Most B2B websites have lead generation as a primary goal. It is therefore very important for product/service pages to be highly effective selling pages. At Straight North, one of the first things we evaluate in a new client before launching a marketing campaign is the use of imagery on those pages. Strong imagery multiplies selling power — without it, inquiries will sputter regardless of how much additional website traffic we are able to attract.
Why images are so important
We live in an online world of short attention spans and skimmers. Images, not text, capture online user attention.
In addition, B2B product/service offerings may be very complex, with value propositions that cannot be summed up in a handful of words. In such cases, imagery becomes even more important — as we all know, a picture speaks 1,000 words.
Charts, graphs and infographics are tailor-made for capturing attention and conveying complicated ideas quickly. The challenge, of course — and where skilled design comes into play — is in creating charts, graphs and infographics that simplify rather than complicate the idea.
One mistake is to overreach, to pack too much information into a single image. It’s better to convey one numeric/statistical idea at a time, creating a series of images, if necessary, to tell the whole story. If users are confronted with too much information in the image, they will shut down, just as they would when confronted with enormous blocks of undifferentiated text.
Another mistake is to overdesign, using too many colors, too many font styles, too much motion, etc. Again, simplicity is paramount. An image with plenty of white space, like a web page with plenty of it, is inviting.
A third mistake is to tell too much of the story. On a B2B lead generation site, the idea is to give users enough information to phone in or submit an inquiry form. The image is not a replacement for a salesperson. Instead, its purpose should be to evoke a response such as, “I need to know more about this.”
Going the cheap route on product and facility photography will ruin an otherwise respectable B2B website — guaranteed. When users see dim lighting, blurry images, images that convey no idea in particular, or (gasp!) blah stock images, they will conclude the business is dim, blurry and bland. This impression not only undermines conversions, it undermines the entire brand.
The first mistake is to not hire a professional photographer. Whatever the cost, a B2B with a serious lead generation website cannot afford not to pay it. Good product and facility photography …
· Highlights a key feature and/or benefit of the product, service or company. For instance, if you want to show off your 500,000-square-foot warehouse, you don’t want a photo that makes it look like it’s all of 500 square feet.
· Has sharp definition, appropriate lighting, proper framing, something in the composition that makes you look twice.
· Has a background that doesn’t take attention away from the subject.
In addition, it’s always wise to add a caption to photographs that emphasize the feature or benefit conveyed in the image. People are far more likely to read image captions than plain text. Hitting users twice with the same important message is more than twice as good as saying it once.
Beyond heeding these composition tips, B2Bs should also optimize images for organic search. Image search is a popular option with Google users, especially if they are researching products or equipment. Important steps to take:
· Use keywords in image titles.
· Use keywords in image captions.
· Create ALT text for each image, telling the story of the image in a few sentences in plain language.
· Make sure your web developer stores and serves up images in a way that does not slow down page loading time. Fast page loading boosts SEO.
If imagery is an underperforming (or non-existent) asset on your website, give strong consideration to stepping up your game. The cost will be insignificant compared to the new sales leads and revenue great images will attract.
Brad Shorr is Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, a professional SEO agency headquartered in Chicago. With more than 25 years of sales and marketing experience, Brad has been featured in leading online publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur and American Marketing Association.