A Picture IS Worth a Thousand Words

In Email Marketing, Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words?
The old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” made great sense in the world of print, but in the email world, it may not hold up. The highly visual nature of the Internet makes it tempting to fill email marketing pieces with colorful imagery, but my advice is to use restraint.  Don’t omit pictures altogether, but don’t go overboard either.

The problem is that the human mind loves pictures and the right image can create a brand association that is extremely valuable to the recognition of your business. Images can evoke a memorable emotional response and add important aesthetic elements. Unfortunately, in an effort to control spam, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) sometimes focus on how you use images, and as a result, the way you use images can affect whether an email reaches its destination or not.

Images can create a strong emotional response by reminding us of a brand or product, but they must be used carefully inside emails or an email may wind up in the spam folder.  Our friends at Adobe offer some general principles to make sure emails get to their intended recipient.

Don’t Design Emails Like Print Mailers
It may be tempting to design an email like it a printed brochure, flyer, or catalog, but resist that temptation! Most of the principles of design for print mailers will cause trouble in the email world. The fact is that some ISPs default to NOT displaying images, so unless the user knows how to turn them on, they may never see the images. In fact, Litmus recently reported that “data analysis reveals image blocking affects 43% of Gmail emails.” If images are utilized within an email, make sure to include ALT Text so that the primary message and call to action are visible, even when images are disabled.

Keep Images on Top!
Most people scan email for less than two seconds before deciding if they will read it or move on and a great image can convince them to stay. So, the important thing to remember is to keep images to the top two inches of the email template (of course, two inches varies on every monitor, but use your judgement), you will be pretty safe. But don’t forget that half your readers may not see your images, so be sure to have compelling text in those first two inches as well!

Don’t Send One Big Image
Your image may look great, but half your readers won’t see it and some ISPs will classify you as a spammer if your email is just one big image. Try to maintain a good balance with 40 percent images and 60 percent text in your HTML.

Don’t Put the Important Message in an Image
As previously mentioned, half of the viewers of an email won’t see the image, so put the important messages in the text. Also, don’t use images to link readers to your website. Rather, use formatted text links to redirect the readers.

Use “Alt Text”
Be sure to design the email piece so that when the reader hovers over the image, they will see a text description of the image or whatever message you want them to see. Even if the image doesn’t load, you can still convey an important message or description.

Keep Images Small
Keep image files as small as possible. Large files take longer to load and your reader will not wait around. This can also cause the email to be flagged as spam if the image files are too large or there are too many images.  Data shows that people have an increasingly shrinking attention span.  Don’t force them to stick around.  They won’t.

Images can help make an email more fun, readable, and memorable, but they must be used appropriately or they can keep the message from reaching the intended target.  PTC Computer Solutions has been involved in direct mail and direct email since 1996 and has the knowledge and experience to ensure your emails get to their targeted audience.  Contact PTC Computer Solutions directly for more information on how to get your emails properly designed and delivered.

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