3 Tricks to Get More Clicks From Images in Your Emails

7 min

The web is getting more and more visual all the time. Cisco says video will soon make up most of the traffic on the web. Social posts with images tend to get double the clicks and shares. And infographics are still a great way to build links.

You may already be adding an image to everything you post on social media. And you probably design nice headers for all your blog posts. Maybe you’ve even made a few videos.

But what about your emails? Images make a different there, too. If you’re not including images in your emails, you might be missing out. And if you’re not using images correctly, that could also be costing you sales.

First image click-trick: A hack to overcome image blocking.

Before we dive too deep into all cool stuff you can do with images, let’s address the big bugaboo: Image blocking.

Image blocking is a setting in most email clients, like Gmail or Yahoo! Mail. It lets the user see or not see images in their email messages. Some email clients, like Gmail, automatically show images. Other email clients don’t. But even if the images are shown automatically, many people decide to turn images off.

According to Litmus, about 43% of all Gmail users don’t see images in their emails. Other email clients, like all versions of AOL, Yahoo! Mail, and Outlook on desktops are set to automatically block images. Again, people can change those settings, but the reality is that plenty of people have image blocking turned on. Plenty of people won’t see the images you include you in your emails.

Drat! What’s a marketer to do?

Well, there’s a hack for this. It won’t give your users the gorgeous images you want them to see, but it does let you show something better than this:


Maker’s Row might want to rely less heavily on images in its emails, or make better use of ALT tags.

An introduction to ALT tags

If you’re not an HTML coder, you may not know what an ALT tag is. Basically, it’s part of the HTML code that creates an image. The ALT tag lets you include a text description for each image. ALT tags are most often used on web pages, but they also work in emails.

To add ALT tags in GetResponse, just select an image in the Email Creator. Look for the “Alternative text” section to your right.

Just fill it out with your copy and you’re done. Now you’ve got a basic ALT tag set up. Pretty simple, right?

Make those ALT tags stand out

That’s not the end with ALT tags, though. They can be formatted to stand out more. However, this is an advanced trick. It requires some hand coding of your emails, which some of you won’t want to do. I’m including it anyway, just so you know what’s possible.

Here’s an email with standard ALT tags. The text is certainly legible and it accurately describes the images. But it doesn’t pop much:


This is ALT text that’s been formatted with CSS (Cascading Style Sheets markup). Both of the headlines here (“Overstock Tires” and “Help Stop Breast Cancer”) are actually ALT tags, just with some extra formatting.


This is what this email looks like with the images on:


While CSS-formatted or “styled” alt tags look better, you’ll need some coding skill to create them. If you’re terrified of code, skip over this part. If you’re not, here’s an example of the code that makes an image with a basic ALT tag:

<img alt=”Halloween treats just for you” src=”myimage.jpg” width=”500″ height=”200″ />

Notice the height and width there. In most email clients, you need those to get ALT tags to show up. Now here’s code for an image with the ALT tag formatting magic.

<img style=”font-size: 20px; color: #CC3300; font-weight: bold; height: 200px; width: 500px;” alt=” Halloween treats just for you ” src=”myimage.jpg ” width=”500″ height=”200″ />

Again, to add that to an email, you’ll have to hand code part of your email. That means you’ll need to use GetResponse Custom HTML block.

Accessing the custom HTML block in GetResponse Email Creator.

Even if you can’t hand code your emails right now, just adding basic ALT text in your emails is a great start. Here are a few tips for writing better ALT tags:

  • Keep them short. Some email clients will cut off long ALT tags.
  • Make your ALT text add to your message. Here’s an example of ALT text that doesn’t really add much:

See where it says “Logo” and “banner”? That’s certainly descriptive, but it communicates very little. Instead, this marketer could have changed “Logo” to their company name and tagline. And they could have changed “banner” to whatever the banner’s call to action is.

That brings us to possibly the biggest issue with image blocking: Don’t make your call to action button an image. Because if images are turned off, that image may not render well. An email with a broken call to action is a wasted email. Instead, use CSS markup to create your buttons.

GetResponse users: Worry not. All the buttons you make in the Email Creator are in CSS. They’ll show up and work just fine, whether your subscribers have images turned on or off.

Second trick: Make your images load faster

So you’ve heard about how half of all emails are now opened on mobile devices, right? And you’ve heard how impatient mobile users (and any users) are with slow-loading websites, right? Well, ends up that slow-loading emails are kind of a disaster, too. Most subscribers won’t wait around for them to open.

Know what the #1 offender for slow-loading emails is?

Images. Big images.

It’s fun to use big, gorgeous images, but be careful: They can slow your emails down and even hurt deliverability rates. But there’s a snap workaround. It’s free, low-tech, and fast.

Reduce the file size of those images. There are a bunch of free tools online to do this. I like the JpegMini app myself. But there’s also Google Photos, Squoosh, Image Optim, and of course Adobe Photoshop, or any of the other desktop-based photo editing programs. Apparently, the WordPress Plugin Smush.it is pretty good, too.


Aim to keep the file sizes of your images small. It will improve deliverability and make your emails more user-friendly. Nobody likes to wait even a second for an email message to load.

Whatever tool you use is up to you. But do try to reduce the file size of the images you use in your emails. Each image should be no bigger than 50KB each. Some sources say you’ll run into problems if they’re over 20KB each.

Also aim to keep the overall file size of your email below 125KB if possible. This won’t do miracles for your deliverability rates, but it helps. And emails that load fast definitely have an edge over emails that take forever.

Third Trick: Make those images move

Surely you’ve seen at least one email with an animated gif. If not, here’s what one looks like (An animated gif that was used as a header image in an email from PopSugar):


Here’s another animated gif in an email. This one’s used as a background image (See the full email here):


And just one more… Here’s an animated gif tutorial/promotion for a new feature in a social media tool. This was included in an email as the primary, above-the-fold image. SAAS companies can get a lot of mileage out of animated gifs.


New software features or software tutorials are one of the most common ways I see animated gifs being used.

Animated gifs are a terrific way to add some sparkle to your emails. They don’t have to be big, elaborate animations, either. In the Trello example above, there’s just two frames.

You can make animated gifs in Photoshop or on any number of free online tools, but my favorite is Gifmaker.me. I’ve tried about six different gif makers, but Gifmaker wins the prize for:

  • how many controls you get
  • how small the file size of the final animation is
  • how they don’t add a watermark with their logo

You can also use the ones available in Giphy, which is already built into GetResponse.

Giphy integration built into GetResponse Email Creator.

Do use an image file size reducer before you make your animated gifs. Get the frames of your animation to be as small in file size as possible. Otherwise the file size of the final animation can get unwieldy. If you forget to make the frames small before you’ve made the animation, don’t worry. EZGif.com can reduce the file size of an animated gif by almost half.

One last thing: Try to use animated gifs where they truly add to the message of the email, not just as an afterthought. For example, the animated gif from Trello supports the message of that email, which is to celebrate Trello’s 10th year anniversary.

What do you think?

Got any more image tricks to get people to click? Tell us about them in the comments.

Pam Neely
Pam Neely
Pam Neely has been marketing online for 15 years. She's a serial entrepreneur and an avid email and content marketing enthusiast with a background in publishing and journalism, including a New York Press Award. Her book "50 Ways to Build Your Email Marketing List" is available on Amazon.com. Pam holds a Master's Degree in Direct and Interactive Marketing from New York University. Follow her on Twitter @pamellaneely.