Overcome Inbox Image Suppression
“As increasing e-mail account provider adoption of default image suppression ushers in the age of the imageless inbox, marketers must account for it as part of their overall efforts to optimize the success of their e-mail communication initiatives,” contends New York-based e-commerce consultancy Epsilon in its recent whitepaper, Default Image Suppression Demystified. If you don’t realize how widespread image suppression is becoming, consider this: The whitepaper reports that in a consumer survey conducted this past summer, some 48 percent of respondents report that images sometimes or always are turned off in their e-mail messages. This number is sure to climb in 2007 as Microsoft replaces its MSN and Hotmail e-mail systems, which both currently activate images in inboxes, with WindowsLive, which will suppress them. So what’s an e-mail marketer to do?
According to Epsilon, there are a number of key steps you can take.
• Help customers understand how to activate images in their respective e-mail clients. Start during the registration process by informing new subscribers that their e-mail provider initially may suppress images. “Encourage them to override default image suppression by listing your company’s ‘FROM’ address in their address books or contact lists, or by clicking a link or button in their browser or toolbar that states, ‘Display images from this sender,’” the whitepaper advises.
• Motivate e-mail subscribers to enable images by communicating what the benefits are, such as viewing and printing coupons.
• For customers unwilling to enable images, offer a text-only version of your e-mail either at registration or as an option on your e-mail preference management page.
• Design e-mails taking image suppression into account. “Many default image suppression e-mail account providers (e.g. Gmail and WindowsLive Mail) initially will display plain-text elements of a message, so maintain an appropriate balance between images and plain text, and use text to provide recipients with a better understanding of the e-mail’s benefit, and help motivate them to view suppressed images,” suggests Epsilon, adding that you also should “use descriptive ALT-tags [and] never rely solely on images to communicate with recipients.”
• Include links to a Web-based version of your e-mail for recipients that do not know how or do not want to activate images.