Visual content continues to be the rage in the digital era. Consider these statistics, for instance.
Content with images tends to receive 130% more engagement than content without them.
Tweets with images register up to 150% more retweets than text-only tweets.
Although consumers retain only 10% of the information they hear, they recall 65% of the information when content is paired with an image.
Clearly, images play a crucial role in not only attracting and engaging the consumers but also in helping them recall the information. Businesses know and understand this. That is why business websites, blogs, and media content are all augmented with carefully chosen images. Everyone from bloggers to SMEs to large corporates uses stock images for a variety of purposes.
There are numerous stock image websites that offer high definition, read-to-use images of virtually every type and context to cater to this demand for high-quality images. There are an estimated 350 million+ stock images available for purchase on the internet.
Despite the overwhelming relevance and usage of stock images, they could be hurting your business in more ways than one. In fact, stock images can be a silent killer, chipping away at your business, one customer at a time, unbeknownst to you. Here’s why you should use original images and not stock images.
1. “Real” Images Feel More Authentic
Several studies and experiments indicate that internet users can easily distinguish between an original image and a stock image. And, most of them ignore the stock images.
Come to think of it. Five to six people staring at the same computer in the office, an individual’s hand projecting important-looking holograms, house cleaning staff that is pretending to clean an already clean house, and the other such images never inspire brand-consumer connections.
Residential cleaning business websites, in particular, must use original images of real customers, real projects, and real staff to give website visitors a sneak peek into the human side of the company. This is what builds trust between the consumers and the business.
2. You Never Know Who Else is Using Stock Images
Imagine that you’ve used a stock image on your website. Suppose that the same image is used by another business or person that has scammed their customers, or has dished out a negative experience to them. If those consumers come across your website, the negative emotions they have about that business or person will be redirected towards your business. This is true for even the most rational beings among us.
Nonverbal cues play a significant role in our perception of a brand. Using stock images exposes you to the risk of attracting negative sentiments from your target audience, for someone else’s mistake. Or perhaps, your competitors could be using the same stock image, which can confuse your website visitors. You don’t want to build a brand on something that can be used by just about anyone.
3. Original Images are More Effective
Real images are found to drive up to 35% higher conversions compared to stock images. They register higher engagement, drive more purchases, and generally compel website visitors to act more the way you want them to.
For residential cleaning businesses, it’s recommended that they have a dedicated Gallery page, where they can feature some of their best work. The unedited images display your confidence in your work, which gains the trust of your potential customers and turn them into your customers.
4. Potential Legal Issues
All stock images sites do not have a consistent image usage policy. The usage rights they offer could be a one-time usage right, multiple usage rights, or complete transfer of copyrights on the image. In recent years, stock image sites have litigated several businesses for using their images without “proper” usage rights. Whether these cases are a legitimate pursuit of business interests or just copyright trolling is debatable. When so much could go wrong, it is better to avoid it altogether.
5. Consistent Branding
Whether you take the photos yourself or hire a professional photographer to do it, the images you create will be consistent with your brand image and marketing goals. Your webpages will not look like a poorly put-together mishmash of random stock images. Instead, every image would be a reflection of your company and brand’s unique aspects – your work, staff, equipment, office, and so on.
Your original images tell a story that is unique to your business and brand. Stock images tend to have a similar appeal. As a house cleaning business, if you want to showcase the outcome of your work in a specific set of conditions such as lighting, customers, staff, and so on, you can do it. With stock images, you will only be able to tell a generic brand story.
Stock images are a simple solution to a complex problem that every business faces – finding high-quality visual content that augments their text content. Stock images are inexpensive (often costing less than $1), easily available, and readily usable. However, if you want to build a unique brand that connects with your target audience at a deeper level, you must use original images. Real images help you differentiate yourself from the competition and build trust among your audiences.