The True Effect of Engaging Visuals in Email Campaigns

Even the best email copy needs a strong visual element. Images and videos can lead to much better email performance. Visual content allows you to strengthen your message and include information that can’t be communicated with text.

Hence, here are just a few benefits of visuals for email campaigns as well as certain best practices.

Why are Images Important in Email Marketing?

Subscribers don’t have enough time to always read long blocks of text. They merely scan your emails. Images are a better tool to give them a sense of what they’re reading. Images help them form connections with the text.

Similarly, images can lead to better retention and a better click-through rate. A variety of images like screenshots and stock photos can connect with your audience.  

Benefits of Using Visuals in Email Marketing

Visuals don’t just communicate better with customers and users, they also entice people to click. An image is always going to better capture the imagination or curiosity of a customer more than a block of text. That’s because your eyes recognize what an image represents without much effort while text requires effort.

Hence, the interest that is invoked through an image can potentially improve the effectiveness of an email campaign. The data backs up this hypothesis.

Improved Click-Through Rates

According to a study by Vero, 5000 email campaigns were analyzed. The ones with images had aa 42% higher click through rate than campaigns without images. MailChimp did a similar study with a much larger dataset (5 billion emails). They found the same thing.

The MailChimp study further found that a text-only email campaign can do better than a 1-10 image campaign. However, if your email campaign contains more than 10 images, then the click through rates go higher.

Best Practices for Using Visuals in Email Marketing

While using visuals in your email marketing campaign will help click-through rates, you have to go beyond that. You have to make those images more effective. There are thousands of companies that have realized the fact that images can serve them well. This isn’t anything new. What’s important is how you use those images.

There’s a reason that certain brands are so recognizable all over the world and others have a niche market. Those brands have

  1. built their reputations over decades
  2. have settled on a brand image that they very rarely change at all

Examples of such brands include CocaCola, Sony, Apple, Microsoft, etc. These brands have more or less, stayed with the same images over many years. They have certainly rebranded or shifted in their branding a little. However, if you look at their marketing material and logos, their philosophy has stayed the same.

Take Microsoft, for example. They’ve always stuck with the 4 windows as their logo. It was there in the first Microsoft Windows roll out and it’s here today as well. It’s gone through several evolutions, but it’s always remained fundamentally the same.

Hence, you need to establish a core brand with your visual marketing aesthetic. Whether you’re going for understated and minimalist, or loud and flashy, you will have to commit. So here are a few best practices to follow when creating an image-based email marketing campaign. If you want to follow these for every marketing campaign, you should consider hiring a professional email writer.

Capture Your Own Images

It’s best not to over-rely or rely at all on royalty-free images or images that you can buy. While you may do this if you’re a small company, at some point, you’ll have to break away. You can either invest in taking your own pictures or creating them on photoshop.

The best thing to do would be to take photos for a single campaign and then choose the best ones for later use. You can even use certain photographs as templates so you can re-purpose them for different campaigns.

Follow a Visual Hierarchy

Your email should be designed in a way that subscribers can scan and skim through. Visual hierarchy basically allows you to tell a story with your email marketing campaign. Generally, scanning behavior for customers usually produces an ‘F’ style pattern. That means that customers tend to focus on the first few lines of text the most and scroll on after.

The other pattern generated is the “Z” style pattern where customers scan the top line and then diagonally shift to the bottom. However, putting a picture at the center of lines of text produces a pattern that grabs attention. People pay more attention to the text within visuals as well as pictures themselves. Since they convey more without having to explain a whole lot, their attention is held for longer.

This means that inserting images technically holds people’s attention for much longer in a marketing email. Hence, your email campaigns should liberally use images to hold attention.

Use Relevant Images

Adding relevant images is, of course, very important. You wouldn’t put a picture of a roasted turkey in an ad for an electronics item, would you? However, it’s not always as cut and dry as that. It’s also about what your brand represents. This goes back a little to capture your own images. If your brand conveys happiness or a great experience, you can get creative. For example, you can show people using your product or service. You can take a snap of a situation where someone is glad that they used your service or product.

Getting creative also involves showing people sharing an experience. It also involves showing use cases where your product is most useful or most importantly, relevant. Also, remember to always use images that can further explain or add to the text above or below the image.

Use Candid Shots

Candid shots are always better than poses. This is pretty much a staple of all marketing campaigns now. Your images are lent more authenticity if they’re candid shots. Posed pictures don’t generally strike people as real. While they may seem more elegant or more beautiful, they lack the verisimilitude needed for the campaign to be effective.

Establish and Maintain a Brand

This point goes back to establishing a brand and maintaining it. Other than sticking to a clear message, it’s important to show people what that means in different ways. Email marketing campaigns should show how your brand or service or product can help people. Not just that, it should show people how they can benefit from it personally.

If you’re a music service or a radio app, you should show people listening to music, obviously. However, depending on who you’re marketing to, you can also show people partying, listening to music with their friends, and family, etc. It just depends on your audience, your niche, and your product reach.

Reduce the Image File Size

You should stick to a standard image file size when you create your email marketing campaigns This helps people load your emails faster, no matter what internet connection speed they’re on. It also helps your message get out faster. Both of these advantages give you speed, and that’s priceless in marketing.

Use a Consistent File Type

Either use .jpeg, or .giff, or .png. Just stick to a single file type. It’ll help your emails be more consistent. Also, it’ll help with any rendering issues. Certain browsers may not be able to load certain file types. If you have a certain image in a different file type, try converting it. The loss is data is worth it if you can get it to render in acceptable quality.

Optimize for Mobile Devices

This is a no-brainer for anyone in marketing in general. People use the internet on their phones and tablets more and more every day. Hence, you need to optimize your email campaigns for mobile devices, no questions asked. Make sure that they’re not only viewable, readable, and scroll-able on mobile devices; but that they’re beautiful.  An email looking good on a device can sometimes entice the reader to scroll and read further.

Make Images Clickable

When you’re putting so much effort into your images, you should make them clickable too. Hyperlink them to different web pages and offers. Make full use of them. They’re the ones grabbing your customers’ attention after all. No point putting the most important links in the text. Just remember to notify your readers to click on the image. A simple, “Click Here Now” will do.

Using these best practices, you can take full advantage of visuals in email marketing. Not only will these practices help improve your click-through rate, but your sales and revenue too.