Email Campaign Management

How to get the best from stock images

The problem with a graphics art degree is that you have a lot of encumbrances to overcome in order to give good advice. Take images. When used in email marketing the need is not for graphic excellence, but to capture the attention of a reader for just enough time to make them read on. With such specifics there’s no way they can be bought off the shelf. Stock images must be non-starters. Or so I thought.

If a subscriber to your email marketing lists spots an image they’ve seen a number of times before, they are likely to ignore it, and no wonder. If you can’t be bothered to give them something worthwhile, why should they give you their money? You need to put some effort in.

However, there’s no doubt that a professionally taken photograph can pull the eye like no other. At their best, they can sell whatever it is you are pushing. They might do this by directing, calling back good memories the viewer had all but forgotten, or by showing what is to come. All this with just an image.

How To Get The Best From Stock ImagesThat’s not to suggest you should not generate your own photographs. For instance, a holiday company might give their agents cameras when going to certain destinations, telling them to shoot away. The amateurish appearance can be something that can be spun to be a positive feature. They won’t grab the subscriber’s attention though. 

Email marketing is a business built on professional behaviours and trusting it to amateurs might be a step too far. We follow what our data tells us and poor image quality, regardless of our ability to explain them away, might not cut it. 

You are, hopefully, willing to pay a reasonable price for a decent quality image that is not familiar to those on your email marketing list. One problem with stock images is that the really good ones will have been recognised as such by a number of other people. Some of these may be your competitors and nothing is worse than being seen as copying.

You should be a subscriber to your rivals’ email marketing list, for many reasons of course, but in this case to check out their image use. If you see one or more of the pictures they’ve chosen on one stock photo website, then check out another. You want something different.

Ignoring those images favoured by others does not mean opting for second best. There are many ‘bests’ out there. Search under different headings and review the options. Working with the criteria you used to segment the email marketing list you intend using, you might input ‘Couple, seaside, hotel, sun’. If this shows your rivals’ images, add ‘view’, ‘meeting friends’ or ‘sunset’; there is a significant difference in responses. I’ve just tried it. 

You can go the other way of course. Be unspecific. Cut the criteria to just vital aspects: sun, sea and sand springs to mind.

You need only the one high quality image in a marketing email; it’s the one above the fold. Everything else will be explanatory. 



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