Updated: May 8, 2021
You should never send an email that’s made up entirely of images. That doesn’t mean you can’t use images in your emails!
A. USE BACKGROUND IMAGES AND SEARCHABLE TEXT
Many brands default on embedding text in images because they want to place a copy in front of an image. You can actually make that happen and keep your emails accessible by using searchable text and background images.
B. IMPLEMENT STYLED ALT TEXT
Shorthand for alternative text, ALT text in the email is the text that displays if an image doesn’t show. When images don’t display—or when a subscriber relies on a screen reader to read your email—it’s the ALT text that makes your content accessible and provides your subscriber with the context they need to understand your message.
Setting ALT text for images in an HTML email is simple, but you can also get fancy with it, adding a bit of inline CSS to change the font, color, size, style, and weight. However, much like background images, support is mixed across email clients (Gmail, Outlook, etc.)p. It’s important regardless of ALT text, but consider places where styled ALT text might work well.
C. BUILD BULLETPROOF BUTTONS
As marketers, we all understand the importance of getting people to interact with our campaigns. That’s why the call-to-action, or CTA, is critical. Because of image blocking, it’s important never to make your CTAs images, as they could easily be hidden and completely missed by your subscribers. Bulletproof buttons allow you to build buttons with code instead of images. You can reliably swap your GIFs, PNGs, and JPEGs for HTML and CSS. By only using HTML and CSS, the button will display in all email clients even with images off, hence making them “bulletproof.”
If explaining the drawbacks of image-only emails isn't convincing, here are some more tips to help you make your case:
1. It's All About Search. How can you search using keywords if no words are representing and reinforcing the images and topic?
2. Show how your emails look like with images disabled. Take a look at how exactly your campaigns will look to subscribers if images don’t display.
3. Run an A/B test. Sometimes it needs numbers to convince you that image-only emails aren’t effective. Pick an upcoming campaign, create two versions of that email—one as a single image and one using live text with supporting imagery—and let your audience help you make your case.