Photo: Downtown Los Angeles & Mount Baldy by Coty Spence

These days, any smart marketer knows the visuals you use in your campaigns can’t be an afterthought. Content with images gets 94% more views than content without. You probably spend a lot of time selecting images that align with your brand, but you may be relying too much on your gut instincts and not enough on data.

Here’s what the research says is the key to selecting images that can help your ad targeting, optimize your campaign performance, and identify key selling triggers.

1. Be unique. To really catch your reader’s eye, you need to present images that aren’t the same old, same old. This means fresh angles and surprising details. Take, for example, travel photos. Instead of giving the seemingly obligatory skyline shots, give your audience a street-level view and make them feel like they’re in the middle of a scene. Our data shows a 22% engagement lift on authentic, street-level photos.

Tokyo city view by Sakarin Sawasdinaka on

Skyline shots are OVER.

Love by Ksenia Chernikova on

Make the reader feel like she’s IN the scene and seeing this while bending down to tie her shoe.

2. Invest in quality. Your audience can feel when you’re giving them high quality images, and it has a big (if sometimes subconscious) impact on how they view your brand. Quality can be subjective, but when you are able to analyze millions of data points and aggregate them into trends, as we’ve done at 500px, you start to understand the elements of quality. High quality shots—those with better framing, lighting, etc.—have a 20% engagement lift over mediocre shots.

Same by Ben Wiggins on

Ho-hum skyline.

Downtown Los Angeles & Mount Baldy by Coty  Spence on

Including the majestic mountain background ups the quality.

3. Segment and target. If your brand is in multiple markets, giving each set of customers the elements that most appeal to them increases conversion. For example, if you want to entice people from Asia to travel to New York, what photos do you show them—bird’s-eye view photos or skyline photos? Turns out, people from Japan, China, and Korea engage 81% more with the bird’s-eye view. They also prefer street-level shots that have lots of people in them. If you’re after an American audience, you want to showcase things that are a bit off the beaten path and feature individuals or couples. Data tells you what story you should be telling your audience.

Intersection | NYC by Navid Baraty on

4. Be predictive. If the data you’re collecting is comprehensive (at 500px we have over 8,000,000 million photographers uploading photos), it’s a short step to developing a method of predicting emerging trends and jumping on them before the competition. Instead of being the last to jump on the infographics trend, you could have been one of the first!

5. Consider context. Where you plan on using an image should help drive the decision about the type of imagery. The recent report “Visual Marketing: Scale to Win” from Chute + Digiday demonstrated that professional and commissioned photography is your absolute best bet for desktop and mobile purposes. You also want to consider how your images will match your goals for the content. Are you trying to educate, inspire, entertain or convince? Each goal calls for a different approach to your imagery.

At 500px, we serve up the images you need in a variety of ways: high quality stock images, user-generated content, and now, with 500px for Business, custom photography from around the globe—paired with analytics to optimize your results. Our “visual intelligence engine” is designed to give you insights into your customers’ visual preferences in ways you never even imagined were possible.

Get in touch to learn more