We say this often, but it's true—your website is your virtual waiting room. Your website is essentially the first impression your practice leaves on potential patients. The images you choose for your site are a representation of your practice. Just as important as your SEO efforts, your photo selection for your website is an important piece of the brand image pie… And we want it to look so appetizing that everyone wants a slice!
Let’s start from the beginning to understand why you shouldn't use stock photos, and how to capture authentic images that depict your internal image and the authentic experience of your practice through your online storefront.
What is the Meaning of Stock Photography?
When you hear people talk about stock photos, they are referring to a supply of photos that are available for purchase on the internet. These photos are typically categorized by industry, and you can find a stock photo for almost anything. While there seems to be an endless variety of stock photos, images can become repetitive, because the same stock models are used for thousands of photos. It’s very easy to differentiate a stock photo from an authentic photo. Especially in the orthodontic industry, unique stock photos are fairly limited. Odds are, if you’re using a stock photo of a smiling person with braces or Invisalign®—we’ve seen it. And so have hundreds of other orthodontic marketing agencies.
The Biggest Offenders - Why Stock Photos Are So Bad
Your stock photo is simply too popular—and not in a good way. Everyone has that photo, so it’s lost its value. When people see these same photos everywhere and recognize your website photo as one used on a number of other websites, it can come across as impersonal or inauthentic.
Your stock photos don’t match your location. Are you a practice in Colorado with a photo of a smiling family on the beach? Pay attention to the details! Before you decide on a stock photo, think, “is this practical, and does it represent my area accurately?” Your imagery should make sense and resonate with your community. After all, your website presents a valuable opportunity to connect with potential patients!
Your stock photo is too big for mobile view. Sure, you may have a photo that fits well from a desktop point of view, but what about mobile? An estimated 5.15 billion people are mobile users today! This number continues to grow too. Photos that aren’t optimized for mobile can completely change the perspective of your site. Users are likely to bounce off of your site and select one of your competitor’s sites instead. Most of your website traffic will come from mobile phones, so you need to prioritize a mobile-first site with mobile-first images.
Your stock photo is dated - Plain and simple. Stay relevant. Stay modern.
Why You Shouldn't Use Stock Photos
Not only do authentic photos make a webpage look better, visual elements have been psychologically proven to be more effective at helping a reader retain information than just text alone. In fact, 67% of online shoppers rated high-quality images as being “very important” to their purchase decision, which ranked slightly higher than product specific information, long descriptions, or reviews.
It's Not Just Your Website.. It's Your Listing Too
It's important to remember that photos are needed everywhere—not just on your website. Your Google My Business listing may very well be the first touch point for many potential patients. Notebly, 60% of consumers say local search results with good images capture their attention and push them toward a purchasing decision.
Google is the gatekeeper for your site and you must ensure it represents you well. No one cares more about authenticity than Google. In fact, Google will delete stock photos naturally from your listing. When looking to create a strong GMB profile, be sure to include the following:
- Exterior Photos
Strong exterior photos can be the first way a person establishes if you are a credible and trustworthy business. Google recommends three of these types of images, so consider different angles, sides of the building, and time of day.
- Interior Photos
Google recommends at least three interior photos. It is encouraged that you highlight main rooms such as your treatment area or waiting room.
- Team Photos
This is where you can really show off your company culture. Be sure to include any team photos or doctor headshots that help to drive interest and encourage users to visit your website!
Pro Photo Tip:
Keep in mind that any user can add their own photo to your Google listing. So make it a checkpoint to review new photos and ensure that they represent your brand well!
Now that you understand the true impact of authentic images, let's touch on how to get them!
4 Things to Remember for the Most Authentic Images
1. When planning a professional photoshoot with your team, map out your vision in advance. (Note: not all authentic images need to be professional photoshoot style.) Plan the dress code, the location and the mood. You want to convey your brand image clearly, so having a plan will set the tone for your team and your photographer.
Before-and-after photos have a HUGE impact on conversions and proof of authenticity. If you are going to be capturing patient photos during this photoshoot, you will want to reach out to these patients in advance and lay out the expectations and rewards for participating in this shoot. We suggest reaching out to more patients than you actually need.
2. Consult with your marketing agency on creative direction. While you may have a cool vision in mind, not all photos will work with the layout of your website. Orientation, background and lighting play a huge role in how you’re able to use these photos on your website.
3. Get a variety of team shots. Let’s face it, not every team member will be at your practice forever! Practices often take large team photos that are no longer useful once a few team members leave. Be sure to split off into groups and get a few candid shots. This is a great time to get staff photos with the patients you invited as well!
4. Keep it candid and natural. Some of the biggest problems with stock photos are the unnatural poses and overly airbrushed skin. Think about it, can you tell when a picture is staged? So can the users who visit your website! The more natural your team members can appear in photos, the more authentic your practice will come across. That’s not to say you can’t stage any photos. Staged photos of team members helping patients can still appear authentic.
Still Have Questions About Stock Photos vs Real Photos?
We have answers! Branding is important, and we understand it can be tricky to master in the beginning. That’s why you should leave it to us—the masters!