Designing Emails With Photos: Recommendation From a Professional


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Our free image gallery is available in our email builder. This will save you the time and effort that it would normally take to find a stock photo site, find the perfect image, download that image, and then upload it back to our builder. Our customers have already saved over 300 hours with our free picture gallery.

We want our customers to feel safe every time they ship. That’s why we asked Meghan Sokolnicki, Senior Email Designer & Developer at CM Group, for her best advice on designing emails with images.

Ready to try? Sign up today and compose your best email yet.

Here are her best email design tips.

What’s the best way to use pictures in email?

The bottom line is, it’s best to use pictures to support your message. Images can be a great and effective way to grab an audience’s attention and add visual interest to your emails.

While I would recommend using pictures in email, it is important to make sure that pictures do not contain the most important information. They should be used to help support Your message should not be used as the only means of delivering the message. The rule of thumb is to provide important information with live text and to support this information with images.

Note that not everyone who receives the email can view pictures. Many people use screen readers or voice commands to check email. Even people reading the emails may have turned off pictures or have spotty WiFi that is delaying the time it takes to download the pictures.

As email designers, our job is to make sure that everyone who receives the emails has a consistent experience regardless of how they interact with them.

What’s the wrong way to use pictures in email?

Don’t send picture-only emails! I see this all the time and do it Not recommend it. Sure, it might be a beautiful work of art, but that doesn’t make it an effective email.

If images contain all of the important information in a given campaign, it can severely limit the number of your audiences who can interact with the email. Remember, all of this information is squeezed into a smaller screen! It can be so hard to digest, and who wants to have to zoom in to read the message? Not me.

A common mistake designers make is adding a print design to an email without making any adjustments for the new medium. Print and web are completely different experiences, so it’s best to keep those differences in mind.

For example, instead of copying / pasting, make sure to customize your designs for email. Think about how your audience will interact with an email. In emails, we have the option to click around, scroll and participate in the campaign on different devices. Let’s use that to our advantage!

Check it out in our free email template builder.

How do designers choose the right image for their email?

Most importantly, you want to make sure that the image fits your content. Consumers are becoming less and less interested in seeing generic stock photography that serves no purpose. Instead, think about how you can use images with specificity to emotionally connect readers with your brand.

Everyone’s needs will be a little different. So choosing the right image will depend on whether that photo makes sense for your brand and for the content.

As a tip, we humans seem to love seeing other people! So our designers see a lot of involvement in images that use images of faces. I also love using illustrations and symbols to break up space. Even a small clock next to the content about an upcoming deadline can help grab attention.

If you’re sending a letter or brief announcement, you might not need a picture. However, there are other ways you can add visual interest to your email design. Instead, use bold headings or add a background color to make the text stand out. While I recommend using images when possible, they may not always be needed, and that’s fine too!

How can an email marketer measure whether or not their email design was successful?

Success is measured differently for each marketer. Sometimes the purpose of an email is to get clicks or to drive sales. This can be “successful”. In other cases, an email is about sharing relevant content so your audience stays in touch with the brand.

In my opinion, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to how to tell if an email design is successful, but every brand needs to define success for itself and work around it in their design.

An overall successful design for email is one that feels effortless to the consumer. This means that you need to make sure that the content is compelling and designed in a way that doesn’t make guesswork: clear hierarchy with headings, bold calls-to-action, and spaces used throughout the design to give your text and images some breathing space .

Also, never underestimate the power of relevant content coupled with a compelling subject line.

What is your design Pet Peeve?

I actually have a few! As you can see, copying a print design and pasting it into emails without considering the mobile experience is a big problem. (See answer # 3!) Another pet hassle, if there is too much text in the pictures it can be a terrible experience. Some pictures can be included in pictures – just not everything Of your text. It’s such a quick solution to include live text in emails!

Also, try to put too much information into one email. This can feel so overwhelming to your audience – give your content room to breathe!

Where do you look for email design inspiration?

I love looking at really good email and seeing what other email designers can come up with. Email design can feel like a very limited medium at times because we consider so many factors. I love to see other designers take advantage of these limitations and make it work for them! Litmus is always testing the limits of what is possible in email, and I love getting their emails.

It’s not supported everywhere, but I still like to see simple movements in email. A well designed .gif can brighten my day.

What are your final design tips?

  • Make sure you use a balance between images and live text in your campaigns. Pictures are great to include in emails support the message. We don’t want “seeing” the image to be the only way to capture your content.
  • Use alternative text when inserting pictures! This is text that describes the image or the intent of the image for those who cannot view the image. You can still include text as pictures (for example: Sale Today! You’re a winner! Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Etc). Just make sure that when you insert alt text so that everyone doesn’t see the picture yet, you get the full experience.
  • Don’t be afraid of .gifs! Exercise can be really fun in email.

Wrap up

There you have some of our best design tips from one of our in-house email design professionals. When you’re ready to try these design tips out, you can create an email right away for free on our drag-and-drop email builder. Listen.

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