Images in Email Marketing: How to choose the right graphic content for your campaign

Veröffentlicht am 31 July 2019 | von Lisa Marie Lindemann


In a time of impressions and information flooding the internet it gets harder to focus a user’s attention on just one single thing for a moment. This is a challenge marketers all over the world face every day. The visual design of mailings can be the key to successful marketing campaigns in email marketing. Images speak a universal language, can be grabbed with one look and attract attention. A perfect example for the saying: “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Because that is exactly the case here. This article gives you a few aspects that can help you choose the right picture or find your visual vocabulary.

Why are images so important in emails?

Users spend an average of 11,1 seconds on an email. The targeted use of imagery can help directing the reader’s attention. Many users can memorize information better when presented visually, probably even the majority of people learns better that way. When they see a picture they take the provided information in faster and are able to process them better, so it can be transferred into long-term memory. You can use this “learning effect” the same way for your product, brand or service because the recipients of your emails will take in information a lot more and easier when they are visually edited.


The essentials of image selection

There’s an abundance of visual material for every subject, for example in image data bases (but you can also produce your images yourself). So we collected 5 points to take into consideration when trying to choose a motif for your email campaigns:

  • Motives: Pictures that display people are the most memorable. Counting to that are also scenes, close-ups or surroundings where you can see people interacting or man-made items or actions. Whereas landscape or nature shots have a really low recognition value, as long as they don’t show something quite extraordinary or are shot from a very special angle. But the most important thing is to choose a fitting motif for your cause. Check the association: Would you link the chosen picture with the subject of your campaign?
  • Quality: Photographers can produce pictures with a quality as high now as never before. And that’s not only in situations with good lighting or even daylight. With good equipment and image editing software you can create great photographs even in the dark or with bad lighting. Photographs with high ISO are popular for that and a very handy tool is also the contrast. High contrast pictures catch the eyes of consumers because you can make out details more easily. So better not use amateur photographs. Produce high quality content or buy it.
  • Perspective: Everything in marketing is about personalization right now. It’s no different with the selection of visual content. Put yourself into the consumer’s position and try to catch his perspective. Images tend to appeal more to us when we can identify with them personally or when they trigger emotions. Therefor adjust your visual language to your target group or persona to generate real interest. The feeling of being understood creates customer loyalty. You can also personalize images through little messages in visual form. Simple and popular, you can put a user’s name into an image. Place the name on the packaging of a product for example and suggest exclusiveness. Further little written messages can be integrated as well, but make sure to keep it short and don’t overshadow the image with too much text.

    Source: OnetoSmile

  • Colouring: Colours are the essential point in image selection. The very first impression on the audience is just the colouring of an image, because it takes a while for the eyes to make out details. That’s why you should really think through your choice of colours. E.g. you could look at studies about colours and the emotions they trigger. In advertising cooler colours are prominent because they have a calming but attracting effect. Of course there is also a difference between different target groups here. Women are drawn to other colour groups than men most of the time while younger and older people tend to defer in their favoured colours as well. All in all it really would be sensible to get a little in to colour psychology to get the best results possible.
  • Filters: In times of social media, filters take on an important role. “Back then” filters were actual analogue things you could put onto your camera lens to create a different look on your photographs. Today filters can be added in digital image editing. One way to create a consistent visual language is to create your own filter or let it be created by a professional. This happens with a software that can change all settings of an image like brightness, contrast, colouring, vibrance etc. That filter can be layered over any image. This helps to create a visual connection between various images even if they show different content (different shootings, places, lighting etc.). Once created, you can use it over and over again and create a consistent atmosphere for example on an Instagram account. There’s also the possibility to buy already built filters.

Sources and different kinds of images for emails

Now that you know the criteria for selecting images for your emails there is another question to answer: Where to get them? A few possibilities:

  • Do it yourself: The first thing that comes to mind is of course self-action. Buy a camera and off you go! You can do that but still count on professionality. A team member should be especially responsible for creating the visual content and get special education on the topics photography as well as image editing. This investment should pay off in the end because quality is key as mentioned before.
  • Get someone to do it: Of course there is option number two, hire an agency, a photographer or a media designer. They can create your content exactly as you wish. You brief that external person and they will do as you wish and maybe you can even profit from their creative experience. When you choose this option, you source out some work and your team gets to focus on other important matters.
  • Buy it: The last and quickest option is to buy stock footage. Someone already created images and provides them for others to buy. Sometimes it might be hard to find what you need if you have an exact image in mind and you might need to compromise. A good thing: there are also some free stock databases but they have limited material as you can imagine, everyone wants to get payed for their work.

Those ways of getting images mostly apply to photographs, edited or not. But there are other kinds of images as well like infographics, drawings, etc.. In general the criteria from above applies for the selection as well but there are some specifics:

  • Infographics: They work great to display trends, evaluate studies or just highlight certain facts and figures. It’s really easy to create them yourself. There are some free providers and others that charge you. Depends on what exactly you have in mind but most of the tools are intuitive and take only a few klicks. Some may even enable you to use your CI on the infographics.
  • Logos: Your enterprise logo should always be in the upper visible section of your mails. It’s your greatest recognition factor.
  • Digital drawings and other graphics: Nowadays you can create every kind of drawing, graphic or illustration digitally. A sketch that looks like chalk coal, a graffiti or just a flyer with various elements. All that counts as visual content in your emails. Let your creativity run free or hire a professional graphic designer, there are next to no limits.

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