Window shopping today is less about trawling around the local shopping centre and more about opening 1,129,102 tabs on your web browser.
But as the popularity of ecommerce continues to climb, it’s becoming harder for stores to stand out. It’s not enough to have a well-stocked shop of interesting items — you have to show them off with eye-catching visuals that make shoppers feel like they can reach out and touch them.
What is visual marketing?
Customers can’t touch ✋ or see 👁 a product IRL when shopping online, so they rely heavily on product descriptions and high-quality visuals. Visual marketing is not only important for your conversions, but it contributes towards your brand’s values and how this conveys to your audience.
What’s more, visuals can:
- Show your product in action: shoppers want to know what your product looks like when it’s in use
- Foster engagement: visuals are often more engaging than text and are easier to consume
- Drive sales: 75% of shoppers rely on product photos when buying online
- Reduce returns: 22% of product returns are because the product looks different in person
To cut a long story short, visuals drive sales, increase engagement, reduce returns, and help shoppers choose your products over a competitor.
The types of visuals in ecommerce
While visuals are pretty important all over the web (we’re visual creatures after all), they’re particularly crucial for e-commerce. You wouldn’t buy a new bag based on a chunk of text and no image, right?
But where do you even start? What types of visuals do you need and how best to deploy them to your marketing channels?
We’ve got you covered. ✨ Here are some key visual marketing channels, along with the types of content you’ll need to make the most of them.
- What it is: user-generated content (UGC) is visual content created by your customers. It can be a photo shared on Insta or a TikTok video tagging your latest line of dog treats.
- What it does: helps shoppers discover new products, accelerates word-of-mouth marketing and establishes trust from the get-go.
- How to get started: create a branded hashtag and encourage customers to share their photos and videos on their social channels with that hashtag. Try offering a lil goodie in exchange or turning it into a contest.
Here's some inspiration from other brands doing a great job of using UGC.
Forthglade Natural Pet Food
Forthglade run a ‘Dog of the Month’ competition which encourages customers to post pics of their furry friends. The winner gets a goody bag along with a spot of Forthglade’s wall of fame. They then use these fabulous snaps to fill their Instagram highlights and stories with lots ‘pawfect’ content. 🐶
Love Corn: an entire Instagram Highlight dedicated to customer-generated content.
Tarte Cosmetics: featured customer TikTok videos that help shoppers discover new products.
- What it is: product videos do exactly as they say on the tin. They show your product in action. They can be anything from a video of someone using your product, to an arty lifestyle video that captures the vibe of your brand.
- What it does: allows customers to see your product in use and get a more realistic feel for what it might be like in person.
- How to get started: choose how you want to showcase your product in a video, create a script, or storyboard the different scenes. Use a phone camera to shoot the video and edit it using an app.
Take a look at the brands below for inspiration on how to showcase your products in video. And consider - should you use a video asset management tool to keep all these files organised?
Embracing the power of YouTube, wetsuit brand, Orca don't just showcase their products — they impart expert tips and advice about swimming through their videos. A fantastic way of building authority in their industry whilst subtly placing their products throughout.
MyVegan: short, snappy videos on their Instagram page that show customers how to use the product.
Far & Away: TikTok videos on each product page showing the products in situ.
- What it is: static shots are still photos of your products–these are the most common types of visuals on product pages.
- What it does: shows what your product looks like and provides visual context to your product descriptions.
- How to get started: consider shooting your product from different angles and with different backdrops to give shoppers a comprehensive idea of what it looks like.
Kelly Wynne, uses use-case static shots in their visual marketing .This highlights their brand message and provides a digital experience for their online-only handbag and accessory store. As Kaitlyn, the brand's VP of Brand, Demand and Community puts it:
“The biggest thing for us is not just photography, but use-case photography. We can make it look like a really pretty bag, but if it's two-dimensional, and you can't see it in life, it's hard to picture.”
Juspy: arty static shots of its colourful products against a plain background to create a branded Instagram feed.
Grain: static shots of products in situ on product pages for customer inspiration.
- What is it: 360-degree photos allow shoppers to click and drag their way around your products, getting a comprehensive view of them from all angles.
