Whether you have a small business or a bustling e-commerce store, professional product photography can make all the difference on whether that customer clicks the “Buy Now” button or leaves your store for something better.
Let’s start with a little quiz!
In the past five years, have professional product photography sales…
B. Plateaued? or
The correct answer is A.
In fact, the industry averages about 2% growth YOY — though the pandemic did lead to a slight dip in 2020. For some, that statistic may be surprising. After all, with the increasing advancements in smartphone cameras and the availability of equipment, backgrounds, etc., many people do high-quality DIY product photography.
While all of this is true, it is also true that ecommerce is expanding significantly as well. Plus, the more researchers study the human brain, the more they discover how much it loves visual information.
Put those two factors together, and it becomes clear that professional product photography can lead to a large increase in revenue. Here are five specific ways that professional product photos can make you money (or help you save it).
1. Sell Confidently Online
Of course, a key way that professional product photography can help you is by leading directly to more sales. Online sales continue to grow, accounting for roughly 20% of all purchases. Of course, these sales come from business’ own websites and from ecommerce stores like Amazon, Google Shopping, etc.
Obviously, there are many different reasons why one item sells better than another. However, product shots are certainly one very important element.
93% of consumers say that visual appearance is a key factor in making a purchasing decision.
It is no wonder, then, that the best selling products on Amazon or any other online store are ones that feature high-quality product photos.
After all, no matter how great a product may be, if the picture doesn’t emphasize key features, it is likely that the product is not selling online. And if the picture is pixelated or looks like it was shot on a Polaroid in 1986, even worse. Indeed, 67% of online shoppers say high-quality images are more important to them than product descriptions or even reviews.
Again, it is certainly not impossible for you to create great product images yourself. However, it is more complicated than it may seem. So, it is often nice to rely on the expertise (and tools) of people who create professional product photos daily. Professional product photographers are especially helpful when you go for a more specialized image, such as a lifestyle shot, scale shot, detail shot, or 360-degree shot.
Plus, all of this photography work takes time. You could be using that time to grow your business in so many other ways instead!
2. Build Your Consistent Branding
Of course, even given all that I said in #1, great product photography does more than just show off the features of the product. The best product photography ideas inspire the consumer to buy. How? The pictures show how the product fills a need in the consumer’s life. Or, the image helps associate the product with emotions like happiness, trust, security, etc.
A professional product photographer knows plenty of ways to frame the product shot to drive sales. They have the experience with how to use human models, nature scenes, or any other unique elements. And of course, they have the tools to bring any product to life. These tools include props, backgrounds, editing software, different lighting, and different lenses.
Another way in which professional product photography can make a big difference in your branding is by helping to create hero images. A hero image is a large image with text, typically displayed in a banner size at the top of your website’s homepage. This image is obviously very significant because it is often the first chance you get to draw in a customer. Sometimes, it is your only chance.
3. Rock Social Media
Whether you are personally a fan of social media or not, the fact is that it continues to be a major part of our society and a key factor in using digital marketing to generate leads. And to be frank, any business that chooses to ignore a free platform that can reach millions (or even billions) of customers is wasting a key opportunity.
How can professional product photography help you use social media to increase sales? There are two main ways.
First, you can simply post your professional product photos in your account. This method is generally absolutely free. You can use your professional product photos as the social media images you post. If so, you will have full confidence that they are pictures that will lead to customer sales. For that matter, you can let your professional product photographer know that you plan to use photos for social media, and they can customize the images to fit some of the best practices for that use.
Then there is the method that requires you to open up your marketing budget: social media paid ads. The beauty of paid social media advertising is that it gives you the opportunity to target ads to certain demographics. So, you get a chance to specifically advertise toward people in certain age ranges, with certain interests, living in a certain area, etc.
Of course, if you do decide to invest money in paid social media advertising, you absolutely want to make sure that you are using the most effective images. In that case, professional product photography will best ensure that your ad will lead to sales.
No matter what, using social media marketing leads to a very positive ROI, and professional product photography will help you maximize those gains.
4. Get Featured in the Media
When the media, such as magazines, blogs, TV segments, and e-zines, feature your product(s), you get a chance to grow your customer base and increase sales. Therefore, any way to increase its likelihood is a plus, and professional product photography does just that. Professional product photos can help you get discovered, and they help you if you make a pitch.
One way your product can be featured in the media is by discovery. A journalist or editor notices your product(s) and wants to feature you in some way. Again, for all the reasons I have already described, professional product photography is more eye-catching. Therefore, it is more likely to get noticed.
Far more likely, however, is that you will pitch some brands that you hope will feature your product. Once more, one of your biggest selling points is your photography. As Tracy Ramsden and Marie-Claire Dorking, award-winning journalists and owners of a consultancy for small businesses, put it:
“Having great quality images will often determine whether you get media coverage. […] Remember, the better the photograph, the more chance you have of getting featured.”
One other factor at play with media coverage is that editors will often visit your website while making a final determination about whether or how to feature you. The value of a professional-looking business website with high-quality images cannot be understated, as it is yet one more way to impress these important influencers.
5. Save on Returns
Yes, I recognize that this last way that professional product photography can be beneficial may give you pause. However, it is true that professional product shots can save you a lot of money by leading to fewer returns.
See, studies on why products are returned find that almost 25% of ecommerce returns happen because an “item looks different than the photos.” Yes, that still leaves many other reasons that an item might be returned, but still, when returns cost North American businesses around $183 billion a year, even eliminating that 25% is significant.
Professional product photography will help to ensure that the pictures on your website or on other ecommerce sites accurately depict colors, sizes, and features. It will also help show a realistic depiction of how the product can be used in context.
The bottom line is that whether you decide to sell your products on Amazon, create a viral sensation, start your own Etsy store (or create a presence on one of the many alternatives to Etsy), or create a media blitz, professional product photography can help you increase revenue. After all, the old adage that says “a picture is worth a thousand words” isn’t wrong. It just underestimated the true power of an image. Also, in the modern age, with its abundance of stimuli on a day-to-day basis, the saying may need an upgrade:
A great image is worth a thousand dollars—or more!