Technology April 5, 2016 Last updated September 22nd, 2018 1,968 Reads share

Why Visual Experience Matters for Ecommerce Brands

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The new wave of visual culture is palpable on the web. Images, infographics and slide presentation all qualify as visual content. They benefit brands, but not all brands equally. They favor B2Cs more than B2Bs.

Ecommerce companies belong to the B2C category. Here’s how visual experience can benefit them:

Better engagement

Pictures and other graphic elements can foster engagement. A research done on ROI shows 44% buyers prefer connecting with brands that post interesting pictures on their timeline and fan pages.

Another eye opener is Simply Measured’s Instagram Brand Adoption Study, which revealed an 80% increase in brand adoption and a whopping 350% growth in year-over-year brand engagement.

Below is a chart made on the study’s findings:

Now, mind the following:

  • The study was conducted back in 2013.
  • Over the last three years, the number of social channels depending entirely on visual content hasn’t increased.
  • The number of brands taking visual content seriously has increased leaps and bounds.

Stated above are all facts, which you couldn’t doubt. What do they indicate?

They indicate brand promotion using visual content is restricted to one or two social networks (Pinterest and Instagram). On those channels, promotional techniques rely solely on visual content.

Now consider the following information:

  1. Leaked documents from Pinterest obtained by TechCrunch shows the platform will generate $2.8 billion revenue by 2018.
  2. Despite a downward trend, Instagram, a channel dominated by images was ahead of Facebook and Twitter in 2015.
  3. The e-commerce brands, active on those channels can leverage the resources there; Pinterest made it easy for users to follow eCommerce brands and they are strongly recommended to invest more time and resources on Instagram.

Some channels are littered with images. Brands are increasing their presence on those networks, many of those brands operate in the e-commerce segment.

Connect all the dots and it appears visual content is the way forward as it drives engagement for eCommerce brands.

Retargeting consumers

Repeat customers drive up sales revenue. That’s why all brands are after them. Retargeting strategies aim to make unique-value-proposition compelling as UVP begets customers retention. Personalized experience is the prerequisite to UVP. The 2016 trends indicate customers adore personalized experience.

The key to personalization is familiarity. Familiar expressions such as one’s name activate certain areas in the brain. Once a customer becomes familiar with a brand, he feels a subconscious urge to purchase from that brand.

Visual content can push the familiarity index up. Neuroscientists believe emotional loyalty involves both right and left brain. It is driven by logic and expects a value-based return. The uniqueness of visual content, as opposed to non-visual content, is it incorporates reasoning and emotions.

Through non-visual (mostly text-based) content, you can send a message across, but visual content allows you to personify it.

Hence, images, graphics and illustrations are necessary for retargeting customers. Ecommerce companies can experiment; they can blend retargeting with email marketing and turn the fusion into a success through visual content.

If existing customers are sent emails containing original photographs of new arrivals, given the photographs are cheesy enough, the email open rate and response rate may increase.

Digital advertising limitations

Digital advertising is losing its sheen despite the fact that brands are spending more money on it than ever before. It’s surprising because eMarketer has recently predicted display digital ad spending will exceed search ad spending. Why would brands invest in something that’s non-productive?

What’s even more surprising is retargeting ads have become so obnoxious that a fair number of audiences feel not apathetic, but incensed to see those ads. It’s a dumbfounding observation because just a while ago we were discussing the efficacy of retargeting.

Digital advertising fails when it lacks any one or all of the following:

  • Trust
  • Context
  • Quality

Customers are more likely to click on ads they see on trusted sites than ads they see on non-trusted sites. They prefer contextual ads and the ones that lack quality are a turnoff for them.

Visual content can overcome the majority of these limitations.

Ad quality: What can be the best way to ensure ad quality than stunning visuals? Stock images and product photographs can heighten ad quality, product photographs especially, because they are clicked by professionals who know various tricks like capturing the product when it’s being used, shooting it from multiple angles, etc.

It’s a crime for eCommerce brands to fill their sites with those images and not using them in the ad copy. When product photographs are used in an ad, a positive experience is generated for users. Ecommerce users, many of whom are millennials, value such experience.

Trust building: Visual content can be instrumental in building trust for eCommerce brands. Visual realism is here and impacting branding big time. The arrival of visual realism is relieving news for eCommerce brands as it adds authenticity to user-generated content (UGC) on which eCommerce companies rely heavily.

Visual realism facilitates trust building and trust precedes the ad viewing experience. This is how visual content fixes the trust issue for eCommerce brands and adds value to adverts they feature.

Why Visual Experience Matters for Ecommerce Brands

The browsing experience

Ecommerce brands want visitors on their sites, and they can go hammer and tong at it. But many of them fail to offer visitors a seamless and enticing browsing experience.

Again, visual content comes to their rescue. The site design, the layout, saturated color of the photographs, shadow effects, fonts and typefaces, everything matters. Together, they make the browsing experience entertaining for visitors. Online purchase defines eCommerce, if the browsing experience is entertaining, users may end up buying a product.

The equivalent to online purchase is in-app purchases for the handheld platform. Visual experience is as much important to mobile users (if not more) as it is for desktop users. The handheld platform is plagued by challenges for brands that cash in on visual experience. The viewport, low-resolution, small screen are among the challenges.

What’s assuring is responsive web design (RWD) can overcome these challenges as it keeps the site layout and images unchanged even when a user moves to mobile from desktop. Hence, RWD is a must for all eCommerce brands, who take visual experience seriously.

Summing up

Visual experience is a double-edged sword. The biggest threat it’s maladroit usage poses is customers turning to competitor brands after an unimpressive experience. No eCommerce brand can afford that and so, putting high-quality visual content on the site and in the ad materials is a must for them.

Images: ”visual word on wood blocks  /


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Eric Haskell

Eric Haskell

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