Some e-marketers send out a quick promo, coupon, or invitation to their customer list, and put the entire message into a graphic. It’s quick, it’s easy, and hey—maybe you’re less likely to get filtered as spam when your content is inside a graphic, right?

What you have to realize is that most recipients’ email applications have images turned OFF by default, so it’s possible that while your deliverability might be high, none of your messages are even being read…

If most email applications turn graphics OFF by default, what does that mean for your email campaign designs?

This article from ClickZ offers some email design tips for dealing with this issue, plus a very handy chart that lists default image-blocking settings for the popular email applications.

Key takeaways:

Readers will scan the content of your html email before determining whether or not they’ll bother to turn images ON for your message. Don’t embed critical content into your images.
Always create a plain-text alternative for each email campaign. Don’t
get lazy. Spend a good amount of time on your plain-text email as well.
Your open rate might be lower than you expect (because opens are measured by inserting tiny, invisible graphics to HTML email). Don’t fret—just use open rates an a general measurement of campaign effectiveness, and focus more on click-throughs.
Always include some text, near the top of the message, just in case the graphic is never opened.
Your alt-text for each image becomes very important. You should provide alt-text to compel users to "Show Images"
Test every campaign before you send. Send emails to yourself, and check them in as many email applications as possible—how does your email look, under the default settings? Would your recipients be compelled to click "Display Images" in your email?
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