Relying on images in email marketing can hurt you for a few reasons: 1) It can increase the likelihood that your email will be marked as spam, and, 2) because so many services such as Gmail, and email programs such as Outlook, automatically block images, it can be detrimental to the effectiveness of your email if much of the impact of it was visual. Even when email applications don’t block images by default, many users are being advised to disallow images in incoming emails. Why have images become so undesirable? For one, recipients don’t want to inadvertently load pornographic images, especially when at the office (that could make for an awkward moment if a co-worker walked in at the wrong time!) and secondly, they don’t want spammers to know they’ve “hit” a real recipient. Further, many users don’t want the companies with whom they do business tracking their habits. How unnerved do you get when you see an ad pop-up on Facebook that mirrors a comment you just made on a friend’s status update?

But we all know the impact of images, they make a message much more interesting and can help increase action in certain circumstances. I am much more likely to donate money to the SPCA if I see a picture of the sad little puppy who needs my help! So how do we find that happy medium? Here is our checklist on how to minimize image problems:

  • Encourage the recipients of your mailings to add you to their personal whitelist or address book to ensure that your messages get to them.
  • Provide a version of your marketing emails on your website. Give a clear text link to it at the top of your message, so users can always view the message if they wish to, regardless of any images that are removed.
  • Be sure that your messages say enough if viewed in preview mode only to ensure they are opened.
  • Use alt tags. It’s a fact that when email services and clients disable images, they may not display your alt tags anyway, but that’s no reason not to include them. If images fail to load, good alt tags can tell the recipient what they’re not seeing, and enhance your message.
  • Use regular text links instead of hiding a link behind an image.
  • Send text versions of your messages. These will reach users even if your images are filtered. Many users prefer to select what type of message they receive, so offer them both.
  • Focus on click through rates and conversion rates, not open rates.

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