While images don’t do much of the heavy lifting for SEO, they are central to digital marketing of health and beauty products and services. Images for health and beauty marketing may be the most important element of your ads and your website from the point of view of human reactions.
Major players in the field may have the budget to produce a steady stream of high-end visual assets for their marketing, but small and medium sized businesses — boutique or artisanal products, for example, local spas and fitness centers, or individual healthcare providers — are in a different position.
How can you be sure that you’re getting the best return on your investment in images?
Start with a strategy.
Whether it’s a matter of creating the perfect photo shoot or of poring over hundreds of stock photos, it’s easy to end up with a bunch of pretty pictures instead of images that really convey the message you want to send.
Think about these things before you start planning visuals:
- What’s your business goal? How will you know if you’ve succeeded or not? If your goal is to increase bookings by 10% this month over the same month last year, you may need something different from the company that wants to make people aware of their new product.
- Who are you talking to? A company that wants to talk to busy young moms needs a different look from a company that wants to reach affluent middle-aged men. If you’re still stuck with the idea that you’re marketing to “people with skin,” you probably need to think things through a bit more.
- What message do you want to convey? You may want to convince customers to call right away and make an appointment during your pre-prom BOGO special. Or you may want to give your readers a sense of timeless luxury. You can’t do both at once.
Decide what you’re selling.
Of course you know what goods and services you have to offer. But are you selling a specific item, or are you really selling a solution to a problem or a certain feeling or support for a self-image?
The photos below could all be used to advertise the same spa services, but they’re selling different things.
A picture like this shows the products used in performing your service, or your products in use. If you have photogenic products, beautifully staged photos of those products are a must, and those photos will be selling your product. Beautiful packaging is a selling point for health and beauty products. Shots of the products in use help your web visitor imagine herself using the products, which is an important step toward sales.
This kind of picture can also be a good way to show the feelings surrounding your service if the service itself isn’t that photogenic. Some medical procedures or spa services aren’t pretty to see in action; in such cases, this kind of photo sells your services without the negative effect of a more graphic picture.
This image is a clear portrayal of a service. Whether you’re a massage therapist or an aesthetician, your customer can expect to receive something very like the service shown. Using a stock photo keeps you safe from concerns about your clients’ privacy and also saves money compared to a professional photo shoot at your place of business. It will also set up expectations.
That makes it important to choose images that will not create cognitive dissonance. If you use an image like the one above and your client comes in to a utilitarian space with hip-hop blaring and barbells clanging, it’s going to be a shock.
It’s also good to use images that allow your target customer to see him or herself in the place of the customer in the photo. This is where it makes sense to consider the demographics of your target market and the way your customers see themselves. The picture above might not be appealing to consumers who are committed to a natural lifestyle, for example.
Unless you really provide nude massage in a tropical paradise, the image above is promising a general feeling of beauty, serenity, and luxury. You’re selling a wonderful experience or a feeling of radiant health and beauty.
Your web visitors may find the image appealing because it promises them a temporary escape from the stress of life, or because it plays into their fantasy version of themselves. Even if clean white towels are the only thing your facility has in common with this picture, you’re saying that the viewer will feel like this when she finishes her appointment.
This kind of image can also be very effective with less photogenic products. It’s a natural for shampoo or hair loss treatment, for example.
This traditional glamour shot can be showing specific products or the results of your services. But most customers will understand that a lovely model is not a guarantee of results. “This is how we’ll make you feel” rather than “This is how we’ll make you look” is the message of this kind of image.
Studies have found that a photo like this is perceived not only as a beautiful woman, but also as a successful and competent woman. So a picture like this may sell a shade of lip gloss or a fingernail health treatment, but it can also say, “Use our eye health treatment and be more successful in your life as a whole.”
Be brand conscious.
Notice that all the photos above have similar color schemes, all are professional rather than candid photos, and all have similar branding. They could all be used by one spa or HBC brand. A consistent look increases your trustworthiness and competence in the view of consumers.
When you’re thinking about your overall brand or the look for a particular campaign, you have some decisions to make about images.
- Will you use stock photos, professional photos of your goods and services, or candid snaps taken with your iPhone? All of these approaches can create good images, but they won’t usually mix well. The difference is one of style rather than subject. Girl on the street and model on the runway looks can both be created with a candid look, and professional photos of your space can mix with professional photos from your vendor or franchisor.
- Will you stick with pictures of your target market or introduce diversity in your photos? If your product is particularly directed toward a specific demographic, you should make sure your models look like members of that group. The models in the photos above don’t look like they’re getting ready for prom, nor like people who need eye tuck surgery.
- What elements and motifs will you use? While all the photos in our group include different people or objects, they all use natural elements, tropical plants, and highly textured surfaces, as well as a cohesive color palette. This takes some planning, but it adds up to a consistent feeling. If you choose to use a photo with your product isolated against a plain white or black background, you can run campaigns with those images and then insert the product into other campaigns with other looks in the future.
- Are you going with fantasy or authenticity? Both can be very appealing. A happy snapshot of your yoga class can be the start of a great look. So can a highly stylized glamour shot. Again, the two may not work together. A traditional headshot of your optometrist might not belong on the same page or in the same ad as eyewear fashion shoot pictures from your frame vendors.
- What graphic support do you have? If you have web people and graphic artists on hand, you can choose a starting point and feel confident that your people will be able to work with what you have to create something effective. If you’re trying to do everything yourself, you need to choose images that you can work with yourself and a style that you can keep consistent.
If you have no idea where you want to go with your images, have a look at iconic brands and see how they’re approaching these questions. Look at artisanal brands in your space, too, and your direct competitors. Collect some examples of what you and do not like to share with your web team.
No web team? Call Rosie at 479.966.9761 to find out what Haden Interactive can do for you.