How to Use Images to Turbocharge Your Marketing – Interview with Alan Nunez
In This Episode:
00:41 – Who is Alan Nunez?
02:18 – Alan’s background in utilising images better for marketing
04:03 – The main differences between web graphic and print graphic
06:33 – Top mistakes that businesses make when it comes to choosing images for marketing
08:35 – Importance of hiring a professional to help you sort out images for your marketing
10:19 – What to do first before uploading and using your images online
12:38 – Advantages of putting your company logo into your online images
15:26 – Key things to focus on when it comes to images for building landing pages
16:48 – Importance of custom graphics
19:46 – The best type of images to use on Display Ads
24:17 – The best types of images for Social Media
28:41 – A tip from Alan Nunez
Liza: Hi, this is Liza Choa, Founder of Content Maximiser, and I want to welcome you to another episode of the Content Maximiser podcast.
Today, I have Alan Nunez joining us. Alan has been a professional photographer for 20 years, with experience in many industries and still owns and operates a successful photography studio based in Sydney, Australia. In the last 10 years, he’s specialised in creative direction, graphic design, print management, digital and traditional campaign management. Over the years, he’s worked on campaigns from medium and large business, such as Samsung, Nikon Australia, Kimberley Clark Professional, Wesfarmers Insurance, Recall and many medium enterprises.
On top of all this, he’s also the CEO and Founder of Pixel Partners HQ, which is a specialist wholesale design agency providing back-of-house services for design studios, marketing and advertising agencies from all round the world. He’s passionate about helping business improve their marketing objectives and you will definitely hear it from this interview. So now, let’s get straight into it.
Liza: Hey Alan,
Alan: Hi Liza, how are you today?
Liza: Excellent, how are you?
Alan: I’m fantastic. It is awesome to be with you here today.
Liza: Well, I’ve been hanging out for this podcast
Alan: Oh, you know what, I’ll tell you a little secret, so have I. I want to excite you all…
Liza: Ha Ha, Oh stop it. All right, let’s get straight into it…
Alan: Let’s do it.
Liza: Let’s do it. So Alan, tell the listeners more about your background and what’s your business. What we’re focussing on this podcast is about images and how to utilise images better for our marketing. So what’s your background in relation to that?
Alan: Yeah, well look, I am a, originally, going back to my cadet days, I’m a professional photographer and I work on a broad range of studios, people photography to product photography, motorcycles, press. Then I moved from photography into print and design. Now I’m going to put a little side note there, I’m NOT a designer.
However, I have spent well over 15 years working with design teams, working in creative positions, where I’m guiding the creative process. So I essentially work as a go-between, between clients and the creative people because they don’t always speak the same language.
That’s my background, and today, I have a wholesale design and imaging agency. So when I say wholesale, I work for the hardest possible clients out there, which are other designers and other advertising agencies and other marketing agencies.
Liza: Awesome, so you deal with a large variety of both online and offline graphics, wouldn’t you?
Alan: Absolutely, I mean, we deal with catalogues, banner advertising, google display ads, websites, packaging, signage, billboards, bus advertising. You name the visual media, we do design work for it, because we have quite a broad range of skills in our design team in our agency.
What are the main differences between web graphics and print graphics?
Liza: Fantastic, cool. we talk about web graphic and print graphic, maybe you can just share with us, you know, what is the main differences between the two when it comes to choosing images?
Alan: Look, you know, that is such an interesting question, because most people just see images and expect them to be the same. There is one fundamental difference between print graphics and web graphics and that is the resolution.
So, we always advise our clients to start with a higher resolution image that they can use for print even if their intention, at the time of the design, is purely for web, but to start with that image and then down sample it for web. So web always needs screen resolution which uses less dots, it’s fast to load and it’s generally optimised for that. Now you can go from a print image to a web image but you can’t go from a web image to a print image. You can’t up sample an image. That’s a massive problem that people just don’t understand when they’re doing design or working with a design team.
Liza: Well, you know, it’s interesting that you said that, because it’s like, not even in terms of, um, you know, design specific. We have clients where we have them with their websites and then they’ve been to an event, they took a whole bunch of photos, and then they upload those photos straight to their website and every photo they upload is like, 20 Megs…
Alan: Yeah, absolutely, I mean, people don’t realise that there is a difference so what end up happening is their customers got to look at the photos and…
Liza: Take them forever to load…
Alan: Yes, and they just get bored. They might, just might see the first photo, and the other 20 they loaded they stop and can’t be bothered and they move on. Which is terrible when it comes to marketing and getting your message across. We take it for granted, Liza, I mean, things like Facebook which allows you to upload images, any size image, in fact, Facebook actually takes care of converting the photos and optimising them for their system.
