It seems like common sense, doesn’t it? Of course, photos make your newsletter more appealing to readers. But images do more than just make your email marketing more visually attractive. They also increase click-through rates!
People are more likely to click an image and go to your website (or to view a specific product) than they are to click a link embedded in the copy of your email. So, including captivating images of products or services that would bring value to your email list is a smart idea.
But how do you make sure that your email campaign images are optimized and ready to convert? And how can you be sure you’re using the right imagery?
In this article, I’ll cover the seven types of images that will help you beat the benchmarks and how you can implement them in your email marketing.
Here they are!
1. Custom images
The internet is full of fantastic stock photography. But while stock photos have come a long way in recent years, nothing compares to custom images of the work you do or the products you sell. Real photos of your team and their daily work can’t be replicated by anyone else, and readers know that! Custom images make your email marketing more personable and result in significantly more engagement.
Try tailoring your images to specific subscriber lists. For example, if you’re sending a special offer to contacts who have purchased from you in the last 30 days, try creating an image that says, “We want to reward you for shopping with us!”. The image below is a great example!
2. Stock photography
As I mentioned above, stock photography has come a long way. More and more photographers are contributing high-quality, professional photos that feel authentic to the viewer. And with so many options to choose from, there are relevant and suitable photos for just about any topic you can think of!
When choosing stock photos to include in your email campaign, natural is always better. Photographs that feel staged or phony to you will feel that way to your email subscribers as well.
Take the two photos below, for example. The woman in the top photo is gorgeous, no doubt, but the white background and the dentist-worthy smile make the picture feel, well, surreal. The bottom photo feels more genuine because it’s taken in a natural environment, and the woman has a more natural look with her freckles on full display and a more subdued smile.
Since the bottom photo appears more like a photo an average person would take of a friend or family member, it will resonate more with your audience.
Remember, while 35 percent of marketers report using stock photography as their most common form of visual content. Only 7.6 percent of them report that their stock photos get the most engagement. This is because of the nature of stock photography. Any photo that’s available to you is available to any business in the world who uses the same stock photography service. It’s difficult to find rare and unique photos that will speak to your brand.
Moral of the story? If you’re going to go stock, try to find the most honest and candid photos available.
3. Image-based CTAs
Every email campaign should include a call-to-action. If you’re a marketer, this is old news. But who says your CTA must be in the text of your email? Why can’t it be a photo?
It’s a simple concept that packs a lot of power! Using an image to convey what you want your subscriber to do now that they have read your newsletter is one of the most effective ways to increase click-through rates in any email campaign.
When creating an image CTA for your email campaign, be sure to use creative wording. Instead of simply putting a button in your newsletter that says “Download”, create a button that says “Download your FREE ebook here!” or “Read our exclusive ebook today!”.
Also, remember to use contrasting colors to make your visual CTA pop. If your background is blue, make your CTA button orange. If your background is purple, make your button yellow. This will increase both the noticeability of your CTA and your email conversion rate.
Below is an example of a contrasting CTA button from Health Life.
4. Charts and graphics
Charts and graphics are by far some of the most engaging visual content marketers can include in their email marketing efforts. Nothing brings data to life like an eye-catching infographic or well-designed chart.
Readers value learning additional information, especially in the form of statistics or facts. Bringing these educational tidbits to life with the help of a graphic will ensure your readers are receiving value from your email campaign.
And, of course, the increased click-through rate is a fantastic bonus!
So, what is the key to a great infographic or chart? Surprisingly, it’s all about keeping it simple.
The more points you try to hammer home in one infographic, the more diluted your point will become. Instead of trying to cram everything into one visual element, try using graphics or charts to highlight one or two specific points.
Below is an example of a straightforward infographic from Lookout, a mobile security company. Notice how the graphic aims to prove one point and one point only: the fact that people are checking their cell phones more than ever.
Speaking about infographics – we’ve got one with the basics of using images in emails!
It may seem a little bizarre at first, but screenshots aren’t just for sending your friends photos of hilarious conversations you’ve had. They can also be impressive email marketing tools.
Screenshots are super handy for demonstrating how to do something online, or for showing examples that prove the point you’re trying to make in the copy of your email campaign.
For example, you may be talking about how Facebook posts that include a CTA get more engagement. So why not include screenshots of Facebook posts with a CTA that have gotten a ton of likes, comments, and shares?
There are a ton of scenarios where screenshots can provide your audience with visual information, which is much easier to process than text.
Below you’ll find an example of a screenshot that Design Wizard might share in an email campaign if customers were having trouble locating the Contact Us button. Sure, you could write out a step-by-step guide to locating it on your website, but that would be tedious and overwhelming for readers.
By including a simple photo that shows where the link is in the footer of the website, email subscribers will have a much easier time locating it.
Be sure to keep your screenshots educational and always ask yourself “How is this helping my subscribers?” That way, you avoid loading up your newsletter with unnecessary screenshots.
GIFs are a relatively new type of visual content that has gained traction, especially with millennials. Essentially, they’re short, animated image files that allow you to share photos that “move”. Many people share them on Facebook and other social media platforms as reactions.
For example, if you saw a funny post that your friend had shared on Facebook, you might comment on that post with the below GIF:
GIFs are much more visibly captivating than traditional images. When scrolling through their newsfeeds, people are drawn to the movement of GIFs. However, GIFs aren’t just for looks. They’re also extremely beneficial tools for content marketing.
Why? Let’s say you own a restaurant, and your special for the day is pulled pork. Wouldn’t a GIF of a staff member cutting through the tender, delicate meat appeal more to your online followers than just a plain photo of the pulled pork? Wouldn’t you be more willing to order your special for lunch if you could see the steam rising from the delicious, perfectly-cooked meat? Why not make a GIF and post it to your Facebook business page? You’ll be guaranteed to get more engagement than with a traditional photo.
7. Realistic photos
Sometimes, we overlook the obvious. We’re so busy building advanced strategies we miss the good old basics. Don’t discredit methods that are tried, tested, and true! Realistic images that you capture with a smartphone or camera around the office can be as effective as a well-designed infographic.
Photos of whiteboard notes, for instance, often perform very well online. If your team is having a brainstorming session on a particular topic, take a quick snapshot of your whiteboard notes and share it with your audience! This is a great opportunity to ask for feedback and thoughts from your followers.
Another idea? Share a picture of yourself out and about in your city. Attending a conference? Take a quick selfie and tweet about it! Meeting a client for coffee? Share a photo of you both in the coffee shop and tag the coffee shop in your post! You never know who might share your post or retweet you. After all, businesses support people who support them. Put your smartphone camera to work and watch as the rewards roll in!
Before you go visual
Make sure that your images load as quickly as possible. Heavy images slow your emails down and even hurt deliverability rates. It’s important to have the optimal image-to-text ratio (60%-40% or 70%-30%.) Also, remember that many people have blocked images in their email clients. So, despite your greatest efforts, they may not see your pictures. That’s why you should consider adding appropriate ALT tags.
Anyway, using images in your emails can help you achieve more and make your newsletters captivating and memorable. So, go on a search for perfect pictures and get surprised with your conversion rates!
Tell us about your experiences with images in email campaigns in the comments below 🙂 !
By: Claire OBrien
Claire O’Brien is the Marketing Manager at DesignWizard. Claire has more than 10 years experience in content creation including visual content, digital marketing, email marketing, social media, and advertising. She has an avid interest in all things digital and software related.