Wednesday, June 28, 2017

How Excellent Product Photography and Videos Increase E-Commerce Sales

How Excellent Product Photography and Videos Increase E-Commerce Sales

Nothing frustrates online shoppers more than seeing a thumbnail or other small photo of a product and clicking on it to take a closer look, only to see a grainy or blurry image pop up.

Even if a photo is clear, customers will likely want to see the product from various angles; and if they can't do that, they'll go to a different site where they can.

Think about when you walk into a brick and mortar store and you see a product you want to buy. You don't just look at it on the shelf and make your decision. Whether it's a demo model or the real thing, you pick the product up, turn it around, turn it upside down, feel the weight of it, check out all the details, and generally size it up against similar products you've looked at.

When you have excellent-quality product photos on your website, you allow shoppers to (virtually) do just that kind of assessment. They can zoom in on details and really get a feel for a product even if they can't physically feel it. Add 360-degree photography and video into the mix, and it's the next best thing to being able to handle the products.

Good photos will get people into your e-commerce store; excellent photos will get people buying your products.

Video Usage = Stacks and Stacks of Cash

E-commerce site uses both manufacturers' videos and their own in-house product videos to sell houseware items. According to the company's marketing director, Cathy McManus, shoppers are 144% more likely to add a product to their cart if they've watched the product video than if they haven't.

The company pays a flat monthly fee to video production company  to create and host the videos; comparing the videos' impact on sales to the monthly fee, McManus says the company is close to getting a 10-to-1 return on investment.

The products that are best for the video treatment, the marketing director says, are the ones that have any complexity related to them, like installation, or ones that are able to fold or move in a way that is not apparent in photos or text.

McManus also expects the videos to cut down on the rate of customer returns and complaints, because customers better understand the product prior to purchase.

Fashionable Photography

Amazon is so dedicated to stellar product photography that the online shopping behemoth has a 40,000-square-foot building in Brooklyn that has been transformed into a giant photography and videography studio for taking fashion photos and creating videos for its three clothing-specific stores: Amazon Fashion, Shopbop, and MYHABIT.

Broken up into 28 individual bays, the space includes styling areas, photo and video studios, and editing suites that all work toward making Amazon's fashion offerings appear more glossy and less like they came from a stock photography site. On average, about 19,000 photos are shot there every day, of which about 2,400 end up on the Amazon sites.

President of Amazon Fashion Cathy Beaudoin says high-level photography is so essential that she likens the photos and video to virtual sales associates.

Zulily Does It In-House

Like Amazon Fashion, e-commerce site Zulily believes so highly in amazing product photography that it does virtually all product photography in-house in 35 mini photo studios sprinkled throughout its office space.

The company employs its own photographers and uses its own employees and their children as models. Having 35 mini photo studios isn't going to work for every company, but professionally done product photography should be an investment on every e-retailer's priority list.

Due Maternity Turns It Around

Even better than a lot of photographs from various angles is a 360-degree representation of a product that customers can turn in any direction via their mouse or screen. This is the virtual equivalent of being able to pick up a product and turn it every which way so you can see it from whatever angle you want.

The true beauty of the 360-degree experience is that the customer is the one who controls it. Customers don't have to rely on your photos to see the product the way they want to.

They can view it from the angle they want and check out the details they deem important. Giving them the ability to view it the way they want empowers them as shoppers and gives them a sense of ownership of the product that they don't get from merely looking at photos. reported a 27% increase in sales when it implemented a feature wherein product images would start spinning slowly when hovered over with a mouse, giving a full 360-degree view of them. That little dynamic element increased sales 27%.

That's no surprise considering that an Adobe Scene7 survey found that a whopping 91% of people want to be able to virtually pick up and handle a product.

Snap36, a company that specializes in 360-degree photography, claims that products accompanied by a 360-degree photo result in a 30% increase in sales and equate to a 32% increase in time spent on your site; plus, it says, customers are 85 times as likely to leave a positive review than a negative one because they can more clearly see the product prior to purchase.

Beautiful, professionally shot product photos and videos increase sales, cut down on returns and complaints, and turn customers into repeat customers.

The Web continues its march toward becoming more image-centric, and any e-commerce site not willing to invest in product photography is already being left behind.
If you need help with your email, web site, video, or other presentation to promote your company, product, or service, please give me a call at 440-519-1500 or e-mail me at

X2 Media can help you target your content and get your message to the audience in a way that it is not only seen and heard, but remembered.

Until next month….remember, “you don’t get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression”. Always make it a good one!

From X2Media I would like to thank you for your time.

John E. Hornyak

X2Media, LLC

Technical SEO 101: Get Your Websites Ranked on Google

Technical SEO 101: Get Your Websites Ranked on Google

A lot has been  written about trends in SEO and Google's search algorithm updates, and today's infographic continues the SEO theme by focusing on the technical aspects of the practice, thanks to an infographic released by Ice Cube Marketing.

The architecture of your website is key in helping Google crawl your site easily, and the infographic outlines the structure your website should follow.

The infographic also explains tools that are available to help your SEO efforts, such as Google Webmaster Tools, PageSpeed insights, and Screaming Frog.

