It’s been stated that customer experience is the new brand, but what about the visual customer experience?
Constant online interaction and social media engagement has piqued our need for visual stimulation and trained us to assimilate more imagery than ever before. And we’ve extended these expectations to eCommerce. We call this new reality “the visual economy,” and in it, product imagery and interaction along the purchase journey is as important to consumers as the product itself.
Sound daunting? Not if you know what you’re doing.
Here are 5 ways to win in the visual economy:
No. 1: Understand that humans are visual creatures by nature (and never forget it). It’s simple science—we’re immediately and overwhelmingly influenced by color and form. 90% of what we process is visual and we process it 60,000 times faster than we do text. The facts hold when it comes to the eCommerce environment. Users only read about 28% of words when visiting a website. Why read about a product when we can see it?
No. 2: Feature at least 8 product images per product page. We didn’t pick the number at random—customers have stated that they expect upwards of 8 images per page to get acquainted with a product. More compelling? They expected only three as recently as 2016. A 100%+ jump in three years should be enough for any brand to sit up and take notice. What will the next few years bring? Who knows, but hitting the “8 per page” benchmark today seems like smart money.
No. 3: Make your eCommerce experience “near lifelike.” A 2018 study by Marketing Dive showed that 75% of Gen Z shoppers (those between the ages of 18 and 25) turn to eCommerce to make most purchases. However, the same study provides interesting paradox—of those same Gen Z shoppers, 65% prefer to “touch and feel products before making a purchase.”
The emerging generation of shoppers wants it all—the convenience of shopping online with the assurance of shopping in-store. So, how can brands provide the impossible? 3D and augmented reality product experiences are a good start. They allow shoppers to configure and personalize products, zoom in and spin them and even place them in their own environment to see if they fit. It’s as close to “in-store” as you can get without the nagging sales associates.
No. 4: Think of product visuals as your smartest marketing asset. Product visuals aren’t just there to look pretty, they can be valuable points of data collection. Looking at audience engagement with images gives great insight into which products people find most appealing and which ones they gloss over. Additionally, it can help you decide if a product is worth the investment before you even manufacture it. How is this possible? By leveraging a virtual photographer, you can actually generate photorealistic images with only a digital design file. It’s a lot cheaper to create a product image and see how it performs than to create, produce and photograph the actual product itself.
No. 5: OK, think of product visuals as your smartest and most sharable marketing asset. Digital images are like modern trading cards—you can never have enough, and they’re meant to be shown off to your friends. For brands, having interesting and compelling product visuals makes it more likely people will share them. Proof of this abounds, especially on social media where good visual content is 40% more likely to get shared from your social accounts, and tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than those without.
Brands must overcome a high degree of difficulty to wow their prospects in the visual economy, they also have a great opportunity to win them over. Understanding and implementing these five simple but impactful concepts can be the first step to doing just that.
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Editor’s note: This article reflects the personal opinions of our guest author, Hilary Murdock.
About the guest author
Hilary Murdock is the Head of Product Marketing at Threekit, a product visualization company. She’s spent her career doing positioning strategy for brands across the category spectrum, including Bridgestone, Kellogg’s and Pepsico. She’s also been a speaker on the topic of digital transformation and a contributor to AdAge. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.