Farmer Boys is one of my favorite fast-food places, so much that recently I signed up for their emails. But although they serve great stuff in their restaurants, their email communications didn’t make it to the table. They aren’t the only ones having this kind of trouble… Like so many email marketers, they counted on luscious photography (it really is) to carry the message about specials this week, so for the majority of people who receive emails, instead of images of tasty fresh food, I was treated to the barest of pages punctuated by ‘X’s marking the spot where an image should be and nothing to communicate in HTML text.
What can a marketer learn from this example? That the majority of people get emails with images turned OFF. To overcome this, the design of the page can be improved with some reorganization of elements. For instance, if the design kept the headline in HTML text, it would not have disappeared with the (great) visuals if a recipient’s email client has images turned off. So even without the great food images, the message of special savings would have still come through, and there’s a better chance of our email being more effective. It’s a reality we can’t ignore and need to work with — Over half of the email clients, including Gmail, don’t display images as a default. And with all the email that lands in the average person’s in box, marketers can’t count on the recipient recognizing the name in the ‘from’ area. In fact, many of your recipients may not even know that images are disabled.
There are other steps that can be taken to further optimize marketing email, but the first is work with the assumption that your recipient cannot view images. If you follow this rule of thumb, whether you’re selling burgers or broadband, you can avoid sending out a big serving of ‘X’s to clients.
Below you’ll see what the email looked like without images in Gmail, and what it was intended to look like (second image). I’ve also included how the email could be improved by using HTML text for the headlines and body copy to increase readability/response.