Email marketing is a great way for businesses of any size to reach their new and existing audience. The hardest part is getting your audience to open and actually read the emails. To accomplish this, you need to visualize your audience and create emails with them in mind.
We all get barraged with countless emails every day. Some more important than others. The trick is to convince your audience that your email is one of the important ones. So, how do you do that? With visuals.
When you send out mass emails, visuals are far more likely to capture your audience’s attention than a large, boring block of text. But you have to know how to use images correctly to get the best results.
In this blog, we'll show you the best practices for using images in your email marketing, give you our design tips, and teach you how to take your content to the next level. With this comprehensive guide, hitting your email marketing goals will be a breeze.
Why use images in your email marketing?
Images are the backbone of all content. Whether it’s a blog article, email newsletter, or a digital ad, finding and using the right picture is essential to grab the reader's attention effectively.
This small fraction of time is your chance to do something bold and grab their attention before your email ends up in their trash. Three seconds goes by in the blink of an eye, literally.
And you might not like this fact, but 80% of people delete their emails immediately. So, you’ve got your work cut out for you with email marketing. You need to capture their attention- fast!
Once you have their attention, they’re more likely to click your links, read your content, or reply to the email. But first, you need them to read it. Visuals are a great way to encourage them to do that.
Photos are an excellent learning tool as well. In fact, 65% (well over half) of people self-identify as visual learners, so using images is one of the best ways to teach readers about your product and services.
However, when it comes to email marketing, you need the right balance of text and images to make a compelling statement. That’s where we come in!
In this guide, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about using email images in your marketing campaign. If you’re just getting into digital marketing, don’t worry, we’ve got all the essential information you need to get started. It’s not as scary as it seems.
1. Make use of stock images
Stock images can be an invaluable marketing resource, especially when combined with a mixture of other types of images. But there’s a right and wrong way of using stock photos—let’s talk about it.
If you are using stock photographs for your email marketing campaign, make sure the images are royalty-free, and that you’re following all copyright rules. Using copyright images without proper permission can result in a lawsuit and severely hurt your brand identity.
You might think you’re safe and will only find legal images on free photo sites but be careful. Some of these sites do not ensure that the image is from the copyright holder.
If you end up using a stolen image in your campaign, there is a chance it could get in you in trouble. And, unfortunately, saying you got it off a free image site won't be a valid defense.
And be picky about the images you select. Stock images can often look cliche and can seem overexposed and overused. Look comprehensively for unique photos that are not generic to make the most out of them.
Also, try a balance between images from stock websites and authentic images or images made using graphic design.
2. Use images of real people
There’s also something to be said for creating human connections in your email marketing. And, of course, we have some tips for how to do this as well.
If possible, use images of an actual human in your email marketing campaign. This creates a stronger connection and is more likely to entice viewers to read your content.
There are a lot of ways to do this organically. You can go behind the scenes and capture photos of real moments between your staff. People might be hesitant to appear in the photos, but if you take candids, you’ll be able to capture people as they naturally are.
You can also ask your customers to send you photographs of themselves using your products and services. Let them know they might be featured if their photo is selected. Showcase the best ones in your emails to bring out the essence of your brand.
If these ideas don’t work for your business, you can always hire a photographer for a photoshoot. It’ll be worth the time and money to skip the internet images and have beautiful images of actual people who work with you or use your products in your email marketing.
3. Choose the right image file size
We’ve already talked about the fact that campaigns with images have more visual appeal and are ultimately more impactful, and we’ve talked about what kinds of images are best for capturing attention.
Now let’s talk about how to format and size your image for the best results.
Having too many large-sized images can slow download time and impact user experience. In fact, if images in your email take too long to load, the reader is likely to delete the message and even regard it as spam, especially if the images show up as broken images.
Ideally, the height of the pictures used in emails should be kept to less than 200px with a width up to 600px. However, make sure to test out your emails on various devices to see how they appear before sending them out to customers. (We’ll talk more about that later).
Also, when you are resizing images, make sure that you use the right tools to crop out the images. Nothing irritates the customer more than images that are distorted, so make sure you avoid cropping your photos in strange ways just to reduce file size.
4. Choose correct image format
Now that we've covered image size, let’s chat about formatting. It’s crucial to pick the right format for your email images, but you might now know which format to pick. Don’t worry—we’re here to help!
You are likely familiar with the concept of image formats. And you’ve probably seen the options .jpg, .png, and .gif when uploading and downloading images.
