5 Great Reasons Image-Only Emails Hurt Email Marketing

One of the worst things I see every day in email marketing is image-only emails. Clients, still stuck in the dark ages of marketing, try to recreate the printed one-sheet flyer from days of old. It makes sense. Control is absolute over the message body. You get exactly the look you want. It’s just that everything else is wrong.

Creating an email marketing message with only images in the message body is counter intuitive. Email is the realm of words. With a combination of words, images, and formatting, marketers can create powerful messages. Instead, many to tr duplicate their weekly sales flyer. It sucks.

Use Your Words!

When you convey your whole message in images, this leaves a distinct lack of words in the message. You may be using images to show text, but that doesn’t mean that your email has words.  It means it has images that have words, and that is different. Why?  Here are 5 Great reasons image-only emails hurt email marketing.

1. Spam-Filters Like Words

When your email message arrives at the recipient’s email server, it us almost always scanned by some sort of anti-spam software.  This software is going to read your message. Words, phrases, links, and much more will be checked. A message with images, but very little actual text is automatically suspect.

Have you ever received one of those male enhancement drug spam messages?  Very often, they’re just a linked image, with no additional text. If there is text, it’s non-sensical. Anti-spam experts analyze these messages, and work on ways to stop them. One key is that they use a low ratio of text to images, or no text at all.

How are you differentiating your image-only message from a spammer’s image-only message? Words help you do this.

2. I can’t even see your images!

If your reader hasn’t allowed your images to load, they aren’t a reader.  It’s that simple.  If your images do not load, your message is not conveyed.  Alt tags can be used to fill the gaps, and provide words for the spam filters.  Sure, that would work.  If you’ve ever read one of those messages when the images aren’t loading, you know why that’s a horrible idea.

Many of your customers aren’t loading images regularly. It’s an extra step. Are you still communicating with the subscribers that have images turned off?

By using images to highlight, and bring focus, you can increase the effectiveness of the text in your creative content. If the images fail you, your message can still be conveyed by the text.  Hey, a broken message is better than no message.  Make sure that your message still works when it’s broken by non-loaded images.

3. It doesn’t FIT!

There’s a real reason HTML was created as a dynamic rendering system, and not a typesetting process. The display area changes.  If one person is browsing the web on a huge 26 inch wide-screen monitor, and another is on an old 14 inch CRT, each will have a different view-space. Defining your content’s structure too strongly can result in one reader squinting, while the other is scrolling back and forth to read it all.

Image-only messages are worse than strictly-defined formatting in HTML.  It’s like building it out of brick.  Good or bad, it’s not moving.

Instead, use tables to structure your message.  Drop in images when needed, but use text to get your message across.

You do realize your image-only creative may be totally useless on mobile, right?  Who can read that?

4. It’s not engaging.

Think about it. Your local megastore puts flyers in the newspaper at least once a week. You flip through, and take a look at the sales. Maybe you visit the store. The flyer gives you the sales, but there’s no love. There is nothing engaging about the flyer.  For engagement, you go to the store. You say Hi to the greeter. You ask for assistance in housewares. You smile at the checkout person.

So, why are you flyering your readers?  Is a glance good enough? Is that all you want our of your readers?  Hey, could you glance at this and see I have a good price on something you may or may not need?

Engage your readers.  Showcase use-cases, customer stories, and ideas. Make the reader feel as you, and your product, are a part of the family.  You can’t go on vacation and not take along part of the family, can you?  (Except for Kevin)

5. It’s not cool, and if you do it we won’t let you hang out with us.

Come on. Seriously. Nobody wants to read that. Nobody wants to design that. Email marketers have long-since moved on to more effective ways to design their messages.  Why?  Because they pay attention to results, test ideas, and choose what performs best. Image-only message bodies do not perform well, compared to a well-designed mixed creative.

While you’re sending out your cute flyers, the successful email marketers are enjoying the fruits of their labors.  They’re thinking less about picture and price, and more about building a relationship between their customers and their products

Please stop sending messages with only images in the body. You’re only hurting yourself.

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