Email image deliverability and experience: What you need to know

You’ve always heard that a picture is worth a thousand words.
When it comes to email, though, the stakes are a little higher.

Sure, email images are useful when showing off your products,
connecting to users, and giving context to your message.

However, elements such as email background images can throw a
wrench in the process of even the best email teams by reducing
deliverability, or tanking user experience.

Email image headaches

The best way to improve your email processes and make emails
more enjoyable for subscribers, is to face issues head on.

Here are two categories of email image headaches to beware of,
and tips on how to make improvements.

User experience issues

An enjoyable inbox experience can mean the difference between
repeat customers and people hitting unsubscribe so fast it’ll
make your head spin.

These are the most common image-driven user experience issues to
resolve.

1. Loading frustrations

An email that takes forever to load can be the most
frustrating thing, and your customers deserve better. And if
visuals fail to load quickly, the message you’ve worked so hard
on could be deleted on the spot.

How to fix it: Be mindful of how many photos you use and
how big the files are.

Choose
JPEG for photos
, PNG files for logos or text, and use an image
compressor like Kraken.io to
optimize file sizes.

Also, add a backup color in case the email client
doesn’t support
email background images.

2. Alt text and links

What’s worse than a slow-loading image? One that never loads
at all. Image blocking or poor data coverage on mobile shuts your
graphics down.

That’s why it’s critical to pay attention to your images’
alt text and links.

Alt image descriptions should give readers context, and image
links should be kept short.

Without alt text, all of your hard work will go completely
unnoticed by those with images turned off. For example, look at the
difference between the same email with images turned off and on.
There’s no alt text to be found, so all of the information is
lost.

Here’s the email with images on:


Here’s the email with images off:


How to fix it: Don’t skip alt tags! Take a few extra
moments to write short descriptions.

3. Accessibility

Emails made up of one big image can be stylish, and easier to
create without a bunch of code. However, they don’t play nice
with screen reader software that recites text aloud for
visually-impaired subscribers.

Instead of shipping an email that’s one large image file,
break the message up into individual blocks and images.

Then, be sure to include alt text for each image. It’s also
worth noting that voice assistants may not recognize alt text, but
can recite live text, which is another reason to balance text and
images in your emails.

How to fix it: Avoid using image-only emails, and use
high-contrast design for the best visibility.


Email Deliverability Issues

Email image problems in the inbox are one thing, but what if
your emails never even make it to a subscriber? Here are some
email
deliverability
issues to look out for.

1. Unengaged (or unhappy) subscribers

Email image user experience issues have more implications than a
single annoyed subscriber.

Unfortunately, users who are annoyed with your email experience
might “mark as spam” instead of simply unsubscribing.

In the long run, this can hurt your deliverability.

How to fix it: Create the best email image user
experience as possible, and monitor engagement.

2. Images stored on fishy domains

Where your pictures live can affect your domain reputation, as
storing designs on a blacklisted domain can get you caught up in
spam filters. Luckily, if you’re using a reputable email service
provider, you likely don’t need to be concerned about this.

Even if you aren’t able to customize where images are hosted, you
should still pay attention to the URL path for the image and
exclude spam-triggering words, such as “ad.”

How to fix it: Host email images on your site or a
reputable domain to preserve your reputation.

3. Large images with no text

Emails with a file size larger than about 100KB can start to
trigger spam filters, or be clipped by email providers. You also
need to be aware of your image-to-text ratio.

Large images or image-only emails should be accompanied by at
least 500 characters of text to avoid appearing as spam to
filters.

How to fix it: Image-to-text ratios aren’t as big of a
deal these days, but make sure you have at least some text with
your images.

This is where using an image compressor can help achieve
balance, which keeps email service providers (and subscribers)
happy.

 

How to Up Your Email Image Game

Just because email images can cause headaches, doesn’t
mean they have to. Now that you know the top email image
issues to avoid, let’s learn how to add visuals to your emails
the right way.

Use the right image-to-text ratio

A little planning at the beginning of a project prevents a lot
of headaches down the road. So before you slap an image into your
email, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do I have strong content to lead with?
  • Do the images I’ve chosen add value to the email?

Your email needs to make sense even without the images, so the
pictures should be the cherry on top.  A good
rule of thumb
for the image-to-text ratio is 60% text and 40%
image.

