Does using images on your site really boost conversion?
Short answer — YES, it does. But there’s more to this story than meets the eye.
For one, it’s not enough to slap pretty pictures on your site if they’re only around for decoration. According to eye–tracking studies by the Nielsen-Norman Group, “users pay close attention to photos and other images that contain relevant information but ignore fluffy pictures used to ‘jazz up’ web pages.”
Likewise, any old photo won’t cut it — image size, image content and photo composition all make a difference. For example, 37signals (now Basecamp) discovered that adding a picture of a person to their site increased product signups by 102.5%.
Meanwhile, a Marketing Experiments case study reported that a genuine photo of a company founder outperformed its stock photo alternative by 35%.
Finally, sometimes images might even reduce conversion, depending on how they’re used. Much to their surprise, coupon website ICouponBlog discovered that removing the security badge from their site resulted in a 400% increase in conversion. This finding completely contradicts other cases where security badges increased conversion, revealing just how important it is to ensure every page on your site is designed for its purpose.
Let’s explore how you can boost conversion rate using images, and how to maximise your site’s potential by choosing better, more relevant and more appropriate visual content.
Hero and feature images
A hero background image that matches the product message and works well with the key calls to action.(source: shorthand)link
A hero, or feature, is the first thing your visitors see when they hit your site. It gives an immediate impression about your product, service or brand, and should be considered a valuable marketing tool that can influence your audience’s decision to take action.
Whether it’s on your homepage, a product page, your About section or a blog post, your choice of hero image should:
Destination photos on Mates’ Escapes make good hero images for travel brochures.
Appropriate “lifestyle” imagery on Bid4papers hints at what consumers can expect after ordering.
Artistic images of models are often expected of high-end fashion brands as Zara.
Product shots and product placement
According to a 2009 study in the Journal of Consumer Research, shoppers who physically touch products in a store end up willing to pay more money for it. This comes down to the “endowment effect”: the feeling that something is worth more if you own it.
Suzanne Shu, the study author, told TIME magazine: “When you touch something, you instantly feel more of a connection to it. That connection stirs up an emotional reaction — ‘Yeah, I like the feel of it. This can be mine.’ And that emotion can cause you to buy something you would never have bought if you hadn’t touched it.”
A combination of product shots and lifestyle imagery from Ikea to showcase storage furniture.
Sellers who do business in competitive online marketplaces like Etsy know firsthand the value of a good product shot:
Of course, when you do business online, your customers can’t touch a physical product. This is where product shots come in. High-quality images of your products offer visitors a feast for the eyes and the imagination — the next best thing to a tactile sensation.
So, what makes a good product shot?
Large images showing plenty of detail on the AirPods. Use of light and shadow makes them stand out, even on a light background.
Colourful high-quality product photo from Dusk large enough to convey detail.
Though the Huawei product itself looks plain, vivid colour helps present it in the best light.
Large, high resolution product photo from Superteamdeluxe showing the finer detail of a lapel pin.
Illustrations, diagrams and infographics
To put it bluntly, scanning a wall of text can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. And if you’re already dealing with a high cognitive load, trying to remember even a well-formatted list of facts and figures still gets harder with every line.
Though words are incredibly powerful on their own (as in poetry and bestselling novels), certain types of information are received faster, better and with more enthusiasm when delivered visually.
Just one section of this infographic by Neomam demonstrates how effective images are at conveying information.
And let’s not forget — images are just plain fun. And this is what makes them so effective. We humans are emotional creatures. Stoke our appetites, add a touch of drama, or cuteness, or intrigue, and our curiosity is aroused.
Cute illustrative icons from Sendle not only help aid understanding, but may add to a delightful brand experience for users.
Illustrations and infographics might not translate directly to more sales, but just by being interesting and engaging, they can contribute to other types of conversion wins, such as shares, subscriptions, enquiries or repeat visits.
For example, social media automator Mass Planner claimed that infographics are shared and liked 3x more than other visual materials available, while the team at Buffer found that from 100 of their own tweets, those with images received 18% more clicks, 89% more favourites and 150% more retweets than those without.
That’s a lot of reach and engagement!
So, when does your site content benefit most from adding illustrations, diagrams and infographics?
Every page of your website should have a goal
Like most things in life, picking images for your website isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ deal. The good advice you’ll found out there might not be the right advice for you.
Before settling on the visuals that impact your site’s conversion, you’ll need to consider the purpose of every page and how it can serve your goals and those of your users.
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