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How images affect your email marketing success

@ symbol collageWith the ability to target opted-in users who know your brand, email marketing is a communication medium with unparalleled potential. But the design of your emails and the images you use can make or break a campaign says Matt Bird.

Few companies are optimising or testing the impact that images can have on email performance. At my company, an online printer ink cartridge retailer, we have found three ways where images have had a positive impact on our email marketing performance.

1. Solving image display problems

How many times have you opened an email that is just a big blank square or displays a small red X? These are caused when you receive email from a sender not in your address book, as most email clients require you to confirm its OK to download additional content.

Here marketers are failing at the first hurdle, risking the user deleting the email without bothering to scroll past the large blank image boxes to the written content.

Action: Save your images when you design them as the exact size you’ll need. Why save an image as 1,000 x 1,000 pixels to then resize it in your mailing template? Save it as the size required in the first place, e.g. 400 x 400, but ensure you delete the width and height dimensions in the email marketing program. This is so that if the recipient hasn’t added the sender to his address book, you don’t get the loading/display issues.

Implementing this has provided boosts of up to ten per cent on click-through rates from our emails.

2. Researching image “types”

Good website designers and content writers will always research the words and phrases customers search with and respond to. A good email marketer will extend this to the types of images people relate to.

Yes, the final stage of the customer's buying process needs the complete product image and details, but the first image to set the customer off on this chain might not be anything to do with your product.

We tested by sending offers showing an image of the ink cartridges, versus one showing just a manufacturer’s logo and the latter email yielded vastly more visitor click-throughs and conversions.

Canon Cartridges

Action: Split-test your image choices — even if it’s a long established practice to use certain types of image. We sell printer ink, but were surprised that images of a cartridge are less effective than the relevant manufacturer logo.

3. Controlling the reader’s eye

Most marketers are fully aware of the industry norm to use attractive people in sales collateral and it has been shown that things such as varying face ratios and the amount of their body that is visible have an impact on email results.

What most marketers don’t take into account though is the direction the person in the image is looking. Testing highlights the important part this plays on the time a user reads your email and what draws their attention.

Naturally a reader’s eyes will be drawn to exactly where an individual is looking/facing. This enables you to highlight areas of most importance, such as the most significant offer.

Action: Decide what you want to draw to the user’s attention. If you have one stand-out offer, put it side-by-side with an image of someone looking right at it, or their body gesturing towards it. If you have multiple offers, utilise an individual looking down or around the area these offers are located.

Offers Expiring

We have managed to swing visitor behaviour significantly. With one headline offer we managed to generate 51 per cent of clicks on one area of the email (massive for a broad, multi-offer email), with 26 per cent of clicks on sub-offers. Changing where the individual was looking lowered this to eight per cent on the headline offer, with 61 per cent of clicks on the more targeted sub-offers (these emails had identical offers).

Have you begun testing your email marketing schemes, with any interesting results to support ours? Or have you found any further ways to improve images in your emails? Do comment below or on the Forum and let us know.

Matt Bird is an expert contributor to Start Up Donut and a product research at printer ink suppliers, Stinky Ink.

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