Written by Products on White Photography
When selling products online, images are the only thing potential customers see before purchasing. Think of imagery as a powerful tool to entice sales and give your brand personality. When used correctly imagery builds trust with potential buyers. With that said not all photography is created equal. When creating your photography strategy there are 3 different styles of photos that you should consider utilizing in your marketing.
Creative Branding Images, Ecommerce Listing Images and DIY/UCG images. Each of these categories of photos achieve different marketing goals and are important to telling the brand story in different ways. In this article I'll break down these different photo styles and what to focus on to get the most out of each image.
Creative Branding Images
The first style of photography we are going to talk about is Creative Branding Images. This style of photography is what people are most familiar with. These images sometimes use models in different environments or just the products with creative arrangements and lighting. These photos are typically produced professionally and need to “wow” your potential customers because they represent you as a brand. These images should sync up with your packaging, general design choices and match your brand story visually. Your photos represent who you are. If they look cheap, it will make your brand look cheap; if your photos look professional, you can compete with top brands.
One of the main goals of this photo type is to give life to your product and provide a context as to who these products are for and how they can be used.
When planning out Creative Photos you’ll want to zero in on your audience and define who these products are for. For example, if you have a beauty brand targeting females in their 20s - 30s, then you want to feature females in their 20s - 30s. Viewers will look at the models in your photos and if they don’t relate to them, they will assume the product is not for them. The same can be said for locations, props, clothing and whatever else is in the photo. Every item portrayed in the photo has a story to tell your viewer about what your brand is all about.
Marketing is all about targeting the right audience for your product; the more targeted it is, the better it performs. A good example of where a creative branding image belongs is your homepage landing image. Imagine the perspective of a potential customer who lands on your website. You want them to immediately relate to your product and understand what you are selling. You’ll want to show the product in the image and have a supporting copy that lets them know “you’re in the right place, this product is for you”. Other placements for creative images on your website could be banner images for category pages and for advertising.
Before creating your creative images, plan out what you want. Create mood boards by looking at different competitors or related brands to see what they’re doing that’s unique or cool. Use Pinterest to assemble a bunch of photos that you wish your photos would look like. Plan out all the placements in a spreadsheet. Now that you have a vision, go about hiring photographers or DIYing to create the photos you want. Creating great photos can get expensive when done professionally, so you want to make sure that you’ve really thought about what you want before you start shooting.
Budget considerations are a key part of the planning. A photoshoot with a local model showcasing your product at a local park is going to be significantly more affordable than flying a photography team with a professional model to the slopes of Aspen for a multi-day photoshoot. Try to consider complexity when planning your shoot and keep it simple.
Ecommerce Listing Images
Ecommerce Listing images are a totally different animal from creative images. Budgets are different, goals are different, and the way customers view them is different. These images are shot on a white background and have become a universal standard for ecommerce sellers.
Creative Branding Images
Models, Locations, Creative Lighting, Visually Unique
Plain white backgrounds, shows product by itself, simple but perfect
Tell the story of what your product is and who it's for.
Simply show what the product is, how it works and what it is for.
Your brands target audience
Anyone who lands on the page and needs the product
Visually these images just show what the product is without telling the brand story. Why? Because these images are further down the buying funnel and customers who click on the listing are ready to buy. By removing the target audience from the main listing image, you are essentially just showing them what exactly the product is that they’ll be getting in the mail.
At this point you don’t want anything standing in their way from clicking add to cart. If the main listing image is too creative the customer may not have a clear understanding of what they’re actually buying. If they don’t relate to the creative elements, they may abandon the purchase. To put it simply, customers at this stage need to know the technical aspects of exactly what they are purchasing, and if it fits their needs. Branding is not as important.
This photo is perhaps the most important photo on your website because it represents the product virtually. This photo needs to look professional if you want it to be perceived as a new and high-quality item. If the photo is taken with a cellphone or if the photo looks poorly lit, you may be telling your customer that this product isn’t worth professional images or even worse, it may look like you're selling a used product, like on eBay.
Professional listing images are affordable, easy to get done and there are lots of options out there. With our company, POW! Photography, has streamlined a system where you order online, send us your products and we’ll photograph them on our professional sets. Rates go as low as $30 per photo and you can get a free test photo to get your listing up and running.
There’s no excuse for a bad listing image these days. These images are evergreen content, which means they’ll get used and viewed over and over again for many years. If done correctly, they open the door to other revenue channels, like Amazon. Think of it as an investment that will continue to return dividends over the lifetime of your listing.
UCG and Self-Created Photos
This is a special type of photography category that has a unique place in your marketing stack.
The unique thing about self-created photos is that they look self-created — they’re not perfect. There’s a power to that because the photo looks authentic, unretouched and genuine. I like to use self-created photos, selfies and snapshots of my studio and my employees on my about page, because it reminds our customers that we’re real people working here. It adds a genuine personality to my marketing anytime I want people to relate to us in a real way.
UCG (User Generated Images) are images created by your customers. This is the holy grail of product photo if it’s in a positive review or post because it’s more trustworthy. Gaining the trust of your customers is hard to do and these types of photos are visual testimonials.
I would consider using self-created photos and UCG photos in placements that are not evergreen content. Social media is like a flash in the pan, it gets seen once and disappears. Considering you need a lot of images to be successful on social media organic outreach, getting these photos created professionally would be very expensive and perhaps not worth the return.
Having a general understanding of the different photo categories in your online marketing is a crucial first step to synchronizing your whole marketing strategy. Imagine these photo types like tools in your toolbox that can convey different approaches to your marketing and move your audience in different directions.
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