from, including InDesign, Illustrator, Stock, Premiere Pro, Adobe Spark and Dreamweaver.

Earn quick desktop access to Creative Cloud with a 7-day free trial, then $52.99 a month.

2. Pixlr Editor

For those interested in the next best thing to Photoshop, Pixlr Editor can satisfy all of your photo-editing needs. Play with different effects, filters, overlays and other expert tools in a convenient and user-friendly way on this downloadable app. And did we mention it’s free? Even Pixlr X, its newest version, is a smart, fast and complimentary editing tool, using cutting-edge technology to boost your photos or other assets like infographics.

3. Pixlr Express

This version of Pixlr is very similar to Editor, but it’s even more convenient because it’s a web-based tool. Available for web, iOs and Android, you can use Pixlr Express to edit photos in the palm of your hand. Use photo effects like focal blur and color splash, or stick to the basics with red-eye remove and auto-fix tools. This app is perfect for editing portraits and other stills. This version of Pixlr is also free.

4. VSCO

Formerly known as VSCO Cam, VSCO is another web-based app that’s great for capturing and editing photos on a handheld device. What’s awesome about this content tool is its versatility as a platform. It’s not only an editing app – it’s also a place to discover art and connect with other artists. Follow creative tutorials featured in the Discover column to get inspired by other like-minded marketers and creatives. You can also use the app as a social avenue for following other creators and sharing your own photos, which can ultimately become a pathway down your content marketing strategy.

VSCO with basic presets is free, but a VSCO membership is $19.99 a year.

5. Canva

Graphic designers are vital to every strong content marketing team, but Canva can be a helpful tool when designers are slammed with a busy agenda. This web-based platform enables you to create your own design with various color palettes and fonts on top of different images, layouts and backgrounds, or even your own photos or logo. You can even construct a design based on which channel the post is headed, with options like social media post headers and presentations. Its drag-and-drop format makes it easy to navigate, and it can really help you make the next post to your social network pop, especially for someone with beginner-level skills.

You can use Canva for free, but you can access premium features when you upgrade to Canva for Work. Try 30 days for free, then $12.95 a month.

6. Shutterstock

If you’re searching for a variety of royalty-free photos, stock footage clips, music tracks and more, Shutterstock is the place to be. Browse various vectors, illustrations, icons, imagery and other media to elevate your content. What’s best? With over 150,000 new images added every day, there’s no doubt that you’ll always find that missing piece to your blog post or eBook with no trouble.

Value-priced annual plans vary based on the number of images you want to receive each month, but Shutterstock’s most popular plan is 350 images per month at $169.

7. Twenty20

If you’re looking for imagery that’s less traditional in the world of stock photos, Twenty20 has you covered. This database of photos is filled with modern, authentic crowd-sourced shots that showcase the works of passionate photographers across the globe. Anyone can purchase photos with a subscription and use such imagery to boost collateral however they please. As a marketer, non-cheesy stock photos can come in handy if you’re looking to cultivate a modern vibe in your work, and Twenty20 can help you accomplish this.

A standard subscription starts at $29 a month with unlimited access to as many photos as your heart desires.

8. GIPHY

GIFs are widely popular nowadays, especially with how easily they can convey a message when used in the right context of an article. With GIPHY, you have access to hundreds upon thousands of these short clips with no sound, and with just a click of your mouse, you can embed them right into your article. GIPHY makes it easy to take a break from the seriousness of hard copy and focus on connecting with your audience in an approachable way. GIFs may actually boost engagement and keep readers coming back for more.

Embed GIFs into your assets for free with GIPHY.

9. Boomerang

Similar to GIPHY, Boomerang is all about generating short-looped videos, but in a more customized way. You can create your own one-second videos that play forward and backward on a loop. While it might seem silly to film and display such a short clip that plays the same thing over and over again, marketers can benefit widely from this visual phenomenon. As Event Marketer stated, this app can help brands devise a simple, fun, straight-to-the-point message that engages their audience with ease. In essence, it’s smart marketing that can pack a punch – and it’s free to use.

10. Bannersnack

Want to create a gorgeous social ad without help from a graphic designer? Bannersnack makes it easy to do so, providing all of the essential tools in an easy-to-navigate platform. To design a banner, simply use the available standard layouts or your own custom size to create your design using different backgrounds, colors, text, shapes and animation features. Bannersnack’s new banner generation tool makes it easy to construct multiple banners at once, saving you time and energy to produce your next round of digital assets.

Pricing plans are different based on whether you’ll use the tool as an individual or on a team of professionals, but the highest subscription pricing is about $40 a month.

11. Biteable

Looking for video editing software that can help you create promotional collateral on your next lunch break? Biteable can help you design powerful social videos in just a few minutes. Choose from various styles and pre-made templates that can accentuate your brand and engage your audience with ease.

Use Biteable for free (for videos with a watermark) or sign up for Premium to access additional features, extra footage clips, video privacy and no watermark.

With all of these tools in your back pocket, you’ll have no issues creating killer content this year.

Chelsey Church is a senior writer and editor at Brafton. When she's not turning her thoughts into copy, she's enjoying a craft beer, playing with her dogs or listening to her favorite metal tunes. A Cleveland native, she'll never let you forget that the Golden State Warriors blew a 3-1 lead.