Written by Adam McNaught-Davis
on January 18, 2023

Last time we celebrated the emergence of AI as an image generation tool. Now It’s time to learn how you can rethink your expectations of quality inbound visuals using these tools.

Today, your competitors are probably already doing just that, thanks to incredible tools, which have democratized access to bespoke visuals, almost overnight. 

It really will change how you think about inbound imagery - and we’ll show you how. There is no need to risk using stock images which inadvertently duplicate those your competitors have used (at best a bit embarrassing, at worst damaging to engagement and brand).

And there is no need, necessarily, to spend big on commissioning illustrations or digital art, either.

Instead, it’s possible for almost any level of organization to create outstanding visuals which are unique by default, but are also tailored to brand or theme.

This creates continuity, emotional resonance, and credibility throughout the inbound funnel.

When you think about that — it's a bit revolutionary. Let’s explore how.

Today we’re going to look at applying AI to five key areas of inbound marketing.

  1. Social media  engaging, emotional post images
  2. Social media — patterns as backdrops for text in post images
  3. Landing pages — feature images
  4. Gated content — guide book illustrations
  5. Gated content — compelling covers

1. Build greater engagement at top of funnel with incredible post images

If “scrollers” don’t pause, it doesn’t matter how good your content is, the opportunity is lost. B4AI (before AI) budgets for the vast majority of marketers prohibited commissioning visuals for most posts. Many relied on stock imagery, or graphic templates. Others use the same visuals the reader will later see in gated content, where money is often directed. While both work, neither is ideal. Stock images are rarely exactly what you need, may not neatly align with brand and (let’s face it) are murderous to find in the first place. Repeating artwork can present as lazy.

AI enables the rapid creation of images or a series of images which engage and drive brand equity because they are:

  • Relevant. 
    No more vague relationship between image and content.
  • Exclusive.
    Never seen before on social media (or again).
  • On brand.
    Recognizable as yours.
  • Flexible.
    High enough resolution to print or use in videos or static posts.
  • Low cost.
    Don’t kill budgets.

Visual theme. For this blog, we’ve imagined an ecommerce client called ‘MakerBee’ that simply wants to drive a new line of wholesale wool products. Our aim is to demonstrate our client’s expertise and range of products.

The awareness element of the campaign is captured in these four letters, spelling KNOW in different wool-like ways.

2. Wow audiences with photographic quality pattern backdrops for announcements

Patterns, created from tileable images, can bring a whole new dimension to SoMe posts. Because they repeat they act as stylish wallpaper to messaging, without being a distraction. This combination can offer just the right blend of engagement and clarity to draw your audience into a simple headline or CTA. And because the quality is almost photographic and large (2000px), the very hard (or borderline impossible) has become widely accessible for the first time.

B4AI photographic quality patterns were the thing of myth and legend. The domain of digital artists in extremely high towers. And as such, their use has been minimal - irrespective of the mind blowing effect.

AI enables super quick creation of patterns in almost any style you can think of. I’m not talking about the all too familiar graphic patterns enabled by tools in Adobe software. We mean intricate, almost impossibly complex scenes which somehow just merge together. This means:

  • Distinct. 
    Your patterns are yours and yours alone.
  • Flexible.
    Ideal for posts, but why stop there. Does reception need a feature wall?
  • Consistent.
    Ability to generate a series to support a campaign or event. 
  • Beautifully impossible.
    Head twistingly interesting results which can boost engagement.


3. Make landing pages a glorious place to touch down

Your copy is crafted; angle and keywords refined. It’s a compelling piece. Unfortunately, before it’s posted, the enduring challenge of a feature image and consistent smaller images must be overcome. Unless your piece is naturally supported by imagery you own, this can be a real headache. 

B4AI the same old challenge with stock imagery reared its soul-destroying head. Alternatively brands are faced with the expense of commissioning bespoke imagery or illustrations. But what if all that went away?

AI enables you to create a series of consistent images, perhaps in harmony with those you also create for a piece of gated content (see 4 and 5), that speak to the specific emotional resonance of your words. And this is key. The image does not have a vague connection, or a generic relationship, instead it really connects to the story, visually. Overall this means:

  • Elevated. 
    Your story and pictures work powerfully together.
  • Authentic.
    Illustrative styles and custom graphics and gravitas.
  • Consistent.
    Gated content reflects the same look and feel. 
  • Original.
    Each image tells a distinct part of the story in a unique way.


4. Generate gated content that tells a powerful story

Gated content shouldn’t just deliver a cold lead. It should nurture the relationship by building brand equity through the quality and relevance of the content itself. A great piece of content needs “keepability”. Something so valuable it’s treasured and shared. A big part of this is presentation. Beautiful documents with a consistent visual story demand engagement and underpin the authority of the written content. Illustrations take this to another level altogether.

B4AI custom illustrations were often beyond budgets for even this level of premium content. Commissioning an illustrator or agency to develop an entire series of quality images is time consuming and costly, ranging upwards from the tens of thousands.

AI enables skilled artists to rapidly produce editorial imagery in consistent styles to elevate your document to world class, within normal budget constraints. This means:

  • Leadership. 
    Your documents exude authority.
  • Keepability.
    So beautiful and valuable they cannot be discarded.
  • Penetration.
    Reaching further into markets thanks to increased share. 
  • Longevity.
    Great content is evergreen, working hard for years to come.


5. Gated content that makes a dramatic visual splash

Front covers sell or repel. Weak visuals promise weak experience causing immediate engagement drop off. But powerful visuals grab attention and promise real rewards for turning the page. Crafted titles which prod at pain points are carried to great new heights by quality visuals that echo or enhance messages and themes. 

But B4AI the ability to generate images or patterns which encapsulate a stunning look and feel on a single page demanded deep pockets and lengthy lead times. 

AI enables us to rapidly create a moodboard of ideas which explore many ideas fast, before choosing a direction and building out the theme and generating high quality images for feature pages, insets, graphic elements and more. This means:

  • Options. 
    Lots of concepts to choose from.
  • Variety.
    The same final idea in many styles.
  • Power.
    Incredible punch and emotional impact. 
  • Pride.
    Content your entire organization will admire.


Summing up

We’ve looked at just a few of the multitude of applications. The key message is the potential AI imagery offers for higher engagement along the funnel. Quality, bespoke visuals, created with care and consideration equal better results. And now everyone has access to them.

Interested in in what UP can do for your brand? Learn more here!


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