But you might not normally give much thought to the differences between these formats, especially if you’re new to digital marketing. We get it, there’s a lot to learn. Let us break it down for you.
Here's an overview of the different formats, so you can learn how to use them more effectively in your email campaigns.
When it comes to image quality, .jpg images have the lowest quality. However, they are the most compressed and take up the least amount of space in your emails. This means that with .jpg images, you will benefit from fast loading times and have less of a chance of getting blocked by spam filters.
.png images work well when you have photos that include text. They are also great for colorful photos and logos. However, their greater capacity for colors comes with the price of slow load times.
Animated formats that don’t use video are called .gif. Since most email clients don’t allow videos, .gif give creators a better chance to show their creativity.
However, .gif don’t contain as many colors as .png and even .jpg. But they are small in size, giving you the advantage of faster load times.
Overall, we recommend using .jpg for images that you want to load quickly on people’s screens and .png for any images with text in them. Use a .gif instead of embedding videos, anytime you want to include animated content.
Make sure to send out a test email to yourself or a coworker first to check for any broken image links and make sure your image size looks right.
5. Include Alt text
Remember that even if you have created an image-heavy email design for your subscribers, not all of them will be able to see it. That’s what Alt text is for.
Alt text ("alternative text") is the text that is inserted as an attribute in HTML that translates to website visitors to inform them what the image means. This is especially useful for visually impaired visitors to your site.
This is an essential step in using images in your email marketing because it is ADA compliant and ensures that each person who receives your marketing emails is able to take in the information presented in your images.
You want to make sure you give all your email subscribers an inclusive experience by optimizing your emails so that everyone—even those with visual impairments—can understand what your image is about.
This is why you should add alt text to your images. These small snippets of texts will also describe to the viewers what the image is about in case the image fails to upload. Alt text is what text narration programs use to describe images.
When naming your images and including Alt Text, be as descriptive as possible. Don't leave any images titled “Image 5873.” Instead, try to add a call to action along with the description to make the most out of your image space.
You can add alt text you your email images without taking up real estate in the message body.
6. Ensure relevancy
This should go without saying, but make sure the images you add are relevant to the content of your email and relevant to your brand.
Bold images are sure to catch your audience’s attention, but if the image is irrelevant to the content, you’ll lose credibility with your customers. They’ll be able to detect pretty quickly that the image you used was simply to draw in their attention and will delete and exit the email before you’re able to convey what you emailed them for.
Rather than adding something out of the blue, make sure the images make sense and are aligned with the context. Make sure they fit your company’s branding and are on-brand for your typical content.
Use beautiful and distinct product images if you have a strong aesthetic focus. Use pictures of real customers or employees if you aim to be authentic and relatable. Or use a funny .gif if your brand is playful and young.
Whatever you use, just make sure it fits with your brand and content.
7. Optimize for different devices
A fundamental rule of digital marketing is to check that your content works on different devices.
But don’t spend so much time worrying about optimizing for each device that you lose sight of the big picture: mobile devices. That is where the vast majority of your emails will be read, and that is where you should focus your energy on perfecting content.
That means well over three-quarters of your audience will see your content on their cell phone. Keep that in mind when you’re creating your images and content.
But not all subscribers are going to open your email on the same kind of device. They will each be using a different device, email app, and web browser. And the images you use may sometimes display differently on each kind of device or browser depending on their privacy preferences.
For example, Apple devices will automatically display images by default. Other devices might require the recipient to download or enable the images to be displayed.
That is why you must test out your emails before you send them, to ensure your photos appear correctly on every device. Test out your email on different browsers and devices. Send emails to employees or friends to get their feedback.
You can never check too many times. The last thing you want is for an email to go out to 15,000 people with a typo or a component that looks perfect on a desktop inbox but doesn’t work on a mobile device.
Images are powerful, and when used correctly, they can take your email marketing campaign to the next level.
In this post, we covered how to improve your email design with stock images and how to correctly size and format images, use alt text, and find relevant email images. We also talked about optimizing your content for different devices.
With the tips and tricks you learned in this post, we’re confident you now know the correct way to include images in your email marketing campaign.
You should feel pretty confident in your ability to send emails with images in them by now, and hopefully, you understand how useful they are to your email marketing strategy.
Now it’s time to get to work on creating and sending out your email campaigns. And don't forget to use Linearity Curve (formerly Vectornator) to design any banners or custom images you might need.
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Emma is a Content Writer for Linearity in Berlin. Her hobbies include making ceramics, roller skating, drawing, and 2D animation.