Blog post

The Secret to Selling More Online

21st September 2018MMPurse

Add More Photos

Simple as that.

One of the first things I do when working with a new client is to review their website. 90% of the time the first item I put on the list for improvement is photos. I wrote an article a couple of weeks ago about personal branding photography (which you can read here), but in this instance that is not what I mean. I am referring to product photography. That is photos of either the product that you sell or the service that you offer. I’m going to bet right now that you do not have enough photos of either on your website!

Why You Need to Use More Photos on Your Website

Let me give you some examples:

You sell organically made soaps or you sell workshops. Both can and should be visually explained via photography on your website.

When people are considering buying from you (or anyone) they start with questions – the buying process is really all about answering questions and removing the fear of purchasing through education. There have been a lot of website usability studies that show people move through a website to try to find answers to their questions before purchasing. So if you can answer those questions quickly – through photos – then you reduce the time it takes someone to decide to purchase and therefore you make a sale, quickly… before they change their mind or go elsewhere.

Let’s start with some obvious questions that a buyer usually has…

  1. What exactly am I buying – what’s included?
  2. What does it look like?
  3. How is it packaged?
  4. What size is it
  5. What does it do/how does it work?

Can you see how a few really simple product photos could answer all of those questions in a split second and have someone heading straight to the ‘buy now’ button?

So let’s think about a few key questions that are particularly pertinent to events or workshops:

  1. How many people attend?
  2. What is the typical age of attendees?
  3. What sort of equipment and tools are used?
  4. Where is the location
  5. What is the reception/building like?

Do these seem like odd questions? I can assure you they are exactly the type of questions that my clients are asked all the time – or they used to be until we implemented a photography focused strategy. Imagine you are considering attending a new pottery class by yourself in a location that is unfamiliar to you… can you appreciate how having photographs of the building, reception, workshop and a live class would massively reduce your anxiety about signing up?

I’m not really even talking about branding or styled photography at this point, which is important but actually not as important as simply showing your customer what they will get. Simple stuff, but done well.

People Buy from People

Studies also show that customers are considerably more likely to purchase if they are referred by another buyer. But a referral doesn’t always need to be a personal endorsement… photos that show other people using your products or attending your event or workshop IS a type of endorsement. It demonstrates visually there are other existing customers for this product or class and that has a huge psychological effect on reducing anxiety to purchase – “I’m not the only one, other people have purchased/signed up too”. It’s reassuring for your customers to see other people using your products, so show them!

Don’t Spend a Fortune

So, I know this sounds like I am advocating a huge set up cost of photography for your website, but actually I am not. Not in the beginning. Not until you are selling enough to take your photography professional (apologies to the professional photographers reading this – but your time is coming). In the beginning I really honestly recommend a simple a DIY approach, but done as well as you can.

Let’s take that soap example I started with… here are the basics that I think you should start with:

  • Level one – DIY: Photos of the soap in its packaging and out of its packaging on a white background (commonly referred to as pack shots).
  • Level two – DIY: Photos of the soap in a styled scenario – perhaps with similar product or on a slightly more interesting background.

Both of these types of photography can be done in house using an small light box set up, tripod and a digital camera or smartphone until your budget allows for professional photography. Unless your product is high-end luxury with a price point to match, you can totally do this yourself. And you should. The important thing is to start selling without spending a bucket on photography initially because I promise you within a few months you are going to change something about the product, packaging or style of photography you start out with, and it will be money down the drain.

Going Pro

However, once your business is in a position to pay for professional photography as a legitimate investment then you should start factoring in packshot photography into your budget and timeline (it takes longer of course to get a photographer to shoot your products than your doing it one afternoon. This will really elevate your website, your brand and your confidence too. It’s the next step and I don’t think it will take you too long to get there so make it a goal.

So, at this point you have taken your Level one & two product shots from DIY to professional. Awesome.

Lifestyle & PR Shots

When sales are starting to spike and your income and budget allows, it’s time to get serious and invest in the type of photography that will elevate your product and your presence. This is when you start planning and producing the sort of photos that will get you editorial coverage as well as looking damn gorgeous on your website.

  • Level three – Professional: Lifestyle photography – your soap in use with lovely shots of hands, foam and water etc, or beautifully styled with candles in the background on the edge of a roll-top bathtub, or surrounded amongst some of the natural ingredients that are used in the product.

Do not attempt this at home kids! For this you need a professional photographer and potentially a stylist, who can accessorise and assist the photography to ‘art direct’ the shoot. More than this is unnecessary, unless your product is a multi-thousand pound item or you intend to see a huge quantity of sales based on fancy ads and PR placement. Then you’ll need the full creative team!

Small Tweaks = Huge Sales Spike

Perhaps you have one or two photos of your products or events already on your site. But I want you to look again and ask yourself if that really would answer all of the questions that a potential customer might have before they purchased from you. I suspect not. More likely 7-8 different photographs would be needed. But you know, start with another couple if that’s all you can manage. But please do start. You’ll also have the added bonus of lots of different photos you can use for social media channels and pinterest – its all great marketing.

This may seem like a small change but it will make a HUGE difference. I have a case study of one particularly client where we increased sales by 200% in one year by focusing on increasing the number of photos for each workshop on every page of the website – using all DIY photos. So there’s no excuses!

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