Unless you are an avid photographer who has a fathomless capacity for creativity and plenty of volunteers to pose in your photo’s, you aren’t going to be able to create all the images on your website yourself (Unless perhaps you really ARE a photographer).
Some bloggers are tempted to skip the images, but we strongly advise against this. Sites with images (good images) look better. People enjoy eye-candy, as we all can attest, and are more likely to browse around a site with good images, rather than hitting the back button.
Showing off hip and modern images communicate that you and your business are hip and modern too. People trust up-to-date businesses, so the chances of developing more leads from your blog increases.
This means more sales.
So, rest assured that as you pile image after image into your blog that you’re doing something wonderful for your company! As long as it’s in focus, it’ll work. Right?
So wrong. While images do indeed have that hidden hook that pulls people in, this all depends on the images you’ve chosen.
Years ago, long before the internet prevailed as king of communication and advertising, David Ogilvy commissioned research into the use of images in advertising.
He was an advertising legend, and he decided that he wanted to be sure that when he brought forth his brilliant pithy ads, the images being paired with the words were actually increasing response rates. The lie then, and now, was that any old image would attract attention and increase sales.
Ogilvy’s researchers debunked this theory. They discovered that images may snag attention, but unless the image itself was well-designed and clearly indicative of the following article or ad, it had no higher translation into sales.
On the other hand, images that excited a response in consumers, such as curiosity, laughter, or interest, translated into the consumer continuing to read the following text, and increased sales. Despite his groundbreaking discoveries in the world of images and marketing, his principles are less used today than one might expect.
Some will argue that the advertising guru lived in a different generation and old fashioned ads are nothing like our modern-day internet marketing. However, Ogilvy’s principles address the psychology behind readership which remains as yet, unchanged. In addition, the style of his ads are remarkably similar to the newspaper layout still used by both online and offline marketers.
At this point, you ought to be wondering what images are the ‘golden egg’ of image advertising and how you get your hands on them. Good— we were hoping that you would be. Let’s talk about that.
1. Never use poor quality images.
You’d think that this is self explanatory. However, the internet is well speckled and splattered over with pixelated, over-compressed, low resolution photos that someone failed to resize correctly.
These photos practically shout ‘Don’t read this article!’ If all you have is a poor quality image, it is actually better for your sales to skip the image entirely and focus on creating stellar content.
2. Never use stock photos that are obviously stock photos.
There are some stock photo companies that have beautiful images that don’t look like stock photos (read about these here). However, in every single page of 50 stock photos’, 47 of them are going to be the sort of images that are blatantly a part of an image package.
In some cases, these are still ok—a glass of orange juice with a white background, or a dog running through a field with a perfectly blue sky behind it are going to be stock photos.
The problem arises when images that are not personal to the company, or the article, are used. The most criminal of these involve overly posed people smiling in a contrived setting. These have a lackluster look about them that says, ‘no imagination.’
They may be beautiful, but if they aren’t captivating and centered around your actual content, Oglivy’s research shows that they aren’t going to be as effective for pulling in your readers. This is, after all, the entire point.
3.Never use group photos.
This can apply to any photo that doesn’t have a clear focal point. Human brains have short attention spans. If there isn’t something to snag our thoughts, a place to center our attention, we often click the backspace button in less time than we took to look at the confusing crowd photo. The only time a group photo is a good photo is if there is a very clear focal point or focal person.
4. Never use boring images.
The best images are those that inspire the reader with a sense of what the article will be about. You need images that showcase your content, that mirror the thoughts that went into the text beneath.
Businesses that do boring things, such as accounting or manufacturing air purification products, may especially be culprits of this. They find an image of, say, a graphic ballooned dollar sign and put it up with a caption of ‘Save money on your taxes this year!’ Not exactly effective.
5. Keep it to the right!
Americans (and the Western world) read left to right. When you break up your text with images on the left, it breaks the focus of the reader, briefly jumbling their thoughts for a nanosecond. This can sometimes be enough to trigger them to click out of the page. Keep your images to the right whenever possible. Exceptions to this rule are CTA (call to action) buttons or other ‘click-me’ buttons that you want your reader to pause and focus on.
6. Float above the title.
It is often the natural reaction of a blogger to place title, image, text. However, according to Ogilvy’s research, images are better placed above the title. The psychology behind this is that our eyes hit the image and naturally drop down. Placing the title below the image will instantly inform the reader what the following text is about.
7. Captivate with captions:
Always add captions to your images. Captions are sometimes the only portion of a page that people will actually read. Some people suggest that captions are 300% more likely to be read than the bulk text. By including attention grabbing captions, you increase the chances of a click through and a lead.
Images can be a powerful way to invite readers into your content, when used correctly. Of course, there are differing views on the psychology behind images and image placement. What are you opinions on the correct images to use and where to place them?
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