REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (Dec. 20, 2004) - EmailLabs (www.emaillabs.com), the leading Web services provider in the email marketing space, announced today a set of best practices to help marketers reduce the potentially costly effects that image-blocking features from ISPs and email clients could have on e-mail marketing messages.
As outlined in a recent ClickZ.com E-Mail Delivery column by EmailLabs' Loren McDonald and Kirill Popov, an estimated 95 percent of all commercial email messages are sent in HTML or in a multipart format (combined HTML and text) and most include at least one external image, such as the open tracking image which tracks whether an email has been opened.
The initial reasons behind image-blocking features were to prohibit pornographic images from loading onto a user's computer and to prevent spammers from knowing if users have opened their messages. However, these well-intentioned features are now making it increasingly difficult for legitimate permission-based email marketers to successfully deliver and track image-laden emails and may have big implications including lower open rates, disabled banner ads, and uncertainty caused by user-driven controls.
"While image blocking does present obstacles for email marketers, there are a few steps that marketers can take to help minimize the issue," said EmailLabs' VP of Marketing Loren McDonald. "By utilizing a best practices approach, blocked images should only be a minor nuisance for most permission e-mail marketers."
EmailLabs has outlined the best practices marketers can follow, including:
-- Get whitelisted. This ensures selected email is allowed through the system with minimum filtering, image blocking included. If a user adds the sender's address to her address book or "safe list," the email is untouched by most ISP and personal filters.
-- Add a "view Web version" link. Host a version of your message on your company's Web site. Provide a text link to it at the very top of your message. Regardless of image or personal settings, the recipient can always click through and view the message as a Web page.
-- Check message appearance in the preview pane. Can recipients make a quick "open" decision based on content showing in the preview pane? If not, consider reformatting the message or adding teaser text at the top that highlights key message content.
-- Include alt tags. Although many email services and email clients don't display alt tags when images are disabled, it's always a good idea to include them. Regardless of why, if images haven't loaded, properly written alt tags may provide the recipient with enough information on which to act.
-- Use text-based ads. Publishers carrying server-based ads might consider including more text-based ads. Coincidently, some publishers report text ads deliver higher CTRs (click-through rates) than image-based ads.
-- Create text versions. With HTML email so popular, text versions tend to be neglected. Yet recent email client changes mean users have an increased ability to select which default format they prefer. A strong text version ensures you still reach users, regardless of format preference.
-- Include more text links. If your email includes several key linked images, consider adding text-based links above or below the image or appropriately placed in nearby copy.
-- Focus on CTRs and conversion rates. Don't obsess over open rates. Monitor CTRs and conversion rates and focus on maintaining or increasing them.
To read more about EmailLabs' perspectives on Image Blocking, visit:
Blocked E-Mail Images