Flourish + Gritan email marketing and automation studio

“Best” Practices For Using Images in Email

When you're not sure how to fully leverage images in your email campaigns, you can get stuck scratching your head longer than it takes to design the entire email.
 
I get it. The back end email world can get complicated quickly, and you want to make sure your emails are not only eye-catching, but readable.
 
I hesitate to use the term “best practices” because every audience and technology differs. Instead, I put together the top lessons learned over my career for you to keep in mind.

1. Sizing

Most Email Service Providers (i.e. Mailchimp) have a set width they constrain the entire body of your email to.
 
That sizing can vary between 600 and 700px. Check your email service provider to see what their default is.
 
If in doubt, design all of your images 700px wide. Your Email Service Provide will auto-adjust.

2. Mobile Responsiveness.

We know that over half of emails are read on mobile devices.
 
When you're thinking about inserting imagines into your email campaigns, always think about how it will look on mobile.
 
That might mean making your emails longer so that they render better on a portrait sized screen.

3. Text On Images

a) Accessibility
When you're thinking about putting text on images, you can't forget about how to keep your overall digital marketing strategy accessible.
 
People who rely on text-to-speech readers on their computers and mobile devices rely on there actually being text that their technology can read to them.
 
They can't read the text that is embedded in your image.
 
That's why it's imperative to include “alt-text” on each image. This option is available in every Email Service Provider.
 
There will be a box in your image settings that is called “alt text” that lets you type out the text on the image.
b) Mobile Responsive
If you put tiny text in an image that is designed for desktop, and shrink it down to mobile, you'll want to check out how it reads on mobile.
 
I see this all too often. Text placed on an image that looks okay on desktop, but is barely legible on mobile.
 
Make sure your font sizes are at least 28px if you plan on doing this.
c) Disabled Images
 Some email clients like Outlook and gmail will auto-disable images from unknown senders.
 
That means if ALL of your content is in images, these subscribers will have to go the extra step of enabling images in order to see your content.
 
We know as marketers, that every additional step we ask a user to take, is a place we could potentially lose them.
 
Having alt-text will help this OR limiting your use of images with text placed on them.
 
Here's what an email looks like if it's all image with text on it and it has not been optimized for mobile or alt-text

4. Image-to-Text-Ratio

So maybe having your entire email ALL images isn't the greatest strategy for some. If you keep all of the above in mind, you can probably get away with it.

I've heard that having an all image email can get your email marked as SPAM. I have not seen that to be true.

Some recommend to keep your images to 20% of the entire email campaign because of this.

My recommendation is to sprinkle images throughout your campaign. If you're strapped for resources, include a nice header image with the title of your content and then place everything else as text and buttons in the email.

Plus, if your email is mostly text, it is much easier to make sure it is mobile responsive across devices, browsers and email clients.

Wrapping up, here's what you need to remember about including images in your campaigns.
  1. Visual appeal of an email is important, but don't let beautiful design trump usability.
  2. If you're using a lot of images, make sure they are mobile responsive and have alt-text.
  3. Break up your images and include text with them to make sure they are legible across devices.

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