A recent image I received contained the heading: ‘Reinventing the wheel’. Clichés can be overused but this was excusable in the circumstances. Where it fell down was the image: it showed a car wheel, and end on so all you could see was the tyre.
Here are eleven things to consider when picking images for marketing emails:
1. Have an idea of what you want
You should not just look for pictures, but for something that will add to the email. In other words, never view an image in isolation. Ask yourself it is goes with the text and headings. Does the colour clash?
2. Consider its function
You would instantly delete gibberish from the text so an image that serves no purpose should be seen in the same way. Just being pretty is not enough. If it doesn't support the email and increase the information given to the reader then cut it.
3. What concerns the reader
If you are promoting a residential course for instance then feedback from previous students will give you an idea of what they looked for when booking. If accommodation was of concern, then show an image of the bedrooms.
4. Delete your favourites
As you flick through a series of images, some will stand out as being particularly interesting, attractive or thought provoking. Whatever you do, don't use one of them. You want the reader to click through, not admire the view.
5. Alt text comes first
This is the text that is presented when the image doesn't load. Work out the alt text first and then pick an image to fit. Consider the example of the wheel, above. If the alt text had just been ‘A wheel’ you would have wondered what it was there for.
You want the description to read something like: ‘There are beautiful views from all our balconies’. What image you want will then be clear.
6. Location, location, location
Place the first image below the heading and leave a gap. In most case I would advise having text before it as well.
7. Don't overpower
If you have a nice big button for your click through, then keep images away from it.
One specific difficulty regarding the use of images in email marketing is deliverability. If there are too many or they are too large then this can excite the spam filter, although it is probably not enough on its own to divert it. An email that is all images is too much of a risk.
See how the image will appear on a smart phone. Detail is normally lost so subtlety is not an option.
10. Shock, horror
The image should not take interest away from the rest of the email. So do not make the image the most memorable part of it.
11. Photographs are not the only fruit
Pie charts, graphs, drawings, CGI and other graphic art are all images for a purpose. Do not ignore something just because it didn’t come from a camera. Experiment a little. Or a lot.