WHAT IS CONVERSION?
Conversion is the process of turning people who visit your website, online store, or social media pages into paying customers (or email subscribers, ebook downloaders etc.) We sometimes talk about brands' "conversion rates", which is a way of quantifying how successful your brand is at getting browsers to take the action you want them to take. Your conversion rate is simple the percentage of visitors who take action to buy, subscribe, etc...
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE ABOUT YOUR CONVERSION RATE?
Presumably you’ve paid good money - or spent loads of your own time - setting up a beautiful website and social feeds. I'm guessing you’ve paid or spent even moreof your own time getting your SEO in order. You’ve paid or spent your own time designing, making, or assembling a beautiful range of products. Now it's time to actually getting that product or service to sell off your site. And in order for that to happen, your site needs to be high converting.
CONVERSION RATE KEY STATS...
Small differences in conversion % can have big impact in the # of sales, and revenue.
- You have about 3 seconds for the customer to decide if they will continue down your sales funnel.
- Our brains process imagery 60,000 times quicker than text... so your branded photos need to instantly connect with your audience.
- A typical conversion rate is around 3%, depending on your brand, products and industry.
WHAT FACTORS IMPACT CONVERSION RATES?
- Trust cues
- Marketing decisions (e.g. model and styling choices)
- Store Policies (e.g. returns, shipping)
- E-Commerce functionality (e.g. ease of using the shopping cart)
return policy, shipping policy, ease of process through the shopping cart (functionality) professional copywriting in product descriptions. Other trust cues - broken links, badges of trusted payment gateways)
WHY DOES IMAGERY PLAY SUCH AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN CONVERSION?
Because people can’t touch and feel, they need to be able to see. In order for people to trust your product enough to buy, they need to be able to clearly understand what they're going to get in terms of finishings, scale, fit, and whether the product is really for them.
I wrote a blog post are no longer as interested in buying stuff for the sake of accumulation, but rather, they’re interested in buying things they feel tell their story (or a story they wish was their story) give them a sense of status, or are something they can show off to their friends. Making meaning on this level is also the job of our product photography.
I know a really smart business woman (who I won't name and cause embarrassment) who does a great trade selling costume jewellery sourced mainly in Hong Kong. A pair of earrings that she sells for $65 can be found by anyone on Ebay for around $5. But because of the way she styles these pieces in her product photos and in the photos posted to her social media, stylish young women want to buy into her beautiful, ethereal vision... which is so much more than a piece of adornment.
HOW DOES IMAGERY IMPACT CONVERSION?
Image quality speaks to product quality. People will assume your products are of a poor quality if your photos are, and vice versa.
- Are you showing all the angles?
- Can the user zoom?
- Does the lighting look unnaturally dark or light?
- Is the colour over edited, so that users can’t tell what the real colour is?
- Is the model standing funny, or holding up the dress so you can’t see how it falls?
- Visual Consistency/Cohesion, does it fit with the overarching branding?
6 RULES FOR PHOTOS THAT CONVERT
1. USE HIGH RESOLUTION IMAGERY
That means without a hint of fuzziness! If there’s one place I recommend spending a bit of money when you’re first starting out is on a good photographer who’s also a adept stylist to get great, original, images of your products. The pictures, after all, are really what sell, and you’ll share them across your web store, newsletters, blogs, and on social media.
2. ENSURE YOUR PRODUCT PHOTOS ARE TRUE TO LIFE
They must match your product as closely as possible, and call out any special features, especially if they could be interpreted as ‘flaws’. A raw hem on a dress or an uneven application of glaze on a ceramic pot might seem cool to you, but you should take care to photograph those details. Customers need to trust that what they think they see on the screen is true to what’ll show up in their mailbox. Don’t use filters or over-edit your photos to make them look more appealing. It’ll have the opposite effect, plus, a high return rate will hurt your bottom line.
3. WORK YOUR ANGLES
Show your product from as many angles as possible – front, back, side to show details like how a dress falls. If your product doesn’t look great shot on a white background (this can be the case for jewellery), try adding photos of customers wearing your product from social media. Or link a whole Pinterest board of ways to style certain pieces right on your products page to show buyers how a product can fit into their lives.
SportsGirl Versus The Reformation
4. CALL OUT THE DETAILS
Don’t leave customers in any doubt about what they are getting. Most templates will allow you to upload an image that’s larger, to give users the ability to zoom in on details. If there’re any details that are special, photograph them and make mention of them in your description. This will also help reduce your returns.
5. GIVE SIZE CUES
It’s so frustrating when trying to buy something like a vase online and it’s simply a deep etched image with no suggestion of scale.
Hobbe Chairs + Lindform vases Example of Hobbe chairs - a lot of customers come in and look at the chair because they couldn’t get a sense of how big it is online and whether it would fit in their nursery. The photography on the website doesn’t give a good indication of scale.
6. MAKE SAVVY MODEL AND STYLING CHOICES BASED ON YOUR TARGET CUSTOMER
One of my friends who worked at a mid-sized fashion e-retailer once told me that after the photos from a new season shoot were posted to the site, the conversion rate plummeted and the whole team was scrambling to understand why. After some intense critical thinking (and reaching out to customers for feedback) it turned out that the problem was the model choice. Shooting on a super skinny and young looking model meant that the site's customers couldn’t imagine themselves in the clothes because they weren't being filled out in the photos properly. The team quickly arranged a reshoot on a more voluptuous model, and the same clothing went on to sell really well.
The key takeaway is that all styling choices should be made with the customer in mind, not just on the personal taste of you, your creative team, or anyone else with influence over the brand.
7. GO FOR VISUAL CONSISTENCY
Unless your e-com business model is carrying products from different stockists, all of which can provide high quality deep etched images that you can post on your own site, you're going to have to photograph each product you sell. And if that's the case, you'll need to develop your own style to shoot you shop.
Here are some brands getting it right:
8. OFFER SOCIAL PROOF
show customers actually using your product
use UGI to showcase how other people are responding to your brand
showcase the publications (new and old media) where your products are being covered.