Month: October 2016

8 Ways to Optimize Your Holiday Email Campaigns

RJMetrics found that November and December drive 30% more E-Commerce revenue than other months. Coincidence? Absolutely not. November and December encapsulate more holidays than any other months combined. This generates 50-100% more revenue from Black Friday to Christmas than any other shopping days throughout the year.

Since email is the preferred channel for customers to interact with your brand, it’s critical to optimize your email efforts this holiday season. In this blog, we’ll explore 8 ways to improve your holiday campaigns and overall email strategy to increase engagement, conversions and your bottom line before the year comes to a close.

Let your audience self-segment.

You’ve probably heard the marketing saying, “It’s all about reaching the right person, with the right message, at the right time.” That sounds all well and good but it begs the question, how? Since us marketers aren’t in the business of mind reading, list segmentation tactics work wonders to achieve sending the right (read: relevant) messaging across the board.

Lyris found that 39% of marketers who segmented their email lists experienced higher open rates, 28% experienced lower unsubscribe rates, and 24% experienced better deliverability and greater revenue.

With the proper analytics and reporting in place, you can segment your list by simple things like gender, all the way down to more granular characteristics like weather patterns, subscriber level reporting, the device they are using to read the email and so much more!

Another powerful way to segment your list can be by geolocation. Knowing where your contacts live can be seriously powerful information. Plus, finding out your subscriber’s location is as easy as adding a zip code to your purchase or opt in forms.

Vamoose, a bus service that travels in between New York and the Washington D.C. area, sent a localized email based on geography reminding users in the area to get their holiday travel booked before it’s too late!

Another way to leverage geographic location is to use localization in subject lines. For example, Target made good use of this tactic when they tested localization in promotional emails. They did this by identifying which Target stores were close to their recipient’s listed address. The email sent to them featured the name of the subscriber’s local store in the subject line, as well as that store’s telephone number and store-specific links. This has shown to increase opens, which in turn will trickle down to improve all other email metrics like CTR.

Need more ideas on how to slice and dice your list? Check out 8 Ways to Segment Your Email List to Maximize ROI.

Put a safety net in place.

Unsubscribes happen, especially during the holidays as companies world-wide are ramping up their emails sends. While you can’t save every customer who is thinking about leaving your list, you can greatly reduce the number of people who do this holiday season by integrating an email preference center into your unsubscribe process.

For those unfamiliar with this concept, an email preference center is a landing page the subscriber arrives at after they hit the unsubscribe button. The page allows them to take a variety of actions: update their email address, change the frequency of the mailings, and even opt out for good.

Do you have multiple email lists? Tons of different products? During the holiday season when you’re hitting the email sends hard, let your users tell you when and what they want to hear about through your preference center.

Amazon did a great job of letting readers choose what future mailings would be the most relevant to them.

By leveraging this strategy, you can deliver hyper-customized campaigns and even stop unsubscribes from happening. You might even boost your open and clicks rates. Win-win.

Purge inactive readers.

It’s about quality, not quantity when it comes to your email list. Return Path reports that on average, 15-25% of all valid email addresses are discarded each year as people move to a different internet service provider (ISP), change jobs or otherwise acquire a new address. That’s why you should be proactive and purge inactive users (people who have not opened or clicked in 5 months) from your list.

Sidekick took a very proactive approach to making sure their engagement did not drop due to inactive email addresses for the holiday season. Check out their witty holiday email where they give (pun intended) readers the option to reengage.

Another good reason to drop the dead weight of inactive subscribers is that internet service providers (ISPs) are becoming more reliant on engagement metrics for detecting SPAM. By unsubscribing dormant members and giving them a way back through a re-engagement email, you’ll have better opens, clicks and in turn, deliverability rates in Q4.

Target cart abandoners through email.

The average shopping cart abandonment rate is approximately 67%. Plus, 23% percent of potential online buyers purposely abandon their shopping carts to collect coupons that sellers send to try and close the sale, according to Bizrate Insights. This means you better have a cart abandonment email trigger in place, and have a lucrative incentive to draw them back in.

Puma mastered this tactic in their cart abandonment email below. Plus, they offered a great incentive: free shipping! With 47% of consumers saying free shipping was one of the most important factors during the holiday season, they really hit the nail on the head.