So, it pays to, at least, know. There are heaps of great tools out there that come with Macs and PCs these days which allow you to, I mean, even iPhoto allows you to say “I want to use these photos for web or email” and it will reduce the size of them for you. So it’s not hard to do, you just need to be aware of it.
What are the top 3 mistakes businesses make when it comes to using images?
Liza: Yeah, exactly. So you would have dealt with many, many businesses, when it comes to graphic images, what would you consider to be the top three mistakes that you see businesses make, when it comes to choosing images for their marketing?
Alan: Look, I think that there’s probably one massive mistake and that is, not engaging a professional to help you with the images. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to hire a professional photographer, it may just mean hiring a graphic designer to source high quality stock images for you.
You can get beautiful images today from stock libraries and I’ll talk about that in just a moment. There is an issue with doing that, you get these amazing images but you need somebody who know what to look for, to actually sit there and look through the 100s and 1,000s if not, millions of images there, to find images that will connect with your customer and work well for its purpose.
An image that you might use on your website, may or may not be the right image to use in a magazine ad or on the front window of your retail premises. It may be, but you really need a professional designer to think about that.
What often happens, is that people try to use their own images, the landscape image, where really, it needs to be portrait image. Or they won’t consider on the website it needs to be cropped to a circle or to square. These little things often make a big difference. And, if possible, I encourage every business to hire a professional photographer, and have them come to your business once a year and build a portfolio of images. It’s not terribly expensive and the value is massive. You get what you want and it’s not a random stock image… nobody else is going to have that image. I think that’s probably the biggest mistake, not engaging a professional to help you with that process.
Liza: It makes such a difference when you engage with a professional photographer or designer, it just makes your business a lot more professional.
Alan: Oh, ABSOLUTELY! I mean, just the sheer ability to catch somebody’s eye with the design is SO important and the right images, help that a lot.
Liza: When you’ve got the right image, it conveys the message a lot better.
Alan: Absolutely, absolutely, I mean, a lot of people have a very content, ie text heavy websites because they think that’s what Google wants. The reality is, you need to design everything you do, not for Google or for anybody else, but for your customer.
Liza: Yeah, for your customers and your prospects.
Alan: Absolutely. You know, your prospective customers, your current customers and anybody else who engages with your business. Just because they don’t become a customer, doesn’t mean they’re not going to say “Wow, I saw this amazing website, with this great information, and it looked awesome”, and tell their friends about it, who do need your product or service.
How to make images SEO friendly?
Liza: Yeah, exactly. And you just touched on a point I was going to mention as a mistake number 2, is that you talk about, you know, the search engine and so forth, is you can actually Search Engine Optimise your images as well. A lot of companies we see when they have their website and they upload images, the image title is a code, you know, IMG0198, you know, whatever, and that is meaningless to the Search Engine. Instead, you can Search Engine Optimise those images properly.
Alan: Look, there’s a few things that are really important with that and, you know, I’m fairly passionate about this, and look, this is just my humble opinion, but being in the industry of imaging going from traditional film and print, to digital, to web and the evolution of where it’s going, there are some massive mistakes that people have made and are making on a daily basis.
If you are going to use your images for web, you need to do a few things.
Firstly, you need to be aware, that not only the file name is important, so at this point in time, rename your file name.
Liza: And what should they rename it to?
Alan: Something relevant, right. You can fall into the trap of trying to keyword stuff your file names, even if you use your company name and, let’s say for example, you have a stock image, so nothing to do with your business, you got it from a stock library and it’s a lady with a headset doing customer service – phone customer service. You can rename that your business – customer service, and that is going to do a mountain of good.
There is another issue though, and what a lot of people don’t realise is actually meta data embedded in the back of that image, so additional metadata that you can put on the website. So, if you’re using something like WordPress and you load a new image, it gives you the option to put a description in, put in ‘Alt text’, and a title. Make sure you put in those and, if possible, have a designer, a Photoshop operator, or an imaging expert, or a photographer go through and customise the metadata in the images as well.
Because, if you use a stock image, it’s actually tagged in the back of the image that it’s a stock image. You don’t see it, unless you know where to look to see that. Now, that’s OK today, but if you look at where Google is heading, image search, they already have the capability, but if I grab and image and I drag it into the Google images search, actually grab the image, not typing anything into the search box, it will actually find all similar images on the web of that image.
