Stacy Carlson
Email Marketing Consultant
Visual Data Systems
Two emails recently landed in my inbox that not only gave me a good laugh but made me pause to think about why so many email marketers seem to depend on images to tell their story when plain text is so much more reliable.  Click here to see the emails I'm referring to.

According to MarketingSherpa (2010), only 33% of those surveyed had images turned on by default in their email client. Plain text might not be as sexy as a big, bold image, but when you only have a matter of seconds to grab someone’s attention, it’s critical that your message comes through loud and clear.

Here are a few tips to be sure you’re getting your point across when images are blocked:

1. Craft an effective subject line. An engaging, branded subject line will get your recipient’s attention and inspire them to open your message.

2. Include “view as a webpage” link and “add us to your address book”. The “view as a web page” link enables readers to view your entire message even if they can’t see the images in your email. When a recipient adds you to their address book, many email clients will identify you as a safe sender and may not block the images in your future messages.

3. Use alt tags for images that persuade viewers to download them. The alt tags should describe the image or the best offer, encouraging your recipient to download them. Keep in mind that some email clients do not display alt tags, and that this is a secondary method of peaking your reader’s interest.

4. Be sure to preview your email with images blocked to make sure the message is clear without them.

5. Last, but most certainly not least, provide relevant content in plain text that is above the fold. I cannot stress this enough. Without images, this is what your recipient will notice first. Clear, strong calls to action should direct the reader to take the desired action without having to think about it too much. Craft messages that are relevant to your subscribers based on the preferences they’ve expressed through your contact form or past behaviors.