We are visual beings – naturally drawn to content with rich, appealing graphics. So if you’re creating content marketing with images, you have two choices: create your own or use stock photos.
While the creative process of photography can be fun for many, it can also be a time and money eater, that’s why most businesses rely on stock photography. This makes stock photography a very helpful resource for modern-day marketers, and when combined with other efficiency-boosting tools, such as a digital marketing automation platform, content marketing becomes a whole lot easier and more gratifying.
Creatives – don’t let finding the ideal campaign image keep you up at night
What are stock photos?
In general, stock photography is a collection of ready-made photographs that can be leased commercially, i.e. licensed for creative purposes. Stock images include a wide range of themes, including everyday objects, scenery, people, food and drink, fashion, and so on.
Users can download a wide library of creative content from stock photography websites, choosing a purchase option to suit their needs such as single picture downloads or monthly subscriptions for high-volume customers.
Obtaining photographs and creative material online from a stock photo agency, such as JumpStory, is one of the most effective ways to legally use photos for commercial, editorial, and personal projects. Especially if they have the potential to be high-converting photos.
Why use stock photos?
All of your website’s elements work together to either help or hinder conversions. This includes things like your content, layout, font size, call-to-action, headlines, and, of course, photos.
Images are essential
Visuals are so important for your brand. Why?
According to statistics, you’re only likely to remember 10% of the information you heard three days ago. However, due to our incredible ability to remember pictures, pair that information with an image, and you’ll likely remember 65%.
Facebook posts that have images see an increase of 2.3 times more engagement than those without. And on Twitter, tweets with images get 150% more retweets. In fact, the fastest-growing social media channels are those that are visual-based.
Storytelling is powerful
Humans are hardwired to connect with stories, sympathize with characters, and respond to narratives. It’s the reason why storytelling is such a crucial pillar in content marketing because it makes your content far more engaging and captivating than marketing communication focused just on facts and data.
Buyers are overwhelmed with numerous forms of content on a regular basis – there is a lot of information to sort through. Despite the fact that textual content remains the primary source of storytelling, people are increasingly realizing that they must emphasize visual content in order to stand out from the crowd, captivate attention, and garner more engagement.
Benefits of using stock photos
In the past, stock images had a bit of a negative reputation for being too awkward, posed, cheesy, or featuring nonsensical imagery, but there has been a significant trend in recent years toward stock imagery that is more natural, genuine, inclusive, and creative.
Stock photos, the good ones, allow the viewer to relate to what is happening in the photo and they come with a whole heap of benefits.
Allows you to use intellectual property
When you download a photo without utilizing a professional stock photo website, you risk not having the correct license or photo rights to use the image lawfully. Because stock images are subject to severe copyright, property rights, and privacy regulations, working with a professional stock photography studio not only ensures technical excellence but also removes the guesswork from copyrights and image licensing.
When getting pictures from a specialized stock photo company, your budget will go considerably further when compared to the expense of hiring a creative agency or professional photographer for a custom photoshoot. Many stock picture websites also provide quantity discounts, which means that the more photographs you buy, the lower the price of each photo will be. The cost is significantly lower if you join up for a monthly membership.
Stock images are useful if you need a picture right away and do not have the time to pay and engage a photographer. Purchasing a photograph is a simple and quick process – the nicest aspect about purchasing a picture online is that you can download it, making it ready to use almost instantly.
High resolution is guaranteed
Before being featured in the image library, stock photographs are checked for technical quality requirements such as exposure, image noise, colors, and composition. That means when using a stock photo website, you get high-quality photos every time.
Try before you buy
A good stock photo provider will offer a free trial so you can preview the photo library to get an idea of its offerings. This is also useful so you can navigate the platform to see if it works for you and to find out what extras are on offer.
A decent stock photography agency does more than just supply photos. Examples include:
- Icons, vectors, and illustrations – get more than just photographs to use in presentations, social posts, or emails.
- Editing tools – An image editor within the stock photography website allows you to crop and resize photographs, include text, change contrast, or insert your own logo. Additional benefits include the option to change the photo to meet the demands of your brand without requiring further authorization from the photographer or designer.
- Search functionality – Decent categories and search functions will make it easier to find the right images.
- AI text match – This handy time-saving tool finds images based on your copy. Copy and paste the text into the platform and the AI will match it with relevant images.
- Personal assistant – Similar to AI, but with a human touch, a personal assistant will find images within a day or so that match any description you give them.
- Automation – If you don’t want to bounce between several platforms, the best option is to connect using a Digital Marketing Automation (DMA) tool. You can effortlessly search and locate photographs within your CMS or DMA using a plugin.
How to best use stock photos with a DMA tool
Writing, scheduling, and posting online marketing content, including images, can get tedious.
A digital marketing automation (DMA) tool lets you pre-schedule your posts in a more efficient manner – you achieve so much more in less time. As a result, time and resources can be diverted to other areas of the marketing budget and toward accomplishing strategic objectives.
