Design images and image blocking

By APSIS

2015-03-05

Do you have images in your newsletter? You probably do – images are a vital part of modern email marketing. For a long time, images have caused problems for email marketers. Many email clients block image viewing by default, and will only display images when the user approves it manually. Here are some guidelines on design, images and image blocking!

Before deciding on a layout for your newsletter, consider this:

  1. Design impacts your immediate results. The number of people clicking on your offers and content also depends on how you present that offer or content.
  2. Design impacts awareness. The design is a key factor to brand awareness and the customer relationship. Presentation plays an important role here, too – it may strengthen the relationship and make the communication more relevant.
  3. Email design is not the same as other kinds of design. If you design an email like you would a piece of direct mail or a web page, it will not always work. The different ways email software and webmail services display email means email design has its own rules and principles.

Email design is different because images are handled quite differently in email compared to web pages. In fact, images have been challenging for as long as we have had email. The conditions for email marketers change constantly, and what was considered best practice a year ago may very well be outdated today because of an upgrade to a major email client.

When we send our own newsletter, we have to be aware of how desktop email clients work (such as Microsoft’s Outlook and Entourage). We have to take a close look at web clients such as Gmail – and at the greatest challenge right now, mobile phones. There are huge differences between businesses, however, so you should find out where the majority of your readers open your newsletters.

Make a plan for your design work

When designing your newsletter, consider how many images you need. Is the design image-based, or do you use images just to highlight certain parts? Don’t hesitate to use images – there are many instances where you quite simply need them. But you need to do everything you can to make sure that your subscribers get good-looking newsletters with messages that are possible to understand even without images!

A good newsletter should...
 

  • Display images properly in most major email clients.
  • Not get stuck in a common spam filter.
  • Be possible to read and understand even if the images are blocked.

A few useful tips:

Ask your readers to make yo a trusted sender. To be a trusted sender means that the recipient has told their email client to trust you. The email client assumes that you will not post spam, puts the newsletters in the inbox and displays the images automatically. The term “trusted sender” may be called different things in email clients, bus as a general rule it is important that your address is added to the address book – then the system knows that whatever comes from that particular address is OK.

Your newsletter should be meaningful without images. You should always use plain text for the contents of your letter. If the text is placed within an image, it looks fine – but if the image is blocked, there is no way to read the text. Then, you will have sent a letter without content.

A good subject line explains the key points of the letter. It is essential for making the recipients open the letter and it encourages readers to allow images to be shown.

Use informative links as calls to action in the letter. You want your readers to move from the letter to an environment that you control completely – your own web site. Use image links, but also text links that generate clicks. Take the extra time to write something other than “Click here” or “Read more” – it is well worth the effort!

Write ALT texts to all your images. An ALT text describes what is pictured, giving you an idea of the content even if the image is blocked or if you for some reason use a text-to-speech program to read the contents of the letter.

Optimise for mobile phones. Email and images in newsletters work quite well on mobile devices today. This is a significant difference compared to the situation a few years ago, when it was very difficult to manage email on mobile devices. The technology has taken huge steps forward, not only in terms of handheld devices but also the technology and infrastructure surrounding them – today, limited bandwidth is not even an issue. You should consider optimising your newsletter for mobile phones, since the screen is significantly smaller than a computer screen.

We can help you!

At Apsis’ Production Department, we have a group of experienced email designers that help you develop templates and modules according to your graphic profile.

If you are looking to develop or renew your existing newsletter template, take at look at www.apsis.com/templates for inspiration.

Talk to your sales contact at Apsis for more information on how we can help you develop your email design!

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