So, Google has the ability to look at the metadata in the back end and work out that it’s not a unique image, even though you’ve renamed it, and also it’s actually getting very good at recognising what’s IN the image. If you’re using stock images, it’s a great idea to put your logo on that image. It’s a great idea to customise that image even if you have a small amount of text as a footer, I mean, it obviously depends on the design that you doing, if possible, have a professional do some additional work to the image.
Because what’s going to happen is, just like you might have copied and pasted content, the devalue anything they believe is duplicate content, they eventually will do the same with images.
Liza: Yeah, definitely, Google love original content and that’s whether it’s text or whether it’s images or whether there’s video, they definitely place a lot more value on original content. So, if you get stock images… one of the things we do for our clients, when we help them with stock images, say, for their blog post, is we put their logo as a watermark at the bottom right corner.
Alan: Absolutely, and make sure it’s clear. A lot of people will watermark it and make it little bit faint. Make sure the watermark is clear because Google will be able to read that text in future, if they can’t already do it now.
Liza: Interesting, OK…
Alan: For instance, if I was typing in “Content Maximiser” in the image, it will find those images even if they’re not named “Content Maximiser”.
Liza: REALLY! WOW, Gee, Google’s getting smarter and smarter
Alan: Yeah, the thing is, they test a lot of things in the background again, it’s not something they’re actively doing right now, but if you look at the trends of what they’ve done, that will be the next inevitable step, I mean, you can already do that in a number of applications, so things like Evernote, I drop a photo into Evernote, there’s text in the photo, it recognises the text.
Liza: Mmmm, OK, There you go! So basically, you know, we talk about the top 3 mistakes, there’s number 1, engage a professional you so your business to come across professional. Secondly, don’t upload massive photos and images on your website, actually adjust it so that it is good for the web so that it’s a quick download for people. And thirdly, Search Engine Optimise your images so that Google will be able to know what that image is about and see it as original content and then, help you to rank better for the image and the website overall.
Alan: Yeah, absolutely.
What are the key elements when choosing images for landing page?
Liza: So let’s focus on the web for now, what do you think are some of the key things that people need to focus on when it comes to building landing pages. When I say landing pages, I mean sales pages that you want people to take action, you know, there are certain things that people should focus on when it comes to images for landing pages.
Alan: Yeah, look, absolutely. I mean, first thing is there is no right answer for everybody, and again, when you engage a professional, firstly, they’re going to think about this practice, then they’re going to think about your business and your clientele and try and find a starting point that they believe is going to give you the best results. Then, test from that.
Depending on what kind of product or service you offer, obviously a really high quality image of your product, if it’s a product, not a photo from your iPhone taken on your desk, you know, have a professional do it. They have the right camera, the right lens, the right lighting, the right angles and they will make your product look awesome. If it’s a service, happy, smiley people. Get them looking at the camera, so that, when your prospects, or whoever’s looking at the landing page, gets there, they actually get eye contact with that photo. So there’s things like that. Look, we’re talking about images and at the moment we’re sort of focusing on photos, but another really important type of image that we’ve got to think about is custom graphics.
Alan: You know, everybody can make a diagram in PowerPoint these days, or Keynote or any one of the desk top publishing programs, but again if you take what you’ve done and you give it to a professional and ask them to optimise it and brand it and design it to work for your landing page, you will have something that is far more refined. People recognise the difference in quality, don’t they…
I mean, if you take a company like Coles or Woolworths as an example, in the old days, they had their old red and white, or black and white Homebrand jars and tins and packages. And then you had the Premium brands, and the Premium brands always looked amazing. Beautiful product images on the jar, very nicely laid out, well researched colours.
Woolworths now, try and go in and find one of those red and black packages, they’ve realised that people understand the difference in quality when it comes to design.
So why would you do that to your own site? Why do you take something that you might think it looks great, and there are a lot of talented people out there but, trust me, when a designer gets their hands on even the best diagram that I’ve seen people make, they’ll refine it, the client is blown away by the results and it has knock on effects when it comes to conversion on the those pages.
Liza: You raise a really good point and it’s beyond just landing pages, isn’t it? Even like PowerPoint presentations, like Corporate boardroom presentations, being able to utilise images that are in those presentations will have a huge impact on the conversion rate and the ability to deliver your message across, especially if it’s a sales presentation.
