One of the most crucial advantages of using an email marketing platform is that it allows you to easily create, schedule and send beautifully designed emails to a large number of people.
But with all its features, come its own set of complexities and conventions.
One of the hottest topics in the email marketing world is: “How to balance image and text in an email?”
For example, in one of the podcasts I listened to recently, an expert said that “you should have at least 60% text to 40% image, because if the email is too image heavy it could be perceived as spam.”
But does this rule apply to all? Let’s hear the opinion of Hustler Marketing, an email marketing agency in the US that works with ecommerce businesses and knows a thing or two about email best practices.
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Here are a few recommendations from Hustler Marketing on best practices around using the right amount of images in email
An all image-email is bad on many counts, but mostly because of accessibility.
Many inboxes cannot load images by default. Think outlook or more business platforms emails and they’re set to not open images. If your email’s all images and they’re disabled or don’t load on weak internet connections on mobile, for example, if you don’t have a good ratio of text you lose your entire message and CTAs.
Without the image loading, the email is going to look blank with a sad cross in the right, leading to a poor customer experience. If they don’t like how your emails look, eventually they’ll stop opening and your engagement rates will be affected.
But what if images are necessary for your business like this professional?
“I’m a marketing consultant for home decor blogs so images are everything and our emails are images 60% and text is 40%. I’m worried now that we might be getting caught in spam filter. I did the DMARC thing.” says Karen Mathias, a concerned marketing consultant at an architectural firm.
But according to Hustler Marketing, this is a very very old concept that is no longer accurate.
2. More images do not trigger spam filters
Spam filters used by inbox service providers used to check image to text ratio before engagement identifiers were used. The big 4, Microsoft, AoL, Gmail, and yahoo (MAGY for short) used to scan for this before 2015, but today it’s moot. Many years ago the content team at Email on Acid put the legend to the test and they found that the breaking point for deliverability was 500 characters of live text, regardless of image ratio. I have not heard of anyone else attempting to revisit/recreate this experiment in recent years. But we can safely assume that all-image messaging will get dinged because spammers commonly use embedded text to deceive.
Today, the reason you don’t want to send all image emails is for accessibility.
3. All-image emails are bad for accessibility:
Screen readers can’t read them and it’s not a good practice to stick paragraphs of text in alt tags. In my experience, if you’re doing everything else correctly (proper cadence, good subject, optimizing image file size, setting alt text and links, providing a text version, etc.) it’s not usually too much of an issue.
Having made the case against using all-image emails, it must be said that some amount of visual stimulation is still important.
Text emails may be better for accessibility and deliverability, but they need to be balanced with images for more engagement.
Especially in the case of ecommerce marketing, an email without any product images or banners might as well be a directory listing!
Customers need to be able to see the product, get its attributes, experience, and other marketing collateral from the email so it’s important that the text is balanced with an image enhancement.
Some businesses need to rely more on images than the others
Just like ecommerce stores rely more on image-based promotions, the reverse can be true of B2B and service based products where there’s no physical product to sell. In those cases, an all text or a minimal-image email works just fine.
Below are two examples of an all-text email from a B2B company and an only-image product from an online store.
Both seemingly serve the purpose of their individual domain, but the text only email could’ve done with a bit of a visual enhancement to break the monotony. While the all-image email should’ve also had some text outside of the image block to comply with email deliverability best practices.
So now we know that there’s no blanket answer to how much text or image is too much in an email. The trick to better email marketing lies in balancing text and image in emails in a way that it satisfies the eye visually without overwhelming, makes it easy to access and complies with email deliverability.