How to Use Email Images to Drive More Conversions

Andriy Zapisotskyi

Written by:
Andriy Zapisotskyi

email images - header wide

Visuals are powerful attention-grabbers for any marketing message.

Whether they're used on websites, social media or emails, images are easier for the brain to process, stay in the long-term memory for longer and help distinguish a message from dozens of similar ones.

Having said that, marketers treat email images as a double-edged sword.

For one thing, they increase the size of the email, reducing loading speed and creating possible learning issues. Plus, the abundance of images results in low deliverability in emails.

So how do you make the most of visual content in every email you send?

In this post, we’ll look at the best practices of incorporating images into your email messages and examine some common mistakes marketers make when designing emails.

We’ll also describe the most converting types of email images you can work with so you can get better results out of your campaigns.


Common Mistakes When Adding Email Images

As mentioned above, failing to optimize images can do your email more harm than good. People are sending you their email addresses, and you want to treat them well.

The mistakes listed below are especially damaging to your conversions, IP and domain reputation.

1. Using Large Images

For a single-column email, 600x700 px is the recommended image size. If your content has more columns, the images might need to be yet narrower.

If you go beyond the threshold, the picture will be distorted or cropped on smartphones, tablets or desktop devices with smaller screens.

Other than that, using images that are too wide increases the overall size of your email, killing its performance. If a reader doesn’t have a powerful internet connection, chances are your email visual will not load altogether.

Pro-tip: There are plenty of tools that help marketers adjust the size of their email images. Some of these platforms include Fotor, Pixlr and iPiccy.

2. Sending Images as Attachments

It’s a common mistake among marketers to add images to an email as attachments as opposed to sending them inline. Sure, you can share large files this way, but that’s about the only advantage of this approach.

There are plenty of reasons not to send visuals as attachments in your next email:

  • Users are suspicious to open an email with attached files. We are all scared of malware and viruses.
  • Most email clients slow the loading speed down when they have to process attached files.
  • Spam filters frown upon messages with attachments. These are more likely to get flagged.

3. Using the Wrong File Type

There are dozens of image file formats. However, only a few are supported by most email clients. Rather than using a .godknowswhat format to share visuals, stick to one of the three most common file types—GIF, JPG, or PNG.

Let’s take a look at their respective pros and cons in the infographic below.

email images - image-file-type-infographic

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4. Ignoring Mobile Optimization

It’s no secret that emails can have a different look and feel on mobile devices.

While most email marketers don’t like dealing with mobile optimization, the truth is, a smaller screen can improve the quality of your content if you follow these tips:

  • Strip the layout down. Multi-column emails don’t look well on mobile devices, and visual elements tend to be either too small or cropped. Instead of trying to fit the original look of an email into the content, rebuild a three-column layout into a single column one.
  • Compress images. Most mobile users don’t have constant access to the high-speed Internet when checking their inboxes. That’s why they might be challenged to load your high-quality, large email images. To increase the convenience of skimming through your newsletter, use image compression tools and improve file loading speed.
  • Make the image size adjustable. There are thousands of screen modifications on the mobile device market, and a wide range of tablets. Testing for every smartphone out there is next to impossible—so you shouldn’t. Instead, focus on the scalability of your visuals; make sure they have fully adjustable width. Most email templates tools offer such a feature.

5. Using Too Many Images

When business owners and entry-level marketers find out about the power of images in email marketing, they tend to go overboard—way overboard, if you ask me.

email images - Using-too-many-images

So how many images is too many in an email?

Based on this Constant Contact study, 3 or less images in an email is ideal.

Thus, three pictures are a recommended threshold for email marketers to follow. This way, the email is memorable but not at the cost of performance and loading speed.


7 Ways to Boost Email Conversion Using Images

Now that we have covered the traps email marketers fall into when working with images, let’s go over the ways to make visuals work for you, help you connect with users and bring forth new leads.

Here are the top seven practices for attention-grabbing, converting and powerful images in your company’s marketing or transactional email.

1. Use Images to Complement the Text

If you want to use email images wisely, make sure they magnify the influence of your copy, rather than distracting users and offering conflicting messages.

