As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. In the world of digital marketing, the age-old axiom still rings true. The most competitive major retailers and global brands are dipping their toes into visual search as an alternative search pathway to brand marketing.
For consumers who are looking for a specific look of a pair of jeans, dress, or bag that they may not be able to necessarily articulate in words, visual search is an intuitive and simple way for them to find exactly what they’re looking for. Pinterest’s 2018 innovation, Pinterest Lens, allowed its users to take pictures of anything they see offline through their app, and the service helps find the item online and find similar items, or even where to purchase it.
Similarly, Google’s Lens feature allows users to take pictures of an outfit, chair, or any item they see in everyday life and find similar items on the google shopping online market. Users can also use Google Lens to take pictures of restaurants and find popular dishes, explore popular landmarks, and identify plants and animals.
What is visual search?
Visual search is a form of artificial intelligence technology that allows users to conduct searches based on pictures, rather than word queries. This does not refer to a keyword search, then clicking on the ‘images’ tab to view related images to an initial text search. Conversely, a visual search begins with the user uploading a photo of the object in question, then the search engine delving into shape, color, size, and brand to find similar products.
Visual searches are immensely helpful for consumers who are looking for aesthetic-based products. If a consumer is looking for a service, like the best cleaning service in their area, or a dog-walker, a word search is still best. However, if a user is looking for a couch for their living room and has a specific style in mind, but may not be sure how to pinpoint it in words, visual search can be their best friend. Visual search can be a powerful tool for consumers, helping them find anything from home decor, to the perfect summer dress, to gathering data on a building in the area they’re on holiday sightseeing in.
How will visual search improve my marketing strategy?
Raising the standards of digital marketing.
The goalpost of sophisticated digital marketing is constantly moving as new innovations come on the scene. When ApplePay and other no credit card options for mobile payments first arrived, only a few businesses offered it as a convenient way to pay if you forgot your credit card at home, or didn’t want to waste time fumbling around for plastic cards and inserting them at terminals. Today, ApplePay is almost ubiquitous and expected by consumers at any retail business.
Customer expectations change rapidly. Visual search will be no exception. In fact, today, nearly 69% of young shoppers prefer to conduct purchases based on visual-oriented searches. If you operate in the realm of retail, including a visual search feature will be vital to stay ahead of your competitors and fulfill consumer expectations.
Presents your product among similar competitors.
When a consumer conducts a visual search for a product, the technology presents a variety of possible options among similar products. A consumer may be looking for an object based on the look, or style of the item, but may not be looking for a particular brand yet.
Visual search will fundamentally improve your SEO.
Adding a visual search component will help create an even more sophisticated and effective SEO strategy for your business. Image searches are more important for your SEO than ever before – based on a survey done in 2011, consumers are much more likely to buy a product with high-quality images than not. An image that crops up on visual search is embedded with numerous tags that will actually make your textual searches more robust.
Your images will be interpreted by textual search engines, allowing for your products to be discovered by customers more easily than before. Instead of the painstaking work it takes for people to make individual tags for each image, visual search relies on an algorithm to apply a plethora of different tags instantly.
Word of mouth and social influencer optimization.
In today’s social-media oriented retailer world, many consumers look to lifestyle YouTube and Instagram influencers for the hottest new trends. Word of mouth and social proof are incredibly powerful tools in a marketing arsenal, but it is nearly impossible to predict and track what the hottest new sneaker, or bag of the summer will be.
Thankfully, with visual search, you can easily bridge the gap between trendy styles potential customers see on their favorite influencer’s Instagram page to a link to the product on your website. By providing a direct connection between an image of a product a consumer might want, and where to find and buy it, you can capitalize off word of mouth and social proof in a simple and effective way.
Cut through the noise of ecommerce.
By adding a visual search feature to your brand, you can cut through the often overwhelming noise of modern ecommerce. When a consumer types in “high waisted jeans” pages upon pages of shopping results come up on Google of nearly identical products. However, if you include a specific image of the product you offer, a consumer can find the perfect style they’re looking for quickly, and purchase it.
Visual search drives conversion rates and cuts through the noise of online shopping, making it incredibly simple for potential consumers to make purchasing decisions without tedious search.