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Email is one of the most effective marketing campaigns out there — in fact, the average ROI of an email campaign is 122%.
For those who aren’t afraid to take a few extra steps, email images will spice up your campaign and help your email campaign stand out.
I’m going to show you how to leverage images in email the right way.
Email Images: Yes or No?
You can use email images, but should you?
I want to start by asking a few questions, because these will help you determine if using email images helps or hurts you. Read these and answer yes or no:
- Do my images support my brand?
- Have I optimized the image size?
- Am I using the right number of images?
- Am I properly using image alt tags?
- Are my emails easily accessible?
Chances are you may not even know the answer to all these questions.
If that’s the case, then you’re not getting all you can from your email images, and this guide will help you.
But it’s not quite that simple. Having email images can boost your email’s aesthetics, but how do you increase email click-through rates with images?
What Is a Good Email Click-Through Rate?
Your click-through rate is the percentage of people who click on an image, link, or video in your email to continue through to your content. The average click-through rate is around 2.5% across all industries.
This number might sound a little low, but keep in mind, we’re talking about click-through and not open rates, which is the number of people who read your email.
Including images in your campaigns is a great way to increase engagement and improve your chances of driving traffic or even sales.
Images in Email Marketing: The Magic Ratio
Many marketers will tell you there’s a specific magic ratio of image to text, but it’s not always true. What is true is image-only emails will almost always cost you a trip to the spam folder.
Do that too much, and you’ll find your whole domain blacklisted.
That’s no good.
The ideal ratio is around 30-40% image to text. Any higher, you run the risk of triggering spam filters. Any less will make your email difficult to read.
The only way to find out what works for your audience is to test it! Use A/B testing to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
Keep Your Email Images Consistent
How many times have you searched for something on Google, found what you wanted, and clicked through to the website only to realize the link didn’t lead where you expected — at all?
The truth is, you might be doing this to people right now without even realizing it.
Your email image needs to align with your brand and remain consistent throughout your marketing campaign.
Make sure when someone decides to open your email, it remains true to your company message, and all the emails look relatively similar.
If you’re using blue headers with a specific font in your campaign, it should match the landing page your visitor ends on.
Personalization and Targeting Are Key
Email personalization is more important than ever.
Because there’s more impersonal spammy communication out there than ever before. Personalization changes the way your email appears based on the person you’re targeting.
Just think about it. How often have you received an email that seems like it was made for you?
Not often, right?
This is where you can get ahead of your competition by doing the things no one else is willing to do.
No product or service has “universal appeal,” so you need to narrow down your email images to a targeted audience.
According to Invesp, 59% of online shoppers find products more interesting when you personalize your marketing approach.
So, how do you personalize your email images?
Cater to Repeat Buyers
Find products people need to purchase regularly and appeal to people who bought in the past. Amazon uses this strategy, resulting in 60% conversions from their on-site recommendations.
Here’s an example from Wayfair that was based on browsing history:
Recommend New Products
Recommend products to customers based on their previous buying history. Go the extra mile and even call it “Selections for [insert name].” That strategy helps create an “in-store experience” for your subscribers.
It’s as if you went to the clothing rack and specifically picked out items you thought would look great on them!
If you’re selling a service or a digital subscription, you can ask your subscribers why they haven’t made a purchase yet. Give them a chance to sound off on what’s holding them back.
Doing this not only helps the email feel more personal and intimate, but it allows you to get feedback on what you could do better.
The ALT Tag Is More Important than You Think
We all know the importance of ALT tags for website images, but what about images in email marketing?
Are you currently using ALT tags properly in your email campaigns?
When the email client doesn’t download images correctly, your ALT tag becomes your lifeline for a few big reasons:
- When the email client doesn’t download the image, the ALT text displays to the email recipient.
- ALT text provides context if images aren’t loading.
- ALT tags make it easier for those who use screen readers and other accessible technology to understand the image.
When all else fails, the ALT tag might be the thing getting the email recipient to open.
How to Create ALT Tags for Emails?
On the back end, an ALT tag looks like this:
<img src=”youremailimage.jpg” border=”0″ alt=”How to Use Email Images in Email Marketing” width=”482px” height=”205″ />
Where it says “alt=” is where your ALT text goes. So, if an email image doesn’t load properly, that’s what will display across the email text area instead of the image.
