Coffee-MakerCustomer images are a great way to show potential customers the value of your product. Amazon knows this and has been doing it for years. Customer images show your products in context—how people really use them. They provide social proof that people really do buy and use your products. And, the icing on the cake, they can be a free way for you to get more product photos.

Benefits of Customer Photos

Customer provided photos are a huge way to help engender trust in your brand and personalize your products.

Promote Trust in Your Brand: A picture is worth a thousand words—your customers’ photos are visual recommendations of your products. The photos will show that future customers can trust your brand.

Personalize Your Products: Showing photos of your products “in real life” provide a personal story of your products. The photos prove to potential customers that they can trust that your products will look good, work properly, etc. in an environment similar to their own.

Best Practices for Using Customer Photos

Get Permission: Make it clear to your customers that the photos they have provided will be used on your website. As a business, you need to make sure you are protecting your customers’ rights.

Exercise Control: You should control the flow of customer submitted photos. Definitely provide a page or link for customers to use to submit their photos. But you and your staff should control what photos are shown on your site and on your product pages. You will need to confirm that customer images are linked to the correct product and that they represent appropriate content for your brand.

Attacting Customer Photos

Fortunately, getting customer photos is easy in today’s modern society. Thanks to smartphones, we almost constantly have a camera with us.

Request Them: Following up on your sales is a good marketing habit. In my experience I have found that people LOVE to share their opinions and photos, they just need to be asked. A few weeks after the sale, follow up with an email. Keep your email short and personal. Call them by name and bring up the specific product they purchased. Let them know that you would love to see how they are using the product and would like to include the image in a product gallery.

Provide Incentives: Often times, you aren’t going to get something for nothing. In order to attract customer photos you may need to provide them with an incentive. Some ideas for incentives for customer photos include: host contests for the best product images (a great idea for brands with strong social media presence) or provide customers with discount for future purchases when they submit an image.

Customer Photos In Action

Customer photos can engage potential customers, and show the real life value and application of your products. Companies, both large and small, are using them; following are a few of my favorite examples.

West Elm: West Elm uses a service called Olapic to curate a customer gallery. What is great about their gallery, that most other galleries lack, is that they integrate a link to the product into the customer’s description of the picture. After clicking on a photo, you can quickly “shop the look.”

Threadless: Threadless is another Olapic user but they implement it differently. On each product page at Threadless, they provide a gallery of #threadpics for that product. Customers can quickly see how the product looks on other customers. This cute t-shirt is a great example of how they use customer photos.

Cozy Wall Art: (disclaimer-I work here) Integrating customer photos doesn’t require additional technology on your site (like the above examples). Even smaller companies can easily use customer photos. The customer photos in this wall decal allow potential customers to see alternative configurations and applications.