An image is worth a thousand words, but how about a thousand conversions? The debate has gone on for some time now, with marketers comparing the success of using stock imagery versus more of a lifestyle-related image strategy. So, is there a better choice between the two? I find that this is fairly case dependent, since it would be quite a generalization to say that real, lifestyle imagery will always outperform stock imagery, and vice versa. Humans form the 1st impression of a website in 50 milliseconds, so the very first viewpoint is of utmost important for your website's success. The use of imagery is key, especially as images are processed 60,000 times faster compared to text. It goes without saying that visual content is the focus of every branding campaign, so each business should really take the time to think about if their imagery aligns with the message they are trying to send. But you can't go out posting any picture thinking it will work just because it represents the brand. The goal is finding the images with the best results, and there are several ways you can begin doing just that.
Website ImageryBy sending half of users to one home page with stock imagery and the other half to a home page with lifestyle imagery, you can test the success of each to determine what kind of imagery works best with your target audience. Be sure to keep the messaging and the overall user experience consistent outside of the image variations to ensure a clear differentiator between the two options. An image on a landing page can quickly communicate value to the visitor and allow them to make a decision within a few seconds if they want to continue into your site or not. So conducting an A/B test with a control and variation photo can determine which one will provide the most benefit and best results.
Social MediaIncorporate the use of both types of imagery into your content strategy on social media. Your audience can engage with your post or ad to give you real-time results on all different types of platforms. I suggest doing this two different ways.
- On-page posts - Test the engagement results of your on-page posts using each image type to better understand what drives the most engagement from your audience on your social platforms. Keep in mind; it is important to use similar copy and post times to minimize the variations outside of the image itself.
- Social advertising - Create a unified campaign with consistent targeting and messaging, and create multiple ad variations testing out both stock imagery and real imagery. Compare the results over time to determine which image type performs the best.