Thumbnail Images: Seeing is Believing for Online Shoppers

Customers on Amazon rely heavily on the impression they get from thumbnail images to make their buying decisions. Here’s why the visual element of your product listings is so crucial, and how you can make the most of your thumbnail images.

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Seeing is believing: customers on Amazon rely heavily on the impression they get from thumbnail images to make their buying decisions. Here’s why the visual element of your product listings is so crucial, and how you can make the most of your thumbnail images.

1. Keep up with the mobile movement

It’s no secret that commerce is moving online— businesses have been adapting to this shift for years. However, one important consideration often overlooked is the prevalence of mobile shoppers. Phones are being treated more and more like handheld computers in our pocket; searches from mobile devices comprise over 50% of Google’s 100 billion searches per month. This tendency translates into online shopping. These mobile customers do their browsing and buying from their phones, whose format changes the presentation of Amazon listings. It is crucial to understand the variance between desktop and mobile listings and adjust your content accordingly, so that your product shines in both settings. To gain traction with mobile shoppers, the most important step is a strong, informative set of thumbnail images.

An effective thumbnail image not only provides a tangible sense of what your product looks like, but also educates your customer about how the product is used and how it can improve their life. These are ideas that should also be reflected in your bullet point copy, but integration into the thumbnail image is key to include mobile viewers in the story. Product descriptions do not appear on mobile versions of listings, which means everything must be conveyed simply through the title and thumbnail images. This extra step to develop content is becoming increasingly crucial. As of December 2016, 50% of all US online shoppers use the Amazon mobile app. It has about 30 million monthly active users— all of whom will miss out on the important information conveyed in your product description if you do not translate it in your thumbnail images.

2. Beat the shrinking attention span

In the age of immediate gratification, the human attention span is becoming shorter and shorter. A study by Microsoft found that the average attention span has plummeted to just eight seconds— shorter than that of a goldfish.

This makes marketing to online shoppers a unique challenge. How do you capture someone’s interest and keep it on your page, when there are thousands of others to click on, skim through, then click to the next? What can you do to make your listing the one that holds a shopper’s attention long enough to make the decision to buy? Most Amazon customers don’t read past the first bullet point of your listing copy. That means even if they are on desktop, viewing your complete listing with product description included, those bullet points may still not play much of a factor in influencing your customer. Instead, shoppers tend to depend heavily on the impression that they get from a product’s thumbnail images. That’s why it’s so important to have a rock-solid set that showcases your product’s utility, quality, aesthetic appeal, and size and dimensions— the main elements that customers are looking for in a first impression.

It’s also important to consider your product and category when thinking about thumbnail images. A study conducted by the Nielsen Group found that thumbnails of bookcases were studied heavily by online shoppers, while thumbnails of flat screen TVs were largely ignored in favor of the text: only 18% of the viewing time was spent on the photos, and 82% on the text. The difference between these two products is obvious: one has much more of an aesthetic element, while the other is more utilitarian. Take this information into consideration when building your listing, and decide what matters most to the customer seeking out your product. Do they care more about how it looks, or what it can do? Adjust your thumbnail use and bullet points accordingly.

3. Let your images tell your story

Amazon is a powerful tool that brings your products to thousands of shoppers who turn to this marketplace first, every time. In terms of visibility, being a part of that network is an incredible advantage. However, the nature of selling on Amazon requires that every seller use the same format for their listings— a move that is reasonable for maintaining uniformity, but which limits the freedom of expression available for branding compared to your own website.

It’s easy to follow the Amazon guidelines at a basic level, upload some images, and consider your listing finished and ready to view. However, an important part of starting off on Amazon is understanding the vast amount of competition that you will be facing, and to ramp up your thumbnail image technique in order to stand out. A vital component of that is bringing your unique branding to these images, so that any shopper landing on your Amazon listing page will experience the same brand story as the shopper on your own website. Getting creative with your images can help you achieve a cohesive brand story on an Amazon page, with the next step being to add Enhanced Brand Content— an investment in leveling up your branding and professionalism that you can learn more about here.

Optimized images not only display your product, but tell the story of your product through powerful visuals. A good rule of thumb is to include one large, tightly cropped, professional-quality main product image, and a variety of images showing the product in action. Thousands of listings on Amazon are stale with poor quality or unprofessional images, so one with a high-resolution, well-lit main image is already ahead of the game in terms of clicks and sales. Plus, the extra effort to include images of the product in use helps customers visualize it in their lives. Since online shoppers do not have the opportunity to see and touch the product before buying, they are trusting the images almost entirely to give them a sense of what will arrive on their doorstep. This is why conveying the high quality and utility of your product via images is such an integral element of Amazon success.

The main takeaways to keep in mind when tackling your thumbnail images are the following: high-quality images make up for the mobile shoppers who miss out on product descriptions and the shrinking attention span that has others skipping them, and incorporating information about the product as well as brand identity into the thumbnail images helps shoppers get the full story with their first impression. Keep these considerations in mind as you piece together your perfect thumbnail images, and see for yourself how the power of the visual can launch your listing to the next level.