Getting around image blocking

Image blocking is something that email marketers need to factor in when creating a proper email campaign. MarketingSherpa recently shows that only 33% of those surveyed have images turned on by default when in 2006 the figure was at 55%.

These statistics show how important it is to factor in image blocking as you create your content and email layout. What are some ways you can include images but still maintain an effective message when they are blocked?

Start with the subject line. Since this is the first thing to grab someone’s attention anyways make sure you make it engaging and recognizable by branding it.

Add links to the top of the message include “view as a web page” and “add me to your address book.” This way, if they cannot view your images they can “view as a web page” to see the whole message. Also, if you are added to their address book, the email client (Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, etc) will recognize you as a safe sender and will most likely not block the images in your emails. Note: the view as web page link is not always an effective way to get more opens and clicks. Do not merely rely on this as your only way to gain their attention.

Add descriptive text in your alt tags for images. Even if the images are blocked you will be able to provide a description of the image that can entice your readers to view. Again, do not rely on this as the only method to grab their attention. Some email clients will also add their own descriptive text to an image showing how to access the image if it is not showing.

Focus on the content. If images are not appearing, copy will be the first thing your readers notice. Make sure it is relevant and focuses on how the reader can benefit from what you have to offer. Offer an additional incentive to grab their attention. Concentrate on creating catchy headlines that entice the recipient to read further.

Make sure your copy is plain text rather than HTML. If your text is not added in as plain text your copy will not appear, leaving a blank email for your readers to view. Also, make sure some part of your branding is within the copy. If you are only using your logo as an image for your branding you will leave your recipients wondering who the email is from.

Use both copy and graphics for your call to action. I have mentioned this time and time again but if you are using a graphic (i.e. button) for your call to action make sure you also create linked copy in case the image is blocked.

Last but not least, always preview your emails with images blocked to make sure your email is just as effective with or without them.

What tricks have you used to ensure your messages are effective even when images are blocked?

6 Responses to “Getting around image blocking”

  1. Annie, thanks for the suggestions and information. I have a couple of questions that maybe you can answer or point me to a post or explanation when I can read and learn for myself.

    You mention: “view as a web site” and “add me to your address book” via a link. Would you provide a couple of examples of how to do this?

    Alt tags—I don’t understand an alt tag.

    After you stop laughing I would really appreciate the help.

  2. A good design is worth a thousand words. And it’s true, indeed …

  3. These are great questions Ted.

    The “view as a web site” link is already included at the bottom of all Swiftpage emails right above the “forward to a friend” link. If you wanted to add it to the top of the email – In Swiftpage’s case right under the header – you can turn your email template into a landing page (see here: and use that URL to link “view as web site” at the top.

    The simplest way to use an “add me to your address book” is by providing your email address. For example, say “Add to your address book.” The email address will be linked and if they click on it or copy it they can then add it to their address book.

    Alt tags go inside image codes to tell search engines what the image is about. This is used for SEO purposes so that your images are searchable too. It also allows people to understand what your images are even if they are blocked. Within an email service provider there is not always a place to specifically add an alt tag. However, you can rename your images, under the manage images section, to reflect exactly what the image is.

    Thanks for the feedback. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  4. Annie,
    thanks for the simple explanations. I actually understand them and they help me tremendously.

  5. You are welcome. Thanks for asking them.

  6. Thank you so much for the uncomplicated explanations. Great information!

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