The process of adding it might vary based on what email client you use. Here’s how to add ALT tags on MailChimp, for example.
Use the Best Format for Email Images
You have three primary formatting options for your email image. PNGs, JPEGs, and GIFs are the most common choices. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each.
Portable Network Graphics offer a large color palette, which means compressing the file size doesn’t impact the image’s resolution.
Another benefit is that you can add transparent layers, making it easy to embed the image on top of other content. This lets you blend the background image into an email with live text.
The only downside to PNGs is the file size is much larger compared to JPEGs and GIFs because of the image quality.
JPEGs offer large image compression, but doing so impacts the quality of your image. When you reduce a JPEG image, it groups each section into larger blocks, which causes the image to become blurry — which isn’t a good look.
While these are the most common image types, I wouldn’t recommend using them for email images.
You get less color vibrance with GIFs because they use an 8-bit color palette compared to a 24-bit palette with PNGs and JPEGs.
The obvious difference is the animation effect. Using GIFs in your emails increases interactivity and can allow you to show more than one product with the same image.
How to Find the Best Email Images
Finding the right images to get your email message across is crucial. There’s a variety of different types of images you can use, and each has its own purpose. Let’s look at a few.
Charts and Graphs
Providing statistics and data is almost useless without a graphic to back it up. When you provide charts in your email to prove a point, it makes it much easier for the recipient to grasp your message.
Inside’s business newsletter has a Series A funding tracker where you can see what startups recently got funding above $5m:
This easily shows at a glance who got the largest amount of funding, by size and color.
Piktochart is an infographic tool that makes it easy to create free charts (with a watermark). Just enter the data and select the type of chart you want.
When sourcing the best image, choose something relatable to your audience. If you’re targeting middle-age moms of toddlers, find images that appeal to your demographic.
Don’t just add images to add images — make sure they have a purpose.
Instead of using a numbered list to explain how something works, turn the process into beautiful imagery with screenshots.
Awesome Screenshot is a browser extension on Chrome, Safari, and Firefox that makes it easy to capture screenshots directly from the browser. You can capture a whole page or a part and download it to your computer.
Keeping it real and making things personal is never a bad choice. Email marketing is all about pulling back the curtain and showing people what you’re all about.
You don’t need professional photos to make sales, and the realistic and pure nature of personal photos can be what you need.
Illustrations are a nice way to expand your possibilities. While you might be able to do a certain amount of things with a product, an illustration can display limitless options while staying true to your brand.
Here’s an example from comedian Nate Bargatze announcing a drive-in tour. After this image, his email contained a text call-to-action with more information.
Consider hiring an illustrator on Fiverr or Upwork to get affordable illustrations.
UGC helps create trust, and it offers authority from a relatable audience. For example, imagine how an image of someone using your product in their home would outperform a stock photo or a cartoon using it.
Offer rewards to happy customers by having them upload images to social media using specific hashtags and use those images in your email marketing campaigns.
Never Send Image-Only Emails
While images are important – you should never send an image-only email.
Image Blocking Is Real
If you work in the corporate world, you understand this point. Many companies block images by default, and in fact, 43% of email users have their images turned off.
So, if you don’t have your ALT text game up to par, your campaign won’t load properly.
Email Image File Size
Email image sizes can cause subscribers with slow connections to lag and become unresponsive. If your email takes too long to load, your subscribers are going to click out or even unsubscribe because they can’t get your emails to open correctly.
Email Accessibility Is Changing
More people are using voice assistants to read emails, and these do not recognize ALT text or HTML yet. So, if the user is trying to read your image-only email, you’re out of luck.
So, what’s the ideal email image format?
Background Images with Live Text
Remember earlier, when we talked about the pros of using PNG files for your email images? Here’s where this all comes together.
Background images applied as an element to the email allow you to put live text over it, providing the most accessibility. Even if the subscriber has images disabled, they’ll see the text, which ensures all your subscribers will get something from the email.
Including your CTA in your image is a fatal error. If the image is blocked or doesn’t load properly, the button or CTA you have is hidden and completely missed by the recipient.
