Pictures could REDUCE your online sales

Pictures obscuring textEvery picture tells a story. A picture is worth a thousand words. You know the old clichés, of course. Now you can add a new one. Pictures reduce the chances of selling.

That’s right – it is counter-intuitive, I know, but recent consumer research suggests that using pictures on sales pages could actually work against you making it less likely that people will buy from you.

And the problem appears to be particularly acute on mobile devices.

Here’s what’s happening. Online retailers are using images to attract people to what they have on offer. On mobile devices, web pages and apps tend to be image-heavy in order to get people to engage with the information in an easier way than forcing them to scroll through lots of text on a small screen.

But the problem is that there are now so many images that people are becoming overloaded with them. The result is that they get passed by quickly. Just when an online store is trying to sell something, the visitor just flicks the screen and away goes the sales page as the user moves on to view the next image.

We appear to be looking at many more images but doing less as a result. The imagery is effectively obscuring the message that businesses are trying to get across. They are using pictures to engage, but that engagement is not leading to conversion.

What is needed to convert people to buyers is text, not pictures. At the point of sale people like to slow down, to consider things and make a reasoned decision. They need a few seconds before actually pressing that “Buy Now” button. Those seconds do not appear if all that they see are pictures and a price. There is nothing to delay them and to help them decide. The result is they cannot make a decision, so they move on, leaving the item unsold.

If you want to sell more online you need to use text at the point where people are making the decision to buy. Using pictures looks like it works against you.

One clue – one of the world’s biggest online stores, Amazon, is picture-heavy at the front end, but when you get to specific items, the amount of text increases (sometimes dramatically) with the additional images only being available if you want to click on them and see them in a pop-up. Amazon seems to be getting quite a few sales by having final sales pages that are dominated by text, not images. That should be a clue to the rest of us.

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