Featured article by: Elysian Studios
Most business owners under-appreciate the importance of professional product photography and the impact it can have on traffic and sales.
When it comes to selling products online, one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a business owner is lacking high-quality visual content on your website and social media. These days more people are shopping online than ever before, but that also means they are faced with more ads and sales than ever before, so how do you stand out and give them what they need to make a confident purchase?
Here at Elysian Studios we have put together a list of 7 reasons why every business can benefit from professional product photography. We made this list after researching and collecting data about the impact product photography has had on our clients as we provide visual content for them and see their sales grow. We understand the massive impact it can have, and we are thrilled to share our findings with you.
1. Customers want an accurate depiction of what they’re buying before making a decision.
Yes, that’s pretty straight forward. But most people don’t know just how significant of an impact poor or misleading photography has on their sales. It might not surprise you to learn that about 75% of customers say that product photography and multiple angles is essential to confirming their purchasing decision. But it may surprise you to hear that:
about a quarter (23%) of all product returns are because the product received looks different than the product in the photos.
That’s right, almost a quarter of your returns could be prevented by ensuring every image you have on your website or social media is 100% accurate to their true color and form. E-commerce is simply giving customers as much information as possible to make an informed purchasing decision, and the more content you provide them, the more comfortable they become with their order. Spending the extra time or money to ensure your photography is consistent and accurate could yield more sales and less returns. Seems like a no-brainer, right?
2. Product photography is more than taking a picture, it’s about telling a story.
When businesses view photography as just images of their products, their content reflects just that: simple, boring images that really don’t bring anything to the products. But those who understand the ability to tell a story and build a brand with their visual content notice the results.
Photography is an art that requires discipline and technical knowledge to master. Professional photographers don’t just understand the benefits and intricacies of products shown in their best light, they know how to execute it. From food to jewelry, or furniture to apparel, every product is different and should be treated as so when photographed. Photography, when done right, doesn’t just capture products, it enhances products. Photographers don’t light products, they use light to bring something new to the table.
When considering hiring a photographer for your visual content, ask yourself this: do you want to simply show the world what products you have? Or do you want those products to be brought to life? Do you want a cohesive look and consistent experience throughout your website and social media? Do you want a brand with a story behind it reflected in each and every image? Do you want each new customer to be blown away with what they see? If so, hire professional photographer.
3. A customer’s first impression of your business is most often based off visual content.
Whether a customer discovers your brand or your product on social media, your website, or targeting advertising, visual content is always the first thing they see. Therefore, your visual content is what customers base their first impression of your company on, 100% of the time. So ask yourself: is every image or video you have online a representation of your brand?
These days, people’s attention span online is short, and it’s only getting shorter. When it comes to scrolling through social media or passing an advertisement, you really only have a few seconds to convince a potential client to click into your website or product page. So ensure that you are captivating them. Ensure their first impression of your brand is a positive one.
Whether you’re trying to interrupt the scrolling experience with a stunning and captivating image, or you’re simply trying to blow away customers with the quality and consistency of your visual content, professional photography is the answer. This could be the first time a potential customer sees your products, and they have high expectations these days, so you better make sure those images are impressive and informative.
4. Professional photography represents the professionalism of your business.
This point on professionalism goes hand-in-hand with the previous one. When a potential customer makes their first impression of you based on your photography, is it a respected, professional impression, or not?
When it comes to product photography, these days even the customer doesn’t know how picky they are. Customers are used to the meticulously-styled, perfectly lit, high-quality imagery that they see on the “big guys’” retail websites. If they come to your website and see sloppy styling, incorrect color temperatures, blemishes, amateur lighting, low-quality images that they cannot zoom in on, they will leave without a second thought, forever associating your company as unprofessional.
When it comes to more stylized, lifestyle photography, if your images don’t look like the Coca Cola or Apple advertisements they are forced to consume all day every day, they will not be impressed, and won’t click into your website or social media. So decide what the tone and level of professionalism is that you want to reflect on your website and social media, and produce photography that reflects just that.
