The Bigger Picture
Thereís no doubt using bold pictures in your emails is a great way to grab the attention of your subscribers, but what happens if they have pictures turned off? How can you encourage them to be seen and then be effective for you?
There are a few key things to be aware of when you use images: Alt tags, hyperlinks, positioning and size.
On a website an alt tag appears when you hover over the image, but in many email readers, hovering over the image will not display the alt tag and instead it displays the link that's been applied to the image. But this doesn't mean that we can't make good use of them! With every picture you add into your email, you should add an alt tag. An alt tag is alternative text where your image should be if the recipient does not have images set to display.
The display of the alt tag will vary between email readers. For example, in Outlook the alt tag appears after their instructional message, but in most web readers (Hotmail, Gmail, AOL etc) the alt tag can be more clearly seen. Here's an illustration of what we mean with screen grabs of our own logo in an email...
In Outlook: the alt tag is at the end of their instruction on how to
download images into an email. On a smaller image, the alt tag would
probably not be seen at all
In Gmail: the alt tag is the only message seen if the image is not yet
on display - there's valuable space to be made use of here!
And here's the image once it's been set to display in the email
When adding alt tags, think imaginatively. You donít have to be purely descriptive like you would if you were writing one for a web image, and if you use this space wisely it's another opportunity to reiterate your branding, add a call to action, and encourage subscribers to click through to your website.
For instance, if you include an image of a sales representative on the phone, instead of the alt tag being "A Sales Advisor", it could be... "Our friendly team are waiting for your call", with a link attached that links through to your website's contact page.
If you have a NewZapp account you have up to 100 characters with which to alt tag your pictures, so make the most of it!
You can add hyperlinks to your images as well as to your text. Research has indicated in some cases image based links can help boost click through rates. In our experience text links often out perform image links however it's a good idea to add links to both. This will give your subscribers more opportunities to click-through and will also ensure you don't miss out on any clicks from subscribers who prefer image based links. You can read our article for guidance on testing text vs. image links.
Always link to something relevant, eg. if it's a picture of a product, link it to the relevant product information on your website.
There will be times when you may not have the time or resources to add a new page to your website to compliment the link, so here's where having a NewZapp account can really help. Within NewZapp you can upload and link to documents, such as..
- Word Documents
- Excel Spreadsheets
- PowerPoint presentations
Remember to include clear calls to action in your documents if you wish them to generate contact from the recipients and for them not be "dead end" paths.
Once uploaded, your documents are automatically hosted on the NewZapp.co.uk servers and using the "Insert hyperlink" button on the editing tool bar you can quickly and easily create links from text and/or images to them. So if you donít have a relevant page on your website, you can still easily create what is effectively a "landing" page. You'll be able to gain valuable statistics from the clicks on these links in your NewZapp reports.
NewZapp can also create branded landing page templates for your account, for this specific purpose.
Positioning and size
First impressions count. Avoid having a very large image at the top of your email. If your subscribers are initially viewing your email with images turned off, then a large block of empty white space and an alt tag alone may not be enough to draw them in.
Loyal subscribers might be happy to click to show images anyway but you could be putting up a barrier that adds an element of risk to your open rate. See our "To open or delete" article for more information on what this looks like and the repercussions.
Outlook 2007/2010 and Lotus Notes will only recognise the original pixel size of your pictures, so if you're making a change to suit your email layout, re-size your images to make sure your email renders correctly in all the email clients. Gmail will insist on showing the image at it's original pixel height, which makes for very stretched images if you're not careful!
Most subscribers will read top left to bottom right, so keep your key message and calls to action in the top left hand area of your email. This area is known as 'above the fold' and is the first area visible in the preview pane.
It's best practice to balance your pictures and text as evenly as possible. Having a good mix of images and text will result in an easy to read email that enages your subscribers.