Much like how the right visuals create visibility, the right content creates converts. This should come as no great surprise to anyone, even those without any experience in digital marketing.
And what holds true for digital marketing holds true for selling on Amazon.
Amazon may have no small number of creative and effective solutions to enhance your product listing. But in a digital landscape, product images are without a doubt the most effective way of showcasing both your brand, your product line and your ingenuity.
More importantly, product imagery reflects the lifestyle of your audience.
Why Product Images Matter on Amazon
Lifestyle product photography can be as much an artform as it is a marketing tool. But it's an artform that takes patience and consistency before it can be successful.
Customers demand information before making a purchase. Frequently, that information can be accurately conveyed through visual images. It's been estimated that 65 percent of the population are considered visual learners. And as digital advertising is becoming the dominant marketing platform, that percentage is likely to be much higher in the next few years.
That has everything to do with the hardwiring of our brains.
It can be difficult to create a cohesive brand identity 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 one.
But there are critical elements to successful lifestyle product photography you can use to better enhance your main product listings, even if you have virtually no experience behind a camera.
The Main Image Is Your Message
First impressions aren't always accurate 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. And lifestyle images are one of the most direct ways of ensuring relatability. They sell without selling.
And they convince without saying a single word.
What Creates a Successful Product Lifestyle Image?
Product lifestyle images can come in many forms. They can be as simple as static images or as complex as a how-to video.
But the difference is that lifestyle product photos aren't about dazzling customers with your video editing skills. They're as much about capturing both the essence of your product as they are pure human emotion.
And for the latter, you actually need to detach yourself from your product before establishing relatability.
That's because relatability isn't about you. It's about the customer.
Here's a handy checklist of questions you may want to ask yourself before using any product photos in your product listing:
Do your lifestyle images showcase your expectations of your product—or the realistic expectations of your customers?
Do your lifestyle images focus as much on the customer as they do on your product?
Do they portray real life situations or an idealized environment?
Do they reflect your own lifestyle ideals or do they reflect those of your customers?
Do they present a solution or do they present mere affectation?
Do they accurately reflect your target audience?
Do they communicate the benefits customers might 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. That's because it is. But you don't have to come from a visual arts background to convey a mood successfully.
Lighting and brand identity
The lighting of your lifestyle image should be complementary to your brand identity. And that message is going to vary altogether between brands.
Believe it or not, natural light isn't always the most conducive to your brand identity. Nor to your product. And sometimes the use of direct sunlight can backfire altogether.
For example, using soft focus, ambient lighting to showcase a sports supplement isn't just irrelevant. It's downright jarring. 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 the focus of your lighting is reflective of your message, and ensure it's absolutely consistent in all your shots.
Backgrounds and props
Emphasize your product, not the background. If your listing is for an outdoor product, always try to make certain any greenery is blurred out. You don't want the background to even blend in with any lifestyle image, much less predominate it. Looking into the general theory of color psychology can give you some ideas on how to best incorporate atmosphere into your background.
Here are some great examples of just how much of a difference your background and lighting can make on a lifestyle product photo:
An understanding of your key demographic is critical if you're going to be using models for your lifestyle image.
Age and gender might seem like the two most obvious factors, but there are other elements which are equally important. 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 an 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, standalone photos of your product can communicate a feeling all by itself.
The keyword of lifestyle imagery is “lifestyle.” And you may find it's much more appropriate to imply the different ways in which your product can be used when integrating lifestyle photos in your Amazon listing.
But what has a greater impact on a potential customer: lighting, backgrounds, models or action? You won't necessarily know until your pre-launch. And finding the right lifestyle imagery is largely a question of trial and error.
That's why A/B testing is so valuable.
Lifestyle Product Photography and 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 accurately measure customer engagement.
It's critical to your main image. But it's just as applicable to your product 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 or not your product applies to their needs. And one of the strongest barometers you can rely on to measure customer engagement and applicability 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 Product Photography
Shoot your image from multiple angles, frames and different perspectives to see which most accurately displays the benefits of your product. At least four different angles are recommended to ensure the best frame.
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 for product photography. Wide angle and effect lenses are designed to distort the proportions of your shot, and will likely not meet Amazon standards. Don't forget, you want to focus on real-life applicability in your product listing.
The same rules that apply to the size and resolution of your main image also applies to your lifestyle images. 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 studio or natural light. But unlike your main image, your lighting doesn't always need to be perfect. Sometimes you can get a completely unexpected effect from experimentation.
Resist the temptation to overstage or rely on a blatantly styled scene. This refers as much to human models as it does to background props. The emphasis of a lifestyle image is on real life situations a potential customer might find themselves in, not your imagination.
All of your product photography should be designed to be instructional, not dramatic. Context means everything when creating product images. That means focusing on the utility of your product, not your own technical artistry.
Touch up your product images post-shoot. You may need to experiment with color palette, saturation, shadows and composition several times until you achieve the perfect effect.
Are you looking at the bigger picture when it comes to driving more sales and maximizing your advertising spending on Amazon? Find out more at Color More Lines.