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3 Reasons Content Need Images and Why They Shouldn’t Be Stock Photos

Do people, especially those online, want to see pictures? The answer is yes.

In a 2018 survey by Adobe, at least 16 percent of its respondents said they found websites with no images or videos (or both) annoying. Meanwhile, in a poll by Content Marketing Institute (CMI) in 2019, over 60 percent of B2C marketers said they increased image use compared to the previous year. Nearly around the same percentage of B2B companies did the same.

What makes pictures so essential in marketing, particularly online? It’s a combination of many factors:

1. Many Are Visual Learners

Do you ever wonder why children’s books contain lots of pictures? Definitely, small kids don’t know how to read these materials by themselves yet. However, with images, they can greatly improve their literacy, creativity, and story analysis.

Even by looking at pictures alone, kids understand the story more effectively. They can also train themselves to relate one picture to another until they can get the gist of what their parents may be reading to them.

Many consumers are like children—they learn well with visuals. In fact, many studies suggest that at least 60 percent of the population belongs to this group.

The brain also likes to see rather than read things. One study suggests that after exposure to reading material, an individual may retain between 10 and 20 percent of the spoken or written information after three days. However, the percentage could soar to 65 percent if what they read included images.

Moreover, people can process messages from visuals faster than text. On average, a person can already understand the essence of a scene in no more than a tenth of a second. It could be because the brain can process images around 60,000 times faster than text.

Because humans can process visual data more quickly, they can be more impactful than text. It may partly explain why images are often bigger than text in many ads. They may also be in a strategic location like in the center.

2. Photos Can Be Enough to Tell a Story

Some of the memorable events around the globe have been best expressed by photos. Take, for example, the Kissing Sailor, which featured a soldier kissing a “nurse” (who’s a stranger to him, by the way) in Times Square after World War II ended.

How about the 1993 haunting photograph of a boy and a vulture that seemed to be waiting for him to die? While it won Kevin Carter the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography, it also summed up the famine and starvation experienced by children in Sudan at the time.

The right photographs create context. They can speak intimacy, rage, love, indifference, confusion, and frustration. They can effectively communicate the values and vision of the brand. Images can be so powerful that, in many cases, they are often enough to tell a message.

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3. Tech Loves Photos

At least three generations, from the millennials to the alphas, are adept in tech. Their households may have two or more mobile devices. They can easily switch from a smartphone to a laptop or a tablet.

Meanwhile, these devices now sport top-of-the-line components that render more accurate colors and sharp pictures. In other words, images make marketing materials appear attractive and engaging among the growing tech-driven population.

That’s not all. At least 4 billion use social media actively, and these websites provide avenues for users to share beautiful and impactful images more easily.

But What Kinds of Pictures Should Businesses Use?

Images are essential in marketing, but so do their quality. Unfortunately, many companies, including established ones, prefer to stick with stock photos instead of hiring a fashion photographer specializing in magazines and adverts.

The reason is understandable. Stock photos are accessible. In a few clicks, they can already have hundreds of images to choose from and use. They are also cheaper than organizing a photoshoot (although they realize that they can use a single photo in all their marketing materials for brand uniformity).

Using stock photos excessively, though, can do more harm than good for the business. Consumers these days demand authenticity, and stock photos don’t relay that characteristic. For one, many online users can easily spot a stock image.

Moreover, there’s a huge chance the same image can appear in another company’s marketing material. Most of all, it’s rare to find stock photos that match the values and meaning of the brand.

When it comes to marketing, consumers can be less forgiving. In many cases, they give companies only one chance to communicate with them. Businesses can avoid wasting that chance by using more authentic images that truly speak about their brand.


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