Visual vs. Textual Information – Which Gets The Attention?

Deliver Information To Capture Customer Behavior

In business, we want to engage our audiences and affect their behavior. Thus, one of the most significant decisions we make in sales and marketing is how to convey information to our audiences for this desired level of engagement. There are many forms of information to choose from, but two of the big categories are visual and textual information.

Think back to the last time you flipped through a magazine; what did you notice first? The images or the articles? Visual information includes still photography, video, animations, illustrations, graphic arts, visual aids, and so on. Text information is presented in writing, such as reports, essays, newspapers, and manuals.

Like in the example of the magazine, most of the time, both types of information are used in conjunction with each other to present to the audience a fuller picture of the message being conveyed. However, when looking at them individually, they hold different pros and cons in their usage.

Pros of Visual and Textual Information

Visual information is attention-grabbing. After seeing an image, your brain instantly reacts and assigns it some meaning, especially emotional. In terms of memory, it is more likely to leave an impression and be recalled later.

Textual information, on the other hand, can be organized to be more logical, linear, and concise. It allows the writer to lead the reader along predefined thoughts and ideas.

Cons of Visual and Textual Information

Visual information is up for the receiver’s interpretation. Everyone comes from different social, economic, and cultural backgrounds, so how each person interprets visual information will differ. For example, a picture of a white dress is clean and pure for some, and for others represents mourning and death. Poorly designed visual information can also be a distraction and impediment in helping the receiver understand. For example, flashing lights and highly contrasting backgrounds and colors may distract more than help.

Textual information has many limitations. It is hard to understand large amounts of information, such as data and numbers in written forms. And a large amount of text can put people off from reading it. In addition, when text is presented by itself, it can also be hard for the reader to identify the tone, rhythm, and emotions the writer intended.

The Better Choice For Information Delivery

Visual information is much better than text information for business use cases. If the aim is to invoke a reaction from the audience, a video or image has a greater effect than pure text information. As people generally have an attention span of only a few seconds, visual information can be recognized and interpreted faster. Visual information also has ‘perceived information’ and invokes emotional cues, helping the receiver engage with it on different levels.

In addition, visual information engages both parts of the human mind, both the right and left halves. Our language, cognition, logic, and reasoning are all controlled by the left side of the brain, whereas our emotions, intuition, and creativity are all controlled by the right side. By using vivid and imaginative images, visual information stimulates the reasoning and cognitive functions of both the human brain’s halves. Not only does this help with understanding but also long-term memory retention.

Examples Of Visual Information Delivery In Marketing & Sales

Take, for example, a company website; visual information can be used to:

  • Demonstrate how the product works
  • Create an attractive aesthetic
  • Develop a brand image
  • Help clarify messages

Take, for example, a sales presentation; visual information can be used to:

  • Show use cases and scenarios
  • Produce an emotional reaction
  • Summarize large amounts of data in the forms of infographics, charts, and graphs
  • Draw attention to a call-to-action

What kind of visuals a website or sales presentation would use?


  • Banners
  • Images
  • Slideshows
  • Videos
  • Buttons
  • Live Backgrounds


  • Infographics
  • Icons
  • Graphs
  • Charts
  • Gifs and Memes
  • Short Videos

Selecting Visual Information For Best Results

In customer communications, it is crucial to provide your sales and marketing messages with the best chance to engage with your customers. The choice of how you get information across is essential when you are using limited communication methods. For visual learners, visual information is the preferred way to receive information.

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Visual information that is clear and easy to understand, with attention paid to the audience’s attention span, and different possible ways of interpretation, can help companies bridge the gap between understanding and the customers taking action (hopefully buying your product). As we expect customers to be in a consent state of information overload, the few seconds we have to capture their attention is critical. Visual information is one of the best methods, especially over pure text-based information, to capture these few moments you have with them.

Food For Thought

Do an exercise on how your company uses visual information across its sales and marketing. Take a look at your different sales presentations and marketing programs. Would the message be the same if you removed all the images, videos, and illustrations? Would you be engaged if you were the customer? What if you only have textual information and no visual information?

Use this exercise to see if your company can improve its customer communications.