Using bulletproof buttons allows you to build the button with code, rather than images. So if everything fails and your image doesn’t load, the subscriber will still receive your text and CTA.
Email images are an effective strategy to increase your email campaigns’ success, but you can’t take shortcuts.
Using the right image size, format, and design is critical to ensuring your emails get delivered and get results.
Follow all of the best and worst practices outlined in this guide, and you’ll be well on your way to a higher click-through rate and a repeatable email process that will drive traffic for years to come.
Need some help perfecting your email image strategy? Drop a comment below.
Local search has exploded. Research from Think with Google, says local searches with the qualifier “near me” have grown by 150 percent faster than other local search queries. There’s been a 500 percent increase in “near me” mobile searches and a 900 percent increase in “near me today/tonight” searches.
When you think about it, this makes a lot of sense.
Google introduced us to something they call “micro moments.” They defined micro moments as “an intent-rich moment when a person turns to a device to act on a need — to know, go, do, or buy.” Businesses that rely on local SEO companies dominate these micro moments in the long run.
Which company is best for your business? We’ll take a look at a few of the best Local SEO companies in the industry today.
6 of the Best Local SEO companies
1. NP Digital – Best for Conversion-Driven Local SEO
A lot of SEO companies obsess over vanity metrics like rankings, impressions, or traffic. It isn’t easy to find an SEO company that focuses obsessively on building top-line revenue. When I started my very first business, a job board called Advice Monkey, I was clueless. I didn’t know how to build traffic, generate leads, or boost revenue for my business.
I saved up enough money from picking up trash and cleaning restrooms at a theme park. I gave my money to a marketing firm, and they ripped me off. I had nothing to show for my money.
This is the experience most people have with their local SEO firms.
I know what it’s like to be ripped off; to lose money. You may need to keep your business going. That’s why NP Digital, my agency, is focused on conversions and revenue. We give our clients a carefully planned local search campaign that provides A to Z coverage. We work with small, local mom and pops businesses all the way up to large, multinational brands with locations all over the world.
But we focus on conversions and revenue. Client expectations coming in are high, but our case studies show we’re able to do some pretty big things for our clients. In one case study, we were able to grow our client’s organic traffic by 2.3x!
We don’t separate local SEO into separate silos. We keep all of it — technical SEO, citations, reviews, on-page and off-page optimization, content marketing — in the same marketing bucket.
NP Digital’s client list includes:
- Thomson Reuters foundation
- American Greetings
2. Searchbloom – Best for Local and Technical SEO
Searchbloom focuses on a methodology they call the A.R.T (Authority, Relevancy, Technology) of Local SEO. One of the things that makes Searchbloom so effective at technical SEO is the fact that they’re focused on optimizing their client’s technology stack.
Here’s how they explain it on their website.
“Local SEO is not all about keywords and search engines. It’s also about making sure the foundation of your website is sound. For example, the structure of your site needs to be optimized to deliver a fantastic user experience with fast load times, mobile optimization, and secure user data. If you were a search engine, would you reward a webpage with top rankings if it was not responsive to mobile devices, had broken links, or took a long time to load? I think we would all agree that the answer is no. Because of this, optimizing your websites technology or ‘tech stack’ is crucial for Local SEO success.”
They have a point. The easier it is for customers to use your website, the more likely they are to use it. They’re technical specialists, but they’re still focused on making sure their clients see a return. It’s part of their promise:
“We have made a commitment to ourselves and our partners that we will never bring on a new partner client unless we KNOW we can generate an ROI.”
The other parts of their service seem to back their commitment up as well. Each client receives a dedicated analyst, custom strategies, and there are no long-term contracts. They guarantee a 24 response time, but the average time is less than two hours. They share several case studies on their site, including one where they were able to produce a 71 percent increase in organic traffic for their client. They have an aggregate review rating of 4.9 stars.
Searchbloom’s client list includes:
- Moxie Pest Control
- Wine of the Month Club
- Schwartzapfel Lawyers
3. BrightLocal – Best for Assessing Local Search Performance
BrightLocal makes all-in-one local marketing software for agencies and local businesses. If you’re a marketer, their local platform provides you with the tools you need to manage the specific tasks of local SEO. If you’re a sophisticated client or you already have a plan that you’re going to follow, BrightLocal is ideal because it allows you to handle the implementation yourself.