According to SaleCycle, nearly half of all abandoned cart emails are opened and over a third of clicks lead to purchases back on site so it’s well worth your time to segment and target by these criteria.

Think mobile first.

76% of Black Friday emails and 63% of Cyber Monday emails were opened on a mobile device in 2015 according to Movable Ink. Plus, 56% of searches during the holiday season were conducted on a mobile device. If your emails aren’t mobile-friendly, those email conversions you rely on in Q4 will disappear.

Groupon Goods is on top of their holiday game this year and already sent a campaign with Black Friday previews that looked fantastic on my phone. Their revving up for their holiday sales by offering free returns, free shipping over purchases of $34.99 and great discounts.

To get your emails looking great for your readers on-the-go, you will want to integrate responsive design into your email development efforts. Responsive design relies on media queries to make your email mobile-friendly. These media queries can slim your email down to a single column design, hide text on mobile so it doesn’t get too cluttered, scale your images to fit different-sized screens and much more. The thing is, sometimes you just don’t have the time to code emails that look perfect in every inbox.

November and December are right around the corner. Get access to a library of mobile-friendly templates, 100% free of charge, before you kick off your holiday promotions. All you have to do is sign up for our free community membership and you’ll get access to templates, whitepapers and more!

Give your transactional email the attention it deserves.

Transactional email, while not always as sexy as marketing email, is still an extremely important component in your mailing strategy and it deserves your attention. Transactional emails get 4-8x more opens and clicks than bulk mailings plus, transactional emails can be part of the first impression a new prospect/buyer has of your brand this holiday season, so you need to make it count.

One component that makes transactional emails so successful is by how personalized they are. Since this type of email is triggered by a certain action an individual took, it darn well better be speaking to that individual! Leveraging merge tags to pull in their first name is the first step towards personalization. However, if you really want to take the relevancy of the email to the next level, leverage dynamic content to personalize these transactional emails. According to Experian, personalized emails were shown to lift transaction rates and revenue six times higher than non-personalized emails.

Nordstrom’s email below does an incredible job at personalizing the email. Every element of the email is tailored to the individual.

Plus, this transactional email is mobile-friendly! Kudos, Nordstrom.

Don’t be afraid to ask for a little extra.

Speaking of transactional emails, another way to fully optimize your email is to up-sell, cross-sell and re-sell in them! Transactional emails are considered the most important by email recipients and they can boost revenue by 33% from promoting other products in the email.

There’s nothing wrong with promoting your products or services in a transactional email, just make sure that the pertinent information takes center stage. The rule of thumb is that a transactional email should be 80% informational and 20% promotional.

GoDaddy accomplishes this seamlessly in their transactional email below.

If you know what someone has purchased in the past, you can use that information to send emails catered to their interest in the future. This will lead to more purchases and a longer lifetime value. This is important as you don’t want that holiday buyer to only come around once a year, instead you want to turn them into a recurring buyer!

Create a sense of urgency.

When optimizing your email campaign, urgency is a powerful psychological motivator. Deadlines compel your customers to take the next step.

Marketing and branding expert Susan Genulius recommends including offers that are time sensitive. Use words that convey a specific time frame or deadline throughout your copy such as “One-day Sale” or “Only Available to the first 20 buyers.”

Since there already is a bit of a deadline around the holiday season (i.e. you only have until December 24th to buy a present) adding an additional deadline around a holiday offer can pack that extra punch.

BIRCHBOX did a great job of creating compelling copy and images that encourages their reader to pull the trigger on their BIRCHBOX order.

One last step before you put the wrapping paper on!

Now that you have this checklist on how to prepare your email campaigns for the holidays you’re ready to send, right? Well, not quite. Even if your campaign sends are perfectly segmented and your holiday offers resonate this season, it won’t matter if your email shows up looking like a tangled mess of holiday lights in the inbox. Your readers won’t trust your product, or brand, if you send an email with broken links and images or text too small to decipher on their mobile device. That’s why you need to test every campaign you send this season across the most popular inboxes and devices.

To save you time, money and your sanity, don’t try to manually test your email in hundreds of clients and devices. Instead, try the most cost-effective and quickest way to test your email. Get access to unlimited email, image and spam testing, free for 7 days, so you can send with absolute confidence.

