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The 10 best ways to use embedded images in email newsletters

Ilma Nausedaite Ilma Nausedaite
· 14 min read · Email marketing · July 28, 2021

Images are worth a thousand words—and they’re also very effective in getting your subscribers to act!

Imagine you’re selling plane tickets to Hawaii. Sure, you’ll mention the flight details and the price… but you’ll win people over by showing photos of the beautiful sunsets and sandy beaches! Those email images will get people excited about packing their bags and hitting those waves. 

The human brain processes images 60,000x faster than text and 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. Newsletter images support your message and motivate readers to feel or do something—making them a crucial part of your email marketing strategy.

We’ll show you 10 different ways in which embedded images can help your emails perform better, along with real examples from companies and marketers that are doing it right.

You can go into great detail explaining how your product or service works, or you can just show it with a single embedded image (or, when your product is more complex, a GIF). In many situations, an image makes your message clearer and easier to understand. Especially in this meme-driven generation, our brains are trained to grasp the context from an email image immediately.

In this image newsletter from Manta Sleep, the reader immediately sees what their new range of sleep masks will look like (featuring fun patches that can be stuck anywhere on the mask)!

Manta Sleep image newsletter

Launched a redesign of your website? A new collection? Hit 100K followers on your social media profile? Or is your company 10 years on the market?

Celebrate your wins with imagery. On special occasions, you can even decorate your pictures by adding festive elements such as glittery details or balloons. Or use a flashy GIF to show your excitement. Whatever expresses your joyful mood best!

In the email design below, MarkUp announces their new feature with a beautifully illustrated screenshot to highlight the good news. 

Markup newsletter

If you’re selling anything you’re proud of: show off! The best way to lure subscribers into discovering your products is by showing them what amazing items you have to offer.

In the newsletter concept underneath, e-commerce business MeUndies shows off its products in an eye-catching GIF. This gives people an instant overview of what’s on sale—motivating them to click on that call to action (CTA) button. The fun stickers, fonts and illustrations highlight their brand image and messaging, and they make them stand out from the crowd even more! 

MeUndies GIF newsletter

Email marketing images are great for setting a mood, just like the example below from VSCO. When they’re announcing their new Infrared filter series, the high-resolution email picture instantly sets the mood and shows how you can transform your own photos. 

VSCO newsletter

Christmas? Summertime? Halloween? Seasons and festivities are excellent reasons to embed images into your email.

Beauty brand RoseSkinCo celebrates the 4th July by giving their email newsletter an American touch—featuring someone holding up the stars and stripes! A well-timed seasonal email will resonate with subscribers, and ramp up engagement in the process.

RoseSkinCo newsletter

For your next event or competition, why don’t you add an image to your newsletter explaining the rules instead of listing them as text? This is a fresh alternative and something that will catch the reader's eye.

Makeup brand tarte encourages its readers to join their skincare challenge. The high-quality images draw the reader in and show exactly what steps are expected from the subscriber.

Tarte newsletter

Quotes are powerful and widely shared. Quotes on email pictures? Now that’s a winning combo! Especially when these can be shared on social platforms #motivationalmonday.

You can use text on embedded images to appeal to your readers’ senses. Brooks Running places their eye-catching quote on top of an illustrated graphic, which acts as a great header for their email message. 

Brooks Running newsletter

Drawings and little cartoons are another good way to easily get your message across. When you think about it, that’s how children start learning about things early on too. 

In the example below, Think Clearly embeds handwritten notes and doodles to convey their message. This is much more captivating than using typed text. Subscribers will be pleasantly surprised to see this in your image email newsletter.

Think Clearly newsletter

Alternatively, you can show personality by adding email photos of your team, customers or any other people involved with your business. In their welcome email, Paperchase shares some before/after photos of their company storefront, showing how their brand has evolved over the years. This adds a nice personal touch, and it makes subscribers feel more connected to their story. 

Paperchase newsletter

Do you have an important question to ask and need it to stick out from the rest of your email copy? By placing your question in a bigger font on a background image, your question will not go unnoticed.

You can pair this strategy with a survey block in your image newsletter. When you use MailerLite, you can easily implement a survey in your email and get your question answered without the subscriber ever needing to leave the email. In your reports, you’ll see exactly what email subscribers have answered (and you can analyze the answers directly in our software).

Aerie newsletter
Want to read more articles about using images in your newsletter?

1. Always add ALT text

The best image newsletters always use ALT text! Though email clients are constantly updated and improving, some email providers don’t display images by default. In this case, readers only see the ALT text (short for “alternative text”) attached to each image. This text explains to your readers what the image is about. You can use a descriptive ALT text, or get more creative and use this piece of text as a CTA.

