How to Choose the Right Photos for Your Brand

The power of an image is hard to ignore. As evident from the popularity of photo and video-centric channels like Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat, the online generation’s social media and online shopping habits are more visually-driven than ever. All the same, your landing page image may be the first impression a visitor has of your marketplace, and all the images you upload to each listing is an additional layer of wrapping or packaging that potential customers see.

Marketplaces like eBay and Amazon have always stressed to sellers that product photos must meet certain standards. For example, the bright and clean imagery on Amazon is achieved through strict requirements: Products must fill 85% or more of the image space, have a completely white background, and the picture must be a minimum of 500 pixels in either height or width as this enables the zoom function.

However, the presentation and context surrounding the product listings are of comparable importance. Ideally, the images on your landing page should be able to clearly convey your service and the benefits of buying from your marketplace and being part of your marketplace community.

Arcadier asks Keith Teo — co-founder of Raydar, a search aggregator for stock photo that offers more than 120 million images — how to choose images that are the perfect fit for a brand, and what we can learn from his startup journey since the launch of Raydar in 2016. As a former marketing executive, Keith knows very well the difficulty of finding images for marketing campaigns and how to best go about it.

Keith (center) and the Raydar team. Photo credit: Raydar.

Arcadier: What inspired you to start Raydar?

Keith: Raydar started as a solution to my own pain point as a marketer. I was a marketer at DKSH for 3 years prior to starting Raydar. Every time the marketing team had to launch a marketing or communication campaign, whether internal or external, we had to use a lot of images, and finding them was so time-consuming and a very ineffective use of our time.

It was also in these times when we were knee deep in searching for stock photos, that I learnt that it is actually a huge industry and there were so many brands out there, many of them I’ve never heard of. That’s when we thought a platform like Raydar could be useful.

Arcadier: How many free and premium stock photos are available on the site now?

Keith: Right now we have more than 120 million paid images signed with our partners, and we are trying our best to add them into the database as fast as we can. For free images, we have more than 100,000 of them now, from some of the most popular free photo sites. This means all the collection on Raydar comes with a simple Royalty Free license which can be used for any purpose, including the free ones.

How to find the best stock photos for your site

Arcadier: Can you describe the most common use case scenarios for stock photos? How can Arcadier’s marketplace owners use stock photos to their full advantage?

Keith: The most common use case would be to use stock photos for an advertising or marketing campaign. Besides that, marketplace owners can use stock photos for their website and/or mobile app landing page and other key pages to increase engagement and better appeal to their target audience. More importantly, a strong visual increases top-of-mind awareness, and it’s the cornerstone of a good brand.

You should use stock photos to test the performance and engagement of your marketplace website(s), and don’t be afraid to experiment and do A/B testing. You can also use stock photos for advertising or communication campaigns, be it online or offline, such as for your marketplace or brand FB page, FB posts, Instagram posts, flyers at an event, etc.

Arcadier: We’ve heard people say that stock photos can seem cliché or unoriginal. Do you agree with this? What’s the trick to choosing images that are a perfect fit for a brand?

Keith: I’d say the newer stock photos are not cliché at all and actually look very authentic. The right stock image should be selected to fit the campaign’s target audience and tone. A brand usually has more than one target audience, each with different personas and thus different channels to reach them.

You should first start with understanding the campaign’s target audience and finding out which images would most likely resonate with them. The photo should also be aligned with your communication tone, e.g is it a promotion or a launch?

The most important tip is not to get stuck too long finding the perfect image. There rarely is one that’s absolutely perfect. Get the campaign started and keep an eye for performance and conversion, and A/B test when useful.

Marketing tips for startups

Arcadier: Before you founded Raydar, you delved into a career in marketing. What are some of the most important lessons you learned there that you could apply to your startup?

Keith: Most important lesson learnt would be project management. In marketing, there are often campaigns that overlap and new campaigns that pop up due to trending news or reactions to competitors.

Being in marketing has taught me to react short term, think long term, and marry them together in an aligned execution. This is quite similar to life as a founder in a startup. We have to deal with long term visions, mid term product roadmap and milestones, short-term user and revenue targets. Things happen extremely fast but a clear head will help with making fast decisions and execution with gusto.

Arcadier: We love receiving Raydar’s e-mail newsletters — it’s always filled with beautifully curated photos. What’s your secret to writing great e-mails that customers will open and read?

Keith: There’s no real secret sauce here. It’s really about understanding your customers well. This means knowing what occupation they are most likely in, their seniority in their organization, what they do in their free time, what are some stereotypical character traits, and then crafting messages and putting together images that we know will do well.

Also, we track the performance of our newsletters very closely and do A/B testing on them too.

A snippet from Raydar’s e-mail newsletters. Photo credit: Raydar.

Arcadier: What are your 3 favorite digital marketing tools and why?

Keith:

  1. Canva: for quick and easy creation of social media and other content marketing graphics
  2. Later (app): to schedule Instagram posts to match user behavior in target cities
  3. Leadiq.io: to easily download emails from LinkedIn

Arcadier: We want to know what’s in store for RAYDAR in the near future.

Keith: We’ll be adding a lot more quality content, including stock videos, vectors and illustration over the next 3 months!

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