And it lays out clear do's and don'ts, such as do make your website mobile-friendly, and don't include intrusive interstitials.

To see how you can tackle technical SEO for your website, check out the infographic:

Writing: Six Types of Hooks to Reel in Readers

Writing: Six Types of Hooks to Reel in Readers

Have you ever tried fishing without bait?

Yeah, it doesn't work out so well. (The fish aren't convinced, and now your feet are probably wet.)
The same goes for content without a solid hook (minus the wet feet).

A lot of content out there doesn't have strong hooks. And you know what happens? A lot of people aren't convinced they should bother reading anything other than the first sentence.

So how do you prevent readers from bouncing at the get-go? You toss a sweet hook at them and reel them in.

A hook is the initial sentence (or a word) that grabs the attention of readers and entices them to keep reading. It's the first necessary step after an attention-grabbing title.
Yet, so many people seem to neglect the essential hook. Instead, they start off their articles with bland statements. Yawn.

I get it. It's not easy to know where to begin an article. You probably want to just get into the meat of your message. The problem is, your readers won't even get to that point if that bounce after the first boring sentence.

I'm guilty of doing it too. When you're working under a deadline and you need to crank out a piece quickly, it's easy to throw in a generic opening line and get on with it.

But the effort you put into creating an enticing hook will likely be the difference between an article that gets read and an article that gets swallowed up by the content flood. In fact, hooks are so important, Ann Handley has devoted an entire chapter to them in her Everybody Writes!

Here are six ways you can approach writing a tantalizing hook.

1. Ask an engaging question
If someone asks you a question, it's rude to ignore it.
OK, so maybe that's not why questions draw people in. But they certainly do pique curiosity.
The first step is to address the reader directly ("you") and then to leave them wondering what could possibly be coming next.

The key here is to not ask an obvious question. Don't ask your reader something like "do you want your content to perform better?" The answer is obvious.
Instead, ask them a question that will give them pause.

Barry Feldman asked a controversial question at beginning of his article about modern B2B marketing: "Are we in the Dark Ages of Content Marketing? Wait... What? Isn't the future of content marketing bright?"

Now that's something to consider. Many people would probably say that we've got content marketing pretty figured out, even though it's a frequently shifting field. But his opening makes readers pause and consider whether we may not know as much as we think we do.

2. Make a relatable statement
It feels good to know you're not alone in your troubles.

Offer readers something that they can relate to, so that they know your content will be relevant to them.

For example, Nadya Khoja opens her article about how to increase blog traffic by sharing a struggle of her own: "Anyone can build a blog. It's easy. Heck, I've got two blogs—both about completely different things. The struggle I face is not so much running the blog, or creating content for the blog, but rather getting high-value traffic to it. Can you relate? I thought so."

It's gratifying to see that your problems are shared by others. So, sharing your human struggles with readers will show them that you're all in this together.

3. Call the reader out
This is a tricky one, but when used tactfully it can be very effective. Call the reader out for an assumption they have probably made, or something they're probably doing wrong.

Now, you need to be careful. Though asking the reader to confront an issue or roadblock they're having may get them on board to listen, attacking them will probably repel them. Or spur them to leave a nasty comment.

Gary Vaynerchuk is notorious for calling out his audience as a means of motivating them to work harder and try new tactics. Take this sobering hook he uses in an article about personal branding: "If you want people to start listening to you, you have to show up. What I mean by this is there are a lot of you out there who aren't producing enough articles or videos or pieces of content that you should be produced to build your influence."

Well, fair enough.

4. Tell readers what they're going to get
Sometimes, the best place to start is at the end.

If you let readers know, up front, what they're going to get, they may be more likely to consider your content worth their time.

Brian Dean's blog has become a standard for examples of engaging content that keeps readers on the page. Many of his posts start by telling readers what they're going to get from reading the article.

For example:
With promises like those, why wouldn't you stick around to at least skim the posts?

5. Introduce a metaphor or simile
Even if you're writing about a topic that has been covered before, you can still reframe it in a unique way.

Opening with a metaphor or a simile captures the attention of readers and makes them reconsider a topic they may already be familiar with.

For example, Larry Kim compares leading a company to raising a child in his article about how to be a good leader: "I have a 2-year-old boy. It's incredibly exciting experience being part of his journey — teaching him new things and trying to be the best role model I can be as he grows.

"I also have an 8-year-old 'child' — the company I founded in 2008, WordStream."

That comparison will probably ring true to a lot of business owners who put so much time and care into their business.

6. Present a shocking statistic
If you've got a particularly surprising statistic in your arsenal, why not use that to get readers to stop and take notice?

Readers will get new value from your article that they won't get in other, similar articles.
Lindsay Kolowich open an article about blog design with a surprising finding: "According to a recent UK survey, bloggers have ranked as the third most trustworthy source of information, following only friends and family. That's right—bloggers are trusted more than celebrities, journalists, brands, and politicians."

I'm sure that's something bloggers will be happy to learn!

It's time to go fishing!
If you've gotten this far into my article, then my hook worked.

Hopefully, now you will have a better understanding of some of the ways you can grab the attention of readers with a hook.

And if you follow your hook with some seriously helpful information, then you've got a winning piece of content.