Visuals create visibility. This should come as no great surprise to anyone in digital marketing. And what holds true for digital marketing holds true for selling on Amazon.
But it’s the right kind of visuals that ultimately creates a conversion. Lifestyle photography is as much an artform as it is a marketing tool. But it’s an artform that takes patience and consistency to be successful.
It can be difficult to portray your brand compellingly through visuals if you’re not a professional photographer. And if you’re a small business, you may not have the budget to hire a professional photographer. But there are critical elements to successful lifestyle photography you can use to better enhance your Amazon listings, even if you have virtually no experience behind a camera.
The Main Image Is Your Message
First impressions may sometimes be inaccurate in the physical world. But in the digital world, they count for everything. A recent study from the University of Denmark reveals that our collective attention span is narrowing as a result of an overabundance of information—particularly due to our reliance on digital media.
Our brains process images in as little as 13 milliseconds. That’s hardly time to convey any sort of in-depth message about your brand. Which is why your main image acts as a lead-in to entice potential customers. And it can be as much of a product as your actual product itself.
Keep in mind one critical factor: even though your main image is the single most important visual in your Amazon listing, it’s still just a lead-in. Customers want to see your product in action. They want to see how it can affect their daily lives. How they can interact with it. In short? They want to relate to it.
What Creates A Successful Lifestyle Image?
Lifestyle images can come in many forms. It can be as simple as a static image or as complex as a how-to video. But a lifestyle image isn’t about dazzling customers with your video editing skills as much as capturing both the essence of your product and pure human emotion. And for the latter, you actually need to detach yourself from your product. Relatability isn’t about you. It’s about the customer.
Does your lifestyle image showcase your expectations of your product—or the realistic expectations of your customers?
Does your lifestyle image focus as much on the customer as it does on your product?
Does it portray real life situations or an idealized environment?
Does it reflect your ideals or your customers?
Does it present a solution or does it present an affectation?
Does it accurately reflect your target audience?
Does it display the exact benefit customers should expect from your product?
Lifestyle Images : More Than Just A Feeling?
The key to any successful image is its ability to convey an underlying feeling. It requires subtlety, ingenuity and an innate understanding of how to best express an atmosphere without necessarily being overt.
That might sound like a tall order. But you don’t have to come from a visual arts background to convey a mood successfully.
Lighting. The lighting of your lifestyle image should be complementary to your brand message. Using soft, ambient lighting to showcase an active sports supplement isn’t just irrelevant. It’s downright disconcerting. Likewise, using a high contrast, bold atmosphere isn’t going to send customers the message that your sleep supplement will result in a peaceful night’s rest. Make sure your lighting is reflective of your message, and ensure it’s consistent in all your shots.
Props and Background. Emphasize your product, not the background. If your listing is for an outdoor product, always try to make certain greenery is blurred out. You don’t want the background to even blend in with any lifestyle image, much less predominate it. You may want to look into the general theory of color psychology for some ideas on how to best incorporate atmosphere into your background.
Here’s some great examples of just how much of a difference your background and lighting can make on a lifestyle image:
Models. An understanding of your key demographic is critical if you’re going to be using models for your lifestyle image. Age and gender are the two most obvious factors, but there’s other elements to consider as well. A model who is more rugged and outdoors-y probably won’t portray a maternity care product quite as well as a smiling infant, after all.But also consider how lighting and backdrops can emphasize a model’s features. Here’s a good example.
But it’s not at all necessary to have to have a physical model for a lifestyle image. If your background is clean and uncluttered, and your packaging strong enough, your product can communicate a feeling all by itself:
Action. The keyword of lifestyle image is “lifestyle.” And you may find it’s much more appropriate to point out different ways in which your product can be used in your Amazon listing, as the following examples show:
But what has a greater impact on your target demographic: lighting, backgrounds, models or action? You won’t necessarily know pre-launch. And finding the right lifestyle image is largely a question of trial and error. That’s why A/B testing is so valuable.
The Strength Of A/B Testing
One of the reasons why A/B testing is emphasized so heavily in digital marketing is simple: it shows you demonstrable click-through rates which can be accurately measured to gauge customer engagement. It’s critical to your main image. But it’s just as applicable to your lifestyle image.
Consider the relationship between your main image and your lifestyle image in terms of packaging and product. Your packaging may entice, but will customers actually consider the product itself? That all depends on whether your product applies to their daily lives. And one of the strongest barometers you can rely on to measure customer engagement is to test multiple listings.
An estimated 60 percent of companies view A/B testing as one of the most valuable tools in conversion rate optimization.
A single change in advertising resulting from A/B testing brought about a 12 percent increase in revenue for Microsoft’s Bing in 2012.
A marketing decision resulting from A/B testing raised an additional $75 million for the Obama campaign in 2007.
A 2017 report from EConsultancy revealed that 64 percent of companies surveyed have seen a significant increase in conversion rates as a result of A/B testing.
Best Practices For Lifestyle Image Photography
Shoot your image from multiple angles to see which most accurately displays the benefits of your product. At least four different angles are recommended.
Ensure the background of your image is shallow and understated. You may want to experiment with blurring the image post-shoot in Photoshop or other editing tools for best results.
Use a standard lens. Wide angle and effect lenses are designed to distort the proportions of your shot. Remember, you ultimately want the effect to focus on real-life applicability in your Amazon listing.
The same rules that apply to the size and resolution of your main image apply to your lifestyle image. These include a ratio of 16:9, an image size of roughly 1600 x 500 and a compressed jpeg file of no more than 400 kb.
Ensure adequate lighting. Depending on your product, you may want to use either natural or studio lighting. But unlike your main image, it doesn’t always need to be perfect. Sometimes you can get a completely unexpected effect from experimentation.
Resist the temptation to overstage. This refers as much to human models as it does to background props. The emphasis of a lifestyle image is on real life situations, not imagination.
Your lifestyle image should be instructional, not dramatic. Focus on the utility of your product, not technical artistry.
Touch up your lifestyle images post-shoot. You may need to experiment with color palette, saturation, shadows and composition several times until you achieve the perfect effect.
Color More Lines provides white glove, global account management of your ecommerce platforms so mission-driven companies can focus on new product development, branding and growth strategies. Find out more at Color More Lines.