One important email marketing mistake that could be hurting your conversionsArticle added by Louisa Manalastas on January 24, 2013
Louisa Manalastas

Louisa Manalastas


Joined: July 20, 2012

When creating an email marketing campaign, the goal is to get your email the maximum amount of exposure to help foster its success. In addition to general how-to email marketing tips (short, action/benefit-oriented subject lines, design tips, call to action tips, short copy, split testing, no CSS coding, etc.), there are a few things about email marketing that only an email specialist might know. In particular, there’s one important detail that may be hindering your emails’ overall exposure and effectiveness.


“Why are you asking me to convert my text into HTML? Why can’t we just send this as an image?”

This question becomes especially important to answer when conducting B2B email marketing versus sending B2C. According to, “if an email campaign relies heavily on images, it's probably not being read by over half of its intended recipients.”
    1. Image-heavy emails trigger spam filters, reducing views/opens by a substantial amount and drastically affecting the email’s overall performance. Spam filters are alerted when emails contain an image-to-text ratio of approximately 25:75 or more. Also, spam filters are becoming increasingly more strict within email clients, so it is better to conduct the best email marketing practices from the get-go.

    2. Many email clients do not display images in preview mode or on initial open. The same goes for certain phones, tablets and even default general preferences, which lends to the importance of also crafting a text-only version email for your campaign.

    3. Some companies, including financial corporations, completely disable their employees' ability to view or download images to protect their systems from contracting a virus, or becoming the victim of a malicious network attack. Here is a great read from IT experts detailing the importance of disabling image views and how this protects their companies. Some of the points mentioned in the IT forum include:
      “Blocking email images prevents the sender from identifying your computer so they can’t attack the network from inside your computer”

      “The more content the computer loads from an email, the higher the risk of receiving malicious software”
Because of image blocking, about 52 percent of recipients will only see a broken image upon initial open. This increases the possibility that they will immediately delete the email. To counter this, good email marketers try to incorporate as much text and HTML as possible to offset blocked images — and to maximize exposure.

Here is the important part: several things that could be hurting an email’s exposure by increasing the potential of immediate discard.

The image below is an example of what a safe recipient sees when viewing an email that is largely image based.

It is important to keep the call to action and the offer/benefits at the top of your email. I see many email designs with a large image banner at the top, which is rather risky when a large group of recipients do not view images upon opening. Keep in mind that the goal here is maximum exposure, not immediate discard. When it comes to emails, recipients are inherently cautious of spam/junk, and they are eager to delete suspicious looking emails, so mystery will not elicit curiosity. Clarity of benefits is key to successful email marketing.
This second image is exactly what a recipient sees above the fold upon opening. Notice that the current visible text is not compelling enough to convince the recipient to display the images for this email:

Taking into consideration the points listed above, I highly recommend that all of your pertinent information (especially the call to action and the offer/benefits) remain text or HTML so that those who cannot view images will still get the vital information.

Here is one more great read, an article by Marketing Sherpa discussing email marketing tactics for the blocked image issue.

I specialize largely in third-party insurance and finance B2B emails. I’d be curious to get your opinions as to why/how you respond differently to consumer-facing email campaigns versus business/industry-facing campaigns.

For example, in a B2C email, I expect to receive store discounts or updates on sale items that exist via email only, so I may be more apt to accept viewing a large image-based email or adding the company as a trusted sender, knowing that after viewing, I will likely immediately delete the email.

In a B2B email, I expect the benefits to be oriented in a different way — generally more information based (i.e. marketing tips/trends, web seminar dates or a link to a white paper). I only see a large image, I may reject it as spam/junk and delete it, wondering, “where’s the information?”
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