The below email from Postmates is a great example of how images
add to an email, but their absence doesn’t render the email
useless. The first email is what appears when email images are
turned off, and the second has images turned on.

The picture and text at the top of the email catches a
reader’s attention and has clever copy, but there’s still a
balance of text in the rest of the email.

Here’s the email with images on:


Here it is with images off:


Correctly embed images in email

Your time is your most valuable resource, so successfully (and
quickly) embedding images in email is critical.

There are different ways to work with images in email, but
we’re going to talk about embedding images that are hosted on
your website or an external server.

1. Start with the image size

Your email file size can have a serious impact on deliverability
and user experience, and images play a role in how hefty your
message is. Your total loaded email weight needs to be under
100KB.

What size should images be for email? Each image should be sub
1MB, and the smaller the file size, the better.

How can you keep your email image size in check? First, make
sure that each picture you use really deserves to be in the email.
Then, use a JPG file for images or PNG for simple illustrations or
text.

Finally, use a tool such as Kraken.io, TinyPNG, or JPEGmini to compress and optimize
your images.

2. Prep for image blocking

Next up is prepping your email images for the inevitable: image
blocking. It doesn’t matter how hard you try, sometimes your
images will be blocked. Whether it’s the email service provider
or the recipient that turns off images, you need to provide the
best experience possible.

Start by renaming images so that the file name is short and
descriptive. Adding alt text is another “must-do.”

To make your workflow smoother, prep your alt text and
descriptions before you start coding and assembling your email.
That way, you don’t need to switch between tasks or scramble to
create alt text at the last moment.

3. Decide where the email will be hosted

Once your graphics or email background image is prepped and
ready to go, it’s time to give it a place to live. As we
discussed earlier, your image needs to be hosted on a reputable
domain.

This could either be on your company’s website or server, on
sites such as Google Drive or DropBox, or on your ESP’s server.
Another detail to keep in mind is your URL path. Just like the file
name, it should be short and descriptive.

4. Add the image to your HTML code

The final step in embedding an image in your email is to add
some information to your HTML code.

Here’s what to include:

Image source: Share the image’s hosted location by
including <img src=”URL”>

Alt text: Remember the alt text you already created? Now
just plug those descriptions into alt=”description”

A place for alt text: It’s useful to set up a defined
area for the alt text by adding a width and height

Here’s what embedding an image is like within the Vero
editor:



Check for spam filters before sending

The hardest part of incorporating email images is behind you,
but you aren’t finished just yet. Taking time to test your email
before sending it is a true sign of an email marketer committed to
excellence. After all, to err is human.

Tools you can use to check for spam filters include:

Some of these websites help you visualize how your email will
appear on different devices and email clients. This helps catch any
email image issues before they reach inboxes.

Not sure how to fix pictures that aren’t displaying?

Check the hosted image to make sure it isn’t
password-protected, as a link to a blocked picture would cause an
issue. It’s also worth rechecking the file size.

Your 2020 checklist to become an email image pro

Whew – that was a lot to take in! To sum up, here’s a list
of what we covered:

  • Images can add context and style to an email, but they need to
    be done properly
  • There are two main ways that email image issues present
    themselves: bad user experience or poor deliverability
  • You can harm your subscriber relationship with emails and
    photos that are very slow to load, don’t have alt text, and
    aren’t accessible
  • Email images can land you on a spam list if: a poor user
    experience leads to unengaged and unhappy subscribers, you host
    your images on fishy domains, or you send massive image-only
    emails
  • Using pictures and email background images to their fullest
    potential starts with planning. Make sure you choose images that
    complement your message, but that your email also makes sense if
    images are blocked
  • Before you embed an image into an email, minimize the file
    size
  • Prep your alt text before you start coding, and make sure your
    file names and URL paths are short and descriptive
  • Your HTML code for embedded images need to include the image
    source, alt text, and size parameters
  • Test your email with tools like Litmus or Mail-Tester to find
    spam filters or loading issues

Want to take your email marketing to the next level this year?
Check out our guide on behavioural
targeting in email
.

The post appeared first on Vero.

Source: FS – Email Marketing Blogs!
Email image deliverability and experience: What you need to know