Ideally, every visual you add should complement the copy and provide users additional value. For instance, if you describe an upcoming sale, provide all the technical details in the copy and use visuals to showcase the discounted products.

This way, a reader will have a stronger appeal to visit the store and see the items on their own.

email images - Make-sure-visuals-complement-the-text


2. Use High-Quality Images

This one seems obvious but is often neglected by marketers. As you design your referral emails, for example, keep in mind that the email images should be sharp and clear in order to be powerful.

If you don’t have a high-resolution image that’s relevant to the letter, try using editing tools like Upscalepics or Photo Zoom Pro, or finding visuals on free stock image libraries.

find the perfect stock photo for your background with visme Pro-tip: There are tons of free stock photo libraries with millions of options to choose from. Some popular ones are Pexels, Unsplash and Stocksnap.

You can also use Gmail for your nonprofit to upload high-quality images.

3. Commit to One Image Style

To run effective email marketing strategies, you want to stay consistent, whether it's by the topic, writing style or the email images that you decide to use.

Since imagery is your way to build a link between the newsletter and the brand in a customer’s mind, be sure to commit to a distinct visual style that will be associated with no other company but yours.

For example, Visme's email newsletters carry a distinct, illustrated email image style.

email image - visme illustration example

But when thinking about an image style, most marketers immediately assume they need to hire designers for creating custom email images. That’s not the case.

More often than not, even committing to a distinct color palette is enough to do the trick and help you connect with customers.

4. Show, Don’t Tell

Email marketers are acutely aware of how little time readers are willing to spend reading an email. That’s why we recognize the power of the saying ‘An image is worth a thousand words’.

As you work on an engaging email, commit to showing the product or a recommended action rather than telling a user about it.

email images - Show-dont-tell

For one thing, it’s a tried-and-true way to increase trust in the company or product. A user will feel more confident about completing the transaction after seeing the items the brand offers.

Other than that, by walking readers through the actions needed to use the software or fulfill an order, you will reduce the number of support queries, helping you build proactive customer service.

5. Test Image Responsiveness

There are dozens of factors that determine the way a reader sees the visuals in an email. Email marketers need to pay attention to query, navigation, hierarchy, paddings, HTML and CSS formatting.

To make sure each component is on point and won't interfere with the way users see an email, use testing tools to check how images will be displayed on different types of devices and screens.

6. Add Brand Elements to Visuals

From logo placement to fonts, brand consistency is crucial in every marketing campaign.

Images are a part of your company’s identity—use the potential of your email images to the fullest by adding your company's branding elements to them.

Here are a couple of simple ways to connect every picture you place within an email to your brand:

  • Add a logo to it
  • Make custom images that feature your products, services or team
  • Use your brand colors
  • Use consistent typography
  • Add a color overlay that will associate with the brand
  • Use a mascot

We all know Freddie, Mailchimp’s mascot, well enough. You can get just as creative and design a cute representative for your brand.

email images - Add-brand-elements-to-visuals

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7. Use Images to Separate the Header and Footer From the Body

Other than being powerful attention-grabbers, images are crucial components of visual hierarchy.

For one, marketers often rely on visuals to help the readers tell the email header apart from the footer and bring structure to the email.

email images - Use-images-to-separate-the-heater-and-footer

It’s also common practice to place the company’s logo in the header and social media icons, map or brand graphics in the footer.

Such a clear, well-defined structure improves the comprehension of an email, making it more readable.


Boost Conversions with the Right Email Images

Images are an important part of every newsletter. They’re a crucial component of brand identity, help increase brand awareness among readers and can improve conversions if used wisely.

As you put visual content inside your emails, be sure that the images complement the copy, are mobile responsive, provide additional value, follow image SEO guidelines and connect the reader to the brand.

This way, you will be able to create memorable email images that increase brand awareness and attract new customers to your website or physical store.


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About the Author

Andriy is a Growth Manager at Mailtrap, a product that helps people inspect and debug emails before sending them to real users. He has over 5 years of experience in the field of marketing & product. Andriy loves to network with people. Running is his hobby and he enjoys discovering new places. You can connect with Andriy via Linkedin or Facebook and share your feedback on the article directly there.

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