Picture This: Your Business Making More Money With Less Words on Product Listings
George Rowlands, Marketing Journalist
If you are selling something online, odds are that you"ve stuck a couple of pictures of the product up there to give customers more of an idea of what they are buying. Well done, that definitely helps. Every webshop does it: from amateur eBayers flogging old furniture to trillion dollar mega-corporations like Apple mass marketing the latest life-changing technology.
This is visualisation. In marketing, to visualise is to convey important information to consumers through alternative means to text — such as infographics, videos, illustrations, and photographs.
Humans need visualisation. This doesn't only apply to e-commerce, but to all walks of life. It only takes our brains 150 milliseconds to recognise a visual symbol, and after that it only takes 100 milliseconds to attach a meaning to it. This means that presentations and lectures using visual aids are 67% more effective or persuasive; Facebook photo albums tend to get a whopping 180% more engagement than a regular written post.
It seems simple, and it is. Humans respond more to visual prompts rather than having to read line after line of dull type. Visualisation helps content to be more easily absorbed which eventually leads to higher conversion rates and better revenue.
Visualise the benefits
When marketers are selling a product, the benefits should really speak for themselves. But, visualisation also helps to flaunt the lesser-known or more complicated benefits a product can bring.
Innocent Drinks… well they sell drinks. In fact, they sell drinks bloody well. They are marketing trailblazers in the UK, and everything from their social media to the design of their bottles is ingeniously planned and executed.
Besides selling deliciously natural drinks, Innocent are also striving to become a plastic-free company by 2022. How do I know this? Visualisation. They have some excellent graphics on their website which showcase the recyclability of their bottles, as well as an animated timeline feature demonstrating exactly how they plan to become plastic-free.
Consumers are placing more and more purchasing power on the environmental friendliness of products and packaging. When they know the information that Innocent are visualising here, they will naturally be attracted towards the brand in the future.
Visualise the key features
When selling something more complicated than a drink, it takes a little nous to list the key features.
Apple know how it's done when there is a lot of information that needs to be expressed. Brands can use visualisation to list key features of products in exciting, yet simple ways. If we take into account that 67% of customers consider clear, detailed images to carry more weight than product information or consumer reviews, this is the right way to do it.
The white text against the white background is bold and punchy. The graphics are aesthetically pleasing, fun to read, and most importantly they are clear and easy to decipher.
Visualise the convenience
Videos are an accessible way to show the many different angles to a product. They are becoming increasingly relevant as we live further into the age of YouTube. The fact that 1,000,000,000 hours watched on the platform every single day teaches us two things:
- People should get out more.
- Businesses should take note.
Youtube is a ready-made, free-to-use platform for a business to upload visualisations to help a product to prosper. Take OlloClip, for example. Their website is neat and easy to navigate, but at first glance it's difficult to understand what an OlloClip is or does.
This YouTube explainer is a walking, talking instruction manual. It details every aspect of the product such as function, fit, results, and even additional uses. The graphics are compelling and satisfying to watch with clever camera play, and the commentary replaces the need for text and fills in gaps that pictures can"t fill.
This shows how visualisation can divulge all aspects of a product before a customer chooses to buy. As many as 57% of consumers have said that a video gave them more trust in a purchase before buying, and brands such as OlloClip have taken this on board.
Visualise a real-life use case
If they are used the right way, good video content can work wonders for a business. In fact, having a video on a landing page can increase conversion rates by as much as 86%. The landing page is the very first thing your customers are going to see when they visit your site and as we know, first impressions are profoundly important.
Meet Jim. Jim makes over $2,000 a day by selling chicken wings to the hungry masses. Jim is unequivocally successful because he uses TouchBistro in his food and beverage business. Jim is just a guy, but if he can do it… anybody can.
Okay, so maybe you've got to look past the cheesy, royalty-free rock music and the overenthusiastic, over-scripted interviews with "customers" to see that FoodBistro is getting a lot right here. This landing page video immediately hits visitors with a compelling success story and there is nothing more persuasive than evidence of past glories. Nothing hypothetical here, just cold hard facts.
Visualise the results
Like videos, infographics are an increasingly trendy way to simplify complicated ideas. Studies show that businesses who market with infographics can grow 12% more on average than those that do not use them.
Happify is an app that claims to be the "single destination for effective, evidence-based solutions for better mental health and wellbeing in the 21st century". In short, it makes you happy. Happify place a particular focus on infographics in their web and marketing campaigns to explain how their product works.
Happify use this infographic to present the problem. Worry. They break down the ways in which worry can affect somebody's well-being in a concise and comprehensive way that is easier to follow than lazily copy and pasted statistics and scientific research.
After detailing the problem, Happify present the solution. Themselves. This graphic looks at the bigger picture and shows the results of happiness users were feeling after using their platform. The colours are simple, but positive; the concepts are simple, but clear. After just 5 minutes of reading it's 100% clear what I, a consumer, can get from this application. Those 5 minutes are all I need to decide if Happify is exactly what I am looking for.
However, tread carefully with your infographics to make sure they aren't perceived as annoying spam.
Visualise your whole product line
There's no shame in including another trillion dollar company in this list. After all Jeff Bezos (Amazon CEO) is the world"s richest man. He must be doing something right. Bezos made his trillions by selling millions of products, and clever visualisation helps his company to present their product line in a more efficient way.
This table is used as a means of product comparison. Amazon has a wide range of Echo SmartHome devices. The price is clearly displayed beneath each thumbnail and rest of the table answers the questions we need answered.
That's 55 customer questions answered in one neat table. Minimum. It's so simple, a child could navigate it. Even if they aren't looking to compare products against each other, potential customers are able to find key information about a future purchase. With all this information at their fingertips, customers are much less likely to be underwhelmed or disappointed with their new product.
But, a few pictures or videos doesn't mean you will spontaneously morph into the next Jeff Bezos. Marketing products online is about getting as much of a feel for something as is possible without being able to feel it. Visualisation should be used alongside some punchy storytelling product descriptions for a full scale bombardment on a consumer's senses.
What next for visualisation?
Just when you think things couldn't evolve any further, they just keep progressing into new realms of WTF. Companies such as InVRsion are leading the way in "virtual reality solutions". They have developed a vast, virtual reality supermarket where you can walk around and put things into a virtual trolley.
You might even be thinking: "why do I need this?". The truth is, you probably don't. But, there was once a time when I thought I didn't need an iPhone; now I can't but the damn thing down.
Mainstream retailers such as Lego, IKEA, and Converse are starting to catch on and have released similar features that visualise products in real-life scenarios in their apps. As the technology progresses even further, we will be able to have a completely personal shopping experience from the comfort of our own sofas.
The future might be closer than you think.
Seeing the bigger picture
A famous philosopher once said "the more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate''. In many ways, Joseph Priestley could have been talking about modern day marketing trends. By using clearer visualisation of products, marketers are saying more with less words.
Clearer visualisation of products makes complicated concepts more simple, increases memorability, and even helps brands to cross language barriers. Human beings are visual by their very nature. If they are clever, marketers can zero in on this nuance of human nature and use it to unlock the full potential of their products and increase their conversion rates. Provide clearer visualisation of your products today, and you can see the results as soon as tomorrow.