It has become fashionable to blame spammers for all difficulties experienced by those engaged in legitimate email marketing and for very good reason. Here comes another.
Images are a very effective method of gaining the attention and exciting the anticipation of those reading direct marketing emails. However, spammers have used the evidence of images downloaded from servers when an email is opened as proof of a live address.
It is the norm for email clients to automatically block images for the majority of messages. As it is unlikely that your subscribers will place your email address on their safe senders list, even with easy unblocking methods it can be seen that emails must be designed to take into account the fact that images might not been seen.
It can be easy to become carried away with the ease of creating vivid and exciting emails with modern email marketing software but care needs to be exercised. It is best to avoid building your text from blocks of images as if they are not downloaded readers will get little but the endorsements at the bottom.
One way of overcoming, at least to an extent, the problem of blocked images is to embed them. They are sent in a similar manner to attachments and are therefore not blocked by the email client. But this is not without its own problems.
Embedded images will increase the size of the message and many firewalls, and ISPs, will block emails which are large or have more than one attachment. Some web-mail companies, such as Hotmail, might not display embedded images. So which way should you jump?
Email marketing software will include some form of database management, a way of collating and assessing the returned data when sending emails. This will provide direction as to which way to go.
Much will depend on the type and size of your client list. To an extent, albeit a very variable one, most of your clients will have features in common. If your product is very specific then they might be difficult to tell apart. This can be taken too far as, for example, stair lifts would, on the surface, appear to be applicable to two distinct groups: the aged and the disabled. However, the question you should ask yourself if who buys them.
But if they are likely to be similar then a test sample might be the way to go. Pick a percentage at random and try embedded and non-embedded images. The open rate will tell you of the better option for your customer demographics.
If your client list is more catholic then it might be the better option to send out an email to all with embedded images and ascertain the open rates. Those customers who did not open the email could then be sent the one without them.
It is worth the effort though. An image can engage the reader and so encourage further reading. All you need to do is pick the right one and send it out in the right way.