Don’t Lose Sight of the Importance of Email Images

May 16, 2018 Steve Olenski

While the world continues to change and evolve at warp speed – Amazon now can deliver packages directly to your car without you in it, as one recent example – it’s important for CMOs and marketers alike to not lose sight of tried and true marketing techniques.

I recently wrote a Forbes article about this very topic called 4 Old School Marketing Techniques For CMOs That Will Never Go Out Of Style, in which I opined that:

Understanding some rudimentary marketing techniques is not about taking an oversimplified, one-size-fits-all approach. It’s about investing in timeless tactics that will remain relevant in an ever-evolving field. And because you never know when the latest marketing fad will become archaic or even unprofessional, having that stable foundation is more important than ever.

A Thousand Words for $200 Please, Alex

Missing from my article, however, was perhaps something that has or is starting to get lost in the visual shuffle – particularly when you see statistics such as streaming video viewing hours across connected TV devices, mobile and desktop computers rose by over 100% in the first quarter of this year, compared to the same quarter one year ago.

The something I am referring to are pictures, images – the kind that don’t move or are animated. You remember those, right? Ok, I know I am greatly exaggerating the demise of the photo, but it’s important for CMOs and marketers to not get caught up in the latest visual plaything. For example, implementing virtual reality at the cost of losing sight (pun intended) of the traditional still image.

A recent article in eMarketer should serve as a not-so-subtle reminder as well. The headline read: For Online Shoppers, Photos Can Influence a Purchase. Good stuff, right? Check out the subhead: Video didn’t garner the same level of importance.

What in the name of moving pictures is going on here? Isn’t video all the rage, especially in light of the fact that streaming video is way up on multiple platforms? When I read this, I was anything but surprised. Of course, anything related to online video consumption is on the rise.

But Wait…

Before you say but wait, the above chart is only talking about the use of pictures when it comes to product pages, know that I am fully aware of this. And what do I say to that? First, anything that influences a purchase decision is worth noting and secondly, the impact of still images impacts a far wider scope than just product pages.

The visual below – it’s a visual talking about the importance of visuals – demonstrates the power of the visual. And yes, I know this visual speaks to both the still image as well as video.

The fact is we humans are a visual species. Not an easy thing for a writer to admit but it’s the truth.

Understanding What Works

Know that one size doesn’t fit all. Testing is key to understanding what works for your audience. Cheetah Digital tested using images versus copy and discovered that simple copy with a call-to-action (CTA) often resulted in higher clicks than the version with the product image plus CTA. Since email is a different medium than a catalog or a website, providing enough clarity in the form of concise copy and a CTA moves the subscriber through the first step of the conversion process much more quickly.

Marketers must be careful not to overload campaigns with dozens of images, resulting in visual clutter and “choice overload” (too many choices that results in no choice at all). If you want to focus on the images in your campaigns, consider including images in new product launch emails, and relying on concise, large copy in sale emails.

So to all the CMOs and marketers out there who are gaga over things like augmented reality, animated GIFs, and emojis, don’t forget about the visual that started it all: the picture.

 

About the Author

Steve Olenski

Steve Olenski is a Forbes contributor, CMO Whisperer, writer, content marketer, influencer, advertising/branding guy, screenwriter, idea generator and massive coffee imbiber.

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