Why emails with images are bad

Mar 29, 2021Email Marketing Best Practice

Why emails with images are bad

Images in emails are like salt in cooking. Too much and the dish is ruined. Image-dense or image-only emails are bad for business. They have a negative impact on users and deliverability. This article explains why.

I’m sad that Debenhams are closing their stores.

But how they’re doing their email marketing is even sadder.

I’m on Debenhams email list and they have been sending daily emails with offers for a long time even before they were sending closing down offers.

You’d think a large company like Debenhams would have someone in their email marketing department who would know better than to send image-only emails.

Why image-only emails are bad for business

Some email clients have images switched off, so they don’t display images automatically as a privacy protection.

People also may have images switched off on their mobile phones to save on data.

So an email that has only images appears blank.

Like this.

Totally blank 😣

Downside of images in emails

Even if images weren’t switched off for the user, it’s still bad for mobile.

Since images shrink down to fit a mobile device, the text will also shrink down making the text too small to read.

Images for visually impaired

And if a visually impaired user is using a screen reader then the text within an image is unreadable.

The serious issue with image-only emails

There’s another issue at stake that is more serious and will affect their deliverability.

Spam filters are pretty sensitive these days in filtering out spam (just looking at what gets marked as spam in my own inbox – even legitimate emails get marked as spam).

Image-only emails are often associated with and used by spammers and generate high spam complaints.

Spam filters know this and consequently scan for this and if the image/text ratio is too high it could potentially mark it as spam.

Since image-only emails will most likely end up in spam, that has a negative impact on your open rates.

Email providers like Hotmail, Gmail and Apple know what doesn’t get opened and will push future emails from the same sender to spam folders.

And that has a negative impact on your overall deliverability.

But images in email campaigns are not all bad.

Images used correctly in email campaigns can be a good thing.

They can illustrate a point and break up text.

Plus, including a logo in your email template makes you look more professional.

So clearly there is a balance.

5 Email Campaign Good Practice Tips

1. Make sure any text is inputted as text in the email editor so it can be read with or without images.

2. Move logo images from the header to the footer so that you avoid a blank start to the email

3. Restrict the number of images so it’s not more than 50% of the content – to avoid being caught in spam traps.

4. Use alt text in any images you do use so that users at least see your alt text and know there’s supposed to be an image there and text readers can read the alt text.

5. Use buttons or text links, not button images so that they appear with or without images showing.

So moral of the email story?

Don’t be like Debenhams – don’t send image-only emails 😜

Like salt in cooking, a sprinking of images used sensibly and in moderation are good for your email campaigns.

Too much salt in cooking ruins the dish and in email campaigns, ruins your chances of being seen by your audience.

If you’d like help improving the results and effectiveness of your email campaigns then get in touch.


Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash