Types of Images to Use in Your E-Mail Marketing Messages

Images should reinforce the text in your marketing e-mails or tell the story of your e-mails all by themselves. Some people scan your e-mail just to look at the images.

You need to get permission to use someone else’s art or the people in photographs you take yourself. You can avoid the permissions issue by creating your own images or using a search engine to find royalty-free art and images in the public domain.

Different types of images work better for different purposes:

  • Photographs are the most versatile images and work well to show off your products, your people, your building, and your customers.

    Photographs of your products in action help people understand your business. [Credit: Used by permi
    Credit: Used by permission from Under Armour    
    Photographs of your products in action help people understand your business.
  • Created art consists of images made with graphic design software:

    • Placing a logo at the top of your e-mail is a good choice when you want to brand your e-mail without using a top-bar image. Use the same logo on your website for consistency in your brand identity, and make the logo a link to your website.

      A logo at the top of your e-mail helps your audience identify you instantly. [Credit: Courtesy of H
      Credit: Courtesy of Hood College
      A logo at the top of your e-mail helps your audience identify you instantly.
    • Clip art is useful when you don’t have a photograph to precisely illustrate your message, or when you’ve created customized clip art to reinforce your brand identity. Make sure the art adds meaning to your message and that the colors match the design of your e-mail.

    • An animated GIF is a great way to include multiple images using the space for one image.

      GIF animations that appear to blink quickly have a better chance of annoying your audience than reinforcing your message, so make sure your image rotation is set no faster than 200/1000 second and test it in several browsers.

    • Icons help to break up blocks of content, tie related content, or add to the look and feel of your text. Too many or too varied can be distracting, so limit your icon usage to a particular theme.

      Small repeating icons enhance your e-mail design. [Credit: Courtesy of Great Harvest Bread Company]
      Credit: Courtesy of Great Harvest Bread Company
      Small repeating icons enhance your e-mail design.
    • Mood icons, or emoticons, help your audience interpret your tone.

  • Text images are helpful when text you need to display, such as your brand identity, is in a style or font that’s impossible with HTML. You create an image of your text to include in your e-mails.

    Images are often blocked by e-mail applications until the recipient of your e-mail enables them to display, so make sure your stylized text isn’t vital to your e-mail’s main idea.

    • Words and headlines allow you to customize your text visually to create unique moods, draw extra attention to your words, and reinforce their main idea.

      Stylized text images are attention-getters. [Credit: Courtesy of Adams Jette Marketing & Commun
      Credit: Courtesy of Adams Jette Marketing & Communications
      Stylized text images are attention-getters.
    • A scanned image of your signature can give your e-mails a personal touch and are ideal for business letters, press releases, and event invitations.

      Ask someone else to sign your name or differentiate your e-mail signature from the signature you use for signing documents so no one can use your e-mail signature for forgery.

  • Image combinations can consist of photos, text images, or created art:

    • Top-bar images appear at the very top of an e-mail and span its entire width. These images are a good choice when your website includes a top-bar image at the top of every page, and you want to match your e-mails to your website design. A top-bar image is useful if your logo doesn’t look good unless it’s too large to fit in an e-mail.

      Make sure that your top-bar images are thin enough — under 200 pixels — to allow the content in the upper-left quadrant of your e-mail to display in the preview pane.

    • Background images appear behind the text in your e-mails or in the background surrounding your e-mail. Keep them simple — a busy background makes your text hard to read. You may want to go with just a color so that your audience can read and share your message without problems.

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