Alternative Text: The Good, The Odd, and The Missing

When building a Custom HTML Template, including alternative text on your images is a must. As we all know, most email clients do not automatically show images–readers have to click a link to download the images. Alternative text for images tells the story of your image without it being seen. Here are some examples:

The Good

Here’s an excellent example of alternative text use from Quiznos. A reader could understand the entire email without ever downloading images. Images are sliced in the right places and given labels that make sense. For example, the main image that holds Quizos offer has the alternate text: Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Quizno and this delicious coupon. Easy to understand without ever seeing the image.

The Odd

I’ll give IKEA props for using alternate text, however, they did not make the most of it. Rather than using their alternative text space for explaining their message, they just explained their images. Why do I care about ‘womans forehead?’ Give me a reason to download your images instead.

The Missing

The Tie Bar had a major miss with this email. They used an image only email, which can work, however they did not use any alternative text to explain their images and offer. Why even bother to download the images? I just hit Delete.

Alternative text in custom HTML emails is a must for all email marketers. Make the most of your alternative text by telling the story of your email, offer, and images in an intriguing way that makes the recipient want to download your images.  An added benefit to getting your recipients to download images? More accurate open tracking. Read more about opens and other email marketing terms in this post.

About Audrey Howes

Audrey has been an active member of the Swiftpage team since September 2009. Audrey manages Social Media and special projects with her marketing know-how and design expertise. When she’s not working you are likely to find her enjoying time with her family in the mountains near Steamboat, going for a run, reading a good book, being goofy with her kids, or savoring a latte in a local coffee shop.


  1. Marketing Moment: Increase Your Opens By Using ALT Text | Swiftpage Marketing Blog - May 6, 2013

    […] the most of your ALT text and watch your opens go up. Too often I see emails where the ALT text only describes the image. Instead, use the ALT text to describe the message and maybe make your recipients laugh a little […]

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