Photos are super important for ecommerce sites so here’s a few tips that might help you to improve yours. We were doing this exercise for a hotel and the main places we needed images for was the company, native web site, travel sites like booking.com, google business and maps, Facebook and Flickr. Run an analytics report in google analytics, the site you’re using like Facebook or Booking.com or whatever you use and a site backup before you start so you can see the improvement. You want to see search and conversion ratios improving and ultimately sentiment and reviews improving as you empower customers with more information.
Much like video, be realistic about what you can do with your current equipment and skill levels. I have basic equipment (smartphone camera) and very low photography skills so I know from the start this isn’t going to be a National Geographic award winning exercise. We’re talking snappy, point and shoot stuff for social and ecommerce photo albums. If you are entering architectural awards then you want to brief someone specialist like Simon Devitt who is amazing and at a whole different level of skill and budget. The hobby ‘oh look I have an SLR camera’ person can be your greatest time wasting nemesis.
Get together some people in your marketing team and write a list of what you need for customer and SEO purposes. You’ll find (with customer content especially) you have a lot of the same types of photos. For example, if you are a cafe you’ll have lots of photos of coffee cups and probably none of the toilets. If you are a hotel you’ll have the front entrance and not the layout of the bathrooms. You want product and ‘answering questions’ type photos that communicate features like:
-does it have free wifi in the room? - photo of person on laptop in room and free wifi sign
-is it child friendly? - photo of child at cafe
-what is the room layout? -photo of room layout and floor plan
-when you say swimming pool is it a resort pool or a lap pool? photo of resort style pool
People are looking for lots of accurate information so as much as you want to put your best foot forward, be careful about showcasing your $300 room when you’re $99 room is the one that most people buy on a deal. If your photos don’t show a true representation of what people get, then you’ll get negative reviews and it’s just not worth it.
Write some groups ‘newly refurbed rooms’, ‘old rooms’, ‘one bedroom’, ‘two bedroom’ and make sure you cover off different options people might purchase.
Smartphone cameras are fine just make sure the size is correct for output for example booking.com want quite big images at 2048 x 1536. I’ll say that again: SMARTPHONE CAMERAS ARE FINE. Most of the images your customers post will be from mobile so it’s not a big thing to have some that you took in the mix to front-foot parts of the business you want to show.
The worst thing you can do is wait around for the perfect photo of everything and then have customers tag and upload all their ugly photos because those will be the ones that appear in search and on sites like Facebook. Put your OK one’s up first.
Release the hounds. Set everyone off to take photos in the group they’ve been allocated. Try and take photos early in the day or in the evening so the light works but again, don’t get too fussy or you’ll never get around to doing it. We just drew up a little grid and had one person responsible for a part of the business e.g. you are doing two bedroom units in the new part of the building and getting everything on your SEO list. Photos with people in them are prioritised on a lot of sites so make sure you ask anyone’s permission before you publish them in an image- customers or employees.
Set a deadline and have everyone come back for the upload. Taking photos is the more fun part so watch everyone run away when you get to the boring editing, uploading and tagging part. Have one folder for each part of the grid and put all the raw photos in the folder.
You want everyone editing and tagging so we used Picmonkey because it’s free for basic things like resizing and cropping. If you have multiple computers that can do Adobe Photoshop or something else that’s great- just don’t be restricted by only having a designer to do it because it’s really slow and you won’t get the volume you want in a short timeframe. Picmonkey struggles a bit with the big 2048 images in browser but just stick to cropping and basic stuff because if you fiddle around with colour setting they’ll all look different and the app crashes too.
Set a file naming convention like ‘one bedroom new 2048 bathroom’ so other people can use the images again. We resized to 2048 x 1536 for booking.com and went to a standard Instagram square because I just like those at the moment and they’re quite handy to have for social sites - 410 x 410. Do both so you should have three types of each picture 1. raw 2. 2048 3.410
The most important ingredient at this point is coffee and headphones because it’s time consuming but listen to Soundcloud and you’ll get through it. I recommend Cay Taylan’s full album for ultimate photo resizing performance. After a Cay Taylan’s album length of time, you are ready to start publishing.
Start uploading to the sites. Put one person on each site and make sure they’re working off lists so you cover everything. Booking.com has a tagging directory so that can be a good one to follow. Use your SEO keywords lists as well so the images are tagged correctly. It’s really easy to rush this part and not get the most out of it so try and channel the art direction enthusiasm into photo tagging and people will soon figure out there’s a lot to get through and not be so fussy with the images. If the image is 80% OK, use it. You can go back and update the exceptions later but try and stop people rushing off and taking more photos in the first batch because your uploading soldiers will desert you and leave you with three pretty photos of the main lobby and none of the bedrooms. Just remember that your customers will quickly boost up a photo without too much thought and it might not be flattering so get your ones up there and live.
Tagging can take ages so really perservere and keep everyone on task because you won’t want to go back and do it later. Next morning, have a quick review of the images that are live and then you can make a list of any you missed or that are really terrible and need a reshoot. You want lots of images, about 20-30 on each site of decent size and quality all tagged up with descriptions and albums and any other helpful meta data like hashtags or geotags.
Put all the final images into folders and back them all up to somewhere central and cloudy like google drive or dropbox -even though they are live on the sites it just makes it easier for the future. Getting urgency on to the job and powering it out in one or two days is much better than dragging it out with designers on $$$$ hourly rates and then you can go back and get some hero shots later if you want for specific campaigns. Hope that helps and when you run your reports again, the conversions are up and the reviews are positive :)