In MailerLite, you can add an ALT text as following:

Add ALT in MailerLite

2. Follow image size best practices

Email clients have restrictions when it comes to the width of each email template, namely 600 pixels. Therefore, it’s best to fit the image to the email and stick with a maximum width of 600 pixels. If you are optimizing for Retina and other high-density displays, pay attention to our image size recommendations.

Keep each image size under 1MB, but aim for as low as possible (100KB or less). When you have a .png or .jpg file, you can reduce the image size with an online tool like The quality loss is often unnoticeable. This makes sure you don't take up much of your reader's data.

Be aware that your newsletter image shouldn’t be too long (it isn’t a web page, after all)! Otherwise, it’ll automatically become smaller when users view your email on tablet or mobile. If the height is long and the image is scaled down, you risk the chance that your images are not readable anymore.

A quick tip for clipped emails...

Though reducing image sizes is a good practice to reduce data usage for readers, it doesn't solve things when your newsletter gets clipped in Gmail. When this happens to your email, you'll have to delete images or elements to make your email shorter, as the clipping is caused by the email's length.

Gmail looks at the total number of bytes in the email's code. The longer your email, the more code is used and the higher the chances of your email getting clipped. Deleting images (and thus pieces of code) will solve your issue.

3. Use a mobile-first approach

Nowadays, the majority of people read their emails on a mobile phone. Which is why you should choose your images for this device first. When your images are easy to read and see on mobile, you can rest assured it’ll also look good on desktop. One practice, for example, is to make the fonts on pictures large enough so they’re readable when scaled down to a mobile screen.

4. Keep a good balance between images and text

As much as we love using images to enhance a message, it shouldn’t take over the entire email. Make sure there’s a good balance between text and images. A good rule of thumb is to make the ratio ⅓—1 part of the email images, and 2 parts text.

This is not only more pleasant for the reader, but having plenty of balance also makes your newsletter look more professional. If you aren’t sure how to space out your text and images, check out our newsletter templates gallery for inspiration!

You can also use background images in your emails, but they should be no larger than 1MB, and responsive for different screen sizes. 

A note about image-only newsletters

Just remember, it’s important not to have image-only newsletters. Here are three reasons why:

  1. Difficult to locate in the inbox: Image-only newsletters might look nice—but what if your subscriber wants to look up your email later? There won’t be any keywords to help them, and your newsletter will be lost.

  2. Images are automatically blocked by some inbox providers: Meaning that if you send an image-only newsletter, your subscribers will just be greeted with an empty email (awkward 😅 ).

  3. No preview text available: So subscribers won’t be able to have a sneak peek of what your email is about, unless you add some text to the preheader.

5. Use an online tool if you’re not sure about your design skills

Not feeling like quite the designer? There’s no need to be! Everyone can be a designer these days (or at least you can fake it until you make it) by using an online editing tool. Our favorites?  You can use the built-in photo editor in your MailerLite account, or try Canva, Snappa or Mega Creator.

By using one of their ready-made templates and editing them with your own text and images, you can create email images like a real pro. but also makes sure that when an email client blocks your images, your email still entails content.

6. Place your CTA text on a button, not on an image

CTA’s are the most important thing of an email because it’s the action you want your reader to take (or, the link to click). To avoid the rare chance of your CTA image not being shown, make sure to insert a CTA button, not an image.

7. Watch out for images that scream stock photo

When picking the right image, you want your photo to comprehend the text. Though stock images can be used copyright-free, you don’t want your email to look too much like a stock website. Stock photography can come across as spammy and make your brand appear less authentic. If you need free photos, you can find professional, royalty-free images on websites like Unsplash or

8. Keep your images concise

Meaning, don’t use too much empty space because it looks aesthetically nice, or make them too big. While the design is important, this can be annoying for mobile readers. They’ll need to scroll a long time before coming across your message, making them lose interest. This will diminish your effort to boost your click-through rate.

Email images will get your message across, increase email engagement and draw readers in so they’ll take action. Use them to set the mood, personalize your email or make your message stand out. 

Remember—don’t just add an image for the sake of having one there. 😉  Make sure it's relevant to the rest of the newsletter. The image should enhance your overall marketing message. 

Are you feeling excited about your next email design? Which of these 10 best practices will you be trying out? Let us know in the comments!

Editor’s note: This post was last updated in August 2019. We've now added some new insights and examples to help you design the best emails!

Ilma Nausedaite
Ilma Nausedaite
I’m Ilma, COO at MailerLite. I love seeing our customers succeed. When they win, we win (like being named one of the top 5 fastest growing SaaS companies). Email is my passion, although I took a rather unusual path. Before MailerLite, I worked in finance and art, which turned out to be the perfect mix for marketing.
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