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Using Pictures to Get Clicks & Conversions

Last Updated April 27, 2021

Have you ever wondered if people like your campaign as much as you did when you first saw it? After all, you brainstormed an award-winning design (well, in your mind at least), the copy had you convinced, and the product speaks for itself. 

But the clicks just aren't coming.

Impatient Judge Judy

Okay, let’s talk about conversion rate optimization (CRO). CRO is the act of increasing the rate at which your business is achieving a certain goal that you have set for your marketing campaign. Simply put, CRO is literally just optimizing the conversion rate on your site. Makes sense, right? 

Meryl Streep nodding

Now, the conversion rate you’re looking to optimize might vary depending on your marketing objective. In some cases, this could be click-throughs, signing up for a newsletter, or purchasing a product. Each of these actions represents a conversion from visitor to lead or customer. 

In other words, conversion marketing is result-oriented and makes use of tools and tactics that deliver numbers. CRO requires a lot of testing to discover what works, what doesn’t, and what could be improved.

We’re going to talk about just one conversion marketing tactic today: using photographs of real people to increase your conversion rate. 

What Do You Mean Real Photographs are a Marketing Strategy?

It turns out those “single ladies in your area” ads from the internet of yore were excellent marketing clickbait, and for more than just the obvious reasons. Research has shown that using photographs of real people on websites can boost consumer trust and make visitors think more positively about your site.

All the cool people are trying it—even us. Ever notice this on our site? 👇


It’s pretty neat to think that just using human faces in marketing content, eCommerce images, and CTAs could boost conversions. That's pretty easy, after all. It almost seems too good to be true, so we did a little digging to find validation for this tip. 🧐

Prove it with A/B Tests

VWO shared some case uses of their A/B testing tool that unearthed interesting insights that we love. 

In one test, a user created two CTAs—the only difference being that one was an image of a telephone icon, while the other featured an image of the real person. The test resulted in a 5.5% conversion rate on the ad with the person’s image, compared to the 3.7% conversion rate for the icon featuring an icon. 

VWO screenshot

Image Credit: VWO

Another user conducted a similar A/B test that showed even more impressive results. In this test, using photographs of artists, as opposed to images of their art, generated a 17.2% conversion rate compared to the previous 8.8%.

VWO screenshot_2

Image Credit: VWO

That’s pretty impressive evidence that photographs of people can impact conversions!

Is that all it takes to convert customers?

This does make you wonder whether putting up images of any person or using a stock photo is the simple and easiest way to increase conversions. Can you just upload any old photo and call it a day?

New Girl Nick shaking head


In another interesting example by AdoreMe, a lingerie company, the company wanted to figure out on a large scale what images drove consumers to buy. They did some serious testing to what images got the best responses and optimize product images on their site.

Through their tests, they discovered something interesting—the right model can matter more than the price. Discounts don’t matter as much when the shopper doesn’t care for the model. A certain pose can influence sales. They even discovered that using photos of a “popular” model can help sell a pricier version of the same garment.

So, in essence, while photos of real people can encourage more conversions than flat lay photos or mannequins, there’s even more to be gained from using the “right” type of photo

How to Use Human Photos in Your Campaign

Build Trust

We know that people are more likely to trust the face of a person. By greeting your customer with a landing page and accompanying that with a smiling face of a person, they are more likely to trust you with their information.

Some other reasons to use human faces for conversions:

  • You’re helping eCommerce customers visualize how a product would be “in real life”.
  • You’re creating transparency between clients and businesses, especially when a company uses photos of their team members.
  • You’re appealing to the emotions of users and customers.

Don’t feel like you should use any old photo or that you need to flood your site with pictures of people, but do be deliberate in your photo usage to build trust with site visitors. 

Unique Pictures Over Stock Photos

Using stock photos can be a bit risky. People can tell when you’re using a stock photo, and it’s even possible that they’ve come across that same photo on another website.

Side note: An EmberTribe team member was once browsing through a yoga studio's website and spotted a photo of a man who has been a popular meme for years. Oops. Consider this a cautionary tale about using photos that aren’t your own.

This can have an inverse effect and turn the customer off. To avoid this, try utilizing your own photoshoots or even customer images from reviews to create totally unique, real imagery.

The Bottom Line

This CRO tip is not a quick fix for immediate results. Using just any image is not the answer. This approach requires testing, tweaking, and creativity. And honestly? That’s our kind of marketing.

Share you experiences this this CRO tactic and/or let us know what you think of our stock photo header image choice in the comments below 😉.

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