Website Design

Blog - Do customers distrust websites with stock photos?

By Lindsay Hanks
Monday, June 26, 2023

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5 Ways Stock Images Are Costing You Customers

In today's visually driven online world, eye-catching imagery has become crucial for websites. Businesses often turn to stock photos to enhance their websites as these images are accessible, cheap (or free), and offer a wide variety.

But could stock images be costing you sales? Despite their convenience, stock photos may actually be hurting your brand and repelling your customers.

Let’s explore some of the unintended consequences of relying on stock photos.

Lack of authenticity

One of the main drawbacks of stock photos is their lack of authenticity. Have you ever seen an image on a website that you think you’ve seen before? It’s likely because you have. These generic images are widely used across multiple platforms, making them easily recognizable and familiar to many people.

Potential customers who visit your website often want a more personal connection and are more likely to engage with content that feels genuine. When stock photos are overused, they create a sense of detachment, hindering the authenticity of the website and often discouraging users from exploring your website further.

Failure to reflect brand identity

If your business aims to build a unique brand identity that will set you apart from your competitors, stock photos aren’t the answer. Stock photos lack the personal touch that reflects who you are as a brand.

When stock images are incorporated into a website, they can dilute your brand's identity and make it difficult for customers to connect with your business. Website visitors may see the lack of originality as a sign of insincerity, leading to a decline in trust in your brand.

An experience that is easily forgotten

The appeal of stock photos is that they are professionally done. However, despite their visual appeal, they typically lack context and relevance to the content they accompany.

When users visit a website expecting to find unique and informative content, encountering generic and familiar images is disappointing.  If the images are too mundane users may lose interest, resulting in lower engagement.

Negative impact on SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) plays a crucial role in driving traffic to your website. While stock photos may seem harmless, they can hinder SEO efforts. When people see relative and unique content, they are more likely to engage on your website.

Visitor engagement is important for SEO because it tells search engines that people like your website and find it relevant.

A website with low engagement is less likely to rank well in search engines, further impacting its overall traffic.

Lack of trust and credibility

Customers are more likely to trust unique images that show actual products or services vs. stock images, according to a study done by Cornell in 2019.

Trust is a crucial factor in establishing an online presence that people consider credible. People don’t trust websites that feel impersonal. By relying on stock photos, businesses risk coming across as unprofessional or inauthentic, decreasing their trust in your business. This lack of trust can significantly decrease website traffic as users seek out more reputable sources.

Make your brand stand out with original photography

Original photography that reflects your brand, your products, and your people will always earn the trust of your customers better than stock photography. This is the case, even if your photos are merely taken with a smartphone, rather than by a professional photographer.

While professional photography is ideal, authenticity is what matters most. And that comes from unique imagery that reflects your business.

Examples Of Original Branded Photography

GroupM7 can help your brand stand out with a professionally designed website that features your own branded photos.

We recently worked with Texas Crystal Blue Pools to improve their customer experience on their website.

Their previous website was inundated with stock images, leaving only their gallery to display some of their work. We redesigned their website to make it more authentic and trustworthy. Now customers can see the stunning work they’ve done for other homeowners like them.

Today, if you visit their website, you’ll see custom pools they’ve built for their clients from the moment you land on their page.

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Examples Of Branded Stock Imagery

While generic stock images can damage your credibility, original, branded stock images can make your brand look more professional and trustworthy. Branded stock images resemble traditional stock photos, but they are professional photos that you have taken for your own brand. GDC Industrial and Doran Mechanical are excellent examples of professionally branded stock images.

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While stock photos offer convenience and a wide range of options, their excessive use can have unintended negative consequences, making your website seem inauthentic, diluting brand identity, and creating a bad user experience.

To engage and connect with your customers in the most authentic way, you should consider investing in original, high-quality imagery that reflects your brand's identity and resonates with your target audience.

If you find yourself in need of a website redesign, GroupM7 can help transform your online presence into a genuine and unique brand identity.

Lindsay Hanks