What if you don’t have the know-how you need to handle it yourself?
They also offer services — manual submission, citation building, and management services for your local SEO campaigns. If you’re looking for a company that can help you in a supporting role, BrightLocal is a great option. What sets BrightLocal apart is the fact that they offer software and services to both brands and agencies.
They’re local search specialists, and they have deep in-depth knowledge in this area. They work with small, local businesses and large national clients like Valvoline. They have an aggregate review rating of 3.8 – 4.9 stars.
BrightLocal’s client list includes:
4. Digital Marketing Agency – Best for Worldwide Local Search
Reviews: 3.7 – 5 stars (aggregate)
DMA is an award winning international marketing agency offering full-service marketing and advertising support for growing local businesses. If you have a regional or national multi-location business and you’d like to expand, you’ll need a provider that can help you enter new markets successfully.
DMA has 10 offices on 4 continents.
They work with small, local brands, but they’re specialists at handling large, multi-national accounts for a variety of large, blue-chip clients. They can manage local search campaigns from beginning to end, across a range of markets, including markets with different languages, cultures, and expectations.
They have a 3.7 – 5-star aggregate review rating and a strong reputation in the industry. While other firms are focused strictly on the SEO side of things, DMA can handle any creative, development, or marketing requirements as they come up. If you’re looking for a skilled generalist, DMA is a great place to start.
DMA’s client list includes:
5. HigherVisibility – Best for Franchise / Multi-Location
HigherVisibility is an agency that specializes predominantly in organic search engine optimization and local SEO. They’re really good at local SEO for small businesses, franchises, and multi-location companies. More than 50 percent of their clients are small, local business owners who need more traffic, leads, and sales. They share the results they’ve achieved for other clients in their online case studies.
HigherVisibility was previously recognized as Agency of the Year by Search Engine Land in 2018 and a Top 10 SEO Agency by UpCity. They have an aggregate review rating of 4.8 stars.
HigherVisibility’s client list includes:
- Allied Van Lines
- East Coast Wings Franchise
- UFood Grill
- Sonx Therapy
- Memphis Medical Society
- Magnolia Homes
- Barefoot Luxury Villas
6. Instaboost Media – Best for Low Budget
Instaboost Media specializes in two areas. Paid ads (e.g., Google ads, Facebook ads, Bing ads, etc.) and Local SEO. They got their start with Local SEO. They’re one of the top SEO companies listed by Clutch.co in 2020, and they have an aggregate review rating of 4.1 – 4.8 reviews online.
“We began in 2016 as a Local SEO company based in Orange County, CA. Initially, Local SEO was our bread and butter and we helped hundreds of clients rank on the front page of Google’s search results. After great success with Local SEO, many clients began asking for other ways to improve their business online. Starting in 2019, the Instaboost team started branching out into paid advertising on Google and Social Media.”
They’re a small team that’s focused on lead generation for local businesses. They offer straightforward pricing on their website — $299 to $499 per month. Their services are focused primarily on generating traffic and leads. If you’re a medium-sized business or a local business with multiple locations, Instaboost is probably not the best for you.
Instaboost media has 750+ small business clients and glowing reviews on Google, Clutch, G2, and others.
The 7 Characteristics That Make a Great Local SEO Company
A great local search company should demonstrate the right characteristics and qualities in their own business. It’s a serious red flag if the company you’re considering is missing some or all of these characteristics. Here’s a list of the traits you should be looking for:
- A good reputation: The company you’re considering should have a good reputation — this could be positive reviews on Clutch or Google reviews, strong testimonials on social media, or great case studies and references from happy clients. You want to see that their reputation shows they’re trustworthy, they deliver on their promises, and they perform consistently.
- Ironclad ethics: Your agency should focus their attention on proven, white hat strategies, and tactics. They won’t take unnecessary risks with questionable grey or black hat strategies. They’re ethical, open, and transparent about their work. This means they’ll follow the rules and obey the terms laid out by other platforms like Google, Yelp, Facebook, and others.
