11 June

Beyond stock photos: Can AI generate photorealistic images for your emails?

Oleksii Burlakov
Oleksii Burlakov Content writer at Stripo
Table of contents
  1. My curiosity about GenAI and the power of photos in email marketing
  2. Can GenAI craft photorealistic images for events? A dive into prompts and possibilities
  3. Wrapping up
My curiosity about GenAI and the power of photos in email marketing

As a copywriter passionate about storytelling, I've always been fascinated by the visual storytelling aspect. While stock photos offer a baseline solution, they often lack the personalization and authenticity that truly resonates with audiences. This is where the emergence of generative AI piqued my interest.

Generative AI has emerged as a game-changer, churning out an endless stream of creative visuals. But can this technology take it a step further and produce photorealistic images?

My curiosity about GenAI and the power of photos in email marketing

Could this technology be the key to unlocking a new level of visual engagement in emails? Specifically, I wanted to explore the potential of AI-generated photorealistic images for event-focused emails, like webinars.

We all know the power of visuals. Research by the Nielsen Norman Group highlights how recipients pay significantly more attention to photos featuring real people compared to illustrations or stock photos. The power of photos in email marketing goes beyond aesthetics. Here's why photos can significantly outperform illustrations:

  • enhanced credibility: Photos showcase real people and situations, fostering a sense of authenticity and trust with recipients. They feel like they're getting a glimpse into a genuine experience, not a staged scenario;
  • emotional resonance: Humans are wired to connect with emotions. Photos featuring people, particularly those expressing emotions, can evoke a stronger response. This emotional connection creates a more impactful experience;
  • the power of faces: Our brains are hardwired to prioritize faces. Images featuring people naturally grab attention faster, making them more effective in capturing interest and boosting engagement.

As I delved deeper into the world of image generation, I came across a captivating image.

Generated man in studio

The image was so lifelike, even with some subtle flaws like crooked text in the background. Despite these imperfections, the overall impression remained convincingly real. This sparked a thought: Could AI be harnessed to create such compelling visuals specifically for email campaigns?

This realization fueled my desire to explore the possibilities of AI-generated photorealistic images in email marketing. I envisioned a future where emails could seamlessly integrate these captivating visuals, enhancing engagement and driving conversions. This pursuit led me to formulate the research objectives, aiming to uncover the true potential of AI in revolutionizing email marketing visuals.

My investigation aims to answer two key questions:

  1. Can AI generate photorealistic images tailored to a specific event, like a webinar? This means the image would directly reflect the subject line and content of the email, creating a visually cohesive experience. While I'm confident about the potential for photorealism, the level of customization remains to be explored.
  2. Building upon a successful first step, can AI seamlessly combine a generated image with a real person's photo? Imagine the CEO of a company hosting a webinar; could AI create a photorealistic image featuring the CEO's face integrated within the relevant webinar topic?

Ultimately, the goal is to leverage the findings from this exploration to conduct A/B testing. By comparing email campaigns utilizing AI-generated photorealistic images versus traditional approaches, we can gain valuable data on the impact of this technology in driving engagement and conversions.

Can GenAI craft photorealistic images for events? A dive into prompts and possibilities

Let's delve into the first question: Can AI generate photorealistic images tailored to a specific event? The answer, based on my exploration, is a resounding yes!

I encountered a collection of captivating images showcasing this very capability. 

A generated image of a bar

A generated image of a  restaurant

A generated image of a city

Generated walking man

These photorealistic portrayals showcased diverse scenarios, leaving no doubt about the potential of GenAI in this realm.

The next question that naturally arose was: How can we achieve this? While the process isn't overly complex, it can be time-consuming. I utilized Midjourney, a popular AI image-generation tool, to experiment with prompts. It's important to note that other tools offer similar capabilities — the choice boils down to personal preference similar to the concept explored in my article on generative AI for images.

My exploration of prompts involved two key approaches:

  1. Community resources: I actively researched prompt-writing techniques, utilizing resources like online forums and dedicated websites. This provided a valuable foundation for crafting effective prompts. However, I further refined these prompts to achieve the specific results I desired.
  2. AI collaboration: This proved to be the most efficient and surprising approach. I leveraged GPT-4o, a large language model capable of image generation itself. Interestingly, I discovered that GPT-4o also possesses knowledge of prompt configuration and use for tools like Midjourney. By collaborating with GPT-4o, I could simply describe the image I envisioned, and it would generate prompts outlining the necessary details.

Here's where the synergy between human and AI truly shines. I'd describe my desired image, GPT-4o would translate my vision into a prompt, and then I could refine that prompt further to achieve even greater precision. This collaboration resulted in a streamlined process, as evidenced by the images I've attached.

My own experience:

As you can see, my initial effort using a prompt (a webinar setup in a bright and modern conference room, realistic lighting, natural colors, presenter standing in front of a large screen displaying educational content, diverse audience in the background, casual and professional atmosphere, no high-tech elements, captured with a realistic camera quality) fell short.

Midjourney not correct generation of image

Midjourney not correct generation image of event

The resulting image, while visually interesting, lacked the photorealism we're aiming for. It leaned more towards a 2D illustration style.

Collaboration with GPT-4o:

This is where the power of AI collaboration comes in. Consulting GPT-4o, I received valuable insights on refining the prompt. By specifying key parameters and adjusting settings (details about changes made based on GPT-4o advice), I achieved a significant improvement.

Midjourney not correct generation of event

Midjourney not correct generation

The second attempt yielded a more photorealistic outcome. However, it still didn't quite capture the natural feel I envisioned. The image possessed a futuristic and cinematic aesthetic that wasn't ideal for this project.

Iterative refinement:

Through continued collaboration with GPT-4o, describing my desired adjustments with each iteration, the prompts (a professional webinar setup in a modern conference room, soft natural lighting, neutral colors, a white male presenter in business attire standing in front of a large screen, presenter facing the camera and engaging with the audience, realistic and natural atmosphere, audience in the background listening attentively, captured with a realistic camera --ar 16:9 --stylize 250) and resulting images steadily improved.

Midjourney generated one event

Midjourney generated one webinar

By incorporating GPT-4o suggestions and adding necessary details to the prompts, the quality of the images progressed towards the photorealistic style I was aiming for. As you can see in the final results, the images showcase a significant leap in visual fidelity.

Midjourney generated webinar with speaker

Midjourney generated realistic webinar

Midjourney generated realistic event

Midjourney generated event

Midjourney generated webinar

Wrapping up

This exploration has shed light on the exciting possibilities of generative AI in email marketing. Imagine crafting captivating, photorealistic images tailored specifically to your events, directly reflecting the content and subject line of your emails. AI can streamline this process, saving you valuable time and resources.

While the potential for photorealistic image generation is evident, there's still room to explore the next stage: Seamlessly integrating a real person's photo within an AI-generated image. Stay tuned for the next article, where we'll delve into this intriguing possibility and explore its implications for email marketing.

Unlock the power of GenAI in your email marketing!
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