5 Tips for Image Heavy Emails

December 15th, 2010 | By Marla Chupack | 1 Comment

Consider yourself warned. Image heavy emails can be a deliverabilty nightmare and should be avoided if possible. In many cases, spam filters will ferret them out as illegitimate messages. And even if coded correctly, your audience will likely see a blank message when the email arrives in their inbox because many of the major email clients like Hotmail, Gmail and Outlook block images by default.

But if you must send an image-heavy email, here are five tips that will help you get your email through spam filters and help get your message across even if email clients do not display your images.

1. Slice and Dice. Don’t insert the whole graphic into the email. Slice up the image into several sections and save these as individual images. Then code the email so the images display next to each other and collectively form the original full image. This also has the added benefit of allowing the image to be viewed more quickly, as the individual pieces can load faster than the whole image.

2. Use height and width tags. That way your images will hold their allotted area in the email and retain the message formatting even if the images are not displayed.

3. Season with ALT text. You’ll want to pepper each image section within the email with ALT tag text. Done creatively, this allows a complete message to show in email clients that block images.

For example, if you place the following ALT tags in your image source tags, the ALT text can be used to deliver your marketing message or offer. If you break apart your image and stack them while using ALT tags like this:

<img src="specialoffer.jpg" height="150" width="550" alt="Special Offer">
<img src="customer.jpg" height="150" width="550" alt="for loyal customers.">
<img src="facebookpage.jpg" height="150" width="550" alt="Go to our Facebook page by 2/8,">
<img src="facebookurl.jpg" height="150" width="550" alt="http://facebook.com/company"/>
<img src="prize.jpg" height="150" width="550" alt="and enter to win a prize."/>

Your ALT tags will form the following message:

Special Offer

for loyal customers.

Go to our Facebook page by 2/8,

http://facebook.com/company

and enter to win a prize.

You can also style your ALT text with inline CSS as several mail clients including Yahoo Mail, Gmail, Apple Mail and Thunderbird allow you to adjust your ALT text color and height.

4. Use text as part of your message. Making your email only an image will run a higher risk of being marked as spam than if your email has some text in it.  So no matter what, make sure your email has text in the message.  This is easily achieved by using a pre-header, adding function links like “view online” or “edit preferences” or in the footer with your mailing address.

5. Test. Test the email in all major email clients, to fix any possible image rendering issues and to ensure it passes spam filters.

One last note, email subject lines, “from address” and “from name” is always important. On image heavy emails their importance greatly increases.  The goal is to get your audience to click to unblock images for your message and gain the full impact of what you sent them.

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