Email Innovations Summit London Recap

I was lucky enough last week to attend the first ever Email Innovations Summit in London. Along with my attendance, our CEO John Thies was invited to speak. The two-day event was packed full of great talks from some phenomenal speakers. Here are my key takeaways from some of my favourite talks.

The Conference

The Future of Email (Marketing) in a world of Automation, Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, Messaging & Pokémon Go

Dela Quist, CEO, Alchemy Worx

Dela’s talk, although at points controversial, was eye opening and hugely insightful. Focused around a very hot topic, The Future of Email Marketing, the presentation raised a lot of key points and actionable takeaways for email marketers. Here are some of my favourite points he made:

  • People have multiple email addresses for personal use. It doesn’t matter which one they give you, it just matters that they give you one!
  • Email has the highest ROI of any digital marketing channel, but the lowest spend.
  • Email is ingrained in every digital thing we do. You need an email address for everything. Someone without an email address is the digital equivalent to homeless.
  • 6% of the entire world’s email is sent by Facebook.
  • Non-email attributed revenue increases with an email send.

Innovations in Email Part 1

John Thies, Co-Founder, Email on Acid
Mark Robbins, Email Developer, Rebelmail
Elliot Ross, Co-Founder, Taxi for Email
Justine Jordan, VP, Marketing, Litmus

The next talk saw 4 of email’s greatest take the stage to discuss innovations in email. It was a series of fast paced presentations focusing on many innovative email issues. Here are some of my top takeaways:

  • Flashy design for no reason is confusing and awkward.
  • Innovation happens at the apex of technology, human values and business viability.
  • Coding for email is not coding for 1995.
  • It’s perfectly okay if your emails don’t look the same everywhere.
  • The definition of interactive email: An action taken in an email that triggers an event within the same email.
  • 43% of users view email with images off.

Virgin Holidays’ change into a data driven CRM strategy

Saul Lopes, Strategic Insights & Loyalty Manager, Virgin Holidays

I really loved Saul’s talk. Hearing a client side perspective of a data-driven strategy was incredibly interesting. He started by teaching us all about the importance of the data, and how underused it is. Saul then spoke about the strategies he had employed and was looking to employ at Virgin Holidays. Here are some takeaways:

  • 70% of all email data is generated by the user.
  • However, only 0.5% of data generated by users is ever analysed.
  • You need to know your data. Get access to the raw data set.
  • Recruit the right analysts into your team, being good with numbers doesn’t make someone a good email analyst.
  • You need to fully understand your user’s behavior.

How to Reap the Rewards of Taking a Holistic Approach to Email Marketing

Kath Pay, Founder, Holistic Email Marketing

Also on Day 1 we had Kath Pay teaching us all about a holistic approach to email marketing. Reassuring us that email marketing is about more than just building and deploying emails. This talk was full of takeaways on how to create a customer-centric email program, but here are some of my top takeaways:

  • Email is all about the customer.
  • We tend to be very silo-orientated and look at things the wrong way.
  • It is not a battle between channels, email is stronger when used omni-channel.
  • Email is not an isolated channel.
  • Personalisation isn’t an objective, it’s a tool for achieving your objectives.
  • Your customers are not channel orientated. They want a consistent experience across all channels (social, email, etc.)

Innovations: Making Subject Lines Pop in the Inbox

Parry Malm, CEO, Phrasee
Sharon Jennings, Freelance Developer & Consultant, Chic Geek Consultants Ltd

Freelance Developer Sharon teamed up with Phrasee CEO Parry to delve into subject line goodness, they gave us a fantastic joint presentation about subject lines, how to leverage the most from your subject lines, and common subject line mistakes. Here are some takeaways:

  • A bad subject line is the equivalent of a bad resume, it’s your introduction to the user.
  • Spend as much time on your subject lines as you would any other element of email marketing.
  • Subject line length does not matter, further to that you cannot test subject line length.
  • You can, however, test more information vs. less information in email.
  • Emojis don’t make a bad subject line better, they only amplify an already good subject line.
  • Don’t use Emojis for the sake of being “trendy”, they have to add something to your email.

