We say in our online courses that every element of a Web page must state or support the value proposition. But, what communicates the value of an offer better – a beautiful image or well-crafted copy? Do people tend to respond better to images or do they prefer copy?
All marketers have to face these questions at one time or another in the creative process, and recently, our research analysts had the opportunity to test this particular issue. You might be, as I was, surprised by the results.
Original page – Copy-rich Version (Click to enlarge)
The page we were attempting to optimize was their current best performer for home delivery sign-ups. It had already been through a series of previous tests and had stood out as the winner.
But “adequacy is the enemy of excellence,” as Peter Drucker says, and we wondered if we might improve the page even further. So, working alongside this organization’s marketing team, we began to test radically different page strategies.
One of the things we immediately noticed about this page was that it was copy rich. Most of its value was being communicated through copy. And though the copy wasn’t perfect, it was already decently refined though testing, so instead of attempting to tweak the copy further, we began to wonder about the impact images might have on the communication of the offer’s value.
Treatment Page – Image-heavy Version (Click to enlarge)
First, since this was a newspaper home delivery option, we hypothesized that it might be more impactful to just let the newspaper communicate for itself with real images of the printed paper.
We also made sure to use images of each of the different daily featured articles to highlight the diverse content offered by the paper
Iconic images also replaced the standard bullet points next to the daily content feature list, and a gigantic arrow was employed to draw immediate attention to the call-to-action. Overall, this page leans significantly on images to communicate the product value.
And the winner is…
The image-heavy version outperformed the control in clickthrough by 21% and in overall conversion by 29%. Now, before you start scrapping the copy on your Web pages, there are a couple things that should be noted and learned from this test:
- This product is offering a tangible product that can be held and read in your hands, and therefore images may have brought more reality to the value. In most of our testing, the answer to the question of images vs. copy is dependent on what better communicates the value for a particular offer. In choosing images and copy, we should always be asking ourselves three questions: 1) Can what I am saying with copy be better stated with images? 2) Can what I am saying with images be better stated with copy? 3) How can I bring these two elements together?
- The treatment is a radical redesign. Therefore, though the predominant change was moving from copy to images, there are still other factors that contributed to the success of the treatment. We may hypothesize that images played a significant role in the increase, but the only way to know for sure would be to run secondary tests that focus tighter on the specific variables.
- There is still copy on the treatment communicating crucial information. In fact, if you removed the copy, it would be difficult to discern what the actual offer is. This underscores a second point and that is, the goal is never to pick images over copy or vice-versa. The bottom-line is that an image has unique strengths and copy has unique strengths. The objective on your Web page is striking a balance between the two ensuring that every element of the page is communicating value with the greatest impact.
These three points, as well as more on balancing the use of images and copy online, were specifically covered in our recent Web clinic, “Images vs. Copy: How getting the right balance increased conversion by 29%” Activate your free subscription to be notified when the replay of this Web clinic is available.