Depending on the DMA platform, users can usually access their go-to stock photography site (if it is integrative), as well as its whole library of photos, via the digital marketing automation platform.
This direct connection allows DMA users to exploit impactful images by creating effective, image-rich marketing campaigns quicker than doing it manually.
A good DMA platform, such as AesirX DMA, should include some digital asset storage, so when you’ve chosen and downloaded your stock photos, you can upload them straight to the digital asset management (DAM) tool. Even without a plugin, being able to add graphics into the DAM makes it much easier to make content.
Multi-departmental organizations using any kind of digital assets, not just images, should use a digital asset management (DAM) platform to allow team members from any department to search, collaborate, and share materials with ease.
The cloud-based repository reduces the time and cost of content production and provides the ability to securely store, distribute, and organize all digital material in a centralized area, ensuring every user and every different site has access to the same resources.
How to choose stock photos
Image selection should be considered carefully if you want to increase conversions and trust.
If your stock image provider doesn’t have robust search features (or assistance) to help you dig through the photo archives, it can be a bit of an art finding what you’re after. It may be tough to determine which phrases to use in your search if you’re writing an article about marketing automation, for example; if you search for “marketing” or “automation,” the picture results might be quite broad.
Instead, insert phrases related to the image you’re thinking about, rather than the page’s title. For example, a digital marketing business may search for images of computers, workflows, cogs, or people working hard at keyboards.
In reality, this could mean searching for verbs in your headlines (instead of nouns), using a thesaurus to find synonyms, and looking for nouns connected to your verbs. For example, “automate” might refer to a robot.
We mentioned the quality assurance checks that stock photos need to go through to be added to any decent online library; choosing high-quality images that have high resolution is essential to ensure your brand doesn’t look unprofessional. Blurred visuals are pointless if you’ve created HD content and using pixel images can quickly distract your visitors and will devalue your work.
Photos with a human element
Surprise! People like interacting with other people. Even if your main product is a piece of technology or an app, incorporating a human aspect will help to make a connection.
Decisions are often made using emotion over logic. Images help to evoke particular feelings in your readers, but they can also turn them off altogether if you’re not careful.
Match up your images to support what you are saying, for example, a plumber’s website won’t usually use images of food (ok, unless it’s a leek).
Before you choose an image, first choose where it will appear. What will it be used for? For example:
- In the header, a full-width graphic.
- A backdrop picture that appears as part of a visual, such as behind icons or text.
- Blog posts, right-aligned images
- Blog posts, full-width images
- Backgrounds for slide decks
When you know where your image is going and how it will be utilized, you’ll have a better idea of what’s best for your project.
When adding text, think about images that would look good with writing on top of it – a low contrast background or an open space to fit the text.
One final tip for selecting photographs with good effect is to select those with colors that complement the concept of your website or brand. If you use colder and neutral tones, make sure your photographs do as well, and vice versa. This easy method quickly gives you a more professional image, regardless of the subject.
What to avoid
Copyright infringement is a serious subject that may cost you a lot and ruin your business, or worse, your reputation. When utilizing photographs online, it is critical to use copyright-free images and to be completely informed of any attribution obligations.
Bad, cheesy images
Your website is one of the most crucial conversion weapons in your company’s arsenal, and terrible stock photographs will only serve to spoil it. Bad stock imagery isn’t simply bland and tacky; it also turns people off with hostile and uninviting pictures that might come across as overly salesy.
People can recognize bad stock photography from a mile away. Stock photographs may have been acceptable in the 1990s, but we live in a new online world. Sure, stock photographs still exist, but they’re not the same as they were a decade ago.
Poor-quality stock photos appear cheesy, staged, and unauthentic. Choose images that are the exact opposite – there are plenty of sites that have a library of authentic, relevant, specific, and non-spam.
Choosing what YOU like
Try to leave yourself out of the equation and ask yourself what the target audience would want to help them understand the content, will the graphic support the message (or be a distraction), and what added value will the image bring (other than you loving it)?
Always revisit your photos
When using images for your website or landing page treat them as an adaptable and live component of your website – don’t add them and forget about them.
The initial image you chose may not be the greatest one down the road, or it may not even be appealing to your consumers. If you have photographs on your landing page, you should try a few different ones until you find one that gives the greatest conversion rates.
You worked hard to generate the content; don’t detract from it by adding a photo that doesn’t enrich and elevate it. Find stock photographs that will both captivate your audience and serve your website or project successfully. So, throw out the generic and go in pursuit of the genuine.
About the author
Meet the Creator and Founder of AesirX DMA and R Digital – Ronni K. Gothard Christiansen.
For over 25 years, Ronni has been a noteworthy leader in Open Source Software, MarTech, Systems Architecture, WEB2 / WEB3 Development, Digital Transformation, Strategic Marketing, and advisory (plus so much more), and has contributed to, and served on the board of directors for Open Source Inc. – the non-profit organization behind the world’s 2nd largest CMS Joomla!.