Let’s start with this startling statistic: The human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than written text. Perhaps even more impressive is that MIT neuroscientists found that the brain can identify images the eye sees for as little as 13 milliseconds. That’s 13/1000ths of a second, the time it takes a honey bee’s wings to flap 2 1/2 times! And your eyes are constantly shifting from one thing to another, about three times per second, taking in everything they can to assist the brain in processing what’s seen and what should be gazed upon next. The MIT study is truly fascinating and serves as the foundation for the topic of this month’s column: using images to convert visitors to customers.
Getting Cars to Fix
It has always been my contention (and I say this in all my workshops and seminars) that there is one purpose for having a website: getting cars to fix. That’s why you need your website to be as effective as possible. You need to capture the attention of your website visitors in the first three to five seconds. If you don’t, you’ll likely lose them forever. The back button becomes your enemy as it navigates visitors away from you and sends them off to find other shops to fix their cars. Knowing that the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text, wouldn’t you agree that it makes good sense to invest some time into your website’s first impression? And if you do agree, then you absolutely must consider the images you put on your home page. The typical images I see on most body shop websites are cars, before-and-after photos, benches and frame machines, spraybooths and other things that shop owners want to showcase. The public thinks benches are what you put tools on and booths are what you vote in. They have no idea what many of these things are. They assume you fix cars, so the before-and-after photos might be nice, but what are better options to convert the visitor into a paying customer? People!
That’s right, people. To make your page pop and make a connection, you have to give it some thought. You have to walk a mile in your target audience’s shoes and think, what will capture their attention, draw them in and build their trust? People. Happy, smiling people. People thrilled by their experience at your shop. People your target audience will meet when they come to your shop. People respond more favorably to people than inanimate objects like cars and equipment they don’t recognize. There are some stock images of people you can purchase the rights to from iStock, Getty or other image houses. These might be a good option as long as you pick one you’ve never seen before. I see a lot of the same images being used over and over for different businesses. I would steer way from those and pick something unique and descriptive for the message you wish to get across. Instill confidence, build trust, draw them in. Get their keys. Fix their cars.
Have sliding/rotating images at the top of the page. This allows you to make multiple connections and increase your chances of striking a chord with your targets by having at least one of them hit home. Feature men, women, different races, etc., to show you serve the entire community. Make sure the image doesn’t take up too much space at the top. If a big, fancy image pushes “Call to Action” items down below the fold (the line you must scroll past to see the rest of the page), then your image is counterproductive. A Call to Action is an action you want your target audience to take once they’ve landed on your page – things like “Request an Estimate,” “Request an Appointment,” “Get Directions,” “Contact Us,” etc. Use the images to support navigation. You can have images clickable to other pages within your site that point the visitor toward “Request an Estimate,” “Testimonials” or “Find Us.” Check out www.optimaautomotive.com to see how we use that technique on our own home page. Images like these convey the right messages and guide your visitors to what they most need access. Be sure to compress images so they aren’t too large. That doesn’t mean the size on the page but the pixels in the image itself. Too large an image will slow down the load time of your Web page, and that will try the patience of your visitors and hurt your search ranking positions. Remember how important video is, too. Video typically consists of 30 still frames, or images, per second. There are 60 seconds per minute, so that’s 1,800 individual images in a minute. If a picture is worth a thousand words, that means a 60-second video is worth 1.8 million words! That’s the same as 3,600 typical Web pages.
Don’t ever underestimate the power of your images! Give them careful consideration and incorporate them into your website for maximum impact and you’ll see more cars come to your door.