To begin with, we have to distinguish between emails that contain images and emails with ’embedded images’. Many email marketing platforms provide the option of adding images to your newsletters, but there’s a risk that the email provider will block the images and therefore they won’t appear at all. Some email marketing platforms duck this problem by allowing you to ’embed’ your images within the email.
Avoid sending emails with embedded images
Lately, an increasing number of email marketing solution platforms have included the option of adding “embedded images” to your newsletters. This method creates a kind of landing page within your email, with links to certain pages in your website.
The embedded images solution is not recommended. It creates many technical issues, which in turn lead to a decrease in your campaign success rates.
The technical issues with embedded images:
1. Significantly larger emails
Big images can weigh a few megabytes. Some providers block emails that are so big, but luckily, most email providers that are web-based (such as Gmail) won’t block messages merely based on size.
2. Where did those pictures go?
Sometimes the email does reach your recipients’ inboxes, but the images are gone. To protect their users, many email providers block just the images. The user has to download the images or specifically request that they won’t be blocked. Internal software such as antiviruses can also become an issue as they scan incoming emails and are very suspicious of embedded images as they may contain malicious code.
Even if the images themselves are safe, they may contain spam or inappropriate content that may cause problems for users when accessing their email from public computers or from work.
3. Big brother – spam filters
Anti-spam mechanisms have become quite advanced in the last few years. That is the consequence of the never-ending phishing attempts by hackers trying to acquire personal information such as credit card numbers and bank access information. Emails are used by luring the recipient to a page that looks exactly like the bank website and asking for the information from the user.
All this has led to the fact that spam filters are very harsh and among other parameters, they check the number and size of images that any email contains and may kick emails with many images straight to the spam folder. For the email marketer, this means a big violation of trust, as the client believes he’s receiving spam and not content that may be of interest to him.
Also note that emails may be blocked even if that client has already received emails from you in the past.
4. Don’t forget mobile
Most images just won’t appear right on mobile devices. They are usually shrunk to a lower resolution. Images also eat away at your users’ mobile internet plans, some users choose not to download images when not connected to a wireless network in order to limit data transfer.
So, how can you send newsletters with images anyway?
Just like an internet website can include linked images, your emails can include images that aren’t part of the actual message. That way, not only is the email much smaller, but most spam filters will be much less suspicious of it. Nevertheless, since most images are linked from an external site, almost all email providers will ask for confirmation from the client before displaying images. Before confirmation, the message will be “image free”.
Using ActiveTrail’s email marketing platform, for example, you can add the text: “view this email in your browser”. when a user clicks on that text a new window will open displaying the newsletter separately from the email provider’s system – without any limitations.
Nevertheless, help your recipients by letting them know, in a dedicated message, or by a button attached to an email, that they should configure their accounts to display images, or alternatively add you as a contact so that you aren’t blocked.
Using Gmail, for example, the recipient must click “Display images” in the incoming email, or change the settings so that all images always appear.
Using Outlook the image blocking will look like this:
Add ‘ALT’ (Alternative text)
“ALT” is text that is set to appear instead of the image if it doesn’t appear, and tries to convey the same message, it is set in the email marketing platform. It’s not an ideal solution, but it’s definitely better than nothing. ALT allows users to see a description of the image instead of just an empty blank space.
Remember, more than 50% of recipients open their emails using mobile devices. Another 20% use platforms that block embedded images, such as enterprise application software. Combining these two statistics takes embedded images out of the picture in any case, they just aren’t worth the risks.
A few tips before you get started:
• Don’t use too many images, the logo and signature of your company will do, and don’t store them in the actual message (so that you can make changes in the future).
• It’s preferable that the main idea of your email can be understood without any of the images.
• If you have to include a lot of images, add a link to a landing page that contains all the images instead.
• In any case, add alternative text (ALT) to all images.
Go to ActiveTrail’s blog for more email marketing solutions.