Online shopping is the new norm.
Whether someone is looking for the perfect laptop case, a sleek outfit, or the funniest gift for a friend’s party, chances are they will visit the vast resources online before stepping foot in a store. In fact, approximately 51% of Americans with internet access prefer to shop online, and a total of 21.8% of the world’s population buy online –– over 1.5 billion people.
Don’t let these numbers fool you, though. While online-shoppers may prefer to buy from the quiet of their own homes, there are still elements of in-person shopping they seek out when buying online.
The most important of these elements? The visuals: how each product looks.
Below you’ll find out why product photography is so key to converting online “window-shopping” into sales, as well as tips and tricks for creating high-quality, dollar-generating photos.
Is it really that important?
The short answer...yes, it is.
The images showcased on a website can make or break a sale. An astonishing 90% of Etsy buyers, for instance, said the quality of photo images was the most important factor in their online purchases. Without a compelling, high-resolution photo, the ability to make an online sale falls dramatically.
A major factor behind this is the changing consumer market. The average consumer is much more informed compared to the consumer of several decades (or even five years) ago. As of January 2020, nearly 60% of consumers frequently researched products online before making a purchase, and 62% reported closely reading product labels first.
Consumers’ increased interest in “just the facts” makes special sense for online shoppers. Unless you are a master at dimensions and mental conjuring, it’s nearly impossible to gauge this kind of information about an online product without proper visuals.
A social media boom.
Images are also gold in today’s increasingly social media-dependent Internet. Think about how often users (maybe you!) have scrolled aimlessly through sites like Pinterest or Instagram, waiting for that one bold image to catch the eye.
Across platforms, posts with photographs (and other images) generate more user engagement than posts without. By effectively utilizing product photography, you can give customers an engaging, attention-grabbing user experience at their fingertips, without them ever having to leave their computer.
Creating effective images
There is no one perfect rule for product photography, just as there is no one way to color a page in a coloring book. Instead, photographers must carefully consider multiple elements--the specific product in question, the brand aesthetic, the target audience, and more.
For customers, the most vital element is the end product. They desire photographs that bring products to life; they want to be able to imagine themselves using a product. So let’s consider a few of the following tactics you can implement in your product photography to make that happen, improving your customers’ experience and your conversion rates.
Customers who shop online as opposed to brick-and-mortar stores still crave feeling like they’ve seen every angle of a product. Product photography can accomplish this by taking images with 360-degree views.
Consider the True Value Company, profiled here by Elastic Path: by adding quality 360-degree photography to their website, True Value helped customers feel like they interacted with every inch of available products, even if they couldn’t touch them.
As a direct result, True Value reported incredible increases in conversion. Pages with 360-degree images saw add-to-cart rates increase by 35 percent, while overall conversion rates increased by 22 percent. Furthermore, their click-through rate on social media ads yielded a 4.5% conversion rate (almost twice the industry average).
This is just one example, but across the board, the numbers don’t lie. Reports show that 360-degree images can lead to a 30% higher conversion rate than images without, cut the return rate of products in half, and make clients more likely to share positive reviews.
Think of it this way: by offering a 360-degree view, you’re telling customers your products look great from every angle.
Another way you can provide an immersive, compelling journey for customers is through product videos.
The primary form of media used in content marketing is video, which is especially central to social media marketing. In fact, 81 percent of businesses now use video in their marketing strategies, a staggering 63 percent increase from last year.
Video is an excellent way to increase sales and improve customer satisfaction. Consumers are approximately 85 percent more likely to buy a product after viewing a product video. This result plays out over and over again across different online retailers, too; eCommerce superpower Pinterest reports, for example, that its users felt 2.6 times more likely to make a purchase after viewing promoted brand videos.
360-degree views and product views are powerful tools for increasing your rate of conversions and making your customers happier, giving them that in-store experience without getting up from the couch.
Address Customer Fears
Online customers are more afraid that “what they see” is not “what they get.” At least 30% of products ordered online are returned, compared to only 8.89% in traditional stores. So, how can sellers use product photography to banish customer doubts?
Elastic Path explains that customers value the ability to picture clothes, in particular, in different color options. However, when sites just use Photoshop to flip the color options on the same picture and model, the customer isn’t impressed.
Instead, you can use slightly changed angles in photos of differently colored items to prove the photos are of different pieces. Also, solicit multiple opinions to be sure the color in the photo seems representative of the item in real life.
Pay attention to size
A large, high-resolution photo makes for a better user experience, increasing the details on display. Photo sizes between 1200 and 1600px are ideal, allowing for both a zoom function and effective distribution across social media. With accurate details (and helpful tools like scales or rulers), customers will be less afraid of being misled.
Keep page load in mind, though. Nearly 50% of consumers won’t wait 3 seconds for an eCommerce site to load, so filling your webpage with the largest images could actually lose conversions. Shopify offers this helpful guide to reducing image file size without sacrificing quality.
Keep it simple and consistent
A Better Lemonade Stand emphasizes the importance of simple editing. Taking beautiful pictures doesn’t help if the product looks nothing like the photos, so tread cautiously around fancy filters, elaborate backgrounds, and dramatic changes to color and brightness.
Consistency is also key. As a brand, you can use the same photographer or the same format. Always be sure to match your style to the item. For some shots, it may make sense to use lifestyle product photography; for others, a simple colored background may be the way to go.
This goes for website navigation, too. Customers are more likely to revisit and buy from your site if the process doesn’t give them a headache or make them want to throw their device in frustration.
Know Your Audience
Last but not least, you can’t effectively sell to your audience without knowing who they are and how to target them. It’s worth using eye-tracking surveys, demographic analyses, ad analytics, and other marketing research strategies to assess the success of any product photography you put out.
At Results Imagery, we’re pleased to offer this kind of full-service, comprehensive approach to quality product photography. Not only will we take beautiful photos and/or videos of your products, but we also strategize with you to build your brand identity and increase conversions. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you sell more online.