5. You’re more likely to be shared on social media if you have stunning visual content.
When your content is shared on social media, that means more traffic to your website, which means more sales. Make people not only want to buy your products, make them want to share your visual content across social media with stunning professional-quality photography.
Your visual content is 44% more likely to be shared on social media if it is high-quality and eye-grabbing.
These days you can’t rely on customers stumbling on your website, and you definitely can’t depend on foot traffic into your store, so social media is the most efficient and cost-effective way to acquiring new customers. We all know how expensive new customers are to obtain, but organic social media sharing is 100% free. Your loyal customers will only feel the desire to share your visual content when it is worth sharing: beautiful, captivating, unseen enough to be worth showing their friends and family.
6. Customers prefer visual content over written content.
Customers aren’t reading product descriptions anymore, and the studies prove it. As mentioned above, the vast majority of customers say extensive product photography is the main factor in their decision of whether or not to make the purchase. After that comes customer product reviews and customer product FAQs.
What this means is that the only thing you as a business owner are in control of when it comes to swaying a customer’s purchasing decision is photography. Rather than reading what you have to say about your products, customers want to see all that themselves. Whether you’re providing a photo of every angle, an interactive 360° spin (example to the left), or a dynamic product video, customers want to see and interact with your products, on their own.
More than ever we are seeing customers make their purchasing decision from product photography alone. So ask yourself: are you providing your viewers with all the information they need and desire via visuals alone? Are your images maximum quality and able to zoom in on? Do you have an angle and close up of every side and detail? If not, you may be losing sales.
7. Photography takes your store from a business to a brand.
So far in this post we have been using the terms “business” and “brand” interchangeably, but the reality is they are not.
Businesses prioritize a transactional model: customers come to them knowing what they want, make a purchase, leave, then come back when they need to buy again. Think of Costco or Amazon: you visit knowing exactly what you need to buy, so surprise or discovery, and you probably don’t follow them on Instagram, and you certainly don’t have their company merchandise that you wear and boast on a daily basis.
Brands do the same thing as businesses, except they don’t stop their relationship with the customer after the transaction. Take our example with Costco and Amazon above, and compare that to Apple. Sure, Apple simply sells you their products, but there’s so much more. Apple has a massive social media following with millions of interactions a day, you see their stickers on water-bottles and bumpers all day long, people follow them in the news, and customers walk into their stores with no intent of buying anything, they just want to experience Apple.
Our point is that companies like Apple (or Anthropologie, Coca Cola, and Aerie) have created an addictive business model experience and lifestyle, providing an experience and for the customer that goes so much farther than the sale. They sell the lifestyle more than the product, and that’s what keeps people coming back. But they can’t do this without consistent and captivating branding rooted in professional quality visual content.
BONUS: Cutting-edge technology allows you to show your products in action.
You didn’t think we’d leave you hanging with just 7 tips, did you? No, we wanted to recognize the people who made it to the end, so here’s one more reason why every business needs quality product photography… and it doesn’t even have to do with photography!
Brands that thrive are typically the ones that stay ahead of the cutting-edge technology of their time. And here at Elysian we are noticing that less and less customers want product photography on their product pages. Rather, they want video and interactive 360° spins.
Product photography is a great, classic way of showcasing products, and it’s here to stay, don’t get us wrong. But when it comes to standing out, photography doesn’t cut it. That’s why brands are pushing the limits with stunning movement in product video, or giving customers as close to a tangible product experience as they can with interactive 360 spins.
Product video lends itself best to products that have a particular functionality, assembly, or movement that is impossible to capture in photography. Think about the movement of the fabric of a skirt or the newest gadget that has a complex user-face. Video is necessary.
360 spins are currently the only way to provide the customer a way to interact with the product themselves. 360 spins are the next best thing to picking up the product in a store, allowing customers to see any part of the product when and how they want to.
So next time you’re updating the visual content on your product page, think about standing out with media other than photography.
Author: Connor Moriarty – Studio Manager, Elysian Studios