How many images should you include in your email newsletter?

Download “The Takeaway” PDF.

We are inundated with information these days, and nowhere is that more apparent than our email inboxes. Email service companies know this is a stress for their users, so they are increasingly filtering email to eliminate unwanted mail. As a result, your newsletter may never make it to the inbox of your subscriber. 

Last week I posted an article outlining dos and don’ts to optimize your email deliverability. Each week we’ll be diving into those twelve tips to explain why they’re important and how they might impact your subscriber engagement. Bottom line, these tips help your emails clear hurdles and reach your readers.  

In today’s article, we’ll look at some preferred practices for using images in your author newsletters. However, every subscriber list is different. Many studies are broad, including different industries within the sample. It’s always best to do some A/B testing to see what works best for your list.

Email Images Impact Open and Click Rates

You’ve probably attended a workshop or webinar or read an online article that urged you to use quality images in your marketing. Images capture attention and engage readers on an emotional level. This still holds true. Relevant, quality images enhance your marketing. But as we’ll see, email isn’t so straightforward

HubSpot, a CRM platform that specializes in customer engagement, conducted a study of over 500 million marketing emails of their customers. They compared click rates against the number of images in an email. They had this to say about the results:

“What we found was that even a single image reduced the click rate.”

Why is this, when we know images improve click rates in social media and other online marketing?

HubSpot Infographic – How number of images impacts email click rates

HubSpot determined three reasons why including images in email had a negative impact on click rate.

  1. Email providers divert commercial email away from primary inboxes.
  2. Email clients (the programs we use to access our mail) may block images from untrusted senders.
  3. Users prefer formats that are easier to read (this is email, after all), and images may clutter or confuse messages.

Other research I found had similar conclusions. Too many images may cast your email to the dungeon. 

Yikes. As a designer, this is a tough pill to swallow. I love creating images that enhance messaging. And as a marketer, I want to infuse my work products with my client’s branding. But I can’t ignore the data. And you shouldn’t either. Sendcheckit, an email subject line tester sums it up like this: “In email, less is more.”

Using Some Images May Improve Reader Engagement

Constant Contact conducted their own testing (2015) and found including three images to be optimal. This is good news for those who don’t want to send a purely text newsletter. Just keep an eye on your text-to-image ratio, adding an image where it may benefit your reader. 

Email is a different creature. It’s a space your subscriber owns, unlike their social media accounts. Those places are public, but email is private. That’s why it’s called permission marketing. You get there by invitation only. Your recipients ask you to send them email by subscribing. 

What will you do with that permission? How can you respect the “private” space of email by sending better content to your readers? And what role do images play in that content? These are good questions we might ask ourselves before hitting the send button.

The Takeaway

To wrap this up, here’s a list to keep in mind when adding images to your author email newsletter.

  1. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and email clients are filtering email more and more to divert commercial email and spam.
  2. Images make your email less likely to reach your subscribers’ primary inboxes. 
  3. Readers prefer fewer images. 
  4. Images make your email look less like email and more like marketing
  5. Use three images or less as a rule of thumb, (including your logo).
  6. Your logo image helps readers quickly identify your email as coming from you. 
  7. When using an image in email, ask yourself, “Is this essential?”
  8. In place of images, use elements that help readers easily scan and find the information they want.
  9. Always A/B test to learn what works best for your email subscriber list. 

If you’d like to keep this list handy, download “The Takeaway” PDF.

How do you think using fewer images would impact your newsletter reader engagement? Will you test this out on your own list? I’d love to hear your comments. Share them here or in the AuthorCompany Facebook Group.  

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