When it comes to using photographic images to promote your brand and products on an eCommerce website, in advertising, catalogs, with e-mails or on social media, its wise to know that there are distinctly different kinds of images.
Which type of image should you use to get the most from its intended business, marketing or promotional purpose? How much time, energy and most of all money should be invested in conceptualizing and creating the images?
Finally, how will you know which images are working the hardest for your money to help grow your business?
At BLACK + GOLD we look at these challenges from two distinct, but not unrelated perspectives: Art + Science.
Here’s an overview of the various types of commercial photos that are available, what makes them great and how to use them to help build your business.
The most basic type of commercial photographic shot is a product on white.
In this shot the “product is hero.” You will want to portray your product in the most flattering way possible in terms the angle of the shot and lighting. It’s worth working with a reputable commercial photographer or agency, with a good portfolio of work, to help make your product looks the best it can.
Here “professional eyes” on the lighting and styling of the shot can make a world of difference on its ability to sell product for your business online, in advertising or from catalogs.
A similar shot to the product on white image is the creative grouping on white. Here the objective is to portray a line of products in a compelling way, in terms of how the products are arranged and illuminated, such as a line of bracelets or earrings.
Groups of products tend to generate better engagement, and are the most affordable of the “creative” shots, showing products in a stylized way to enhance their impact.
Again, it’s critical to use professional styling and lighting. It will have a big impact on the quality of these types of shots, and their ability to help sell merchandise.
The next type of photographic image to consider is the Creative Campaign shot. Here you’ll want to invest time and money to get both the concept and photography right. With this shot you want to aim to get the best quality (photographer / agency) you can afford, that will deliver a polished brand image.
Selecting the right props, casting the right talent, selecting the right location, time of day, lighting, wardrobe, hair, and make-up are key. These can be still life product shots as well.
The combination of the art direction, styling, lighting and photographer’s creativity along with some help from retouching will deliver a sophisticated, glamorous and larger-than-life image for your brand / products.
In the end you simply want to make people linger over the image, and make the product “an object of desire” that they will want to buy.
Last but not least are social media / eCommerce shots. Many companies simply don’t pay much attention to these shots, and they suffer from inadequate art direction and general poor quality.
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But consider the explosive growth of smart phones / tablet devices along with visually driven social media venues like Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook; and online shopping – all these venues have made images a key point of consumer engagement.
With this category of images having more shots is always better, where you may want to opt for the quantity of images over super-high production value – to help manage costs, and keep things fresh for your audience. These shots are typically more casual, in order to be more fun and accessible.
Think of these types of shots as Chanel off-the-rack ready to wear, versus Chanel haute couture (campaign type shots). Both have great style and branding, you can simply afford to buy more off-the-rack merchandise, and happily live with a little less production value.
Today’s eCommerce landscape is ruled by data and analytics. In simple terms it’s using data to help you figure out which marketing activities are working and which are not. Knowledge is power here, which can lead to a more profitable operation.
When it comes to managing your image library, you will want to identify and use more images that generate the most “audience engagement.” That includes which are being shared most on social media, and those that can be tied to actual eCommerce orders. These actions will help build awareness of your brand and grow your bottom line.
A great place to start is Google Analytics. Using Google Analytics can help you better understand the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, better understand your visitors, and optimize your eCommerce efforts in term of more conversions and increased sales.
Google Analytics can be intimidating. Just the thought of a bunch of data, graphs and charts can easily scare a lot of people off. However, understanding the fundamental metrics of your site and your visitors is absolutely crucial to growing and scaling your business.
In the end, effective marketing and eCommerce is a function of creating and delivering engaging images (art) and using analytic data (science) to measure which products / images work and which don’t work in term of driving business results.
This learning can guide your marketing content development and investments for the best business results possible.