You’ve heard it before: a picture’s worth a thousand words. Here’s something else that’s true: not all pictures are created equal!
“Imagery can be a very powerful player in your marketing and outreach strategy,” says Dean Kistner, Creative Director at SageAge Strategies. “But that doesn’t mean tossing a few generic photos into your brochure, adding nonspecific community shots to your press release or peppering your website with stock images will yield positive results.
“Yes, images can be very powerful, but they have to be the right images, in the right place, if they’re going to get you the results you’re looking for and evoke the emotion you seek,” Dean adds.
Whether you are trying to get a new customer’s attention, inspire an existing customer to take some specific action, or some combination thereof, imagery can go a long way in creating the outcomes we’re hoping to see. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to just pull some stock images from the web and use them as an afterthought. Doing so, however, wastes a huge opportunity.
Let’s take a look at the reasons why planning, gathering and using the right photography is worth your time and resources.
Why Imagery Is Worth Your Time
Images Make Your Existing Content More Engaging
Did you know that your readers are overwhelmingly more likely to read and engage with a piece of content that uses relevant, engaging imagery? And by overwhelmingly, we mean upwards of 90 percent more likely. That’s HUGE! If, for example, you have a blog post preview on your homepage, and you want viewers to click through, an image accompanying that preview will garner about 90 percent more clicks than just a text-based preview.
You’re probably spending a good amount of time, energy and brainpower on creating quality content for your audience to read, engage with and learn from. Get the absolute most out of the content you’re already creating by using images with that content. Images provide a bit of a “brain break,” especially in longer pieces like white papers or ebooks. They give more visual learners a way to engage on a different level. They add relevant context to the information you’re sharing, and honestly, it just looks better. And, if you consider infographics images – which you should! – you can present your thesis, research or argument in a visually compelling and more easily digested way. In short, images make your existing content better.
Images Are More Viral
Upwards of 60 percent of the content shared on the world’s leading social media sites are imagery, according to research done by marketing expert Hubspot. That percentage only continues to grow as social media becomes more and more engrained in our psyche.
So, if you’re hoping to get others to like, share or retweet your content, you’re much more likely to accomplish that if your content is an image, or is accompanied by an image. Unlike content that takes time and more energy to consume and understand, images are a quick shot straight to the brain. All it takes is a glance for the viewer to feel something, and all it takes is a click for them to share that with others. Content you share that is made primarily of images, or includes a strong visual element, is far more likely to “go viral.”
Images Are Good for SEO
When it comes to your web presence, your SEO, or search engine optimization, is pretty critical. To put it in the most simple of terms, your SEO determines how easily someone “finds” you online when they search for topics and information related to your business. If you have a robust blog and strong SEO, a person searching Google for something related to your business is more likely to find you than a website with a lackluster blog and a mediocre SEO rating.
Images contribute positively to your SEO. When you include images on your website that are tagged and described appropriately, and used in relevant ways within your content, you are doing good things for your SEO, and that means your customers are more likely to find you online!
Now that we understand the value good imagery can bring to our marketing strategy, let’s review some tips for getting the right images, in the right place, in order to make the biggest impact.
Tell a Story
Just like good content, images must first tell your viewer a story in order to draw them in. When thinking about your next piece of collateral or your next blog post, consider using images more than words to tell the story. That’s not always appropriate or effective for every story, but for many, it can be a strong way to share an idea with your audience. If, for example, you have a brand new fitness center you are thrilled to share with your residents and prospective residents, do it in a photo essay. Capture real, happy people using the fitness center (or new library, or new salon, or walking path – the list goes on), and your viewers will be able to picture themselves there.
Make It Human
Humans may communicate primarily through speaking, but we do a ton of nonverbal communicating too. Eye movement is a big part of how we communicate, as is our body language and position. When it comes to imagery on your website or your new marketing brochure, make sure the people in your photos are communicating what you want. Images of people who are making eye contact with the viewer can be very engaging – even intimidating. A picture of someone who is smiling but whose body language seems stiff will ultimately come across as uncomfortable. A picture of a person who is looking lovingly toward another person or object will engender positive feelings toward that person or object. Be hyper aware of the message your images communicate, and look beyond your subject’s faces to do it.
In the marketing world, there’s a lot of copying going on. Not all of that is bad; sometimes it’s entirely necessary. But when it comes to imagery on your collateral or your website, don’t be afraid to go outside the box a bit. Something unexpected can be the trigger that grabs a potential customer’s attention, attention that would have been lost if they had glanced at a typical stock photo. A unique, unexpected image can evoke delight and excitement in the viewer when it’s used right. This can backfire, so it’s good to do some legwork and get a lot of opinions on the image’s effectiveness, but it’s always better to try, rather than to stagnate.
What imagery have you found to be really effective with your customers? If you’re not sure, or you think your look could use an update, we’d love to help. We have expert creative professionals on our team, like Dean Kistner, who have the experience to make imagery work in your favor.