In the early days of email marketing, one could simply place a well executed graphic into an email template, deploy and be reasonably certain that what the recipient would see is what was sent. Not so today.
With so many different email programs – each with a different level of graphical support – plus spam filters becoming increasingly more sensitive, there’s a good chance that your images will be blocked.
The problem with images
Most email programs turn images off by default so when recipients first see your message, they will be looking at a bunch of red Xs instead of what you intended them to see. Coding your email with HTML text allows recipients to partially read your message even if images are blocked. For example, let’s say you’re creating an email to promote a sales event and your agency has designed a fantastic logo in support of the event. You want that graphic in your communication because it likely ties into your other marketing materials. No problem, just make sure that in addition to this logo, the name of the event is referenced prominently using HTML text. That way, if the logo is blocked, the recipient will still receive the critical information.
Many spam filters analyze the text-to-image ratio in a message and will block messages that are made up mostly of images. Meaning that the flyer you printed and then repurposed into a single image email to save money, well it may get flagged as spam.
Some web-based email platforms, such as AOL and Hotmail, do not always support image maps. As a result, your recipients may be able to see your email fine, but could be unable to click through to your site, microsite, or wherever else the email links direct them.
Solution: find the right balance between images and HTML text
Given these challenges, you can still design an effective email that looks great and works as it’s intended. Although you don’t want to over do it with imagery for the reasons noted above, you also don’t want to create an email that’s nothing more than text. It will bore the recipient and reflect poorly on your organization.
Avoid using fancy display fonts since they’re not supported on all computers. Instead, stick with standard fonts that come installed on most Windows-based machines and Macs. Some tried and true choices include Helvetica, Arial, Veranda, Times New Roman and Courier.
Finally, make sure to include critical text in the top portion of the email (above the fold). That way, recipients who use the preview pane will see your key points of communication, even if the images are blocked.
The bottom line
A beautiful email isn’t worth the 1s and 0s it was created with if the recipient sees nothing more than red Xs. However, by finding the right balance of HTML text and images, you can ensure that your message gets the point across clearly and effectively.