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Conversion Ninja

Enough of Stock Photos: See How Adding Real Photos Improved Conversions

Posted in Case Studies on

Stock photos are high-quality, yes. But they look staged. They are irritatingly perfect.

Studies have shown that they are often ignored by people. They make visitors’ browse the site and not experience it. Only real or relevant images engage visitors.

And this is exactly what our current case study emphasizes.

The Company

Harrington Movers is a New Jersey and New York City moving company. Their interstate moving service pages used a generic stock image of a couple, as seen in the Control page below:

Harrington Movers Control Page

Spectrum Inc, Harrington Movers’ Conversion Consultant, suspected that the ‘happy couple’ image doesn’t relate much to the service.

Their hypothesis was that replacing this stock photo with an image that closely relates to the moving service will increase ‘Request a quote’ leads from the website.

The Test

They used Visual Website Optimizer to make a quick test to check the relevance of images. Two alternative versions with different images were pitted against the Control page above.

The first version showed the image of Harrington Movers’ crew. The second version displayed the image of the truck they use for moving services. To emphasize branding, both these images also included the company’s logo.

Here are the two versions:

Harrington Movers Test Variations

Result

Both the versions beat the Control with 98% statistical confidence level. The test has been running for three months now. It’s a close call between the two versions. While version 1 with crew image is showing a percentage improvement of 45.45%, the second version with truck image is close behind with 45.05% improvement over the original.

You can see the comparison image below:

Harrington Movers Comparison Image

When asked about the impact on revenue, Brian McKenzie of Spectrum Mind Inc said:

Assuming a constant value per lead, this test has added about $10,000 / month in interstate moves so far.

Key Takeaways From This Test:

  • Stop using stock photos. They look fake and reduce trust on your website.
  • Use images that best represent your product/service. For example, T-mobile used the image of a beautiful lady talking over the phone all across their website. But the image was annoying for an older prospect who couldn’t find the image of the phone on the website. She was looking for a phone with big, easy-to-press buttons.So make sure that you show people exactly what they should expect from your product/service to nudge them into the conversion funnel. When Exact Target A/B tested a more relevant image on their landing page, it increased their conversions by 40.18%. You can read the complete case study here.
  • Don’t hesitate to use images of your employees. So many websites underplay the power of human touch. Don’t be one of them. People like doing business with people, not websites. Privacy concerns, employee reluctance, whatever reasons are stopping you from adding real photos on your website, resolve them. Your conversion rate spike will tell you why it is worth the effort.When Marketing Experiments replaced stock photo of a girl wearing the headset with the image of company’s founder, it increased conversions.
  • Have a good reason to use an image. ‘It looks pretty’ doesn’t count.

Tests That Harrington Movers Can Try

  1. Replacing excessive text with bullet points, neatly listed in a benefits-driven copy.
  2. Remove left sidebar to increase attention to the main offer. Navigation might be distracting people away from the conversion goal.
  3. Reduce form fields. You can always collect some information later.
  4. Don’t direct people to a different page to read the complete review. This will again take them away from the conversion goal of the page. Include a testimonial in your main copy instead with customer’s credential and a picture. This will give better visibility to the testimonial and should influence visitors’ thought sequence for better conversions.

How good are you with conversions?

Which test idea above do you support the most? What are your test suggestions for Harrington Movers? Let it all out in the comments section and I will definitely forward it to them.

Comments (8)

  1. I have to admit there were a few parts of this test that made me smack my head in disbelief but I will avoid being negative!

    Next Test:
    -Remove the Name & Phone fields from the lead gen box. Change the CTA to ‘Email Me A FREE Quote’. Remove Company Blog section from under the form box and replace it with a static tesimonial from a happy customer, be sure to include their name, picture and where they moved from/to. Double the height of the CTA submit button.
    == That should get you a nice kick in conversions

    : )

    Reply
  2. “Their interstate moving service pages used a generic stock image of a couple, as seen in the Control page below:”

    The first screen shot is the wrong one I think…

    The Conclusion is that there is practically zero difference between staff photo and a photo of a lorry – that’s pretty surprising.

    I wonder what difference there would be between the actual lorry and a stock photo of a lorry. I’d bet there would be pretty much zero difference if the stock photo was a good one?

    Reply
  3. @David – Thanks for the test suggestions. Replacing company blog post with a testimonial is particularly interesting. I hope Harrinton Movers’ conversion team gives them a shot.

    @Jordan – Thanks for the heads up. I’ve fixed the image.

    If the picture of an actual lorry (as shown in version 2) is tested against a generic stock photo of a lorry, I still think that the version 2 image should win. The image above emphasizes Harrington Movers’ brand and gives people an idea about what kind of moving service to expect, which should help with conversions.

    Reply
  4. Brian McKenzie says:

    “I wonder what difference there would be between the actual lorry and a stock photo of a lorry. I’d bet there would be pretty much zero difference if the stock photo was a good one?” The closest test I’ve done found that replacing a stock employee with an actual employee had a statistically significant increase on conversion rates. I’d guess that people would respond similarly to a branded truck vs. an unbranded truck…

    1) I believe consumers are very savvy at identifying stock imagery and that they are likely to notice whether your photo uses your logo (or anything else distinctive to your company, like a uniform or a particular color combination). Lighting quality may also be an indicator (e.g. does everybody’s face have a weird pale glow? Are colors unusually saturated?)

    2) In the United States, most states require that commercial vehicles be clearly labelled, so it’s possible that unmarked trucks might look sketchy/unprofessional.

    Personally, I’d prioritize tests of other elements higher (e.g. pictures of male employees vs. female employees or experienced employees vs. younger employees or truck-with-city-background vs. truck-with-suburban-background or pictures of AGENT-branded truck vs. pictures of VAN LINE-branded truck).

    Reply
  5. I totally agree with the lack of value of using stock images. It is really obvious to visitors as they see the same types of images from site to site.

    Overall, the Harrington Movers site is not poorly optimized for conversions. I think the one thing they should work on (you have already stated) limit the amount of distractions from landing pages are intended for converting. Removing the link to the blog and maybe shortening the form may help. Not all of the info needs to be collected if a phone call is the next touch.

    Cheers,

    Reply
  6. Brian McKenzie says:

    “Not all of the info needs to be collected if a phone call is the next touch.” From a lead generation perspective, I agree completely. However, most clients’ marketing departments really want all possible information about the prospects before phone contact is made. Also, removing fields can create technical problems (e.g. a van line may require certain fields from its agents’ leads).

    “Overall, the Harrington Movers site is not poorly optimized for conversions.” Thanks! I agree, although I’m obviously biased there. :) New York City is a very competitive moving market and we’ve had a lot of traffic to study.

    Reply
  7. I completely agree with you brian.

    Reply
  8. Between the stock photo and the actual photo of a lorry, we are not taking few things into account that could actually make a difference.

    A photo of actual lorry will increase the trust level of the company and give some idea to the potential customer about the capacity of the lorry, i.e. how much stuff it can move.

    A stock photo of lorry with editing to place the logo on its side could make some difference in the conversion as long as that photo looks almost genuine. Still, if the customer finds out that it is not the actual lorry used for moving, he might begin have some distrust for the company.

    Reply

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