Over 75 percent of consumers are inspired to make purchases based on image and video content, according to new research from ViSenze — a statistic that highlights the growing importance of image-based search for marketers.
This isn’t a surprising stat in and of itself: Consumers have been inspired by visual content since the days of billboards and window shopping. But today’s technology allows them to put this preference into action by consuming more image or video-based digital content and, more importantly, making searches for products by means other than text. In fact, by 2020, an estimated 50 percent of searches will come from images and voice.
Image Inspiration On Social
So, what does this mean for marketers? First and foremost, it underscores the importance of understanding the platforms fundamental to image-based discovery — and how that subsequently leads to clicks, store visits, and purchases.
Social media marketing matters immensely in this regard: ViSenze’s report also finds that 44 percent of consumers use social media more than five times a day, and one-third of purchases begin on social platforms each month.
Pinterest and Instagram are key inspiration hubs that marketers should look to utilize, particularly in the retail and home goods spaces. This means exploring “buyable pins” and buy buttons to enable direct commerce, as well as using tools like Instagram Stories to promote sales at specific store locations.
Pinterest in particular has rolled out a number of features designed to keep pace with social media marketing offerings from Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter. In February, it rolled out a new search function that aims to match discovery to images, not words. Dubbed Pinterest Lens, “it lets you use the camera in your Pinterest app to discover ideas inspired by objects you see out in the real world,” the company said at the time.
Google Image Search
Google has also recently made a series of moves designed at making image search simpler and more accessible. As we wrote earlier this year, Google’s Image Search is so expansive, it’s often hard to find right right starting point, particularly when it comes to specific fashion shopping ideas.
But with the introduction of ‘Style Ideas,’ “now while perusing fashion product images, Image Search will surface a grid of inspirational lifestyle images and outfits that showcase how the product can be worn in real life,” Google’s Julia Enthoven wrote in a blog post. “With style ideas, you can see real-life options of what bag and jeans look stellar with those red high heels you’ve been eyeing. Or if running gear is more your speed, no sweat—workout ensemble ideas are just a tap away.”
With that aspect of style ideas aimed at making consumers’ search experience a bit easier, Google is also offering a way for retailers to take advantage of the additional assistance by offering an expanded carousel for “similar items” while searching for apparel products — adding another option for marketers to explore when it comes to improving visual discovery.
In the same vein, Google recently updated its app for Android and mobile web with badges for image search as well. Now, in searches made within the app, users see a badge in the bottom lefthand corner of an image. This badge categorizes the image, as well as provides text to clarify what action(s) someone can take.
For example, if someone searches for “pies” in Image Search, they will see badges for both video and recipe results, and can then click if they would like to view this more detailed information.
Marketers already know that search is critically important — 80 percent of US internet users prefer to turn to a search engine to find or look up information about local businesses — but with Google continuing to further its commitment, image search is the next frontier. Online content should include relevant, high-quality, tagged images — ideally alongside other content like recipes or product information that Google may index for.