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3 tips to help you get images in emails right

Images in emails can be a tricky subject – here are 3 things you should think about before you design your next email campaign.

Your creative team have spent hours designing your new email campaign. You’ve hired photographers to take the ‘sexiest’ pictures of the products. Do you need a JPEG, GIF or PNG format for them? Should you just overlay text on that beautiful photo? And what if all the money you spent on the pictures goes to waste because your readers don’t allow them to load?

These are all questions we’ve answered at some point, so we’ve collected the answers here.

What type of images should I include?

When it comes to images, JPEG, PNG and GIF are the standard, but how do you decide between them? Let’s look at some pros and cons.

image file types table

JPEGs are best for photos and PNGs for illustrative images or transparencies. GIFs? Really only should be used for animation – but can be used very effectively, like Costa did.

How to handle automatically blocked images?

We all know Outlook is problematic as users need to click ‘allow/download images’ to view them. My suggestion would be to make your readers want to take that extra step. It’s a given that you should use alt tags for images, but go further! Make that alt tag an attractive call to action to entice customers to click the download button. If all else fails, make sure the email design looks good without the images as well.

Food is all about the visuals so how you do you sell it without the images turned on? Let’s look at this example from McDonald’s. You can guess the hamburger from the colored boxes even when the images are off.

mcd big tasty pictures onmcd big tasty pictures off

What is the best image to text ratio?

The wisdom is divided when it comes to this, but generally having 35-50% images to text seems to work well.

Don’t have the email as one whole image because the spam filters might block it. Also, if you do this, the pre-header text will show ‘This message has no content’, which might prevent some of your readers from opening the email. And you should make the most of that pre-header text, especially on mobile .

At the same time, don’t have the whole email as text – images can increase engagement and break the text up to make it less intimidating to read.

Interested in email design? Why not watch the on-demand webinar on ‘Email Marketing Meets Design Theory’with a lot more email design examples and best practice tips.


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