Have you noticed that images are grabbing more and more online real-estate? That’s because they’re such an effective tool for increasing conversions (resulting in 63% increase in conversions in one example below). Text is taking a back seat on many ecommerce sites and whole social media channels have developed around the idea of just sharing images.
Before you pepper your website with photos and graphics, check out our 5 tips on using images to increase conversions and find out why they work:
Use Detailed Images To Complement Product Descriptions
When Conversion XL highlighted how great Nike’s product pages are, around half the article was given over to discussing Nike’s effective use of imagery. For each set of runners there are a series of pictures showing the shoe from different angles and another image showing the shoes on a model.
The main image can be clicked on anywhere to zoom in and lastly there are additional images of the shoes in different colours.
You can see in the image above that Nike’s product pages show very little text by default. The images are left to do the selling. Physical products like these can be difficult to explain in words so pictures convey the message faster. Nike’s design has helped them win several awards for user experience. Letting the images lead has made the products easier to shop.
Asos.com go one step further and provide video of each item being worn as a model walks down a catwalk. This type of [moving] imagery works perfectly for clothes, as when shopping on the highstreet most people want to try on the clothes or shoes. You’ll often hear it said that clothes “look different on”.
Asos are doing all they can to show their customers what the outfit looks like when worn. Action shots and video show how the garments move and provide context e.g. on the length of a skirt or the height of a heel.
Showing as much detail as possible helps consumers to understand the product better which should increase purchases and reduce returns.
Go Big Or Go Home
Bigger images, even those that push website copy below the fold, increase conversions. By how much you ask? As much as 63%, as Skinner Auctioneers found out. They increased the size of their product images by 28% which pushed all the other page content down. Case studies like this are challenging the rule ‘Keep vital content above the fold’.
Nike excel in this area; scrolling images on their Homepage take up almost all the space in your browser:
They’re letting images make a striking first impression when you land on the site. Although the image is large the rest of the design is minimalistic and the site looks easy to navigate. Nice job Nike.
Include Photos of People
I’ve touched on using real photos before as a psychological aid to building trust and credibility e.g. including photos of your executive team decreases the sense of a faceless corporation. Photos of people prompt us to feel that we understand them and share their feelings. They also act as an endorsement of the product or service so that we think “If they like it I will too”.
Secret Escapes, as well as presenting plenty of photos of the hotel and destination, always include photos of people enjoying the holiday.
You can almost imagine yourself there already. Avoid using stock images though; it’s important the people look genuine otherwise your customers won’t feel a real connection to the people in them.
Images are a more primitive means of telling a story. They’re simpler to process and thus appeal to our brains more when engaged in System 1 thinking (our default mode of thinking). And when engaged in System 1 thinking we respond emotionally. Evidence shows that when we’re emotionally charged we’re more likely to convert i.e. buy, share or click-through. A study by IPA dataBank found that “campaigns with purely emotional content performed about twice as well (31% vs. 16%)”.
Charities know this which is why many emphasise the most emotionally harrowing aspects of the cause they’re fighting for. They also know that showing rather than telling is most effective. Unicef launched a facebook campaign that used highly emotive photos.
As you can see from the screenshot, this campaign received over 7,000 likes and was shared over 3,000 times. If you review the Unicef Facebook page now there are few posts that are so hard to look at or that have enjoyed the same traction.
The AA fill their Homepage with images, many of people. Several of the pictures depict families and children, drawing on our motivation to protect.
Photos of young children trigger the emotional part of our brain to be engaged. Which, as we know, influences us to buy more quickly.
One thing each of the above failed to do was to use people eyes to prompt a conversion. A heat map study conducted by ObjectiveDigital.com showed that when the person in the photo appeared to look at something around him/her on the webpage the test subjects viewing the page also paid attention to that area.
The redder the spot the more time the test subjects spent looking at that part of the page:
Add an Image-Rich Background to Your Form
So far I’ve discussed images in relation to the lead up to the point of conversion. But it doesn’t end there. Imagery on forms can also increase conversions.
Dell experimented with this by placing a large photo behind the form and using a coloured background on the form itself.
The test design:
With the new design the form performed 36% better.
Another example of higher conversions using a more image-based form comes from Second Wave Recycling, a mobile phone recycling company. They changed two forms from a grey background to a more textured background and included several graphics, leading the forms to convert 53% better overall.
The new design:
Pay Attention to Imagery Across Social Media
Styling your social media pages e.g. setting a background image and using your logo as the profile picture help to reinforce your brand. Visitors looking for your Twitter, Facebook etc will feel reassured that they’re in the right place.
Use an image that helps visitors identify you straight away and stick to the same colour scheme. Take your cue from your own website to ensure continuity and give visitors a sense of familiarity. Using the same or similar background image across all channels will link them together.
We do this with our own accounts:
When it comes to composing posts, make sure to include lots of images there too. Images have proven time and again to be more shareable than text and to increase click-through rate. Social media is a visual, time poor medium where short posts perform best.
Posts with pictures perform well on all channels but adding multiple photos in a Facebook posts creates a curiosity gap as they become grouped into an album, tempting followers to click to see additional images. MTV Roadies found that creating photo albums with posts produced 3 big benefits:
Photo album posts were clicked 12.9x more than single photo posts in the Facebook Newsfeed
More clicks appeared to influence how often Facebook showed their posts to fans
Multi-photo posts had 5.1x greater reach than single photo posts
Over on Twitter, HubSpot ran an A/B test and discovered that after Twitter started putting images directly into posts that tweets with images generated a 55% increase in leads.
What to do now?
It’s clear that images, big ones and lots of them, are increasing conversions on many platforms and in many industries. The best way to find out what will work best for you is to try it all and test. Set up some A/B tests and go where the data takes you. If you’re not sure where to start with A/B testing check out our guide to The Beginner’s A/B Testing Toolkit.