HTML based emails with sophisticated layouts and images are great. Generally speaking HTML layouts also improve conversion. However, email marketers always need to pay attention to images and how they are rendered. Recent studies have shown that only 33% of email users have images on by default. That means two of the three people you send emails to are not seeing the images but rather a blank space. You have to take image layout into account because if too much critical information is delivered via images, there’s a good chance that your email campaign will be crippled because people won’t actually see what you are trying to communicate.
I recently received an email that was one large image and then contact information at the bottom. I was dismayed at seeing this email as it shows an absolute worst practice. Essentially this company sent me a message that said nothing. I did enable images to see what the missed opportunity was. It turned out to be a well laid out design promoting a networking event. Of course, I don’t know for sure but I’d bet good money that response rates to this email were very poor because 66% of the recipients likely saw nothing.
Make sure that critical information is delivered as text within your layout. As a general rule, the body of the email should never be an image. Headlines or tag lines can be included in an image as long as they are to make more of a splash rather than inform the reader. If the headline is critical to understanding the content, then it should be delivered as text.
Another critical consideration is image placement. Typically you’ll want to avoid images toward the top of an email as that will be the only thing to display in preview panes. Too many images or one large image can make the email look blank or like it is filled with glitches. If you need to use images at the top of an email make sure they are no taller than 200 pixels. Shorter is better but at 200 pixels most preview panes will at least display the text under the images so that viewers see that there is content if they scroll down.
Finally, include image alt tags. It’s not fool proof as many email programs insert text and the alt tags aren’t always visible but it’s a good step to let people know what the image is.
Pay attention to images and how they may or may not be viewed by recipients. Images have the potential to gain attention through an attractive layout but also have the potential to mask your message. Make sure your email messages perform whether the recipient can see images or not.