You already have the precious words for excellent storytelling content featured on your website, you hit publish and then what? Your visitors are not staying long enough to read it and take it in, not even a single comment or share on social media. What should you do? You need to draw their attention into your story and increase their time on your page. Now the next question is, how do you do that? What makes your textual content appealing and engaging? Why do some web pages make viewers want to devour the whole page, before they’ve even started reading? Great use of photography or images is often the answer. In this post I’m going to show you why. As the old saying goes “A picture is worth a thousand words” especially if the picture inspires visitors to actually READ the 1000 words.

Why do images work?

A web page with great photography and images gets more views. BuildZoom did a series of experiments to see how images affected their visitor retention. In one experiment they added a sitewide widget that allowed visitors to browse pictures of building remodelling in their location. In their moz.com report ‘Increasing Time On Page Through Aesthetics’ they wrote… “The overall time-on-site suddenly increased by about 150%, from an average of 1 minute to 2.5 minutes per visitor. We generally concluded that by sharing content that was both highly contextual and visual, we were able to profoundly impact the engagement on the site.”

Most of the audience are visual learners.

When a visitor clicks your webpage for the first time a common practice is to quickly scroll down your page. They’re looking to verify that the information they want is somewhere in the post. A lengthy article may bury that information deep within the text. Sad to say, many readers may not intend to read the complete story at all. ;( In an article on ABC online Researcher Dr Erin Newman from the Australian National University reports that adding photos to a story online helps people accept the story as true–even if it isn’t true. Possibly because they’re more likely to have read–and absorbed–the story.

“Any variable that increases the ease with which people can process a message also increases the chances that people believe it,” Dr Newman said. “[Photographs] increase the ease with which we can process information—they make information feel right.”

Ad Infusion reports that videos, images, and graphics “all increase the time your visitors spend on your website and reduce bounce rates, which means they definitely factor into the search engines’ definition of quality.” The aim is to get visitors to read the entire text on your page. To do that they must understand the value of the story you’re telling–before they start reading it. Proper use of headlines, subtitles, and intros may help them find the detail they’re looking for. But that doesn’t mean they’ll stay & read the entire text. Good use of relevant images can spark up your reader’s appetite & prepare them for a great read ahead. What are the best ways to use images to entice visitors to actually read your text? Here are some of my favourites…

Present a Problem & Offer a Solution

Like many of the suggestions found on this page, you can do this within the text on your page. But if people are skimming over your text, they may miss the impact of your question. In this case you can present the problem with images. Here’s a random example. Let’s say the problem you’re addressing is about ‘storage space’. You want to present the problem in the form of an eye catching and easy to understand visual. So the illustration might be of a hoarder’s messy home, that would show a storage problem. The moment the problem has been presented to the reader–then by inference–the solution must be in the text that follows. People will need to read further in order to learn more.

Ask A Question

Great photos often make us ask questions. What is happening here? Why are they doing that? How did that happen? Once the questions are asked, the only way to satisfy the itch of knowing, is for visitors to continue reading your article–and increase time on page. An effective way to do this is with the interplay between images and words. Find a strong image of a subject that’s visually related to your article. Then use the headline to make your question clear. For example, let’s say your question is “Who are the world leaders in storage solutions?” Then perhaps your photograph is of bees working in a hive on the honeycomb.

Tell A Story

People are natural storytellers, we do it every day. We have more patience for stories and less patience for facts. But how can a reader know you have a fascinating and interesting story to tell before they’ve even read your opening line? An image can promise a great story. This is often a picture of a hero character maybe on a journey to a better place.

Shock or Surprise People

Just like asking a question, if you shock or surprise people you stop them in their tracks and create a desire to know more about the subject. For example, let’s say I’m writing an article about one of my favourite topics, ‘storage solutions’. I’ve heard that watermelons are hard to store because of their round shape. But imagine if we engineered square watermelons to make them easy to stack. Sure, it may be an impractical solution. But it’d make a great illustration. It’s on topic, it’s surprising & it suggests the article has some creative ideas to read about.

Why do you need your own photography for your website?

When your audience visits your website, they can easily spot a generic stock photo. Just like many they’ve seen before. This is a common mistake that businesses & organisations make. They use a generic image to represent their unique business. Using a generic or stock photos decreases trust. If the photos your visitors see on your website are just like ones they see everywhere, then perhaps your business is just like the others. It leaves visitors wondering whether you can add unique value to them. Establish a consistent and personal theme for your website. Work with a professional photographer. Show your visitors who you are. What your business does and why they should choose you. Preparation is the key to creating unique & eye-catching images that project the personal branding that you want for you & your team.

Need help expressing the authenticity and uniqueness of your business.

Contact Pitch Visuals to assist you with planning & creating your visual content.
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