How to improve the performance of your content using stock photos

April 29, 2021
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According to a study by Venngage 74% of marketers stated that more than 70% of their content contained some form of visual. The main source of visuals: Stock Photos. Most marketers agree that visual content is essential to their marketing strategy, however, they find it challenging to leverage them to engage their audience.

In this article, I’ll present a few tips and trick to help you improve your performance and increase engagement using stock images.

Visual content works… better

We are hard-wired for visual content. We can process visuals significant faster than text. In fact, 65% of the population are visual learners; they need to see what they are learning (William C. Bradford). Hence, there’s a truth behind the old saying a picture is worth a thousand words.

Our brains are hardwired for visual content: Leveraging visuals gets your message across faster.

Colourful impact

Research has shown that natural coloured images improve memory recognition (Journal of Experimental Psychology). Hence, colours helps us remember and recall.

Colors and their associated symbolism varies between people and cultures, though, as globalism expands, so does the consensus on certain traits and meanings (e.g.):

  • Red: Passion
  • Black mystery/death
  • Purple: Royalty/elite
  • Blue: Truth/Sadness
  • Green: Nature/Wisdom
  • Yellow Happiness/Cowardliness
  • Orange: Warning

Consider what story you are trying to convey with you image and access if the colours and associated symbolism correspond to that narrative.     

Leverage authentic cues

Consumers are motivated by authenticity, hence their decision‐making process is affected by the perceived cues in objects that convey authenticity (Journal of Consumer Research).

According to Designshack, an authentic image is one looks real and connect to your message. Your image should look and feel real, convey emotions; it must show real life and not feel staged. The photo should depict a genuine moment and not feel altered (too much), it should not just look “great”, it must feel real.

Make it count – Relevancy is key

Users tend to ignore jazzy images (Nielsen Norman Group). Eye-tracking studies have documented that big feel-good images, used for purely decorative purposes largely are ignored by consumers online. Thus, your photo needs to have a purpose and be relevant to the context of your content.

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that your visual content shouldn’t just relate to your content, but also your audience. Leveraging images with motives and subjects that depict real-life scenario that realistically resemble your audiences life is one way to successfully create a connection to your audience

Draw attention and create an action

A human face can draw a lot of attention. In fact, according to neuroscience research, the brain is programmed to see faces in everyday objects (BBC).

However, attaining and retaining the attention of your audience isn’t enough. Often you want to trigger an action with your content. Eye-study research has shown that simply replacing an image featuring a model look straight with one looking to the left (at a product) significantly can draw attention to the product; the desired action.

There are many ways you can make your content more visually appealing, but it’s not enough in itself. People’s BS detectors are stronger than ever and if you are to improve the performance of your visual content you have to consider the relevance, realism, authenticity, and the desired action.

About the author

Christoffer Larsen Is the CMO at JumpStory. He has +10 years of experience within digital marketing, automation & strategy. Previously, Chris worked in marketing leadership roles at TwentyThree, Famly and in Copenhagen and New York. With a focus on making a significant revenue impact at global B2B SaaS companies and top digital agencies, he has driven tangible growth through data-focused campaigns and CRO.

Christoffer Larsen