- Highly-trained employees: Their employees should have several years of experience and multiple local search campaigns under their belt. Your account shouldn’t be in the hands of inexperienced interns, and you shouldn’t be paying for your agency to learn the ins and outs of local search on your dime. You’ll want to see that employees are certified, regularly trained, and good at what they do.
- Uses up-to-date strategies and tactics: Local SEO is always changing. Your agency should be on top of the adjustments taking place in the industry. They should be able to explain which updates or changes they’ve decided to incorporate and why. They should also be able to share a few sources outlining the changes they track.
- Good communicators: A good agency provides clients with regular updates on their campaign’s performance and relevant industry changes that may affect their business. They’ll work with you to create a schedule (e.g., weekly or monthly) and keep you posted on the work in progress. If something goes wrong, they’ll reach out to you proactively telling you what went wrong, why it happened, and how they’ll prevent it from happening in the future. They’ll also do this if something goes well.
- Achieves consistent results: An experienced agency gets local businesses. They know local businesses are under a lot of pressure; many companies are struggling to keep their doors open. Experienced agencies focus their attention on producing the kind of results their local clients need to grow.
- Makes realistic promises: An experienced local search company won’t promise to “get you to the top in Google.” They’ll help you keep your expectations grounded, and they’ll tie campaign performance to your business goals and objectives.
If you’re considering a company and they don’t display these characteristics, it’s a serious red flag. If you’re going into a partnership with a marketing company, these characteristics are the basics.
What To Expect From a Great Local SEO Company
Google says there are four game-changing moments in local search that matter most.
- I-want-to-know moments: When someone is exploring or researching, but is not necessarily in purchase mode. At this stage, people rely on broad, informational search queries (e.g., camera, tablet, truck); they’re not looking for something specific — they don’t have the education they need yet.
- I-want-to-go moments: When someone is looking for a local business or is considering buying a product at a nearby store. People at this stage are more focused on transactional search queries. These can be specific keywords that include specific destinations (i.e., Legoland California Resort) or generic keywords (i.e., kids vacation ideas in California). These people are near the end of the conversion funnel, and they’re preparing to make a decision.
- I-want-to-do moments: When someone wants help completing a task or trying something new. Like the I-want-to-go searchers, these people are near the end of their research process. They’re using transactional keywords, and they have a pretty good idea of the type of activity they’re looking for. Their keywords can also be specific or broad.
- I-want-to-buy moments: When someone is ready to make a purchase and may need help deciding what to buy or how to buy it. At this stage, people are searching for something specific. They know what they want. They’re using navigational keywords to find what they want to buy.
A great local SEO company will have the people, process, and products they need to put you in front of local searchers for each of these micro moments. A reputable company will build your strategy around current local search ranking factors:
- Google My Business Signals — keywords in the business title and description, proximity, and the right categories.
- On-Page signals like the name, address, and phone (NAP) of your local business, keywords in titles, and domain authority.
- Link Signals including inbound anchor text, linking domain authority, linking domain quantity, etc.
- Citation Signals from generic, niche, and hyper-local sources. Citations should be consistent, accurate, and clear.
- Review signals, including review recency, quantity, velocity, and diversity. The stronger your review portfolio, the bigger the impact on local search performance.
- Social signals, engagement on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.
The local search companies you’re considering will tell you what they’re going to do for your company, in detail. They’ll also outline why there doing it (i.e., be included in Google’s local pack) and the results they hope to achieve for you. They won’t overload you with lots of technical jargon. They’ll keep things simple.
If you’re inexperienced, they’ll explain the ranking factors I mentioned above. They’ll outline each of the factors above in as much (or as little) detail as you need. If you need it, they’ll provide you with examples or evidence that demonstrates these ranking factors in action.
Great local SEO companies will tie all of this back to revenue. They’ll show you how the work they do will lead to more traffic, leads, and revenue for your business. They should be able to provide you with reasonable estimates and projections that are more accurate over time.
As the research from Google shows, local search continues to grow. Every year, more people are searching for the local providers they need. The best local SEO companies help local clients optimize their business around the micro moments that matter.
Finding the right local SEO company takes work; choosing the right company is easy if you ask the right questions. Use this post to find the SEO company that’s right for your local business.