What’s the Best Way to Optimize Images in Email?

Murphy’s Law dictates that when using images in email there will almost always be one browser that doesn’t render the images correctly, despite your meticulous testing. For this reason, many marketers choose not to include them in their emails, a perfectly valid reason given the work that goes into getting it right (sometimes). This, together with other obstacles such as images disabled by default and companies blocking images to save bandwidth, it’s easy to see why some people don’t bother with them. When done correctly however, images add to the overall effect of an email, making it more visually appealing, interactive and engaging. With this in mind we hope to clear the air and look at a few ways that you can use optimize images in your emails.

  1. Firstly, it’s important that you become a “known sender”, which means asking your subscriber to add your email address to their contacts. Not only will this help ensure that your email passes through any spam filters straight to their inbox, but it also means that images will automatically be displayed. Therefore, encourage them with a message along the lines of: “add this email address to your contacts so you always receive our emails” and explain the reasoning behind it.
  2. Any images you include need to be relevant to the content and enhance the message, not distract from it. Stick to between one and three small, compressed images that add value to your email and are quick to download (test this before you hit send). The more images your email has the longer it takes to download and there’s always the chance that it won’t render correctly when it does open.
  3. It might be stating the obvious, but be sure to include ALT text. This way if the image is blocked the user can still read a description of it and decided from there if they want/need to download it. Also remember to include captions, especially for images that are contextually important for your email message.
  4. Try to avoid using images for important content such as headlines, links and calls to action. If the image doesn’t automatically download and if your subscriber doesn’t download it then you could lose an important conversion.
  5. Finally, email newsletters and campaigns require constant testing and even more so if you have included images, therefore you need to cover all bases. How does it look in a preview pane, on a full screen and with images turned ON and OFF? Once you’re happy with this then you can start sending.

HTML and the use of images in emails has certainly come a long way in terms of setting standards and making it easier to produce content of this kind, but we aren’t out of the woods yet and we need to take every opportunity we can to follow ‘best practices’ and maximise the effectiveness of what we are currently able to achieve. Good luck!


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