mailchimp expert copernica partner

Balancing text and images in email marketing

A newsletter usually contains both text and images. Some people (like myself) choose to use very little images, others use a lot of them. So which is better? Or better yet: is one way truly better than the other?


As always, this mostly depends on what you’re offering. If you’re selling products like – for example – smartphones, it’s hard to send out a newsletter without any images. You want to show what you’ve got, right? That makes sense. Also, when you’re a photographer or some (other) kind of artist, you’ll want people to see your work – so you’ll want to include some visuals.


On the other hand, when you’re in the B2B segment and you offer email marketing services (just an example off the top of my head), there still are some reasons to include images in your newsletter. But none of them are compelling enough for you to cram half of Instagram’s database into it. This means you need to weigh the potential benefits of an image against the harms.


Potential benefits of an image in email marketing

  • Images are able to communicate, sometimes even more so than words.
  • Images may trigger an emotional response.
  • Images may clarify or even enhance the message that you’re trying to get across.


Potential harms of an image in email marketing

  • There’s whitespace in your newsletter until images are being displayed.
  • Even after being displayed, the images take up space.
  • Images might distract the reader’s attention from the text.


Weighing the pros and the cons is something you have to do for yourself, since there is no way for me to tell you which image to use and which not to use without getting into the details of your campaign. However, I can offer you some general guidelines.


The use of these images is usually OK

  • Images with products that you’re offering. Just make sure to add some text above, below or next to the image as well. Make sure people know what it’s about without looking at the image.
  • Images of people you’re talking about, as long as they’re the actual topic of interest, and they’re not just being mentioned as a side note.
  • Images referring to projects you’re talking about. It’s good to show people what you do, just don’t overdo it. Make sure your email is (at the very least) just as much about your subscribers as it is about you.
  • Images that have strong branding purposes, like your company logo or a headshot of you, your company owner or CEO. Just make sure that the person being depicted has an actual connection to the content of the email.


Don’t use any of these images in email newsletters, ever

  • List item indicators. Just use a dash. If you must use an arrow or a check sign, find the corresponding HTML equivalent.
  • Color gradient images to separate one element from the other. Use plain colors and display them by means of HTML.
  • Images that form the top or the bottom of an element’s border with rounded corners. Use CSS3 for this and accept the fact that some email clients will show straight corners instead of rounded ones.
  • Images with lots of text in them. Whenever you want to say something with words, use regular text.


Good luck! And if you have any questions about your particular campaign, just let me know!

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