Email marketing has long been a moving target — from the evolving landscape of email service providers to ongoing changes in infrastructure and security. Despite this, visual imagery remains one of the fundamental parts of effective email marketing campaigns, even if it offers one of the toughest problems to email marketers.
Many marketers are hesitant when it comes to incorporating photos in email marketing campaigns. This is due to the results of email campaigns, the activities of inbox providers, and the terrible effect of bad actors spamming email recipients.
A major difficulty for email marketers is making sure their audience will be able to view the photos attached in an email. Some providers allow users to selectively download the photos by clicking on them, while others entirely restrict the content.
Because certain mailbox providers don’t accept graphics, engagement declines, and deliverability might be badly impacted, along with your sender reputation.
Images in emails render differently depending on the devices the recipients use. According to research from Constant Contact, nearly 60 percent of emails are opened and read on mobile devices. Each of these photos needs to be adjusted to guarantee mobile and tablet users are seeing the right version of it. Without flexible design, photographs of varying sizes could skew the email – potentially making it unreadable.
Using alt text (alternative text) can help enhance user experience when images are broken. The alt attribute is used in HTML and XHTML texts to indicate alternative text that is to be presented when the element to which it is applied cannot be rendered. When a picture does not render, alt text is the text that the recipient will view in place of the image. Consider employing an SEO-driven CTA in your alt text to promote engagement.
However, marketers would be advised to ensure their email images appear appropriately so they don’t have to rely only on these features.
- Choosing the proper format
- Methods for inserting photos in your emails
- Linked images
- Inline embedding
- Choose the embed technique that works for your brand
Choosing the proper format
Many email marketing systems allow users to develop their email campaigns using responsive design components so photos render properly on any screen. Proper file formatting is recommended for photos — JPEG and PNG files tend to be standards for static images, while GIFs are becoming increasingly used in email marketing as well.
There are dozens of use cases for GIFs in email. From directing attention to a specific call-to-action, showcasing certain products to demonstrating emotions, GIFs have found their home in the email marketing world – and they are a hit with consumers.
GIFs can also be used as a “how-to” mechanism in the body of an email and are a popular alternative to including a full-length movie. GIFs can help humanize your business and be shared across multiple social channels in addition to email advertising.
Methods for inserting photos in your emails
There are three basic methods for embedding a picture into an email: Linking the image, inline embedding, and Content-ID (CID). They three strategies have benefits and cons and require a certain level of experience to use, but all are valuable techniques.
Linking an image is arguably the easiest way to add an image in your email. Linking an image needs you to upload the image from your computer to the email service provider and allows you to insert the image in the relevant location. This strategy also minimizes the size of your email.
If your email photos are kept in a digital asset manager (DAM), the image can be downloaded and uploaded into the email service provider or can be inserted immediately if the two systems are connected.
For marketers that are emailing audiences made of thousands of recipients, the attached image must be hosted on a content delivery network. Emails with linked images will call for the CDN’s hosted image through an embedded HTML tag.
The biggest negative of connecting images is the potential for latency issues when the image is being downloaded from an external source.
Inline embedding is another popular approach for inserting graphics into emails. It requires a certain type of coding scheme called “Base64 string” for the image. The encoded string allows you to insert your image using a typical HTML tag.
One of the drawbacks with this strategy is that Microsoft Outlook prohibits the embedded email graphics. Depending on your business, Outlook users could represent a substantial number of your recipients.
Content-ID (CID) is one of the oldest strategies for inserting graphics into marketing emails.
CIDs include attaching the picture to the email and referencing it with HTML tags in the email’s template, which embeds the image when the email is opened. While it may be one of the oldest strategies, it’s one of the most technically complicated methods and demands a certain level of knowledge.
However, utilizing CID graphics in your email marketing can impair your deliverability. CIDs tend to make emails quite huge, causing latency concerns when opening a CID embedded email.
Email CID graphics also have difficulty rendering across different types of inbox providers and notoriously do not work well in web-based email programs.
Choose the embed technique that works for your brand
Weighing aspects such as how email images are hurting your brand’s deliverability and sender reputation should be the primary focus. Remember the goals and KPIs of the email campaign and how — or if — photos should be incorporated in a given message.
If you are a part of a B2B or B2C firm, it is crucial to understand how your audience interacts with the graphics in your email marketing campaigns. This intelligence enables email marketers by offering insights into how recipients are engaging with the content and should affect the decisions made surrounding images in marketing emails.