Alan: Absolutely, we deal with massive Multinational clients and they spend – there are teams, there are marketing teams spending hours and hours developing their PowerPoint decks for a specific presentation that can be worth a massive amount of money for them. Or not even a massive amount, just about an presentation that going to have a return or potential return, they spend hours putting it together. Then they concede and send it straight to us, knowing that it’s going to look better when we’re finished.
So, again it doesn’t have to be a massive expense, but it’s worth every cent. Actually, there is a bigger return that you’ll get on design, than what you spend. A lot of people are intimidated by professionals having to do these things because it’s so easy today to desk top publish, but people recognise quality.
What is the best practice when it comes to design and Display Network Advertising?
Liza: Yeah, Yes, Definitely. So, cool. So another really big one when it comes to graphic design is the display ads. So display ads very often, there’s a lot of images in that. So do you find that, or what are your thoughts on what images work well in the display network?
Alan: Well. That is a massive question. When we talk about display ads, we could probably bundle in Facebook advertising, Remarketing, Google display ads and even ads on your own website advertising your own products. If you ask me what images work better, I always encourage people to start with a set of ads and test, OK, so our classic example is, what we call a 3 by 3 grid.
Alan: So, you have 3 headlines and then you have 3 images, and you intermix all of those to come up with 9 ads. So essentially you have the classic example that we would use for practically any business that had no idea where to start, a male orientated image, a female orientated image, and a product or abstract image related to the theme or topic or industry.
So you might have, say he was an accountant, you might have a man in a business suit, a business woman sitting at a desk, and the third might be, you know, what looks like a Chartered Accountant’s calculator.
Liza: Right, ok, fantastic. So, I’ve heard recently that with display ads featuring a female image that a brunette converts better than a blonde. Have you heard of something like that before?
Alan: I’ve heard of all sorts of things where people say this converts better than that. You cannot put a general, broad, brush stroke solution across every industry.
You know, I’ve done jobs where we were absolutely positive that the female image would convert and the male image’s converted. We’ve had stuff where we swore that image ads would be the best and then in our split test sets we also create text based ones that are nicely branded but they don’t necessarily have any photo on them, they might have a graphic or something like that, and we’ve sworn that the people would convert, when it turned out that the graphic converted.
So, what I tell people is, you must use images, you cannot start without using images, if you use text only, or you use images only, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
And then test. Find out what works for YOUR market and your industry and build on that. If you find females work better, then to test blonde versus brunette.
Liza: Yeah, you raise a really, really good point there. Very often, we got clients that ask us, “What do you think? Should we use this headline or that headline? Should we use this image or that image?” and my answer to them is always, “I don’t know and you won’t know, so the best method is actually to test both, and do split testing and let your market tell you.”
Alan: And that’s the joy of display ads. Today, you can do that, I mean, I’ve been doing this for so long, we were around well before display ads were online. To split test a headline on a full page press ad, for example, would mean the company would have to run multiple press ads that would cost them five figures and on a wing and a prayer, see if they get a different result, cause there was no way to measure it. Today, for a very, very, very small expense, you can have a designer set up split test ads for you, you can roll them out and you can use a very small budget until you get enough data to say, “we have one or two winners, we’re going to refine those and then set up another split test ad for something different”.
Liza: Yeah, that’s the beauty of online marketing, isn’t it?
Alan: Absolutely, it’s fantastic, you just can’t go wrong. If you think about it the right way, you can’t go wrong. Most people fail, because they design one ad, put it out there and nothing happens and then they wonder why?
What about images for social media?
Liza: Yeah, that’s the thing. Test and measure everything and then you can always optimise. and that’s what we love about online marketing and digital marketing. What about in terms of social media and images. You know, things such as Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, you know, what are your thoughts on all of that, you know, when it comes to images for businesses and marketing.
Alan: OK. Social media is whole other beast. And we kind of rank social media all in together, but you really have to think about where you’re putting your images. For example, if your using Linkedin, your images should be sharp and refined. Potentially, the same type of images that you might use in a high quality brochure, because it’s a professional market. Whereas, if your talking, say, Facebook, you want something that feels real. A lot of people say, “take your own photos”. Yeah, that’s great, but a lot of people still take terrible photos.
And, don’t get me wrong, the iPhone 5, as a example, with smart phones, and the Samsung Galaxy, take the most unbelievable photos. I mean, they take better photos, than my Nikon D1X that I bought 14 years ago. The early digital camera that was 1.2 Megapixels that cost me over $10,000 and the phone in my pocket takes better photos today. But that doesn’t mean they are photos that people are going to connect with.
