We all know the saying: a picture is worth a thousand words. The adage rings true in the world of ecommerce. Visuals and product photography matter more than you think. More often than not, it’s the deciding factor between a consumer hitting that “add to cart” button or not.
Liz Giorgi is on a mission to supercharge the visual economy for modern DTC brands with soona: the world’s first virtual product photography studio for ecommerce merchants. Their clients include The Sill, Knickey, Aisling Organics, Made In, and more. We sat down with Giorgi to get the scoop on soona’s origins, the platform’s unique offerings, and Giorgi’s POV on the visual economy.
soona’s Start: Scalable, Affordable Content Creation
Before soona, Giorgi ran a full-service production company. There, brands would consistently reach out requesting visuals for Shopify or Amazon but none of these small brands could afford Giorgi's team.
She tried her best to offer recommendations and make referrals, but time and time again, Giorgi struggled to find an affordable production company that could meet the brand’s needs. There are freelance marketplaces, but their work can lack consistency and quality. There are also large production and creative agencies, but they don’t have a business model that allows them to take on these projects without breaking the bank.
Simply put, there wasn’t an affordable platform or agency for ecommerce brands seeking high-quality creative and content. So, in 2019, Giorgi talked to her friend and future soona cofounder, Hayley Anderson, about selling their production company to create a new solution for this problem space.
Together, they spent nine months building a software platform—all with the hopes of providing small brands with a $39 photo (less than the price of a stock image and competitive with an app subscription). From there, they went all in on soona.
“You can’t underestimate the power of a great image. It lets the customer know what to expect and what will show up on their doorstep.”
Automating the Creative Process
To create soona, Giorgi and Anderson searched for commonalities between ecommerce brands and what they need to have a successful photo shoot. Then, they turned that into a technology experience.
When brands join soona’s platform, they answer various questions that help the soona team better understand their needs and custom build an effective, valuable photo shoot experience.
- What industry are you in?
- What platform are you creating content for?
- What are you hoping the content looks like?
- Inspiration or examples?
Brands have the option to pick a pre-selected photo/video shoot, such as selling on Amazon or Shopify, or they can build out a photo shoot from scratch. soona offers a few imagery styles, such as lifestyle and product on white.
Every customer is encouraged to be online for the virtual photoshoot experience. It’s an opportunity for brands to see the content in real-time and provide direct feedback to the creative team. At the end of the shoot, brands only pay for the images they like and want to use.
“We often think of the job of a producer as the job of soona’s software.”
The Visual Economy & soona’s Solution
Ecommerce wouldn’t exist without the visual economy. “When was the last time you bought something on the internet without a photo? Never. No transaction happens on the internet without a visual asset,” says Giorgi.
The core commonality between every merchant, platform, transaction, customer, and partner: engaging visuals. “For merchants who start with poorly-shot images, they see return rates as high as 20-25%,” notes Giorgi. “With real, high-quality images, they can cut that rate in half.”
Shopify invested in themes early on, and they’ve continued to invest in their network of partners and theme builders—all of whom prioritize clean, distinctive visuals. According to Giorgi, the most successful brands are the ones that invest in photo and video assets to power their Shopify themes.
A picture helps consumers answer the following questions:
- What can I learn about the product?
- How do these images help me understand the size of the product, how it works, and how it fits into my life?
- What does this product look like on a friend or me?
- What purpose will this product serve?
A few years ago, brands could use the same set of images and videos on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and their website. Now, brands are taking an omnichannel approach, where their content differs on each platform.
“Increasingly, brands see that the person purchasing on Instagram is slightly different than the person using the search engine on Amazon,” explains Giorgi. Now brands have to create a diversity of content, which, in turn, will improve conversion.
Video is one of the fastest growing areas for soona. This summer, they launched a new product that turns any number of soona photos into a stop-motion video. “We’re focusing on helping brands embrace the power of the moving image,” adds Giorgi. soona has found that video can help reduce customer decision time, by almost half.
“How do you align visual storytelling to the unique customer behavior on each platform? That’s what we’re helping brands figure out. One size doesn’t fit all.”
Avoid These Content Mistakes
Most brands don’t have enough visuals altogether, says Giorgi. On a product display page, she recommends adding around seven images (at least five). More images lead to improved conversion rates.
Another common mistake Giorgi sees brands make: forgetting to add the human element to product photography. “A photo is one of the most powerful places to add a human. It helps communicate how you’re going to use the product,” notes Giorgi.
According to soona’s data, adding a hand model to a photo shoot can result in up to a 30% increase in conversion rate. This is yet another reason soona introduced a model marketplace to their platform.
Finally, oftentimes brands go with an exclusively white background for all their photos. Although it’s industry standard, lifestyle images help expand comprehension and conversion for consumers. For most of their merchants, soona sees anywhere from a 10-25% increase in conversion by using lifestyle images.
“Adding a model helps the customer see themselves using the product.”
Curious to give soona a try? Use our exclusive code “tydo” to get your first photo for free!
- What to pledge
- How to improve
- Which tools will set you up for success
I think the most important thing brands can do in 2023 is to better manage their customer data—both ethically and effectively. There’s an opportunity for brands to know their customers better than ever before—a clear benefit for both the customer and the brand. When you manage your data correctly, you’ll create stronger and more personalized ads, creative, site experiences, and so much more.
This is a classic: Let the data guide you. Go where the buyers for your products are and communicate with them on a personal level (i.e. by persona and funnel position) and nurture those relationships (past, present, and future customers). It’s possible—all through data.
