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We Need a Hero: How to Use Hero Shots on Your Website

Post By Scott Yoder | Design & Branding

hero shotWhat is a Hero Shot?

Look at these two photos of ladders in garages.

 

product hero shot

 

Now assume you didn’t fully understand how to use a ladder.  Which image sells you on the benefits of owning one?

In the second photo, we have a “hero”.  A person demonstrating the benefits of the product in context of use.  That is what a product hero shot does.

 

Benefits Without Words or Touch

One of the long understood drawbacks of eCommerce is that you can’t physically hold a product.  You can’t feel the weight of a hammer, try on a summer dress, or test the firmness of a mattress.  Instead with eCommerce, you have to describe or show the benefits of your offering.

You can do a lot with solid copywriting.  But many business websites rely too much on descriptive copy to communicate their value proposition.  The problem is impatient web surfers often don’t take the time to carefully read descriptions.

An image, on the other hand, can communicate the benefits of a product in milliseconds.  For example, you might not even know what this product is:

hero shot example

 

However, in context of use the benefit is far more clear:

product image

Hero shots can also be used in videos, and might not even require a person.

Do you know what this product is?

product hero shot

This video demonstrates its purpose:

 

Hero shots or videos that “show don’t tell” are underused in online marketing.  It ties into a very common problem of businesses assuming people “get” the benefits of their offer without clear demonstration.  This assumption loses many sales.

Even when the benefit of using the product is fairly clear, you still create a stronger sales message when you put it into context of use.  And the more difficult it is to convey the benefits of a product, the more important it is to use a hero shot.

 

Infographics

An effective way to use hero shots with informational content is the infographic.  Consider how much more effective this infographic is than text-only content:

hero shot infographic

 

Keyword Match and Communicating Value

There are other considerations with hero shots, particularly as they pertain to landing pages and homepages.

For example, I recently did a search for a dentist in my area.  I came across this website homepage:

unique value proposition example

I’m confused.  What is the man with the bird doing here?  What does letting my smile “soar” mean?  The images used here don’t match my search query and don’t communicate the value of this dental practice.

Later, I found this website:

service hero shot

The images here clearly match my search for a dentist.  The hero shots of a healthy smile and happy patient convey the idea that I’ll get professional care and great results.

The first website fails to match my search and doesn’t communicate to benefits I seek.  The second matches my search and uses images to communicate a clear value proposition.

In the 5 seconds I allow for these web pages to convince me, the use of imagery makes all the difference.  When I’m confused, I leave.  When I immediately sense I’ve found what I’m looking for, I convert.

Empathize with your website visitors.  Assume they don’t understand how your product is used or know the benefits of working with you.  Make it crystal clear with clear descriptions and relevant images.

Few businesses are effective at applying the concept of the hero shot.  When you are, you give yourself a competitive edge.  It’s these subtle refinements that make the difference and put you in the position to dominate the competition in your market.

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