Digital Marketing Star, Melissa Liebling-Goldberg, on the Dos and Don’ts for Successful E-Commerce Imagery

When it comes to product imagery, the line between content and commerce continues to blur.

It’s no longer a given that your sales imagery needs to be the straight-forward, product-on-a-white-background that we’ve grown accustomed to. More and more, we see “editorialized” imagery popping up on product pages, and serving double-duty on social channels. When and why does it make sense for a brand to approach their imagery in this way?

To help answer some key questions that brands should be considering when it comes to imagery and content, we spoke with digital marketing and content expert Melissa Liebling-Goldberg. Having consulted for top dogs like J.Crew and White + Warren and written for Vogue, Glamour, and PEOPLE, Liebling-Goldberg has a rare expertise that fully merges content and commerce...


The Line Studios: We’ve seen a recent trend where brands are using more "editorialized" photography to replace the traditional, white-background, "e-commerce" photography on their product pages. Should more brands jump on board?

Melissa: It depends on whom the brand is trying to reach and which platforms see the most success. If you're a brand with a more utilitarian product, want the ease of checkout, and have minimal social marketing efforts, then a standard "e-commerce" image would make more sense. If you're a brand seeing revenue generation through Instagram, then more styled lifestyle images might perform better.

I do think brands should be less afraid to experiment with their imagery. There is really no right answer on product photography style anymore. For many brands, creating images that can exist across multiple platforms is the most cohesive and cost-effective way to approach content.

KITH  (left image)  has a clean, crisp approach to product-on-white. Negative Underwear (right), finds success with more editorialized sales imagery.

KITH (left image) has a clean, crisp approach to product-on-white. Negative Underwear (right), finds success with more editorialized sales imagery.

TLS: We believe the most successful creative is built on a foundation of knowledge and data. How can a brand measure its creative performance beyond just Instagram likes?

MLG: I love A/B testing. Send the same email with two different creatives and see which one performs better. Try two different versions of your homepage and see where you get more clicks with a heat map. (TLS Note: We’ve seen success with Optimizly and Foresee for A/B Testing strategies).

Also, don't be afraid to ask your customers directly! Customers love to share feedback. One way to do this is post two images on Instagram Stories and use a poll to ask followers which they prefer. The results may surprise you.

Remember: choose what you want to increase, target it, and measure it (be it revenue, clicks, shares. etc.)

If a brand wants to make a big shift in their creative (to use “unrecognizable” models, for example), an A/B test can be an important step to make sure it has a positive or neutral impact on sales and customers are happy with it.

If a brand wants to make a big shift in their creative (to use “unrecognizable” models, for example), an A/B test can be an important step to make sure it has a positive or neutral impact on sales and customers are happy with it.

TLS: What are the most common mistakes you see brands make when it comes to content?

MLG:

DON’T: Don't create content for the sake of having it. Define a clear goal for your content before you invest in producing it, i.e. is the content for SEO, customer engagement, paid ad acquisition, or other purposes?

DON’T: Don't launch a blog unless you truly have a reason that makes sense for your brand.

DO: Do focus your energy on wherever your customer most wants to interact with your content, whether that's on social, via email, or elsewhere.


TLS: As Social Shopping is becoming more seamless and popular, what are your 3 best tips for brands to grow their social media following?

MLG:

1. Define who your customer is. How are you providing her with something she doesn't already have in her feed? Know who you are talking to and what purpose you serve in her social time.

2. Put in the time and effort. It's important to connect with your followers and potential followers in a meaningful way, and that just can't be achieved with 5 - 10 minutes of posting and closing out.

3. Consistency is key. Your brand voice and imagery should be instantly recognizable and consistent across posts to help achieve two things: a cohesive brand personality, and true loyalty from your followers.


TLS: Three brands who are nailing content?

MLG:

1. Matches Fashion — I love how they blend e-commerce and trend content. I'm genuinely interested in their articles, from fashion to travel to dining, as well as shopping their curated edits. The user experience of their site makes it a seamless shift between content and commerce, which, as a customer, feels key to my experience.

2. Jennifer Behr — she has the best short videos on Instagram that show how to wear her beautiful hair accessories. For anyone who feels at all intimidated by headbands, hairpins, or barrettes, her videos make it feel really easy and fun to wear them.

3. Tamara Mellon — she has such a strong point of view and it comes through in all of her imagery and copy. Their emails consistently have me clicking and laughing out loud. What more could you ask for from a brand?

Jennifer Behr has amazing styling inspiration in her videos and her on-model photography that help the customer understand how to wear her beautiful products.

Jennifer Behr has amazing styling inspiration in her videos and her on-model photography that help the customer understand how to wear her beautiful products.

The bottom-line: Brands should not be afraid to try new things. In this ever-changing landscape, there is no single “right way” to approach your product and content imagery. As Liebling-Goldberg says – and we couldn’t agree more – a good test can go a long way to discovering what will resonate best with your customers. And, ultimately, help to identify the best imagery strategy for your brand.