You’ve Got Mail: The Power of Visual Marketing

After exploring subscription-based outreachthe basics of marketing, and the Constant Contact platform, our You’ve Got Mail series concludes today with a look at another way to supercharge your outreach efforts––through the power of visuals!

Why Visuals Are Powerful

By now, you may have created a professional account to streamline your email marketing, and tested options for how to craft catchy titles and calls to action. These are all important strategies to ensure your ‘open rates’ remain high and that your engagement grows as your follower base grows, but they will only get you so far. As research shows, our brains are wired to absorb information primarily through visuals, and visuals are the type of information we process faster than any other. This means that content alone won’t be enough to set you apart from the sea of other emails gracing your followers’ inbox––for that, you’ll need a strong visual strategy as well.

Visual marketing is a proven strategy to have your content shared more fewquently and for your community to feel engaged––be that for the promotion of an event, a fundraising drive, for the purposes of awareness-raising or more. Graphics are also important in growing trust and reputability: they help audiences learn more about your organization and to form emotional bonds with your content. As Buffer puts it, “beautifully-designed newsletters will ensure your audience will actually enjoy opening your emails—and maybe even look forward to receiving them!”

In the rest of this article, we highlight two platforms that can help enhance your email marketing efforts at no or little cost: Unsplash and Canva. Stick around 'till the end: we also provide a round-up of resources to get started learning about visual marketing, graphic design, branding, and lots more.


Unsplash: How To Leverage Visual Libraries

Unsplash is one of the internet’s largest sources of freely-usable images. Its database allows users to access photos that can be freely downloaded and used for both commercial and non-commercial purposes. As they say, 'attribution is appreciated but permission is not required!'

To date, the Unsplash library has passed 3 billion downloads, making it the largest image source on the web, with images that have appeared on anything from media articles, blog posts, presentations, school projects, social media, and many other types of content. 

For nonprofits, this means that Unspalsh offers an opportunity to incorporate high-quality photos at no extra cost, making communications more compelling and engaging while extending budgets that may otherwise be limited.

What’s more, Unsplash is committed to using its platform to improve the representation of people and issuess that continue to be under-represented online--from body positivity, to disability, the LGBTQ2S+ community and more. One way the company is doing this is by combatting “the societal biases that AI perpetuates in search” by tweaking their algorithm so that it features more diverse and inclusive photos at the top of search results. But Unspalsh is also looking to encourage community submissions. This means that, if your organization works in one or more of these areas, your content could make a direct contribution to making the internet more diverse and inclusive for all!


Canva: How to Design Visually Compelling Newsletters

Headquartered in Australia, Canva is a graphic design platform that can be used by individuals and teams to create all manner of visual content, from social media graphics to presentations and lots more. Founded in 2012, the site integrates with mobile and offers an extensive library of design elements to support all your project needs.

While platforms like Constant Contact and Mailchimp offer easily customizable templates to enhance your newsletters, Canva may be a powerful complement to your visual marketing strategy by allowing you to develop graphic content that matches your brand identity.

Canva also curates an extensive library of resources developed to help its users learn more about graphic design and marketing. Its free Graphic Design Basics e-course, for example, is structured around 12 self-paced modules such as this one:

Canva also offers a free e-course on Branding that is divided into two components: creating a consistent brand and creating your brand kit. What’s more, the platform also has a blog dedicated entirely to helping nonprofits increase the impact of their organization with tips on social media, marketing and design.

Going Further

If your nonprofit is ready to invest some time and energy in exploring ways to enhance outreach through visual marketing, there are a number of other resources available to help get you started.

Our series Design for Non-Designers was developed to guide you through the process of crafting a brand narrative, and it covers a number of other important topics in design, such as how to design for digital accessibility and inclusion and decolonizing design. The series also offer hands-on information about other valuable design resources, from the world of Creative Commons to powerful design tools such as Adobe and Adobe Spark. TechSoup Canada members may be especially interested in the last two, as our catalogue includes a special offer for accessing the Adobe Creative Cloud at a discounted rate!

Adobe Creative Cloud is a collection of creative design desktop applications, mobile apps, and services for designing, developing, and publishing graphical, video, audio, and interactive content for print, the web, and mobile devices. Our offer provides access to discounted rates for a ‘Creative Cloud Complete Plan’ membership for one user. You'll receive 60 percent off Adobe's regular rates for the first year and 40 percent off every year after. Check out our catalogue page to learn more!

For those eager to learn more about Unsplash, Canva and the basics of visual marketing, check out the round-up below to get started:

Resources from Buffer:
9 Informative Infographics To Guide Your Visual Content Marketing (Buffer)
A Brand's Guide to Unsplash: How to Unlock the Next Big Visual Marketing Channel (Buffer)
A Complete Guide to Visual Content: The Science, Tools and Strategy of Creating Killer Images (Buffer)

Resources from Canva:
Your ultimate guide to nonprofit marketing (Canva)
9 nonprofit design templates you can use right now (Canva)
6 challenges nonprofits face—and how to solve them with design (Canva)
Cause marketing: How these 20 visual campaigns created massive impact (Canva)
40 examples of beautiful email design to inspire your own newsletter (Canva)

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