We recommend that Shopify brands analyze and update their websites using data-driven decisions. Using analytics tools such as heatmaps and scrollmaps can help brands better understand how customers are interacting with their store.
Store owners tend to make assumptions about the way customers interact with their website. Most never go back and analyze their design choices to find pain points or areas of opportunity. By using heatmaps and scrollmaps, they can see where real customers are clicking and concentrating their attention. Leveraging this data, brands can start to iterate on design and make their online store experience streamlined and intuitive.
Hotjar provides a simple way to implement heatmaps, scrollmaps, and recorded user sessions on your site, helping you acquire incredibly informative user data. Additionally, it gives you the ability to create on-site surveys, which allows you to obtain direct and often critical feedback from users about their experience.
Test various attribution models and analyze the impact on your business. At Fifty Six, we are always here to help our clients identify and optimize their approach—a critical step in any successful marketing strategy.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times–Customer Lifetime Value. And even more importantly, Future Lifetime Value (FLTV). With the ever-growing importance of first-party data, it is crucial that brands take a good look at their CRM and FLTV metrics.
Stop allocating budgets to low-hanging fruit that doesn’t move the needle on conversion. Think about what’s really going to improve your CX and the return of undertaking different initiatives—not just on what’s top on your list of bugbears on the site!
One of the best ways to understand your customer behavior is by using HotJar. Their heat-mapping and screen recording tools shine a light on where customers are navigating to and from on your site, where they're rage clicking and experiencing frustration, and where conversion is dropping off within real life customer journeys and flows!
Understanding your customers’ pain points via data and analytics , will allow you to work with your CRO/CX Agency to solve customer frustrations and improve conversion.
Rewind backs up all product, customer, and order data for Shopify sites—essential since Shopify itself doesn’t provide this solution. It's saved so many of our clients time and money from administrative accidents.
Never miss an update from Tydo
33% of customer service inquiries are pre-sale questions. What does this mean? If you’re not investing in customer service, you’re missing out on revenue-generating opportunities.
The benefits of elevating your customer experience:
- 10% to 25% increase in AOV for customers who engage with live chat pre-purchase
- 21x higher conversion rate for customers who reach out via Live Chat or SMS compared to other site visitors
- 87% of customers who have a great customer experience will make another purchase
- 72% of customers share positive experiences with 6 or more individuals
Gorgias is our favorite Helpdesk platform. They can reduce costs by 35%, primarily by decreasing the average ticket handle time. Their machine learning algorithms are trained on millions of ecommerce-related interactions across Gorgias’ customer base and provide accurate, automated replies for the most common ecommerce inquiries. This helps our agents resolve tickets faster, which provides the customer a seamless experience.
Trust your agency! Agencies do the same things across multiple brands and niches, so we see the trends and have the practice and experience!
Don't be afraid of data and insights. If customers aren't clicking on your emails, try a new CTA. If your ads are driving good metrics at a small spend, start scaling. If your customers are complaining about a product, look into QA! If the data tells you something isn't working, let it go and try something else!
I'm supposed to say Tydo, right? 😉
Double down on differentiation. There will be a lot of headwinds this year and standing out from the crowd will set you apart.
A picture is worth 1,000 words. A video? Probably millions. In ecommerce that value translates into engagement, acquisition, and retention—everything you need to impact your bottom line.
At soona, we've seen the we've seen the impact of creative and the continuous split testing of it yield results. Our resolution is to challenge ourselves and double down on innovation and creative optionality so that each brand we work with can distinguish themselves in a crowded sea of D2C ecomm. We'd love to see our brands share this resolution and keep pushing the creative limits.
Klaviyo. We're using it to power our email and newsletter at soona too!
Optimize your returns strategy! This can lead to valuable customer insights, enhanced user experiences, and increased revenue and customer loyalty.
Brands need to dive deeper into understanding their customers to set themselves up for success. Conduct research to gain insights into customer needs, preferences, and behaviors. By doing so, you can develop targeted strategies that will enhance customer experience and boost overall retention.
Right now I would say Gorgias. Having a good customer service tool is crucial to building strong customer relationships.
Start paying heavy attention to data, specifically around retention. We see a lot of effort put towards acquisition with the assumption that once someone buys, they are your customer forever. Instead, get to know your customer, understand their needs, and analyze their behaviors once they are on-site and judge their sentiment after they have visited. Work with a retention focused and data-driven agency to implement tools that contribute to repeat business and customer delight. It will pay dividends.
When surveyed, about 80% of ecommerce merchants think that they are delivering a great experience to their customers. However, when the same customers are surveyed, only 8% of those customers think that they are getting a great experience from the merchant. Now, more than ever, retaining loyal customers is an essential part of any online business and you should spend time with your customers to judge their experience with your website and products and offer improvements based on that feedback.
Tydo's report cards are an essential tool, along with Klaviyo for email and SMS, Recharge for subscriptions and memberships, Okendo for reviews and surveys, Rebuy for AI driven collections and upsells, Loop for self service returns... each tool is great on their own, but their strength as the ultimate tool comes from when they are used together!
Never miss an update from Tydo
Report Cards is a customized glimpse into your business, delivered to your inbox for free.
Report Cards consolidates all your key metrics across platforms for an at-a-glance pulse of your business.
Discover metrics for every team member so they can stay updated with the right data on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
It's free because we believe everyone should have access to the basics.
Portfolio is a hub for analytics across multiple Shopify stores. The perfect tool for agencies.
See an aggregate view of all your data for all your stores in one place.
Make real time assessments on marketing initiatives across every storefront you manage.
Analyze the performance of one store versus another in seconds.