Are You Paying (Enough) Attention to the Images in Your Email Marketing?


You probably already know how compelling images are…because you’re human.

You know you’re more likely to notice a Facebook post with an image vs. one that’s just words. As a marketer, you can’t help but notice how quickly Pinterest soared to its place of popularity. And of course there are the social media darlings Snapchat and Instagram too…all proving we are visual creatures.

Why images are so impactful
As humans, we’re programmed to be drawn to images. Research says 90% of the information sent to our brains is visual. Only look around you right now, this second, and see all of the imagery you’re surrounded by, imagery your brain is processing as you’re looking at it.

The result of that is 93% of communication is visual. Think body language and facial expressions, or how you can read someone’s mood without them saying a word to you.

And we process information (and communication) faster when it’s visual: The brain processes images 60,000 times faster than it does text. Clearly, images matter.

Images impact social media shares
Those who succeed at social media already know the power of imagery and they’re tapping into it. And you already know the power of images on Facebook as a user, both for getting your attention and for getting shares. I’ve noticed my LinkedIn newsfeed looks a lot more like Facebook these days too, now that it’s filling up with images. Images will even boost retweets.

It’s not just social media that benefits from image usage, however. Online articles with images get 94% more views than articles without.

Images impact your email marketing too
So how’s your email marketing? Is it visually oriented and compelling? Or falling a little flat? Are you investing the necessary time and energy into the images used in your email marketing?

Sure image blocking is still a concern, and the rules for image blocking defaults vary. But that doesn’t mean the images used in your email marketing shouldn’t still be chosen wisely and used well.

For one thing, most people want to see images: According to Hubspot, 65% prefer emails that contain mostly images vs. 35% who prefer mostly text. And they do have the power to turn images on in their email clients if they choose to do so.

Images can help your click-through and even your conversion rates. According to one source, 67% of consumers said the quality of an image was very important when choosing and buying a product, even more important than product information, a full description, and customer ratings.

In addition, your engagement level can increase when you use compelling images people like to see and eagerly await, even if they’re not buying yet. And better engagement means better email deliverability and (later) ROI. It could also mean more shares and email forwards, which only expand your brand reach.

Choose quality, compelling images
If you’re selling really cool products that are visually compelling on their own, and you have an engaged audience that loves to see pictures of those products, you’re in luck. You’ll have an easy time choosing pictures that will rock in your emails.

The rest of us have to try a lot harder.

And it’s not just imagery but what kind of imagery. You have to think through what kinds of pictures will get noticed by your subscribers. Take our ClickMail updates on LinkedIn for example. We can’t stick just any image in a blog post like this and expect it to get noticed in someone’s news feed on LinkedIn. We have to search for images that are relevant to the topic yet compelling enough to get noticed (without resorting to cute puppies or grumpy cats).

The same guidelines apply to the images used in your emails. Use pictures that are relevant to your brand and your offer, but make sure they are attractive and appealing images that people will be drawn to. Make sure it’s a high quality image as well. There are plenty of poor quality images out there! There are plenty of high quality images too. Go for the better ones. Consider the tree photo used here. We could have grabbed a boring tree photo, but this one is attention-getting so we grabbed it from pixabay and used it—to get your attention.

Remember your alt text
And remember for those on your in-house email list who haven’t turned on images in their emails, alt text is your workhorse. Give that alt text the attention it deserves, just as you do your subject line. That alt text can make the difference between someone reading your email or deleting it. It can even prompt someone to see the images either by clicking on the web version link or by turning images on. Alt text should be more than descriptive. Say you’re selling an iPhone. Your alt text should say more than simply “iPhone.” Instead, depending on the context, it should say something like “Order your new iPhone by September 1 and save $40.”

The moral of the story is…
The point I’m trying to get across here is that images are important in your emails. It might not be that the pictures show up in every single person’s inbox or on every single smart phone due to default image settings. But that doesn’t mean no one sees your images, nor does it mean you should take a haphazard approach to choosing them.

Like your subject line and your preheader text, the image might seem like a minor element but it’s actually a major one. So choose images wisely and well.

And as always, test, test and test again to find the images that work best with your audiences!


About Marco Marini

Marco Marini is the CEO of ClickMail Marketing, a vendor-neutral reseller of email marketing solutions. Marco is an acknowledged expert in email marketing with over 15 years of experience in the field. Before being named CEO at ClickMail, he was the VP of Marketing & Operations. Marco has also held key marketing positions with CyberSource, eHealthInsurance, DoveBid and IBM Canada.

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