Marketing emails: using images as progressive enhancements to improve clickthrough rates

Note: This post might be a little dated. It was published in June 2009.

A typical marketing email

Why do people do this? This email is the final step of an otherwise great marketing campaign. I’m not singling these guys out, it’s a common mistake that everyone seems to make. This email template relies entirely on images, but since most email clients have images turned off by default, the email falls flat. What’s enticing about the email shown above? What would drive a user to do turn the images on? Not much.

The lesson here is a simple one: images in email should be treated as progressive enhancements. In other words, emails should be perfectly readable and enticing with the images turned off – and they should be even better with them turned on. Simple, really.

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