Picture This: Ignite Interest with Captivating Images

May 23
7 min read
The world, and everyone's inbox, is full of ugly, boring emails. You know the ones. They simply go on and on about something that doesn't interest you or have anything interesting to show you. You can't hit the delete button quickly enough for most of these emails.‍ Today, we will reveal the secret behind sending emails that your audience will actually want to engage with, which will help you take your marketing efforts to another level.‍
Face painted with colors - Photo by Alexander Grey - Pexels

What's the secret?

Use captivating images.

Okay, maybe that's not much of a secret. But, it is shocking to us how few email marketers actually use images to their full potential.

Why interesting images work so well

Images are powerful tools that can quickly grab your audience's attention, evoke emotions, and convey important information. They add visual interest, break up text-heavy content, and make your emails more visually appealing.

In fact, studies have shown that emails with images see a 42% higher click-through rate than 

those without images. (Source)

For email marketers and content creators alike, the message is loud and clear – it's time to dial up the visual vibrancy in your email content. With images, gifs, and videos, you can transform the mundane into the memorable, bridging the gap between the sender and the recipient with an interactive and immersive experience.

The power of a picture

Consider the last email that truly captivated you. Odds are it wasn't a monochromatic wall of text. Visuals, when strategically deployed, create a magnetic effect that draws the reader in. But before images and videos set sail in your campaigns, it's important to understand their significance.

Why do visuals matter? Studies suggest that the human brain processes images much faster than text. This means a quicker understanding and digestion of your message for your audience. Conversely, videos are consumable content on the rise, offering a multi-sensory experience that storytelling enthusiasts and data-driven minds love.

But how do we know what types of images to use? Should we stick to stills or embrace movement? Let's dive deeper and discuss the best options when using each type of image.

Still images

Pictures are indeed worth a thousand words, but in the economy of email, they need to be optimized. High-quality images that resonate with your brand and message are much more valuable than slapping a stock photo you found in two minutes to your email. It's important to be vigilant in what you use to represent your brand and take the extra time, if needed, to choose an image that matches your content and the message you want to send.

Don't let images slow down your email

When using pictures, ensure they don't slow down the load time. Compress images while maintaining quality to keep the speed up. Additionally, include alt tags to offer content to visually impaired subscribers, improve accessibility, and ensure your message is relayed even if the images cannot be seen.

Embrace A/B testing

A/B testing different images helps to steer you toward the conversion gold. Test colors, subject matters, and the number of images to understand what your customers respond to.

Also, make sure to test on various devices because images may look different depending on the screen size.

Think mobile first

This should be a no-brainer. More and more people are checking their email through a mobile device, and if you're not optimizing for mobile, by thinking mobile-first, then you're already falling behind.

Light vs dark mode

With the rise of dark mode options on various devices and email platforms, it's important to consider how your images will look in both light and dark modes. Make sure to test and adjust accordingly for a seamless viewing experience.


Animated images like GIFs or short videos can increase your email engagement. However, they should be used sparingly and strategically to avoid overwhelming the reader. Use them to emphasize a point, showcase a product, or add some humor.

Remember to also include alt text for visually impaired subscribers and consider providing a still image option for those who cannot view the animation.

Optimize your settings

GIFs tend to be bigger files than still images. You must ensure that your email will load and the gif will operate as intended. Consider using a GIF optimizer to reduce file size without compromising quality, and test the email on different devices and internet speeds.

Keep it professional

While GIFs can add humor and personality to your emails, ensure they align with your brand's tone and image. Avoid using anything that may be offensive or off-putting to your audience. Remember, you want your email to be engaging, not distracting. Keep it professional and relevant to your message.


Similar to GIFs, videos can also add a dynamic element to your emails. They can be used for product demonstrations, customer testimonials, or even behind-the-scenes looks at your brand.

However, it's important to consider the same factors as with GIFs - file size, loading speed, and relevance to your message. Also, include alt text and a still image option for those who cannot view the animation.

We know we've repeated that several times, but it's important.

Embed, not attach

Embedding videos in emails can land you on the spam island, so consider animated GIFs or thumbnails linked to your video landing pages. Each option is an effective beacon that draws attention and directs clicks toward your content. Host the video on your site, YouTube channel, or social media. This works on various stages because you want them to go to these owned properties anyway. So, be strategic about it.

The Goldilocks principle of length

The ideal video lasts 30-90 seconds. You can deliver a concise, powerful message at this sweet spot without losing the audience's interest. Longer videos can be effective for certain campaigns, but the core should be easily digestible. Of course, remember your brand when deciding how long to make your video. If it's a demo or presentation, consider breaking it up into chunks or using a teaser video that allows the user to go to the longer version.

Thumbnails and play buttons

The thumbnail is your video's first impression. Make it count. Select an image representing the video content and pair it with a play button, the navigational tool telling your audience, "Here's where the adventure begins." This visual cue lets them know what to expect when they click it.

Why subtitles are necessary for videos

Subtitles are not just for the hearing impaired. They can also improve content comprehension, especially if your video has complex language or technical terms. Plus, with more people watching videos on their phones without headphones, subtitles make it possible to understand the message even in noisy environments. Yes, it takes a little bit more time and effort, but many video services do it for you automatically now. Don't skip this step; your video views will soar.

A study by Plymedia showed that subtitles can increase video views by 40%, and 80% of viewers were more likely to finish a video when subtitles were available. (Source)

Email + visuals = storytelling

Ensure your visuals work with your email to tell a story. Engage your readers with compelling images or videos that look good and enhance your message. Each visual component in your email should serve a purpose beyond mere decoration.

Embrace the power of storytelling

People love stories. It's built inside of us. Stories have been told since the days of caves and gathering around fires. Don't just sell a product or service - tell a story. Use your visuals to create an emotional connection with your audience and draw them into the narrative. Whether it's through relatable characters, striking imagery, or a captivating plot, storytelling can make your content more memorable and impactful.

Use beautifully designed templates

If you are unable to create beautiful emails or don't have a designer on staff, don't fret. There are many great email marketing providers who will help you out with their pre-designed templates. Just make sure to choose a template that fits your brand and message, and customize it to make it unique. Remember, consistency is key in branding, so use the same colors, fonts, and imagery throughout your emails for a cohesive and professional look.

Make your emails interactive

Recent advancements let images become more than just static. Implement features like hover effects or image carousels to create interactive emails, giving users a reason and means to sail toward the next adventure with your brand.

Personalization and customization

The last bit of advice we have is to make sure the content you share matches the interests of the person receiving it. The best video in the world doesn't matter if it's put in front of someone who doesn't care about it. Use smart email marketing services that will help you find your audience and create content for that audience.

The marriage of email and visuals is one of the digital domain's most potent partnerships. As you refine your email marketing strategy, remember that how you present your content is often as important as the content itself. By enhancing your emails with images and videos, you do more than catch your audience's eye—you forge connections that inspire action. Whether creating aspirational dreams or providing straightforward information, let the visual resources at your disposal represent you effectively and elegantly.

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