The use of visual imagery is becoming an increasingly important part of online communication. The meteoritic growth in social networking sites like Pinterest and Instagram illustrates just how significant images have become in increasing engagement and interaction amongst consumers.
Indeed, research shows that articles containing an image have, on average, 94% more total views than articles without an image, indicating the power of a good image.
“Psychologically, consumers love imagery, and seeing visually appealing things creates positive emotions. Most people — between 65 and 85 percent — also describe themselves as ‘visual learners,’ forming meaning and organizing thoughts based on what they see more so than what they read.” Trend Reports
According to Forbes, image-centric marketing will be one of the top online marketing trends for 2014. Therefore, understanding the potential benefits of images and using them effectively on your website and in your marketing can increase engagement and interaction amongst your customers. Images can help:
- Grab people’s attention
- Convey meaning quickly
- evoke emotions
- Illustrate a point
- Make text-based articles more visually appealing by breaking up reams of text
- Convey complex information in an easily digestible format (think infographics)
- Showcase a product effectively online.
How to make the most of images online
The use of visual imagery on your website is essential. Not only are images valuable in terms of SEO, they are central in terms of engaging customers. Nobody is going to find a solely text-based website enticing. Using photos, illustrations, graphics, icons, infographics and videos are all great ways to improve the content of your website and as a result, increase its appeal to customers.
Your product pages are a key area to focus on, since images are one of the most important elements in a customer’s decision-making process. So, ensure you are using high-definition images and spend time thinking about how to showcase your products to their full advantage. Research shows:
- 67% of consumers say that the quality of the image is very important when they are purchasing a product.
- 63% of consumers saying a good image is even more important than product specific information.
Social media and images go hand-in hand, just look at the phenomenal success of Pinterest in recent years. Think about how you can use images to enhance your presence on all your social media sites. For example, when you are posting an update on Facebook, always include an appropriate image, be it an update about a new product, service, staff change, industry news, special promotion or competition. Including an image will make it far more likely for your update to capture people’s attention and in turn generate more likes and comments.
Putting an image right at the beginning of your blog post is a great way to pull readers in. A relevant image can help readers understand what your post is about, help illustrate a point and stir-up an emotional response. Images are also a great way to break up text if you have a long blog. And don’t forget, images can also be used when you promote your blog post on your social media sites and in your email newsletters.
Infographics also work really well in blog posts. They’ve grown in popularity over recent years as they present statistics and research in an interesting, relevant and engaging way.
Email and Online Press Releases
People tend to skim through emails and online press releases, picking out the salient points. Therefore, using images is a great way to help you get your message across quickly, break up text and create engagement at the same time.
And finally, don’t forget the moving image. Using video is a great way to boost your search engine rankings (search engines love video). It’s format is engaging and it is a great tool to use if you need to educate or explain something to your customers – think product demonstrations and video tutorials. Just remember to put it up on YouTube as well as on your website.
What makes for a good image
Where possible try to avoid using staged business photos as you are more likely to capture people’s attention and get an emotional response by using real people, real-life situations, humour, interesting visuals or stunning photography. Take a look at which boards get the most re-pins on Pinterest and you’ll get a real feel for the type of images that really work.
Make sure you add Alt Text to your images. This is essentially a concise and accurate description of the image and is used as alternative text when the image can not be displayed. This is important as:
- it makes the image accessible to all users, including those that are visually impaired as screen readers can read the alternative text provided
- it one of the factors that can help improve your SEO performance.
There are plenty of low-cost and free images available on the web, but if you are not using your own photos or images then you must be careful about copyright and get permission from the author. Look for royalty free stock images that are for commercial use. I’ve listed a few of the low-cost and free websites we use for images and they’ll tell you whether an image requires an author credit or not.
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