Say No to Stock PhotosWhy Investing in Photography is Good for Your Small Business
Consider this scenario: You’re searching for a new dentist online. You’ve received 2 recommendations and are trying to decide which one is right for you.
Dentist A has a slow-loading website with dark photos and a boring stock video. You see a bio of the dentist, but no picture. There’s a blurry photo of the building, but you can’t find any pictures of the office. You’re not sure what to expect as a patient!
Dentist B is the exact opposite. This website has high-quality images, many featuring patient rooms and waiting areas. The site loads quickly and you find a professional headshot of the dentist and nice team photos right away. You feel like you understand what it’s like to be a patient at this office.
Based on these first impressions, which would you choose?
We’re guessing you’d call Dentist B.
The 3 mistakes small businesses make with images and videos
The first dentist in our make-believe (but very common) scenario committed 3 big visual marketing mistakes. Let’s take a look at each and learn how to avoid them on your own website.
1. Using (mostly) stock images and video
Stock photos have improved over the years, but still have a bad rap for being phony and untrustworthy — not exactly the tone you want to convey to a potential customer, patient, or client. Another downfall? Stock images can be used by anyone, including your competitors.
Does this mean you should never use stock photos? Original images are always the best way to authentically represent your company and stand out from your competition. However, your small business may benefit from filling visual gaps — particularly on your blog — with carefully chosen stock images.
Stock video is different. While you might be able to pull off a stock photo of a smiling could-be customer, video footage of people and places that aren’t related to your company will never feel authentic.
“The images on your website should showcase personal brand relevance, convey information, and delight your audience. If you do decide to sprinkle a few stock photos on your site, make sure they fit these 3 criteria.”Karina Roush
2. Not featuring team members or office photos
The images on your website tell a story — shouldn’t that story be uniquely yours? If you’re not featuring images or video footage of your team members or office, then you’re missing a key part of your narrative.
Give your audience a peek behind the curtains at your company. It’s a simple but powerful way to set your business apart. It brings personality and likability to your business and helps establish credibility. Plus, showing images of your building makes it easier for people to find you and know what to expect.
There are many ways to feature team and office visuals on your website. Some great ideas include:
- Individual headshots or group photos on your about page
- Images of the front of your building and important customer areas on the contact or service pages
- An intro video on the homepage
“Your website should show, not tell your audience what sets your company apart. Strong visuals of your office, team members, and building are a great way to demonstrate who you are.”Paul Cole
3. Using poor-quality and missized media
Poor-quality photos and video convey sloppiness, indifference to detail, and reflect badly on your company. While photography and video can be somewhat subjective, avoid glaring mistakes like:
- Poor composition or framing (photos that are too busy or without a clear focal point)
- Bad lighting (too many shadows, too bright or dark)
- Over-editing (excessive use of filters or Photoshop effects)
- Sizing the file too small (looks blurry or pixelated)
Speaking of images and video that are too small, large media files can cause problems, too. Files that are too large…
- Slow down your website and page load time
- Take up a lot of space on your server
- Make it difficult to navigate your website
Did you know: High-quality, properly sized photos are important to your website’s SEO. Google uses page load time as a ranking factor in their algorithm.
“Properly sizing your images is just one part of optimizing your images and videos for SEO. Make sure search engines can understand the media on your site by always adding alt text descriptions, title tags, and clear file names.”Chad DelMain
Visual marketing 101: How to invest in professional photos and video
All 3 critical visual marketing mistakes can be easily avoided with one simple business decision: investing in original, professionally-shot images and video.
Encourages a strategic approach
Working with a professional photographer or videographer encourages you to decide what story you want to tell through your images. It’s a valuable opportunity to think about what sets your business apart and how the images on your site can help communicate this message and attract visitors.
The quality is incomparable
A smartphone or personal camera is great for casual shots and capturing memories, but a professional photographer will help your website shine. There’s a reason photographers and videographers charge for their services — they deliver a much better product!
- Has the right camera equipment
- Will ensure proper lighting – especially difficult for indoor photos
- Understands composition and what looks good
- Knows how to deliver consistent images
- Utilizes professional editing programs and will edit your images so they look natural
- Can deliver images in various file formats and sizes to ensure high-quality, SEO-ready images
Provides flexibility in website design
Whether you’re designing a brand new website or adding pages to your site through blogging and other content marketing efforts, professional images give you greater flexibility with website design.
Having professional images of your business means you don’t have to adjust your design to fit a photo or spend hours trying to find the perfect stock image to match your design. Instead, you’ll be creating original images that compliment your design and perfectly fit your needs.
“Interview a few photographers to find the one who will best showcase your business. For best results, look for someone with great reviews, a high-quality portfolio, and experience shooting in your type of business environment.”Jake Braught
A professional collection of high-quality original images and footage can help engage your audience and tell your story in many areas, including:
- On web pages describing your services
- In blog posts and articles
- On social media, including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+
- Promotional materials like brochures and advertisements
Engages your audience and improves conversions
Professional, original images do more than make your site look nice, they engage your audience and directly impact conversion rates.
Think back to our scenario at the beginning of this article: which dentist were you more attracted to? Dentist A with boring stock video and blurry images? Or Dentist B, who featured high-quality team photos and other visuals explaining what to expect as a patient?
According to one study, better image selection on your website can improve conversion rates by 40%. Other research suggests that business incorporating better visual content into their digital marketing efforts see conversion rates 7 times higher than other sites!
Bonus: Resources for planning your shoot
If your small business is ready to invest in professional images and a better visual marketing strategy, we have some resources to help!
- Identify what photos you need: Download our photography shot list to get started
- Find a photographer in your area: View Google’s recommended photographer list
- Partner with a designer who understands small business needs: Our small business website design team is here to help maximize your SEO and tell your story through a beautiful website design
Need some help attracting and converting more website visitors into new patients, clients and customers? Get in touch with our team! We’d love to hear from you.
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