- What it does: provides a better insight into what your product might look like in real life (crucial when shoppers can’t touch, feel, or see a product IRL).
- How to get started: get your product in a neutral location with a plain background and use an app or the 360-degree photo capture feature on your phone to create your image.
Want the low-down on brands who do 360-degree photos well? Here you go:
Heal’s: shoppers can click and drag the image to see the product from all angles — no surprises from the back!
Fitbit: shoppers can view the product from every which way with a simple drag and drop feature on the Fitbit product pages.
Social media stories
- What it is: Social media stories are short videos or stills that stay online on social media for sub-24 hours.
- What it does: Increase trust and show the personality behind your brand. They’re a great way to drive engagement and create customer connections.
- How to get started: try filming behind-the-scenes shots or capturing funny moments throughout the day. You can also hop on trends, like TikTok dances or hashtag trends to boost brand awareness.
Brands bossing it with social media stories:
Home pizza oven brand, Gozney, use Instagram stories to highlight competitions, repost from customers and show different recipes that you can create using their products. It's hard to go wrong when you're posting about pizza. 😋 They're also a Dash customer!
Go-To Skincare: educational videos and images that are deliciously on-brand.
Ian Snow: behind-the-scenes snapshots of daily life with a dose of engagement in the form of a viewer poll.
What visuals do you need for which platform?
Visuals come in all shapes and sizes and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for every brand. For best results, mix and match your image library with a range of UGC, videos, static shots, and Stories that you can pick and choose to use when you need them.
Your marketing strategy will rely heavily on the images you have available, so make sure you have a selection of the following:
Social media visuals
- Facebook: static photos and videos, Stories, 360-degree photos, UGC
- Instagram: static photos and videos, Stories, UGC
- TikTok: videos, UGC
- Snapchat: videos, Stories, UGC
- Blog posts: static photos and videos, 360-degree photos
- Product pages: static photos and videos, 360-degree photos, UGC
- Email marketing: static photos and videos, UGC
Paid media visuals
- Google Shopping: static photos, 360-degree photos, UGC
- Social media ads, like Instagram campaigns: static photos and videos, UGC
- PPC campaigns: static photos and videos
Tips for DIY product photography
Whilst there can be times when it's appropriate to put some extra budget towards professional photography, it doesn't always have to be the case. Especially if you're shooting quick product demos or want some snaps for social. In fact, you probably have everything you need to create amazing visuals right at your fingertips. 🤷♀️
Equipment you'll need:
- Smartphone: snap photos and videos with your trusty mobile
- Digital camera: not a necessity, but you can use a dedicated digital camera to get some pro shots
- Good lighting: lighting is everything in visuals, get some stand-alone lights and different bulbs to give off different vibes
- Props: get some additional products to add to your shots to create a full picture of your products
- Plain background (or a “sweep”): keep things simple with a plain piece of card or paper you can use as a backdrop
Tools and apps to consider:
- Canva: edit images and add text overlays for social media
- Dash: To organise and find all your product shots for marketing campaigns
- iMovie: cut together video clips to create moving visuals or Stories
- Over: tap into a huge library of Stories templates to keep your visuals on-brand
- Apowersoft Background Eraser: get rid of busy backgrounds and let your products do the talking
Looking for more tips? Check out our post all about DIY photography for ecommerce on our blog.
Or, if you're ready to get a professional photographer on board, check out our photography brief template. ⬇️
Keep your visual marketing content organised
Now you’ve got plenty of image ideas, how do you keep it all organised? It’s really important to have all your visuals in one handy place so that your whole team can access them as and when they need them —no one wants to spend hours scrolling through a never-ending email thread to find the image they need.
If you haven’t tried Dash yet, give it a go for free. It can help you:
- Organise your library of visuals
- Create folders and subfolders
- Easily search for specific photos or themes
- Share visuals with team members in a couple of clicks
- Crop images and carry out minor edits
- Post photos to your chosen marketing channels
Digital asset management for ecommerce is the MVP of visual content marketing. It saves you endless hours and keeps all your pics organised in one place. Even better, no more searching for “IMG_2173_31” or creating duplicate images on multiple different computers. You can thank us later. 😉