We’ve all heard the expression, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” so you want the photos on your website to really stand out to draw in new customers. One of the biggest rules when choosing images for your website is to avoid stock photographs. It is tempting to choosing stock images because they’re typically cheap and easy to obtain. Between running a business and everyday life, it can be difficult to take the time to hire a photographer and put the effort into quality visuals, but we’re in the midst of a digital revolution. Visual content is more important than ever before. The standards have been raised so high that a business still using stock photography won’t be able to compete.
When you look at the science, it’s not surprising that people respond so much better to visuals than plain text. The brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text. When it comes to marketing, visuals are obviously the way to go when you consider these statistics:
- Ninety percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual.
- Seven hundred YouTube videos are shared on Twitter every minute.
- Forty percent of people respond better to an image than to 1,000 words.
- Pinterest generates more referral traffic than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined.
- Photos on Facebook garner more interaction than text, videos, and links.
These facts make it easy to discern that images are important. Since the public is exposed to so many images during the day, they’re now searching for quality. In fact, 46 percent say a website’s design is the first criterion for perceiving a company’s credibility. If that design doesn’t include high-quality images, you could be losing many potential customers.
It’s time to ditch the stock photos and opt for high-quality visual content on your website and other channels. While this might seem like a daunting task, the good news is there are plenty of easy ways to revamp your site’s photography and impress every customer that visits your website. It can be difficult to figure out where to begin, especially if you don’t have any experience creating original visual content. We’ve compiled some of our best pointers to help get you started.
Make Your Visuals Authentic
Customers love to see that a brand is more than just a name and a logo, so don’t be afraid to include a little warmth and personality in your images. Use your real employees in your photos and catch them in candid moments around the office. Photos that look obviously staged will resemble stock photos, which is exactly what you should try to avoid. Of course, you should always ask permission before using your employees in photographs. In fact, you should probably include them in the process, or have them take some of the photographs themselves. Everyone has a fresh perspective to offer, and they might see the office in a different light.
If your photos do include your employees, it’s important to update your photos often. People come and go at any business and you don’t want to feature images of people on your site who haven’t worked at your company in years. Your employees are your best content tools, so use their smiling faces throughout all of your marketing material. Customers will love seeing a more authentic, personal side of your brand.
Cheaper Isn’t Always Better
One of the appeals of stock images is that they can be very inexpensive, or even free. But it’s important to remember that cheaper isn’t always better. As a business owner, you want to cut unnecessary costs wherever possible, but you must also know when it’s time to invest. When you’re running your own business, money can be tight, and the marketing budget is usually one of the first to be cut. Settling for poor images to save money can actually end up costing you more business down the line. As the study described above has shown, customers respond better to visuals. Investing in quality images is vital to your business. Free is great every once in a while, but it’s not going to yield good business results. In this case, it’s important to look at the bigger picture and see how investing in images will be good for your bottom line.
Work With the Pros
Sometimes there’s just no substitute for high-quality, professional work. Specifically, if your business is a restaurant or store that features lots of product images, it’s important to work with someone who has access to high-quality equipment and can present your products in the best possible way. If you’re taking pictures of food for a menu, an iPhone probably isn’t going to cut it.
A professional photographer can be worth the expensive price tag and more. A great photographer can offer you more than just quality lenses and lighting. Experienced pros will work with you to truly understand your marketing objectives and make strategic recommendations to capture those objectives on camera. In short, a photographer can help you create a visual story that your customers will love.
If you’re going with a professional, it’s also a good idea to hire hair and makeup teams, or a professional stager to make your office, employees, and products look great. This will be an added cost, but the value of having great, original photographs is immense.
Make it a DIY Project
If you’re on board to produce more high-quality images but just don’t have the budget for a professional, there are still plenty of options out there for you. Fortunately, technology has advanced far enough that there’s no need to resort to stock photos. iPhone and Android phones both offer high quality cameras that should work just fine for basic images. A photo doesn’t have to be professionally taken, as long as it’s authentic. These types of photos will still beat stock images every time.
If you’re short on time, make producing content a company-wide project. Hold a photography contest to see who can produce the best images. Getting the whole team involved will help generate more content and create a great bonding experience for everyone.
Do Your Research
There are infinite amount of photography resources on the internet. It may take some extra time, but dig around on Google and YouTube and you’ll find countless articles, videos and other free resources that will teach you everything you need to know about creating great images. These resources are so fantastic that if you have enough time to sit down and properly train yourself, they might make professional work obsolete. People can now learn everything from lenses to lighting from the comfort of their own couches. Take advantage of what the internet has to offer and your visuals will be better for it.
Gone are the days when stock images would be enough to impress potential customers. Imagery is now one of, if not the, most important elements on a website. In the end, it comes down to taking the time to create authentic visuals. Thanks to technology, creating your own content isn’t difficult or expensive, so there’s really no excuse to be fluffing your site with inorganic stock images. Invest in quality images for your website, and your business will reap the rewards.