When you think “web content,” you probably think of an article, blog post, or sales copy on your website. But there’s a lot more to it than that. Thanks to platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, images are more popular and powerful than ever before.
People share them on social media sites, they show up for search queries on Google, major directories and online yellow pages ask you to upload them when you create a listing for your business – anywhere you go on the web, they play an important role.
So, why all this fuss about images? What makes them so important when it comes to online marketing?
1. They’re really easy to create
How long does it take to write a piece of sales copy or produce a blog post? Now compare that to the amount of time it takes to snap a picture of your company’s newest employee. Images are easy to create, especially when compared to other pieces of content.
The more content you create, the better, so images present a way to be more active online without a huge commitment of time or resources.
2. They’re easy to share and consume
Images are also easy to share and consume. Posting that new picture to Facebook only takes a click, and it doesn’t require much of a commitment from your audience to digest and enjoy. In fact, they don’t even have to take any action – simply being on Facebook and browsing their news feed is enough to see it. If they like it, sharing it with their friends is a cinch.
Compare this to written material on your website, which requires users to not only click away from Facebook but take the time to read. Images are much easier to process. With so much content reaching the average internet user on a daily basis, using images gives you a better chance of capturing your audience’s attention – even if it’s only for a moment.
3. They help you complete and improve your business listings/profiles
On sites like Facebook, images are the first thing visitors see when visiting your page, and not having any makes your profile look barren and inactive. People expect there to be something to look at, so give them what they want.
And people aren’t the only thing judging your images – search engines and algorithms are paying attention, too.
When you create a business listing on a site like Google Places (which is what generates the local listings when you search for a local product or service on Google), images are requested as part of your profile. In order for your profile to be considered “complete,” you have to upload at least one image. What Google’s telling you here is that they consider images a valuable part of your profile, and including them improves the quality of your listing.
So, when images are accepted as part of a web page, business listing, or profile you’ve established online, it’s important to include them. They will not only boost the quality of the listing and help you rise above your competition, but they’ll ensure visitors to your page(s) have a better experience.
4. They can tell a story that words can’t
You know the old saying, “a picture is worth 1,000 words”? Well, that’s definitely the case out on the web.
For example, if Starbucks publishes a picture of its coffee beans being harvested on a farm in South America, you’ll automatically think of their products being more exotic, more flavorful, and made with more attention to detail than the coffee shop that gets its beans from a factory down the street. Just like that, you’re valuing one company over the other – and it didn’t take a bit of sales copy to do it.
5. They can show people exactly what you have to offer
It’s one thing to describe the craftsmanship of an antique dining set. It’s another thing to have a picture that shows the hand-carvings and other fine details so that customers can check everything out for themselves. (Bonus points if you have a tool that allows people to zoom in on each image, or at the very least, enlarge it. Studies have shown that customers think that detailed photos are a very important part of the buying process.)
6. They can make your customers feel like they’re in the “in crowd”
When you upload pictures of the company holiday party, of your office’s fancy conference room, or the employees who work behind the scenes, you’re giving people information that they wouldn’t have if they simply walked in through your front door or quickly visited your website. Instead, you’re making them feel like they’re privy to something extra.
Once people feel like they’re part of your “in crowd”, they’ll relate better to you. After all, you’re more than just another corporate entity to them now. In the end, images that show off your “human side” can wind up fetching you far more sales.
Getting Started with Images
Just remember – you don’t have to be a professional photographer to create great web images. You don’t even need actual photos. Instead, you can make yourself stand out with cartoons, infographics, screenshots, and charts. No matter which images you use, they’ll capture people’s attention and make them remember you. In the end, that’s what it’s all about.
Need some help creating and finding good images? Check out the second post in this series.