This is a guest post from Ronita Mohan at Venngage.
Email marketing is still one of the strongest content marketing
tools available to businesses, and the addition of visuals in email
campaigns makes them even more profitable.
But are you using the right visuals? Are you using the visuals
correctly? What’s the correct format for the images in your
If you’re still asking yourself these questions, read on for
15 actionable tips for incorporating visuals into your newsletter
help choosing email images? Check out our guide for
marketers. 1. Relevant email visuals
The visuals you use in your newsletter
templates need to be relevant to your subject matter and should
give your audience value.
The days of using stock photos in your email marketing campaigns
may not yet be over, but that doesn’t mean you rely solely on
them for visual appeal.
If you do need to use stock photos, take the time to find some
that look authentic to your brand and your subject—relaxed, real
poses look better than staged images.
Consider hiring a photographer to do a unique photoshoot—these
pictures will be more in line with your brand and products.
However, this is a very expensive proposition for small
businesses and may not be possible to sustain. Look at alternative
visuals to give your audience value.
Infographics and charts are always a good visual to use—they
share vast amounts of information and keep the audience focused on
the newsletter, so they don’t click away.
The more relevant your visuals are to your subject matter and
text, the more likely your audience is to click on your CTA.
2. Kinds of email visuals
We’ve touched on the importance of relevant visuals but the
kinds of visuals you use can also impact how well your email
marketing campaign is received.
There are numerous kinds of visuals one can incorporate across
newsletters. Stock photos can work, as long as you don’t overuse
them or choose the same images as everyone else.
Illustrations are captivating and unique. If your company has a
designer to create illustrations, you can make stunning
GIFs are another visual to use, albeit sparingly, as they impact
the tone of your content and may not always be relevant.
Behind-the-scenes images and videos are always a great way to
give your audience an insight into your company culture and add a
personal aspect to the content.
Infographics and charts are great for sharing data or as a gift
guide—this is a particularly strong visual to use during the
You can take inspiration from these infographic
ideas to create an engaging newsletter.
Whatever type of visual you choose to use in your email
campaigns, ensure they’re strong, relevant, and attractive.
User-generated content is a popular engagement tool on social
media, but it can also be a useful way to create visuals for email
Collating strong imagery through contests—read up on creating
Instagram contest here—can save marketing teams time and
budget that’d otherwise be spent on photoshoots.
UGC also helps to create a bond between the brand and customers
by giving people a voice and a way to connect with the brand
through their images.
However, gathering UGC doesn’t mean using every image that’s
shared by users—they do need to fit the brand identity.
Source imagery that’s well-shot and evokes your brand in
select newsletters. If this is a tactic you overuse, the novelty
will wear off.
4. Text-to-image ratio
Visuals should be used primarily to illustrate the text
content—they aren’t the focus of the newsletters.
There’s a reason why: Emails that are largely visual based run
the risk of slowing load times or being blocked from loading
To avoid this trap, ensure that your emails are 80% text and 20%
If your email has to be one image, add text at the bottom, such as
an unsubscribe link, company address, and
return policy to balance out the image.
5. Image sizes
Image sizes are taken into consideration when optimizing
websites, but they also have a role to play in creating email
Heavy image sizes could slow down the loading speed of your
email, as it would a website. But, if your image size is too small,
the quality could be badly affected.
A high-res image shouldn’t be resized ham-handedly, since it
could distort or pixelate the image and, with so many emails
clogging people’s inboxes, a distorted image could be what drives
them to click away from your email and turn to someone
Keep your image sizes small—no more than 1MB each, with a
resolution of at least 72 PPI to make it viewable on multiple
to edit images in your Campaign Monitor emails. 6.
You can control the size of your email visuals by using the
correct image format. Popular image file types include JPG, PNG,
JPG images include a deeper level of detail—they’re better
for photographs, in general—and tend not to have very large file
sizes, but they also get compressed when uploaded.
PNGs work for all image formats—photos, illustrations,
vectors, and more—and can be easily scaled without losing
resolution. However, PNGs veer towards large image sizes.
GIFs have the smallest sizes among the three formats, which
makes them ideal for quick-loading content. However, they can’t
contain high-resolution graphics and distort easily.
Depending on the kind of content you’re creating for your
emails, you’ll have to choose your image format.
JPGs are a sure-shot for emails, as long as you aren’t trying
to resize the original image.
If you aren’t sure of the quality of the final email, send
yourself test emails before distributing it to your database.
Alt-text isn’t just for websites; they need to be added for
emails as well.
We’ve already mentioned how most email servers automatically
disable images in incoming emails if they aren’t from familiar
When a recipient opens an email with blocked images, they need
to see relevant text in the place of those images, so they know
what it’s in relation to. This will encourage them to turn on the
images and engage with the emails.
Alt-text is also necessary when transmitting emails to people
with visual impairments, since they’ll likely have screen readers
that read out the alt-text to them.
For these reasons, you need to give your images relevant
alt-text that describes what’s in the image.
