Millions of years of evolution have taught our brains how to very effectively and quickly process visual information. In fact, around 90% of the information our brains process is typically visual in origin.
Compare the input of visual content with that of written content. Written language is a relatively recent development in human history and a product entirely of human ingenuity. Writing alone on a page is often skipped through, and is less easily retained in memory.
Photographs are used pervasively throughout the internet. They are used to draw attention, display, intrigue, entertain, educate and sell. But many businesses perform more poorly than they should because of the choices they make with their photography. Similarly, video, illustrations and graphics will benefit from some of the same suggestions we highlight below for photography.
Here are five reasons why you should look to your photos to increase performance;
1. Professional appearance
Many websites contain little or no photography, or even worse, poor quality photographs. When potential customers visit your site or view your marketing materials, they want to be convinced that your business is the one to buy from.
When there are no photos it is difficult for your audience to retain a clear memory of your content.
Poor quality images can do even more damage. They can actually turn people away from your business. Factors can be low-res photos that have been stretched or pixilated photos due to poor optimisation. Other issues include a lack of consideration in editing and cropping or just bad photography. People are dissuaded that your business is the one to deal with.
On the other hand, consider using a professional commercial photographer. Creating well thought out high-quality photography is perfect to draw attention to what you offer. It displays professionalism, care and thoughtfulness for your audience. It shows your people, products, services and brand to their best advantage. In the end, it develops trust in your business.
2. Images should match content
Many years ago, David Ogilvy the legend of advertising commissioned research into the use of images in advertising. One of the things this research uncovered was the importance of matching an image to the written content.
Images in marketing have two purposes;
The risk comes where an image is selected that bears no relation to the actual subject of the written content. There is danger in confusing the viewer as to the intended message. Worse is if an image is chosen purely for attention (as clickbait). Your reader is much more likely to lose trust and turn away from your business.
But now for the cool bit! If you match a well-chosen image with good writing it can dramatically increase both the engagement and retention of your content.
This benefit is gained whether it is for blog articles, posting on social mediaor creating other marketing materials such as ebooks and catalogues. Be discerning in your choice of image.
3. Photos that lead the viewer’s eye
Choosing photos that are properly sized and edited, and are on message may sometimes still not be enough.
Photographs of crowds or product group shots with too many items can leave your viewer with nothing to focus on. Their attention will drift away rather than being drawn to what you would like them to see.
Selecting photographs with a single main focal point will be much more effective in keeping your viewer. Alternatively choosing photos that lead the viewer’s eye through the image creates visual interest and aids in memory retention.
Non-optimised images can take their toll on your search engine rankings. Anything that lowers search rank will have a direct impact on your business.
Photos and images have a number of elements that can be effectively optimised. Proper sizing, suitable naming, and entering good metadata all play a positive role.
Poor optimisation of photographic images can have a negative impact on search and customer experience.
The second element for optimisation is placement and management of images on-page. There are a number of factors worth considering here;
Keep your primary image above your headline. Your audience’s attention automatically drops down through the image to the headline, which is then associated with the body text.
Place supporting images to the right. Anything that breaks your reader’s tracking of written content is more likely to lose them.
Add captions. Adding image captions, especially those with slightly smaller fonts are almost 4x more likely to be read than the body text.
The proper selection, placement and management of images on-page affect the readability of the content. This, in turn, influences memory retention and subsequently conversion rates.
Above all keep things consistent. This will help in maintaining clean design and boost ongoing engagement with your audience.
5. Misuse of stock photography
Stock photography has its place, though it should not be as the centrepiece to your brand marketing. Not only will your business look generic and clichéd, but you are likely sharing those images with 100 other businesses.
The best images for your branding and marketing should be original and unique. They should have a specific attachment to your business and what you offer. This is important whether it be goods and services, or people and ethos.
Where stock imagery can be useful is with social media and blog posts. Whilst it is not so important to have original visual content for these, it is still vital to carefully select images. Choose visuals that match the writing (as point 2 above) and goals of an article.
Visual content such as photography, video, illustration and graphics are all essential parts of current business marketing. Select and create your visual content thoughtfully and it will have a strong positive impact on your business.
Whatever your business we wish you the best of success and hope this information has been useful. Feel free to send a “Hello” our way if we can be of further help.
Ben learned many of his lessons as a visual communicator in the dark, old days of film, but loves the opportunities and potential of applying his experience with the technologies that have emerged in the digital age. His breadth of knowledge and experience from web development to search and social allow him to lead his team in providing a holistic and comprehensive service to clients.
We offer professional marketing services that help businesses increase their visibility and engagement with potential customers. From marketing strategy through to content production and publishing, we can help your business achieve its goals.
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Content Creative are a Full Service Marketing Agency dedicated to getting your business noticed by prospective customers. We develop and produce all forms of content for marketing use so that your business, people, products, and services receive the attention they deserve.