Are You Using Images Effectively?

When is it a good idea to use images to promote what you’re selling in your email marketing campaign?

Email Marketing Reports described how image-heavy emails can outperform the alternatives in the right circumstances and with the right execution. This may not sound surprising, but the key phrase here is “in the right circumstances and with the right execution.”

We looked at a number of customers who were using images in a really smart way, and thought we’d take a moment to share these examples with you.

The Tangibles: Images of Your Product

If you’re selling something tangible, you want to show your subscribers a picture of it. An email from Bruder Toys is a good example of this:

take images of your products

Bruder Toys includes the name of the toy and price, so those that click through will most likely be interested in buying the product in the picture.
It’s easy to snap a picture of what you’re selling and insert that image in your message, but what about if you aren’t selling a tangible product?

The Less Tangibles: Using Images of Results

If you don’t have a physical product you’re selling, you can still use images in an effective way.

Think about what you’re trying to sell, maybe it’s even just an idea you’re selling, and then think of how you can provide an image of the end result that comes from using your idea.

Let’s look at some different approaches:

1. If you’re offering a service

Interior decorator Faith Sheridan uses email to connect with potential clients. Her end result is how a room will look after she’s finished working on it:

offering a service
Subscribers will get to see her work and there are even links to see the before and after pictures.

You want subscribers to see samples of your work so you can increase your credibility and allow them to get to know you more. This will make them more likely to hire you!

2. If you’re giving them something to try

Southern Plate provides recipes for their subscribers. This email shows an image of an end result from one of their recipes:

recipe email
It’s easy to hook subscribers when the end product looks so delicious! Southern Plate sets it up so the recipe isn’t actually in the email, so subscribers need to click through to their site in order to get the recipe.

You want subscribers to be compelled to do what your email is telling them to do, so show them the reward they’ll get for completing the task.

3. If you want them to join a program wants subscribers to follow their training program to get great abs. Their solution? Include an image of someone who had successful results from using the program:

six pack now
People see the results they want for themselves, and are compelled to join the program. Using before and after pictures would also work well here.

You should take pictures depicting the before and after results of joining your program so subscribers can clearly see why the program will benefit them.

Keep in mind that your results don’t need to be just pictures. You can also show images of graphs and charts that will provide a visual for the success that you or someone you worked with had.

Use Split Testing to Find What Works for You

You can split test your broadcast messages to find out how images impact your emails. Split testing allows you to send different versions of your message to randomly selected groups. After sending it out, you will then need to determine what worked best.

You can use the QuickStats page to get an “at a glance” idea of how the message performed. Click tracking records the number of clicks within your message, along with the number of times each URL was clicked.

If you have Analytics set up, you can get a more in depth idea of how your message performed. You can even set up sales tracking to see how much money each message brought in. This will allow you to see more clearly what works best with your subscribers.

Remember These Tips When Using Images

When you use HTML emails, you want to make sure you’re doing the following:

  • Link to a web version of your message- Broadcasts can be archived so you can use the direct URL to your message and insert it at the top of the email. That way subscribers can view your message in a web page in case they can’t see everything in their email client correctly.
  • Make your message comprehensible without images- Make sure your messages are still easy to follow even when the images can’t be seen, as some email clients will have images turned off by default. You should use alternative text for your images so subscribers will still know what’s going on.
  • Include a plain text version- Always include a plain text copy of your message. If a subscriber cannot receive HTML messages, it will automatically revert to the plain text copy.

Think About How Images Can Help Your Emails

Keep in mind that images can improve your emails “in the right circumstances and with the right execution.” Can you sell your idea with images? What other ways can you think of for incorporating images effectively in messages?


  1. Keith

    10/7/2011 2:19 pm

    Keep in mind that some domains regard images as more likely to be spam, while others regard them as less likely. When conducting your email campaign, like you said, Split Case Testing is really key. Be sure to monitor which domains are least likely to accept image based creatives, and which are most likely – you may even want to create a nice, clean email list for those specific domains that are nice to your image-based creatives!

  2. Caroline Donnelly

    10/15/2011 9:37 am

    I have my broadcasts automatically publishing to my facebook page. Is there a way to specify which image from the broadcast is displayed?

  3. Amanda Gagnon

    10/17/2011 8:30 am

    Caroline, If you manually publish your posts, than Facebook allows you to toggle through the post’s images and set whichever you like. If they’re automatically published, then Facebook’s just going to pull an image. If you find that FB’s consistently pulling the first image from your posts, you may want to just make sure the image you want on FB comes first.

  4. Caroline Donnelly

    10/17/2011 11:09 am

    Hi Amanda,
    Thank you for your response. It is the automatic publishing of my broadcasts to my facebook page for which I am seeking a solution. Facebook is grabbing one of the last images in the broadcast which seems odd to me, I would understand if it were the first and I’d be able to control that. It is consistent, every week the same image is being used (the image of my signature at the end of the broadcast.) Since it is the same image, I wondered if there is a formula or process Facebook uses to determine which one is used.

    Thank you again.

  5. Bob Stubbs

    10/22/2011 8:02 am

    The information is very useful. I am going to apply them in my marketing campaign. Thanks