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How Images Can Bring Email Newsletters to Life Without Being Spammy

If you do email marketing professionally, you know for sure that visuals play an important role in creating an emotional response and increasing engagement. But gifs and videos in every other newsletter wear novelty off soon and sometimes are not visible in subscribers’ inboxes. Meanwhile bright photography and catchy pictures in emails are used practically…

If you do email marketing professionally, you know for sure that visuals play an important role in creating an emotional response and increasing engagement. But gifs and videos in every other newsletter wear novelty off soon and sometimes are not visible in subscribers’ inboxes. Meanwhile bright photography and catchy pictures in emails are used practically in any business, even for serious B2B companies.

The problems emerge when one doesn’t use images correctly: there are too many images or they do not correspond with the primary message of the newsletter etc. It influences negatively the subscribers’ respond as well as deliverability as some Internet Service Providers tend to block emails with suspicious content.

What can be done about that? Well, read this article! We are going to present some best practices on usage of images in emails along with useful tips on avoiding spam-filters.

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5 Tips on Using Images Right

Don’t overdo it

While creating an email template consider that it’s not a children’s book with pictures. Too many images add extra weight to an email, which results in activating spam filters. Therefore, your subscribers may never even see the newsletter and this affects deliverability as well as other vital metrics.

Images overflow influences engagement too. As much as people like pictures, they will not deal with tons of visuals. You have probably heard that too many choices is bad for sales, because consumers get overwhelmed with a lot of options and cannot make a decision. In our fact-laden world, visual noise is never okay and only irritates the users.
Instead, keep your visuals short and stick to the rule of 20% imagery and 80% text. Choose an image that carries your message the best and add a text description and a CTA.

Say no to one picture emails

Even if your newsletter looks beautiful and provides the best offers, some of the users will see white space, since the email doesn’t display in their inboxes. Еmail providers, such as Gmail and Outlook, block pictures by default. That’s why it’s better not to include CTA in a picture and put your important message in the text instead.

Use ALT text

By reference to the previous problem that some email providers block the pictures, it’s a great idea to add some ALT description to the images. Then you will be able to explain what exactly is missing. If the users are still curious about the imagery, just add a link to the web-version of the email.

Do not make image files too large

High definition is always good but not for email marketing. Heavy imagery takes longer to load and interrupts with space perspective. And again — large files provoke spam triggers. Small, compressed and well-formatted pictures always work better.

Optimize for mobile devices

People gradually move away from desktop and use smartphones and tablets to check inboxes. Litmus states that 56% of emails are opened from mobile devices and the tendency keeps growing. Keep an eye on the size and weight of imagery in your emails, because mobile devices load information slower than desktop. Consider that maximum image size is 599 px.

Now that you know simple tricks on how to avoid spam filters, let’s embrace the examples of possible use of images in email newsletters.

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How to Enliven Newsletter with Images

The bottom line of an email campaign can be different, from attracting new website traffic to increasing sales. Images can help with any of these goals because they support the main message, bring out certain emotions and humanize the brand which result in higher level of engagement and loyalty. Let’s see how brands can use this opportunity.

Tell Them a Story

Storytelling is a strong tool that can be used anywhere and email marketing is no exception. A good story reveals the brand’s identity, creates an emotional bond, motivates and just sticks to the users’ memory. And with vivid photography these effects intensify.

If your brand is celebrating a birthday, consider using emotional, “warm” photos. Pack them together to make it look like a family album and add a short description under each photo to reveal the story of the brand from A to Z. Such trick will make your email feel more private and trustful as if it involves the users to be a part of the brand’s family.

Make Them Emotional

Jakob Nielsen in the study “Eyetracking Web Visibility” states that people usually ignore images which are used just for decorative purposes. And let’s be honest: cliché stock photos will never appeal to anyone’s feelings. Instead, why not offer images that are not perfect, but at least sincere and evoke positive emotions in subscribers. Think of incorporating photos of children and their activities in your newsletter. One cannot but say, “Oh my God, this is so cute!” looking at such pictures.

Engage the Readers

If you have some special offer or promotion, high-quality images deliver the message better and ensure that users will not miss it. Next time you make a promotional newsletter think of photos that communicate interesting ideas in an unusual, original way. For example, you can combine the plates with ingredients and phonograph records on the photo to convey the idea that customers are actually musicians, but instead of music, they create tacos.

customer experience is vital

Intrigue Them

Visuals in newsletters should capture the readers’ attention as well as encourage them to get to know more. If you have a website and would like to share something with your audience, use spectacular high quality photos as previews to the articles with a short description. Doing so, you will inspire people to watch more of amazing pictures or to follow the link and read your piece of content. Moreover, this is a smart idea to draw new traffic to the website.

Give Inspiration

If you are a fashion brand, include lively photos to inspire your subscribers to create fashionable looks. For instance, select a collection of clothes and accessories in similar colors, and show the audience that they can be combined with no harm for style. Invite your subscribers to get more inspiration with the chosen color by adding a CTA button that leads to the campaign.

Be Seasonal

Imagine that you are a home and garden accessories retailer. Set the tone for the whole 3 months of autumn with a newsletter full of beautiful photos of seasonal flowers for decoration. Make your newsletter both promotional and educational by including not only decoration options but also some information or interesting facts about autumn flora.

While images may not be the main part of an email in comparison to the copy and the title, still it is the easiest and most impactful decision to enliven your newsletter and make it successful. Follow the rules to avoid spam-filters and experiment with visuals in your newsletter to create an email campaign that generates sky-high conversion rates and deliverability.

About the Author

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Constantine Rozenshtraus-Makarov is the CEO of SendPulse email marketing service. SendPulse helps businesses grow by means of email marketing, combining it with other channels such as SMS, web push, and Viber in one platform. Constantine works on business development, marketing, email marketing, and marketing strategy.



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