Everyone wants their emails to look appealing, and what better way to do that than to use some awesome images? Knowing what images in email for best practices will help.
If you use images the wrong way though, you might be risking your deliverability. Especially with cold B2B email campaigns.
So let’s look at best practices for images in email and how to use them properly.
Before we dive in, it’s important to understand why images can damage your campaigns.
Ever since sending out email campaigns has been a thing, people have been sending spam. Of course, that very quickly became tiresome, so spam filters were invented. They scan your email as you send it and as it’s received, which means they are two gatekeepers for what gets through.
The thing is, spammers are always coming up with sneaky ways to fool the filters. So what happens is a race where spammers figure out a new trick and use that until the filters get updated to account for it. Then they come up with a new trick, and so on.
Images were one of those tricks. Spam appliances very quickly began scanning emails for particular words or phrases and tossing offending messages into junk folders.
Spammers began putting their text inside images. Since spam filters can’t actually understand wording on an image, this was an extremely effective way to sneak past them.
To combat this, spam appliances look for specific context around images to determine whether it’s spam.
This is where some best practices come into play. You can use images, but if you use them incorrectly, you might be inadvertently telling spam filters to crack down on your campaigns and prevent them from making it to the inbox.
Watch Your Image-to-Text Ratio
One red flag is if an email has a big image and not much text. Because spammers try to dodge the filters’ text scans by putting their text in an image instead, this is a quick way to damage your deliverability.
Make sure that if you’re using images, you’re also including text. The majority of your message should be text. After all, you are connecting with a person on the other end of that message. Keep your images to a minimum and don’t lean on them to communicate your points.
Keep Them Small
Avoid file-size-heavy formats like PNG. You want your images to load quickly, because if your message takes too long to open, people are just going to close it and move on. So, your open rate may be high, but your click rate, and engagement will be poor. And it’s a sure-fire way to get your email message marked as spam or increase opt-outs on a campaign.
Use JPG format. It will conserve the file size so your images load much faster.
Realize They Might Not Load
Each email client is different. Some of them won’t load your images, especially if you’re sending cold B2B campaigns. There’s not much you can do about that, so the smart move is to plan for it.
Image alt tags are the best way to do that. In the context of your email, an image’s alt tag is the text that appears when the image fails to load (or, in some cases, when you hover your mouse over the image). You should tag your images with a description that makes it clear what would be there if it had loaded. This gives credibility to your message as well.
For example, if you’ve got a headshot in your email signature, a tag like “headshot” or “profile picture” doesn’t really come across as professional. If, instead, it was “<Your Name> Portrait”, it’ll be very clear that your smiling face was meant to appear there.
Place Them Effectively
For each image in your email, consider why you’re adding it. It should have a purpose and be placed optimally to communicate that.
If you’re including your logo, don’t toss it in randomly. Place it somewhere you’d expect to see a logo – a top corner or in your signature, for example.
This becomes even more important when you’re determining where to place a call to action button. That’s an image, too, and you should follow CTA best practices.
Consider the Message
What does the image say to people? You might think your hero image is awesome, but take three steps back and really think about what it conveys. A picture is worth a thousand words, and you don’t want any of those words to be negative.
If it’s a stock photo, is it obviously a stock photo? If that’s the impression you’re going for, then you’re set. One major no-no is using photos that have watermarks.
A watermark is the semi-transparent logo or text that many stock photos have placed over them to prevent people from just saving and using them without paying for them.
A photo with a watermark is an immediate disqualifier for any email that hits my inbox, because that comes across as unprofessional.
If you’re using a vector or illustrated image, does it match your company’s positioning and branding?
Remember to select your images with care. Think about what messages you want to convey – not just about you, your brand or product, but how would someone else interpret it? This becomes the cornerstone when building a message that includes images for email best practices.
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