All the way back in 2016, each day there were 4.2 billion new “likes” on Instagram photos. That means, using the most conservative estimates we could find, photos were being looked at roughly 10 billion times each day, at a minimum, on just a single platform. That doesn’t count Facebook views, Google image searches, Amazon shopping, people going to your website and looking at product images, or your help desk sharing images to address customer questions.
Humans, and our world, is visual. Our eyeballs crave it because it’s essential to how we communicate.
Each of those images tells some kind of story, just like your marketing and customer service tell a story to every customer. Thinking about those photos started the neurons firing about how this communication drives everything we do, especially what we buy.
So, for companies, knowing how to communicate effectively and engaging with all the parts of the story that customers want to see and hear is a big part of relationship building and sales development. To do that well, you need to understand how to communicate effectively.
That’s why we’ve put together this guide on effective communication and what it can mean for your organization, your marketing, and customers’ eyes.
How to start thinking about effective communication
At its core, effective communication is your ability to exchange information with someone else and understand the things that aren’t being said. This includes how tone and body language can communicate intent and emotion. You want to get the whole package to understand what someone is saying and what they mean fully.
Reaching this level not only helps people feel heard — which makes them like you more and want to do business with you more — but also encourages them to interact with you more often. It’s useful for every aspect of business communication by making people more receptive to early interactions and even your up-sell and cross-sell tactics.
The most effective communicators find multiple ways to get the point across to reach all possible audiences. When every item, such as text and visuals, reinforces the main point, the message is more likely to get across.
If you can internalize the structure and create positive communication practices for your entire team, your business is three and a half times more likely to outperform competitors who don’t have effective communication practices.
So, it’s for the health of your relationships and business.
Effective communication skills in the workplace
While most of you reading this are going to be thinking about how to communicate with customers through chatbots, video, customer support, email, and more, you’ll have a quality foundation if you start with the people around you.
Effective workplace communication is essential to a happy, healthy business because it can improve your relationships within the company and extend that to customers. Your employees will be more engaged and effective, and you’ve got a shot at eliminating up to 70% of business mistakes.
There are countless studies too that prove your workplace does better when you emphasize the importance of effective communication skills. A few highlights to remember include:
- Encourages your team to collaborate more and builds a sense of community
- Boosts overall productivity through clear directions and eliminating duplicated work
- Clarifies responsibilities and speeds up product/service delivery to the customer
- Helps teams feel valued and reduce turnover
- Increases employee engagement while also supporting a more balanced working life
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg for your team. Mix in visuals and you can clearly tell jokes, share positive stories, and soften statements to prevent misunderstandings with proven tactics.
Now, let’s look at how you can learn effective communication and then build that out for your workplace.
The 5 principles of effective communication
Everyone loves a good list, and we found a stellar one concerning effective communication coming from Vunela. It hits the high notes and really gets us thinking about how to apply broad concepts to our individual communications. Here’s their take with our own little twist to each.
- Know yourself and audience
The two people engaged in communication each have different personalities, ways of speaking, and preferences. You’re both engaging from different perspectives, which requires care so that everything is clear and appropriate. Knowing your audience requires research so you can predict possible pains, desires, goals, and other elements — the shortlist helps you be able to respond and adapt to the individual without always starting from scratch.
- Know your goal
Business communication needs a purpose, so always ask yourself what you and your audience are going to gain from it. Are you persuading someone? Looking for information? Do you want to solve their problem? Pick an ideal outcome so you can know where to drive it —and principle 3 is a must for driving it correctly.
- Be an active listener
The best communicators also tend to be the best listeners. They aren’t the ones who sit there during your story and just wait for a chance to say theirs. Good listeners engage by asking questions, nodding, looking at the speaker, and making the person feel heard. One of your best tools is to ask questions that restate something the other party says in your own words, or active listening.
- Keep it simple
Using clear and concise messages can deliver information quickly, whether it’s what you want to eat or how software can save you money. You want every sentence or thought to be its own so that your audience can easily follow. We’re also big fans of Vunela’s advice to add in graphics and stories to your points. Breaking down technical elements into individual steps and then backing them with video captures and GIFs will turn any online conversation into something your audience understands and finds useful.
- Be timely, not just quick
The world of email and Twitter has made us all wonder if we need to respond to everything the second it happens. It turns out, that’s not usually the case. Your customers are going to want the right answers, not necessarily immediate ones. For customer service, the best approach is to acknowledge a request or issue and telling the customer that you’ll work on it, then getting back once you have a solution. Effective communication involves knowing how and when to deliver your message to achieve your outcome — and that’s often when you have all the information.