So again, take your own photos but engage a professional and have them say, “listen, we want these in Facebook. What are the right images?” You can find a lot of stock images that look like they’ve been taken by you, potentially. No they don’t have to look quite as refined, you do have to know where to look. There are different stock libraries. Some stock libraries that are all really dainty images and other ones tend to look a little more down and dirty and their on the cheaper stock libraries, say, Reflex stock or something like that. But if it’s Facebook, make them look real.
If it is Pinterest, Pinterest is a whole other beast again.… look I’m still unsure as to what is the best solution for Pinterest is today, but you want them to be elegant, no matter what your market is, it’s all about images on Pinterest. So they have to have an element of refinement. It doesn’t mean you can’t take them yourself, but do a bit of post production on the image, you know, put a nice border on them, apply a curve on the corners, apply a small effect. I think you did a podcast not long ago about an iPhone app, add those effects to cheap photos.
Liza: that’s right, yeah, I’ll attach it to this show. It’s the “Camera+” app that you can just run your pictures through, just to give it that extra touch. that is great for platforms such as Pinterest or Facebook, but for something like Linkedin, you definitely want something more sharper, more professional. Engaging a professional to touch those images up so that they are right for the right social media platform for those audience that are hanging out there.
Alan: I have seen people literally destroy beautiful design by using bad images and that can be done on any level, whether it be on a website, Linkedin or Facebook. If you use the wrong image in Facebook, a lot of people will try to do Facebook posts with these beautiful clean, crisp, almost corporate brochure images and it doesn’t look right.
Liza: No. It looks out of place, doesn’t it?
Alan: …and you’ve got other people who have got great Linkedin profiles and then and they’re using these crappy photos off their iPhone, or people have these amazingly designed, professionally designed websites and their featured product image is amateur at best.
Alan: You’ve got to get it right for that specific need. It has to be well thought out and suit the purpose.
What is the final takeaway for our listeners in terms of images for business?
Liza: Yes, that’s a really good point. So… Look, we are approaching towards the end of our podcast, you know, it normally goes on for half an hour, so Alan, if there’s one take away you want the listeners to get from this podcast that can help them with their business through images and graphics, what would that be?
Alan: I think, do more of it. Get good at it. You know, not every business can afford to pay a professional, so really take time and look at your images and ask yourself the question, “Is this the right image for where I’m putting it?”
Alan: Open up Facebook, open up the Facebook Group you might want to post it at, take your photo, open it next to it and just make a decision, does this look like everything else that’s being posted. Do the same with Linkedin, do the same with your competitors’ websites, and if it doesn’t meet that standard, try again.
There are heaps of free tutorials on YouTube and online on how to take great photos with smart phones and entry level SLRs, and let me tell you, some of these entry level SLRs that you can buy for a few hundred dollars today, can allow you to take image that are just as good as the professional equipment that I have sitting in my studio today. You just need to know how to use it.
Liza: Yes, and there are a lot of information out there, isn’t it?
Alan: Yeah, and then everything else we spoke about, you know, name the files correctly, make sure they’re unique to your business and if they’re a stock image, have somebody edit them so that they are different from the original stock image. So, just really think about how important imagery is in your business.
Liza: Yes, awesome. Well, Alan, thank you so much for your time, really appreciate it. You have shared a lot of gems throughout this podcast that I’m sure the listeners can utilise for their business, so thank you once again.
Alan: You are very welcome. It was great to be here and I really hope that the listener got some gold out of that, and your more than welcome to post some contact information for me if anybody has any questions or just contact Liza at Content Maximiser and I will happily answer anything that anybody wants to ask.
Liza: Thank you and for anyone that wants to learn more about Alan’s business, they can go to PixelPartnersHQ.com is that right?
Alan: That sounds right to me
Liza: Awesome, and we’ll also include the link in the show notes. Thanks, Alan.
Alan: Thanks, Liza.
Well, I hope you have enjoyed this episode and found a few tips that Alan has shared that you can implement into your marketing. If you like this show, I would love a review from you on iTunes. Also, if you know anyone who could benefit from this podcast, it would be great if you could share it, like it, tweet it, Google+ it or do whatever you want to do with it.
Anyway, enjoy the rest of your day and I’ll see you at the next episode.
Thank you for listening to the Content Maximiser podcast. You can get a full transcript of this episode, plus access to a lot more free online marketing tips at ContentMaximiser.com
See you at the next episode.
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