Image-only emails often require a magnifying glass to read.

I received an image-only image from a school.

The email looked great on my desktop computer. But when I opened it on my phone, I needed the hubble telescope to read it.

The text in the image was microscopic. I had to do that pinch and expand thing to make the image large enough to read.

And as any of you who have done that pinch-and-expand-thing know: You usually have to scroll all over the place just to read a single line of text using this method.

What a mess.

I don’t want to call-out this school by name. They’re a client of ours, and we don’t want to embarrass them.  We’ve reached out to them and shared the advice that follows.

First a point of clarification: When I say “image-only” I don’t mean “just a picture without any text.”

Most image-only emails have text in them. It’s just that the text is part of a graphic — saved as a .jpg or .png or some other image format that the email editor supports.

Email marketers like to create image-only emails because they can control exactly how they look. But it’s a bad approach.

We recommend a combination of images and editable text in an email. Here are X reasons why:

1) Image-only emails are often illegible on mobile devices. I mentioned this above. Here’s an example. I recently received this image-only email from a swimming pool supply company. Here’s a screen-capture from my phone. I can’t read this on my phone without lots of pinching, expanding, and scrolling.

2) Image-only emails often appear as “nothing” if recipients don’t set their email software to load images automatically. Here’s how that same email looked on my phone before I clicked to display images. Not good. When recipients see a blank canvas, what incentive do they have to load the pictures?

If instead, recipients see some headlines (i.e. “Buy Together & Save”), they’re intrigued and more likely to show images.

So, instead of having the headlines and descriptive text embedded as part of the image, compose the headlines and description as editable text to go with the image.
It’s especially important to make your calls-to-action (i.e. “Click Here” etc.) text, not images, for all the reasons outlined above.

3) SPAM filters prefer emails with editable text. Spammers like to send image-only emails so filters can’t detect their messages and block them. So spam filters tend to punish image-only emails. Spam filters want to see a significant amount of “readable” text in your email. Some experts suggest your emails have 80% text and 20% images. We’re not certain that’s necessary. But if you want to prevent spam filters from penalizing you for image-only, make the words in your email editable text, rather than text embedded in a graphic.

4)  It’s much harder to get your point across and remain ADA Compliant. As most/all of you know, ADA compliance is a big point of emphasis in the K12 space these days for valid reasons.  You also know that there is only so much space you have to work with in an AltTag.  It will be nearly impossible to get across all of the content of an image-only email in a way that would make sense to a screen reading system.

We get it. Sometimes it’s easier to ask an artist to put together a great looking graphic. All you have to do is plop that graphic into your email and you’re done. That’s easy. We know.

But what good is easy if people can’t read your email? Or if they skip over it in the inbox because all they see is a blank canvas? Or they don’t see it at all because a spam filter blocked it.

It’s worth the extra effort to create an email that combines text and images.


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