Those are just a few of the core elements of quality communication. There are also great resources on what to do with your body language during all of this. One last principle is to treat everyone with respect — not just those you communicate with — because getting into the practice can boost the relationships you have with employees, coworkers, customers, and everyone outside of work too.
Turn it up with visual communication
When you apply those effective communication principles to marketing, you’re going to need some support. It turns out that the old adage a picture is worth a thousand words still holds true and it’s time to turn to the visual aids.
Visual communication helps people understand what you’re saying and can be a fast way to respond to common concerns and needs. Screen captures and videos, which we make easy to produce, give you recurring communication options that your customers can reference as needed, making your message long-lasting.
They make the impact on every medium too, with Facebook visuals getting 650% higher engagement, people sharing more than 1 billion GIFs a day, and media taking up more of our time each day on platforms beyond Instagram, according to reports.
We’ve got a great piece on how the slang of the past has turned visual, whether you’re replacing classic quips from the 70s or even early Internet-speak like lol.
Humans are visual, starting back at primitive cave paintings and now how your phone is more about consuming visual media than calling anyone. We’re storytellers and images allow us to paint a more comprehensive picture. That’s why much of our efforts at Zight (formerly CloudApp) are in making visual storytelling easy to use so you can focus on the message first.
Plus, there are a lot of other tools and services we integrate with that make it easy to spread your message far and wide.
The importance of visual communication matters in your marketing
This year, 80% of all internet traffic will be video and articles (or pages) that have visuals and video or animation will generate 95% more views.
If you’re not visually communicating while trying to make your sales pitch, people are going to turn off. Your data and products need visualization, and that happens in a variety of ways. Visuals make it easy to compare products, follow steps, understand limitations, and learn hierarchies.
Lots of people are pushing a replacement of text with visuals, but that’s a little too simple.
Your marketing still needs to convey information and provide understanding as you make your pitch. Visuals can be prioritized, but you don’t want to leave a customer with too many questions to take the next step.
Get straight to the point with your visual and then supplement it as needed so people who want to keep reading can do so easily. Surprisingly, this turns out to be a fantastic way to qualify your leads. So, a second CTA below your text can snag people with higher levels of engagement.
When your visuals are on-brand, they can help your messaging by:
- Saving time for the customer to grasp high-level concepts
- Make an impression that your company “feels like me” or “solves my problem” by directly showing that
- Supports overall messaging through more subtle cues, like how smiling means overall enjoyment as well as product satisfaction
- Reinforces brand identity, especially when you’ve paired colors with emotions you want to generate
- Helps us relax by visually understanding we’ve found something that initially matches what we’re looking for
You’re creating a visual narrative to match the customer journey you create. Pairing these two as closely as possible helps build rapport with your audience. Showing coffee in a French press versus at a diner makes two distinct impressions. The types of toys a child plays with, the filter over a photo, the number of candles on a birthday cake, and if your menu has the little gluten-free symbol at the bottom all reinforce the visual narrative.
And here’s the deal, it’s exactly what Zight (formerly CloudApp) does too. People tend to browse the FAQ before they buy a product (especially if it’s a subscription service or software), so this one is full of visuals designed to keep things simple.
Turning a question into an image and setting the steps in the answer alongside visuals makes it easy for the customer to follow along. It also gives them visual cues to let them know if they’re looking in the right place when trying to make the change.
If your product was designed to be visually pleasing and easy-to-use, your support should be designed the same way.
Effective communication is about the story and conversation. Visuals make it easier and deliver the message in both overt and subtle ways. You get to directly make a point and reinforce it by showing all the related elements without mentioning them directly.
You’re embracing the world of show, don’t tell.
How Zight (formerly CloudApp) helps you craft this right
Zight (formerly CloudApp)’s visual communication tools help you build the story right and keep customers happy, especially for addressing help desk tickets and complaints up to three times faster. Share what people need to see to complete tasks and accomplish goals that they discuss so that you become the team that’s always able to help and ready to give support.
Visuals make directions much easier to follow
Each communication aspect and interaction becomes more effective with a visual or two. Give your customers the visual information they process easier and faster.
Ready to take it for a test drive? Sign up for a free Zight (formerly CloudApp) account and start building new visuals that customers will love in just a few seconds.