You’re about to set up a landing page for your newest campaign. You’ve spent hours tinkering with the ideal copy that lures your reader towards action—but what about the image?
This choice may just be the most important decision you will make. Get it wrong, and conversions could plummet.
With web trends in 2017 showing a move towards more landing pages and their power to convert viewers into specific actions, what are the best practices to make sure you’re using an image that will convert—and not sending them clicking away never to return?
The power of imagery
Images have a powerful effect on our brains—and the logic here lies in psychology and brain science.
According to molecular biologist Dr. John J. Medina, if you hear a piece of information you’re likely to remember just 10 percent of the information after three days—but add a picture and you’ll remember 65 percent of the information
Another benefit? Images add “truthiness” to information. One study shows that the mere existence of a photo (even it was unrelated to the topic of the words) increased people’s perceptions that the statement was true.
The halo effect
On top of that, we have the simple—some may say—evolutionary preference for images of babies and beautiful women to be hardwired into our brains to capture our attention. This is why billboards are adorned with beautiful people—it’s the Halo Effect, where we naturally associate good looks with the quality of the brand being displayed.
This isn’t an excuse to foray deep into stock photo land (more on this later, but know that you should avoid cheesy stock images at all costs). You also shouldn’t just include a photo of a pretty person if it has nothing to do with your brand: relevance is king.
Oh, hey, it’s Katy Perry! How’d she get here?
Where are they looking?
This is your mantra in landing page design: all eyes must lead to the call-to-action.
For example, if you’re a cloth diaper company, as you upload an image of a baby to your new landing page for the new baby bundle, think about how you use the eyes of that small human being on the screen.
Studies have shown that the direction of gaze plays a major role in our reactions as viewers. Just as we follow another person’s eyes in real life, when we look at web images, we follow directional cues. So make sure your baby is staring right at the “buy it now” button.
Reflect your customer’s needs
Who are you selling to, and what image will they identify with the most? Sit with your buyer personas and crawl into their heads. Take, for example, the experience of Jesse Harrison, the founder and CEO of Zeus Legal Funding in Los Angeles. She’s in the lawsuit funding industry with a target audience that is a lower income demographic and use Zeus’ services in order to help pay for daily expenses during a lawsuit.
“When we first made our website, the person on our homepage was a white male, and we would get maybe two calls a day,” says Harrison. But when they changed the photo to a picture of an African American woman, a major transformation occurred. “We started getting about 10 calls a day. The conversion rate also increased from about 30 percent to 50 percent,” says Harrison.
Use real people
Research from the Nielsen Norman Group shows that people prefer photos of real people over stock images. This is part of a wider trend of consumers wanting transparency and to know the humans behind the company.
Lisa Chu owns BlackNBianco, a website that sells tuxedos for children. She recently decided to ask her customers to send in their photos of kids dressed to the nines. She uploaded a banner to the homepage, offering a 20 percent discount if customers sent in their photos of their smartly dressed kids in their products. She said it was an exercise in “building credibility with our audience by showcasing happy customers.”
It worked. Her conversion rate shot up from 2.8 percent to 7.2 percent. “I learned from experience our customers want to see real photos of real kids wearing our products,” says Chu. “It will give them an idea what the outfits will look like on their kids. Every industry is unique and understanding your audience is the catalyst to creating banners, images, and a website design that will trigger your customers to make a purchase.”
Don't forget about the product
Of course, photos of people are not always the best route. if you’re selling products, then a photo of a random beautiful person may just annoy your viewers. So invest in getting some spectacular, clear, and helpful images of your products and/or team. And if you’re selling something specific, go the extra mile to get original shots. Bandwagon has developed an infographic that summarizes the powerful potency of images—companies that create custom visual content have a seven times higher conversion rate.
Don’t stop with photography: Make sure that you fully investigate video. This visual form is taking the conversion power of images and massively multiplying it. While you’re getting that photographer into the office to take a few excellent, original images of your brand products and team, book in the videographer to spend some time there too. Invest in a professional, compelling short video that will capture the selling point and showcase the humanity of your brand.
Once you identify the right photo—or a few of them—then move into testing. Upload the image, be sure to include alt text and appropriate SEO to supercharge its searchability, then start A/B tests. Do another test with video and watch how that changes up the dynamic. Study your results, measure what works, and let your audience be your guide along the path to ever-increasing conversions.