Today we’re looking at how to optimize images in your email campaigns to keep your emails visually appealing to your subscribers.
Image Types If we are going to talk about image optimization in your emails, let’s lay the groundwork. The three formats you are going to be using are PNGs, GIFs, and JPEGs. Each of these formats will offer distinct benefits for your email. So, what is the difference?
JPEG images allow you the most compression out of the three types. This is great because it keeps your email size low and a faster rendering speed to keep you out of the spam folder. The dark side of compression is lower quality. So, while this is great for photographs, it is not so great for text. For that, we recommend the next format, the PNG.
PNGs come in to save the day when you need those small details to come in clear. This is especially important for rendering visuals like your logo or text. Another great attribute of a PNG image is the option to use transparent backgrounds, giving you the option to layer and create stunning graphics. The fault in the PNG is found in its strength, with great capacity for colors and detail comes great file size. Use this format sparingly.
Finally, we have the life of the party, the GIF. This format is great because it offers an alternative to video seeing as native video is still not supported in most email clients. A GIF is a compilation of image frames strung together in a looped animation. There are many ways to get creative here. We do recommend checking these against your customers’ email clients though. Email Clients like Outlook still do not support GIFs and will select either the first or last frame. This could leave your customers very confused, depending on what those frames show. We recommend using something like Email on Acid’s GIF optimizer to help with this
File Size Ok, so now that we know what we are dealing with, let’s discuss file size. As email marketers, we have to walk the fine line between visually appealing and functional. Your file sizes determine load times, and heavy images can cause your emails to load very slowly, in turn causing your customers to simply delete your email you worked so hard on. That is why exporting your files the correct way is so important.
Let’s start with the tiny little squares that these images are made of, pixels. When creating an image we stay in the frame size of a width of 600 pixels by whatever height we need. To accommodate for high resolution displays we design at 1,200 pixels wide. It’s always easy to shrink from a large file than to enlarge a small file.
Now onto the file size. Typically you are looking for a file to be in the 600-900 KB range. If you see MB, MegaBytes, turn around, you’ve gone too far. If you are using Adobe Photoshop, we have a helpful video on how to export your images using the Export feature.
Accessibility When creating your visuals, it is essential to know that not all of your customers will experience your email marketing the same way. Whether that is because they have turned off automatic image loading in their email client, or they have a visual impairment, you need to be ready to help those customers. That is where alt-text comes to the rescue. This is where you can give alternative, “alt-text”, information that conveys the message to those customers so they can still experience your email. Remember that a purely decorative image should be left blank, so screen readers know that it is not important to the viewer.
Most Email Service providers (ESPs) like Mailchimp or Omnisend offer some form of a tool that allows you to implement alt-text easily.
Contrast The best practice of using high contrast goes hand in hand with accessibility and helps your customers without visual issues. That is why it receives it’s own moment to be discussed.
The use of high contrast drastically aids the clarity of your message. If the button is a light blue laid over a blue background, there is a big chance it will be overlooked, causing your audience to be frustrated and for you to lose out on potential sales.
If you are not a graphic designer, don’t worry, there is help. There are image analyzers out there to help you. We are currently using Email on Acid’s visualizer and love it. It can even walk you through the different levels of color-blindness.
Images and Text It is important to keep your company’s brand intact throughout all of your marketing, and email is no exception to that. However, the way of image dependent emails is coming to a close. Image heavy emails are being sent to spam folders, and are no longer well received by customers because they are automatically perceived as too promotional.
So, as the tools to create emails become more sophisticated and reliable, it allows you to solve this problem for your customers and not be dependent on images. Especially when the images are really just an image of plain text in order for it to format correctly. Start being mindful, and use live text where you can. Save those text images for big Calls to Action and Headers where it makes sense to use.
Now get out there with your new-found knowledge and go create some amazing emails!
Ready to let us have a crack at your email marketing? Excellent! Contact us to get started on taking your email marketing to the next level.