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Email image suppression issues

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Friday September 15, 2006 )

While the activation rate of supressed images is relatively high in trusted communications, it still represents a block to users and an extra step they need to take, so I guess the lessons here are:

a) Image use in email marketing messages should be kept to a minimum

b) Critical elements should not be represented by images, or if they are, they should also be accompanied by a textual representation.

c) Open rates as reported by campaign tracking software will need to be balanced with the approximate percentage of users in the segment who may be affected by image supression. Click tracking will become the more reliable metric for gauging performance.

d) Companies that consider images to be a vital part of their email marketing strategy should consider publishing a page explaining to subscribers how to switch off image suppression in communications coming from them.

e) Online representations of email marketing campaigns should also be made available to subscribers and customers with a link towards the top of the communication stating something along the lines of “can’t see this image? click here”.

Related:

Click tracking software and tips
Gauging email open rates
Mailing list management software and services

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Default image suppression was recently formally given the nod as an ISP industry best practice by the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group and the Anti-Phishing Working Group.

The ramifications of this in the time ahead as more ISP’s implement image suppression is increasing numbers of users won’t be able to view images in email marketing messages without some sort of manual intervention. There’s also the issue of innaccurate tracking of the performance of email campaigns as this is mostly done through the use of invisible images.

An excerpt from Anti-Phishing Best Practices for ISPs and Mailbox Providers states:


“Displaying images in “untrusted” e-mail messages puts recipients at great risk.

Recommendations:
1. ISPs should consider turning off images for all messages for which the identity and
reputation of the sender cannot be established, and provide the user the ability to
enable those images.”
—–

In order get around these problems, it will be critical for marketers to adapt to the new circumstances and educate customers to identify their emails as being a “trusted” communication.

Epsilon Interactive, a provider of email communications and marketing solutions, recently carried out a survey relating to image suppression and found that of those users with image suppression enabled:

– 69% at least sometimes activate images in statements from merchants they purchase from.

– 57% at least sometimes activate images in marketing messages from merchants they buy from, have accounts with or have opted in for newsletters and communications from

– 31% at least sometimes activate images in marketing messages from merchants they recognize and trust but have not given permission to for email communications.

– 16% at least sometimes activate images in marketing messages from sources whom they don’t recognize, but the contents of the email piques their interest.

While the activation rate of supressed images is relatively high in trusted communications, it still represents a block to users and an extra step they need to take, so I guess the lessons here are:

a) Image use in email marketing messages should be kept to a minimum

b) Critical elements should not be represented by images, or if they are, they should also be accompanied by a textual representation.

c) Open rates as reported by campaign tracking software will need to be balanced with the approximate percentage of users in the segment who may be affected by image supression. Click tracking will become the more reliable metric for gauging performance.

d) Companies that consider images to be a vital part of their email marketing strategy should consider publishing a page explaining to subscribers how to switch off image suppression in communications coming from them.

e) Online representations of email marketing campaigns should also be made available to subscribers and customers with a link towards the top of the communication stating something along the lines of “can’t see this image? click here”.

Related:

Click tracking software and tips
Gauging email open rates
Mailing list management software and services



 

 
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