Alternative Text: The Secret Tool to Ensuring Your Image-Heavy Emails Are Delivered

Ben Brown, CTO

Ben Brown, CTO About The Author

August 19, 2020

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Everybody loves beautiful, visually-pleasing marketing pieces. They are eye catching and they bring users deeper into your content. It's easy to associate beautiful marketing with images, but you have to remember to watch out for heavy image use. Many spam scanners view images as a sign that your marketing piece is really a big plate of spam. So what to do?

Less can be more. Most spam scanners look at images the same way a chef looks at salt. You should measure by pinches, not tablespoons. Excess images can quickly move your spam score over the spam threshold. Try to keep at least 70% of your marketing piece available as good reliable text. Not only will your spam score be better, but mail readers that block images will still find good value from your pieces.

You mean some email readers are blocking email images? Absolutely. Apple Mail and all five of the last Outlook versions block images in email by default. Should your email get flagged as spam, almost all email clients will hide your marketing images.

What's a good marketer to do? That's easy: add alternative text. Alternative text gives you a great way to communicate with your contacts even when images aren't being displayed. The rezora Zephyr editor includes a field for alternative text for every image, so it's as easy as possible to include a little note with your images. This text will display when images are blocked or when the recipient is vision impaired and has enabled disability options.

But alternative text is so boring. It doesn't have to be! Embrace your image alternative text as just another communication medium. Create a great description of the property you're trying to sell; add a secret message with some special reward for those that see it; place a message asking the user to add your contact to their address book so the images will show next time; these hidden messages are the perfect spot to show off your personality with a little joke or an interesting fact about yourself.

So remember: 70% of your email content should be text, and the rest of that 30% should have images that include alternative text. Not only is this a best practice to make sure your message is accessible for those with disability settings turned on, but it's the perfect place to sneak in an extra marketing message, or even just a fun little surprise for those get to who see it.

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