While visuals can elevate an email’s impact, it’s essential to avoid common pitfalls. By being conscious of these do’s and don’ts, marketers can craft emails that are not only visually pleasing but also optimized for maximum engagement and effectiveness.
Recent statistics indicate that emails containing visuals have a 94% higher click-through rate than text-only emails. This isn’t just a coincidence; it’s rooted in biology. The human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text, and 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual. By leveraging visuals, marketers tap into innate human cognitive functions, ensuring their messages are not only seen but remembered.
Do’s of Using Visuals in Emails
Use High-Quality Images
Today’s audience is more discerning than ever, especially in the digital space. This makes image quality in email marketing paramount. When an email has blurred or pixelated images, it instantly affects the viewer’s perception. Poor image quality can project a sense of carelessness, questioning the brand’s dedication to quality in broader aspects. It’s crucial to understand that visuals are often the first impression of your brand. Using platforms like Unsplash, Pexels, and Shutterstock can assure that you have access to sharp, high-resolution images that can enhance your message rather than detract from it.
Optimize for Mobile Devices
The shift towards mobile has been significant over the past years. With the majority of emails being opened on smartphones and tablets, marketers cannot afford to neglect this audience. Images that aren’t optimized for mobile can appear stretched, shrunken, or altogether distorted. This not only affects user experience but also affects the engagement rates. By employing responsive design, images will adapt and render based on the device’s screen size. Testing emails on different devices ensures that all subscribers, regardless of their device, have a consistent and pleasant viewing experience.
Maintain Brand Consistency
Visual consistency is not just about aesthetics—it’s about reinforcing brand identity and building trust. When subscribers see consistent imagery, colors, and fonts, they’re not just seeing design choices; they’re seeing your brand’s promise of reliability and consistency. For instance, Apple’s emails are instantly recognizable due to their consistent use of minimalist design, typography, and imagery. Such consistency reinforces brand recall, ensuring that subscribers can instantly identify your brand even at a mere glance.
Include Alt Text
While it’s easy to assume everyone will see your beautifully designed email as intended, the reality is different. Many factors, from slow internet speeds to accessibility settings, can prevent images from displaying. Alt text provides a textual description of an image, ensuring that the message of the image is still conveyed, even if it doesn’t load. Moreover, including alt text is a best practice for search engine optimization (SEO), making your email content more discoverable to search engines, further amplifying the reach and impact of your email campaigns.
Use Graphics to Guide the Reader
Visuals, when used strategically, can guide the reader’s journey through the content. They can accentuate key points, provide breaks in text-heavy content, and create a flow that enhances comprehension. Elements like icons can represent ideas succinctly, arrows can guide readers to call-to-actions, and dividers can segment content, making it more digestible. By constructing a visual hierarchy, you can subtly highlight the most important information, ensuring the reader absorbs the crucial points even if they only skim through the email.
Don’ts of Using Visuals in Emails
Avoid Overloading with Images
Visuals are potent tools in capturing attention and enhancing comprehension. However, like all powerful tools, they must be used judiciously. Overloading an email with images can create several issues. Firstly, it can substantially increase load times, especially for subscribers with slower internet connections. Every additional second an email takes to load can lead to diminishing patience and potentially lost engagement. Additionally, an excessive number of visuals might overshadow the central message. Rather than clarifying and emphasizing the core message, a deluge of images can clutter the space, making the email’s intent muddled and less effective.
Steer Clear of Stock Clichés
Stock images, when chosen appropriately, can be a boon for marketers. They offer high-quality visuals without the associated costs of custom photography. However, the convenience of stock platforms also brings a danger: the overuse of clichéd images. The handshake, the group of overly enthusiastic business people, the light bulb — these have become visual clichés that many audiences have seen ad nauseam. Such images can make your emails seem generic and impersonal, thereby weakening your brand’s unique voice. Instead, marketers should strive for authenticity by choosing less common stock photos or considering custom graphics that truly encapsulate the brand’s essence and message.
Don’t Neglect Responsive Design
In today’s mobile-first world, responsive design isn’t a luxury—it’s a necessity. As more people default to checking emails on their phones and tablets, ensuring that visuals are tailored for these devices becomes crucial. An image that dominates and looks magnificent on a desktop screen can become a pixelated mess on a smaller mobile screen, or worse, stretch and skew, completely altering the visual’s intent. By not implementing responsive design, you risk alienating a significant portion of your audience, leading to reduced engagement and potentially lost opportunities.
Avoid Inconsistent Image Sizing
Consistency is a cornerstone of effective design, and email visuals are no exception. Mixing various image sizes without clear rationale can make an email feel disjointed and amateurish. Subscribers might find themselves distracted by the inconsistency rather than focusing on the content. Using design tools like Canva or Adobe Spark can ensure that images maintain a uniform appearance, both in size and style. By keeping visuals consistent, the email feels more cohesive, and the overall narrative is strengthened.
Testing and Feedback
No strategy is complete without testing. A/B testing visuals can offer insights into what resonates with subscribers, allowing for fine-tuning. Encourage feedback, be it through direct responses, surveys, or analyzing engagement metrics.
Harnessing the power of visuals in email marketing is both an art and a science. By adhering to these do’s and don’ts, marketers can craft emails that not only captivate but also convert. As with all strategies, the key lies in balance—striking the right chord between visual appeal and message clarity for optimal engagement.
Meet the Author
Elaina Lai is a seasoned email marketer whose expertise in crafting compelling subject lines, analyzing campaign performance, and segmenting email lists has resulted in a consistently high open and click-through rate for her clients. She is passionate about staying up-to-date on the latest email marketing best practices and technology and loves finding new and innovative ways to drive results for her clients.