If you're in e-commerce, you probably already know that an image can be worth a thousand (and more) sales. But in case you've been too busy following the tweets to Beyonce's latest project to think about product images, here is a reminder of how they can impact conversion:
From Econsultancy: In a survey of 2,000 UK consumers, 39% required "multiple images" on product pages to help decide whether or not to make a purchase.
From a 2010 Brandbank.com Retail Media Report: 67% of consumers are put off buying a product without a picture; 58% are deterred by poor quality images; 30% are put off when only one image is displayed for a product when other products have more than one.
From e-tailing group: Nearly 70% of consumers consider the quality of images to be an important factor in whether to purchase online.
From Get Elastic: Use images to "Prevent disappointment, build trust & minimize returns."
The bottom line is as clear as Beyonce's condition: If you want to sell, you need images.
But I want to talk less about cash register conversion and more about how your images can be your product page's most valuable proselytizer. Just as your intro paragraph can entice your reader into a further study of your product, your images, when done properly, can convert casual browsers into serious shoppers.
Well-designed product pages with good images invite consumers to read more. In the long tail of the marketing world, this type of conversion can be just as valuable as making the immediate sale.
[This post is part our ongoing series, The Art and Science of the Enhanced (A+) Page.]
In our recent post, Good Content Merchandising is Like Your Favorite Teacher, we talked about the importance of using multimedia to appeal to a customer's "spatial intelligence."
Another way to approach your images is to think sensually. I am not talking sex, I am talking sense. You want your product page to appeal to the fullest range of senses possible, similar to the way a chef carefully arranges colors and food types in his or her presentation.
To understand what I'm getting at, think back with me to the 1987 Danish movie, Babette's Feast.
Babette, a former Paris chef of some renown, lives out her quiet life in an austere Protestant village, serving simple meals to a white-haired congregation of pious church-goers.
But when she wins 10,000 francs in the lottery, she devotes her winnings to producing a true Parisian banquet for the congregation. The result is an incredible feast for senses that few of the diners knew they possessed.
Where only porridge and biscuits had previously tread, Babette fills a banquet table with course after course of French delicacies: "Potage à la Tortue" (turtle soup); "Blinis Demidoff au Caviar" (buckwheat cakes with caviar and sour cream); "Caille en Sarcophage avec Sauce Perigourdine" (quail in puff pastry shell with foie gras and truffle sauce); and so on.
And the meal works its Eucharistic miracles: the diners re-experience old loves, forgive old wrongs, and are spiritually transported.
Throw Babette's courses into a blender for the congregation to slurp through a straw, and they would have gotten all the nourishment they needed. But would they have been transported? Would their mothballed passions have been reignited?
If you want to similarly transport your customers, think Babette.
Just as Babette's feast would not have piqued the visual senses of her diners had she blended her creations into a thick, greenish puree, poor images and poor design do not entice the reader to explore the product in greater detail. Here's a niche business if ever there was one: an online shoelace store. But this site is clearly designed [sic] for users who know exactly what they need. There is no effort to entice browsers to explore the possibilities of fashionable shoelaces.
You may ask, "But how can you possibly entice anybody with photographs of shoelaces?" Take a look at what a splash of color can do for your kicks.
And niche websites by no means have a monopoly on treating their product pages as porridge. Calling Home Depot product pages "porridge" is perhaps overstating the case, but take a look at the page for a Kohler vanity.
Having worked with Kohler on their extensive catalog content, and having visited their state-of-the-art showroom in Wisconsin, I can assure you that form is as important to their story as is function. The Home Depot page does nothing to leverage that famous Kohler aesthetic to entice shoppers. A little page design and alternate images could go a long way in attracting attention to this page.
Take your pick, according to your preference, which is appetizer and which is dessert.
From Ralph Lauren:
From La Senza, Canada's "Victoria's Secret":
In both cases, alluring, sensual images dominate the page. So much so that I would argue the apparel industry has very little need of content merchandising writers. A bit more information regarding the materials could be employed, but the copy is a pure branding play. It's the images that do the heavy lifting to call and convert.
Some of the most effective product pages combine simple but well-balanced design with informative product images and lifestyle shots. This from the Amazon.com Bose Quiet Comfort Headphones product page.
Curiously, some of the world's most respected brands, presenting their products on one of the world's most trafficked websites, think that throwing images down on a product page with no attention to page design elements will sell products.
Brought to you by Dell on Walmart:
Tons of white space, uninformative and poorly cropped images, and
If you're still reading, I understand that this post has likely inflamed your carpal tunnel issues. So sue me. But indulge me once more. I can't help but add this to the feast:
And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming. When you are the world's biggest e-commerce play, you have a blank check to do whatever you want with your images and your product page. The world is your HTML code. But until then, put those designers and artists to work.
The Ping Takeaway?