Landing pages, social media graphics, high-visibility ads – for any medium you want to use to convert users or passer-by’s into subscribers or customers, you’ll need images. High converting stock images.
And there is just no way around it: images convert more, faster, and better than any other content type.
Don’t believe us? Just see the stats:
- The human brain processes images 60,000x faster than text.
- People take less than a millisecond –yes, a millisecond– to judge what they see
- Images push our emotional buttons and make us react
You can turn a stranger into a website visitor by using the perfect social media picture, and that visitor into a potential customer by selecting a great hero image for your homepage, for example.
The Science of High-Converting Images: 8 Essential Cues
The fact images help convert doesn’t mean all images can convert in all cases. There are factors at play that make some pictures more appealing than others, according to where you use them.
Picking the perfect image to increase conversions can be a science in itself, one that marketers know all too well, and we are now going to lay out the 8 essential cues to identify and select the most high-converting stock images for your business.
#1 – Just Someone Like Me
Human faces are the best converting visual, but even just the human presence in an image –say, with a hand or arm– is enough to make it more appealing.
Experts explain this is due to us connecting better with our own species, which means we relate more to seeing people “like us” in images.
The “like us” is the most operative term: the best performing photos portray real people, from multiple backgrounds, ethnicities, and lifestyles. You absolutely must use images of people that could be your next-door neighbor, or yourself.
Diversity and inclusion are at an all-time high demand right now and are especially relevant for businesses with a niche-like target audience: if you sell a product aimed at women, you want pictures of real women; if you run a company catering to retired citizens, you need photos of baby boomers; if, on the contrary, your company gears towards teens, you need pictures that appeal to Generation Z. The right image varies according to whom you’re talking to.
Pro Tip: How to Find Stock Images of People – Most agencies have a feature in their advanced search options, that lets you select images of people, and even the number of people you want to be included!
#2 – That’s How I Really Feel
Images that display emotions realistically are the most sought-after in digital marketing. There’s just something about seeing people experience a feeling that triggers a similar emotional response in viewers.
High-converting landing pages are all about showing emotions. If you want to project positivity and happiness, choose photos of people smiling –a staple in marketing strategies!–, if you want them to see how awful the problem your product solve is, go for pictures of people looking genuinely frustrated or annoyed.
“Got delayed again? We file a claim for you!”.
Notice how we said “genuinely”? That’s not just out of assertiveness: you want photos that look authentic. No soap-opera-style setups. Authentic stock photography is all the rage today, so you won’t have trouble finding them. They’re also always within the main photography trends for years.
Pro Tip: How to Find Stock Images of Emotions – Stock photo agencies’ search engines are very sophisticated today, capable of bringing up images to match very specific keywords such as joyful, excitement, frustration, anger, doubt, etc. So make sure to add these emotion-related keywords to your search to find the perfect images!
#3 – The Color of My Thoughts
Color isn’t just an artistic component for marketing. Using the psychology of color –which tells which color connects with which feelings and concepts– you can strategically make viewers feel and do what you want them to do. Clever color combinations apply to both graphic elements like fonts and buttons and photography.
Bright, cheerful colors like red, yellow, and orange are great for call-to-action on landing pages and newsletters because they transmit a sense of energy, urgency, and joy, while cool colors like blue and purpose are perfect to project reliability and authority in things like company logos or social media posts.
“No more crafting for nothing. Sell your art on Facebook!”
Pro Tip: How to Find Stock Images of a Certain Color – Many stock photo sites help you with this by adding a color search option to their search tool. This lets you select one main color –sometimes you can even pick it from a wide-range color wheel– to be present in the images you look for!
#4 – Look Over Here
Directional cues are a well-known trick in visual marketing because it works. Images where the subject is looking or pointing to where important design elements are –like a CTA on a landing page, or relevant info on a newsletter –, convert a lot more.
Keep in mind, the directional cue doesn’t have to be obvious, a subtle like this one where the model is looking in the general, desired direction can sometimes work better.
#5 – Love That Pro Style
Image quality cannot be overlooked. Obviously, a professional-looking design requires high-resolution photos with optimal technical quality. But the content and composition matters a lot, too.
We can’t stress enough how important it is to use photos –and illustrations– that are current, relatable, believable, in a beautiful way.
See the latest Photography Trends 2021, you’ll see what we mean.
#6 – Size Does Matter
When it comes to high converting images, bigger is (usually) better. As long as the image resolution is high and allows keeping sharpness, large-sized photos are preferable: they catch more attention and their details are appreciated better.
This is especially true for websites’ hero images for example.
#7 – Enjoy the View
The most converting images also have a carefully selected composition, that considers the screens the design will be seen on. As a rule of thumbs, overly “busy” images aren’t a good fit for marketing, but it’s especially true for graphics that will be seen on mobile screens: as they are smaller, photos that are too cramped tend to be unpleasant and disregarded, whereas cleaner, minimalistic-like images perform better.
#8 – Everything in its Place
Speaking of composition, images in which copy is strategically aligned are the ones that do better with viewers, too. Having the double benefit of being eye-pleasant and driving attention to the written content is what makes them such a hit.
So when you’re selecting stock photos to use in a social media poster, or a header graphic for your blog post, or any other image where you’re going to overlay text, make sure all the elements in the picture allow for your copy to shine.
Stock Photos and High Conversion Rates
Stock photos are the perfect resource to solve your visual needs in marketing and e-commerce because they are immediately available, high-quality images, affordable, and legally safe. Add to that, that most stock photo sites put millions of pictures literally at your fingertips, as you can select, pay, download, and use them in designs with just a few clicks.
At any of our recommended, best stock photo sites, you’ll find millions of high-converting stock photos awaiting to be used. Want a quick roundup?
- Stock Photo Secrets Shop – Budget-friendly and professional quality, what more can you ask for?
Read our Stock Photo Secrets review for more info.
- Shutterstock – A massive stock photo library with commercial-ready photos for every occasion. A marketer's dream! Learn more in our Shutterstock review, but first, grab our Shutterstock coupon for savings!
- iStock – The perfect mix between commercial and artistic, with both budget and high-end images all in one place. More in our iStock review, and don't miss our iStock promo!
- Adobe Stock – A trendy stock image catalog available right within Creative Cloud. A designer's favorite. See why in our Adobe Stock review.
Work Smarter, Not Harder, with High-Converting Stock Images
High-converting images have multiple applications:
And many more.
By considering these 8 crucial aspects when picking stock photos for your designs, you’ll be able to increase the conversion rate potential of your visuals from the get-go, without adding too much stress to your workflow.
Do you have other tips to find high-converting images? We’d love to hear them!
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