Ilma from MailerLite

Ilma12 min readTips and resourcesAugust 7, 2019

The 10 best ways to use images in email newsletters

The 10 best ways to use images in email newsletters

Words are powerful but don’t underestimate the power of an image. Images can be very effective in getting customers to act.

Let’s say you’re selling plane tickets to California. What will you include in your newsletter? Obviously the flight details and price, but why not also a picture of a beautiful glowing sunset and a white sandy beach?

This image will make your readers get excited about packing their swim gear, hitting the waves and soaking up the ocean breeze.

The human brain processes images 60,000x faster than text and 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. Images support your message and motivate readers to feel or do something.

We’ll show you 10 different ways in which images can help your emails perform better with real examples from companies that do it right.

You can go into great detail explaining how your product or service works, or you can just show it with a single 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 image immediately.

In this image newsletter from Deepwear, the reader immediately sees how one pattern can be used for many products. The email then goes on to talk about custom textile design.

Deepwear 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 below, Gym and Fitness reveals their new look with a flashy GIF.

Gym and Fitness 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 things you have to offer.

In the newsletter underneath, our customer Marc Johns is using images to show his beautiful new drawings. If the email would have just contained text, readers wouldn’t get a good idea of what the art is like. By implementing one image, it becomes immediately clear what the art looks like.

Marc Johns newsletter

Imagine it’s Christmas time. You’re sitting in front of the warm fireplace, there are candles burning everywhere, the smell of freshly baked cookies fills the room. The snowflakes outside gentle hit the window, filling your view with tiny white dots.

Still imagining?

This mood would be much better conveyed if your Christmas email marketing campaign was accompanied by an image of a Christmas setting. Your brain would instantly bring back to life those cozy Christmas feelings and make you feel nostalgic. 

Images are great for setting a mood in emails. Just like the example below from Barn Images. While they’re announcing their new vintage photo filters with words, the email picture is what instantly shows the filter’s mood and how you can transform your pictures into when using it.

Barn Images newsletter

Christmas? Summertime? Halloween? Season and festivities are an excellent reason to add images into your email.

Clothing brand Pact celebrates summer by giving their email newsletter pictures a sunny touch, using pastel colors and breezy outfits with matching summer hats.

Pact newsletter

Our customer SPIN Philadelphia brings summer vibes into their newsletter by integrating a picture containing ping pong and pineapples — all-time summer favorites.

SPIN Philadelphia 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 visuals draw the reader in and show exactly what steps are expected from the subscriber.

Tarte newsletter

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

You can use text on images to appeal to your readers’ senses. QuotesGram does this by placing their quote of the day on top of a fitting image. Though they also inserted the quote underneath the photo as plain text, it stands out more with a background image.

QuotesGram newsletter

Customer Brand Sourcebook uses an image to give a plain-looking bullet list more life, using different fonts and sizes to make their gratitude list more exciting to look at.

Brand Sourcebook 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 uses handwritten notes and doodles to get their message across. This is a much more captivating way than using typed text. Subscribers will be pleasantly surprised to see this in your image email newsletter.

Think Clearly newsletter

Customer EQUA, a producer of sustainable water bottles, uses a short GIF to add power to their quest for using less plastic. They then ask the reader to think about what they can personally change and whether they’re ready to make the switch.

EQUA newsletter

Alternatively, you can show personality by adding pictures of your team, customers or any other people involved with your business. LimeSHIFT does this by showing a recap of their latest event, making their email more personal and giving readers a good impression of what the day was like.

LimeSHIFT 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
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Always add an 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

Make sure to use the right size for your email images

Email clients have restrictions when it comes to the width of each email template, namely 600 pixels. Since each loaded image costs data, it’s best to fit the image to the email and stick with a maximum width of 600 pixels. 

Keep the image size definitely 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 tinypng.com. The quality loss is often unnoticeable.

Be aware that your image shouldn’t be too long, as 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.

Use a mobile-first approach

Nowadays, the majority of people read their emails on their phones. 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.

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.

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? Try Canva, Snappa or DesignBold. 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.

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.

Watch out with images that scream stock photo

When picking the right image, you want your photo to comprehend the text. Though stock websites offer great material that you can use copyright-free, you don’t want your email to look too much like a stock website. This can come across spammy and make your brand appear less authentic. You can find professional, modern pictures on websites like Unsplash or StockSnap.io.

Keep your images concise

Meaning, don’t use too much empty space because it looks aesthetically nice. 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.


Images are a great way to 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. 

If you’re not sure how to pick the right image, check which picture is most helpful and relevant for the reader. Don’t just add an image for the sake of having one there.

Which of the 10 ways to use email images will you incorporate next time you’re creating a newsletter?

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in September, 2013 but has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.


Ilma Nausedaite

Hi, I’m Ilma, CMO 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.