8. Make visuals clickable.
Don’t just make the “read more” tags clickable in your
emails; make the entire associated visual clickable to improve
Making email visuals clickable improves your chances of elements
being clicked on, as mobile
marketing is soaring and more emails are being viewed on small
Text, even when well sized, can be difficult to click on, unlike
an image, which takes up more space and is easier to cover with a
Your outbound links from emails should be highlighted and
included in images for better traction.
9. White space
Source: Campaign Monitor
Business newsletters often pack in a lot of information. You
have limited space to work with, so you want to put in as much as
possible, albeit in an organized way.
But more isn’t always better, especially in the world of email
You need to use white space in your emails to improve
readability, for clarity, and to make your content look more
If you look at these email poster
design examples, you’ll see how well white space amplifies
the messaging of a visual email. Less really is more with regard to
Organize the visuals of your email into a distinctive hierarchy
and ensure that there’s plenty of white space around the visuals
and text for easy reading.
10. Bullet points
Speaking of white space, an excellent way to ensure you have
plenty of space around your text and visuals is to use bullet
Not only does this immediately create more space around your
content, but, with the creative use of icons, you can elevate your
email to something more memorable.
Don’t be afraid of using bullet points—they aren’t only
meant for “serious” journals and articles; bullet points can be
visually appealing as well.
11. Powerful branding
Source: Campaign Monitor
Branding is a must in the visual world. How else will your
audience know that the content comes from you and not someone
But this doesn’t necessarily mean stamping your logo all over
Don’t rely on your logo to carry the burden of
branding your email. It’s a strong visual, but it can be
overwhelming and distracting for the audience.
Instead, use more subtle visual cues for your branding. Your
company should already have a distinctive brand identity, including
colors, tone of voice, and font use.
Incorporate all these elements of your brand identity to make an
impact on recipients.
For example, choose images that use the colors of your brand and
fonts that match your brand’s fonts.
The tone of voice in your emails should be quintessentially you.
Don’t change the tone from what your company’s been adopting
across other platforms.
Using multiple tones in your omnichannel campaigns will confuse
audiences and likely lead to less engagement.
If you look at these , you’ll notice something: Interactive
emails are more attractive.
An interactive newsletter gives recipients more reason to stay
on your newsletter and to click through to your website.
A simple way of adding interactivity to your newsletter is by
including a GIF or two, but, as we’ve already mentioned here,
avoid over-using GIFs, as they’ll become tired.
Simple animations are great for making your newsletter
interactive (a single button can be animated to improve
engagement). Interactivity is a great way to boost retention, but
only if it’s relevant to the subject of the email and the visuals
13. Font use
Fonts can be useful visual tools, and many marketers don’t
realize that. Using artistic fonts—such as these creative
headline fonts—can make as strong an impact as an image.
But it’s best not to use creative fonts throughout the body of
your email, as it’ll strain the eyes and could make your content
Instead, consider creative fonts as an alternative to images and
use them sparingly in your email to create the same impact without
14. CTA placement
CTA placement is a point of contention for marketers. Should it
be placed at the top or at the bottom? That’s assuming you only
have one CTA. Should you have more?
Your newsletter should have one primary goal, but you can still
have more links embedded in the email.
Plan out the one overarching goal for your email: Are you
driving traffic to a new product line, a new blog, or your new
That CTA should be placed at the top because, the higher your
CTA, the easier it is for recipients to note what they have to do
with the email.
You can have more links below the main CTA, but they should be
of less impact than the primary action you want people to
15. Responsive visuals
More emails are being viewed on mobile devices, which means
visuals need to be designed for small viewing screens.
The newsletter format should be vertical for ease of scrolling.
Think of the way users are handling their devices: They scroll with
their thumb, and vertical scrolling is easier than horizontal.
The visuals you choose shouldn’t be too large or too small
because, if the image is too big, it won’t resize properly for
the smaller screen. If it’s too small, it’ll be hard to
Marketers must also remember that emails are still viewed on
desktops and laptops, so decreasing the size of images too much may
lead to poor-quality emails on large screens.
Look at the instructions provided by your email client; the
software will give you the acceptable length and breadth of the
visuals and newsletter. Don’t stray from these dimensions.
And, once again, always send yourself test emails, so you can
see what the final product looks like before sending it through to
Visuals can have a massive impact on how well your content is
engaged with, but it’s important to remember that visuals should
only be used when needed.
If your message can be shared through a text email, don’t
force an image in just because images gain attention—you’ll end
up distracting from your core message.
But, when you do have a visual that shares your message, use it
and keep in mind the points we’ve made in this article.
It’ll take practice, but, by A/B testing often and noting
those results, you’ll be able to revamp your email marketing for
Ronita Mohan is a content marketer
at Venngage, the online
infographic maker and
design platform. Ronita enjoys writing about visual content
marketing, business development, pop culture, and
15 Actionable Tips for Using Visuals in Your Email Marketing
appeared first on Campaign Monitor.
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15 Actionable Tips for Using Visuals in Your Email Marketing