Did you know the mere presence of an accompanying photograph makes us more likely to think it’s true, even when the photo doesn’t provide any evidence one way or the other? That was the finding of a study by Eryn Newman and her colleagues.
This has important implications for marketing: using an image will boost the believability of your claims.
An appealing image can get people to stop and take notice of your web content.
But when creating a product or sales page, you need an image that does more than just get your prospects’ attention and entertain them.
You need to engage them with persuasive content that makes them want to take action.
You need to get the right kind of attention from the right kind of audience – attention that motivates your target audience to read your copy and take action afterwards. That’s why you need to think strategically about your image selection.
Executing this important task superbly or terribly will have a big impact on your conversions. Given its importance, it’s surprising that many companies fail to use images effectively in their marketing.
In this post I’m going to explore 6 types of images you should use on your product or sales pages to help you drive more conversions.
Images of the product in use. These help people imagine themselves using the product. Whether it be sharing your delicious food around a dinner table or creating an impression with a stunning outfit, contextual photos are great to give people an insight into how they can use your product and what the experience might look like.
Example: Fashion brands typically show people wearing their clothes on their website. On their website, Zara shows images of people wearing their clothes in their natural environment – whether that be on the street, on holiday or at home. This helps visitors visualise how different pieces can be combined to create a particular look or how they can work for a specific occasion e.g. on holiday.
Why it works: Showing your product in use helps people understand how the product looks and feels for the person using it. Before buying an outfit, you want to understand how it will look off the coat hanger. Zara gives a real sense for how good the clothes can look on people like them and how they might combine them with other pieces for a complete look.
Takeaway: First identify your ideal customer – who are they? What is the typical age, gender, income, and values of the person that would buy your product? Use this information to create a visual representation of them as a basis for your photography. Find a person (or people) that fit this persona for your photography and leverage images of them showing your product in action.
Pro tip: Check social media channels to see if your customers are already sharing photos of themselves using your product. If they are, you could consider asking their permission to use them. If not, consider creating a competition to create authentic user generated content.
2. Aspirational images
Images that show the end result. These help people imagine the outcome they can expect from using your product.
Example: At the top of their homepage, The Body Coach shows images of the kind of body you can expect to achieve by joining their programs. This is supported by before and after photos of real customers showing the transformation they experienced after joining the program.
Why it works: Aspirational images of the final result supported by before and after body photographs present a vivid illustration that the programs work. Showing images of how real people have been transformed through the program boosts legitimacy of the solution.
Takeaway: Use before and after images to give a clear visual representation of the results people can expect to achieve.
Pro tip: Weave a story into your photos that your audience can relate to. Providing context enables you to explain why this story is relevant to your prospective customer (e.g. “they can lose weight too”).
3. Appealing images
Images that showcase your products in an irresistible manner. This makes people want to get their hands on your product. Whether it is a beautiful dress, delicious food, or a transformative programme, show appealing images that people cannot resist because they look so good.
Example: Lush products are highly visual. They look so fresh that you can even see the organic ingredients inside their products. On their website, Lush prominently displays large images of their freshly handmade products so people can see the ingredients packed inside. The list of ingredients align with the product images, helping to reinforce the fact that their products really are made from fresh ingredients.
Why it works: Featuring an image of how great your product looks provides visual proof. People can see the quality of the ingredients or materials used (e.g. organic produce) as well as the careful workmanship to create your product (e.g. hand stitching). You can also combine complementary products together in a single image to inspire gift ideas e.g. think of the Lush Relax gift box that combines all their most relaxing products.
Takeaway: Invest in high quality photography to show your product in the best light. Whilst this is especially important if you have a highly visual product, such as fashion or food, all products need images to support their offer.
Pro tip: Take close-up shots of your product to highlight specific product features. You can also take photos from different angles to give customers the full picture.
4. Sensual images
Images that stimulate the senses. Besides sight, you can also invoke the senses of sound, smell and touch.
Example: Gü puds look so good that you feel you could eat them from the screen. This is because they stimulate the different senses. You can almost feel the sauce ooze from the crust and flow into your mouth. You can already smell the freshly baked puddings that just came out of the oven.
Why it works: Using rich multi-sensory imagery helps transport your reader to another place. It helps create a stronger longer-lasting image by creating a multi-sensory experience.
Takeaway: Use images to help people to imagine the touch, taste, sound, and scent of your product. If you are selling a beauty product, you could use images that convey the soft touch of the skin. If you are a food brand, consider invigorating the sense of smell – for example, present your food as fresh out of the oven to convey a homecooked smell.
Pro tip: Support your images with copy that stimulates the senses and adds context to the image. Using rich descriptions and sensory words helps engage your readers’ touch, taste, smell, hearing and sight. For example, describing an object as velvety, icy, sharp, and blunt gives us a vivid idea of how an object would feel.
5. Human images
Images of people. This helps to humanise your brand and enhance trust, which will ultimately boost sales and conversions.
Example: As the figurehead of the company, the Virgin website uses plenty of images of Richard Branson himself alongside his employees, partners and customers. The images always show him in a fun setting, either with adventurous backdrops or in the company of people having a good time, smiling, laughing, or dancing. Showing his fun and adventurous personality helps build a connection with like-minded people who share his interests and values.
Why it works: Images of people help to humanise your brand. Remember, people buy from people. Showing the people behind your brand boosts confidence and trust in your business, which ultimately boosts sales.
Takeaway: People love to see the faces behind the brand, so be sure to include photos of key people inside your business. Featuring photos of your team also give you an opportunity to give people an insight into the culture of the company and the kind of people that work there.
Pro tip: Use photos to show your personality. Whether you are sophisticated, fun, or adventurous, ensure your photos reflect this.
6. Insider images
Images that give people an insider look. This is essential for anyone offering a membership programme, workshop, or other experience. Give people a peek of what it looks like inside your programme and provide a glimpse of what they can experience as a member.
Example: Amy Porterfield uses many images of her online course ‘Digital Course Academy’ on desktop, laptop and mobile. It gives people a glimpse of what people can expect inside. Along with her podcast and other online content, the images give people a feel for the content and style of the offering.
Why it works: If you are selling a programme, membership or any kind of experience, people need to feel it is tangible. They want to see what they are getting before buying. By showing images of what it looks like inside your programme, people can get a sense for the kind of experience they will have.
Takeaway: Show people what they will experience once they join. Even a brief glimpse of the inside experience makes it real and can heighten the curiosity and appetite for joining. This can boost confidence in your offer and even get people excited about purchasing.
Pro tip: Use images that convey different dimensions of the experience. For an online course, you could show screenshots of the video content, downloadable resources, and forums to show the different ways people can participate.
93% of consumers consider the visual appearance of a product to be the key deciding factor when making an online purchase (JustUno)
Whilst words are essential, they can only tell us so much. The photo is what instantly grabs our attention and entices us to read the description or abandon the page and look elsewhere. A beautiful photograph of your product not only tells consumers how something looks but can also give an indication of what the quality is like and how it works.
But a good photograph does much more than that.
Executed well, a photograph will tell us about the experience.
Let’s face it… besides seeing a product, people also want to touch it, hold it, and even take it for a spin. Whilst you can’t do these things online (unless it’s delivered digitally), you can make your products and services come alive with excellent photography.
Whilst online consumers cannot experience a product in the same way they could if they went to the store, a good photograph can give people an idea of how it might feel, taste, sound and smell. They begin to experience the product and feel what it might be like to own it.
By showing the different dimensions, angles, and perspectives that your product or service offers, different types of product images on your website will begin to show consumers the experience.
What type of images would work best to showcase your products or services? Share your thoughts in the comments.