Beyond Words: Innovative HTML Typography in Email

Paul Airy, Email Designer and Developer, Beyond the Envelope

Accessibility stalwart Paul Airy challenged us to think about an ever-important issue in email: accessible email. In a world where we find ourselves focused on pixel perfect designed emails, this issue is often overlooked. His talk had lots of takeaways, but here were some of my favourites:

  • Make it easier for users with screen readers: use semantic HTML markup.
  • Simply adding margin:0; to heading styles (H1, H2, etc.) to fix heading tags.
  • Keep your text at 14px or larger to ensure people can read it.
  • Don’t just use display:none; to hide content. Ensure you also include visbility:hidden; for accessibility.
  • 61% of subscribers will be able to see web fonts, but don’t forget to test your own stats.

Closing words

We teamed up with Adestra and Kickbox to host the official Innovations after party at The Happenstance. After two action-packed days of email talks, it was great to unwind with a drink and a room full of email geeks. If you attended the after party, we hope you enjoyed yourselves and we look forward to seeing you at the next event!

Finally, I wanted to express our gratitude to everyone involved in making Email Innovations a success; we thoroughly enjoyed the conference and can’t wait for it to (hopefully) return to London next year.

Email Marketing Insights Survey: Enter to Win 4 Incredible Prizes

As 2016 comes to a close, we want to survey our fellow email geeks about what worked (and what didn’t) in the industry this year, plus get your predictions for what you expect to see in 2017.

Your time is very valuable to us, so instead of “a penny for your thoughts” complete the survey and we’ll enter your name to win one of 4 amazing prizes!

This year’s prizes are:

  • 2 $250 Amex gift cards (only one winner for each)
  • 1 year “All Access” subscription to Email on Acid
  • 6 month “All Access” subscription to Email on Acid

We rolled out this survey for the first-time last year to get a pulse on the industry. It was amazing to see thousands upon thousands of responses rolling in. To keep tradition alive (and more importantly establish email benchmarks year-to-year) we hope you’ll dive in and give us insight into the email industry from this year to the next!

To be eligible to win one of the above prizes, you must complete the entire survey by November 10th at 5 pm MDT. The winners will be chosen at random and will receive one prize each. We will notify you via email if you’re a winner.

We can’t wait to share the email insights with you and see how they compare to last year!

Spacing Techniques in HTML Email

Creating spacing in HTML emails has always been a surprisingly tricky topic. What should be a simple task is made infinitely more complex by the lack of email client standards. You’ll also find that all email developers have their own little tricks to creating space. In this post we’ll have a look at some of the most popular methods for creating spacing, the pros and cons of these methods, and the email client support.


The cellpadding HTML attribute specifies the space, in pixels, between the cell wall and the cell content. We apply it simply by adding it to our tables with HTML like so;


The biggest advantage to using cellpadding is the support. HTML tables are, very obviously, widely supported across all email clients. That means any email client that supports table will also support the cellpadding function. The main issue with using cellpadding is the lack of ability to override it. When using heights, padding, or any CSS code we can override it with media queries. With cellpadding, we don’t have the ability to do that because it’s an HTML attribute, not CSS.

Where I use cellpadding

I often use Cellpadding in my email code. I tend to use it in places I know I will not need to change the cellpadding for different email clients or devices. For example, adding a guttering around an entire email container.

Empty Cells

When I use the term empty cells, I’m referring to empty that we can add to our code to force spacing around content. For example, this is how you would use it to add the 20px spacing we’ve been using in this post.

Content goes here

The biggest issue with this spacing method compared to other methods is that it doesn’t always work! As you can see from our blog back in 2013, empty table cells don’t always retain their height.

Another problem is the amount of code to write. Rather than simply specifying one bit of HTML or CSS, we have to code an entire table structure. Another negative consideration is the complication of mobile optimisation; the way to create this as a mobile email is to either hide the cells completely or make new classes to control the width and height of these spacing cells. Both of these methods require media query support. The final mark against this method the fact that it requires exact pixel widths, making it not suitable for Fluid Hybrid emails.

Where I use empty cells

I do not use empty cells, unless forcing height between table cells. The reason being that I likely won’t need to change a 20 pixel height divider. You can read more about using empty cells here.


One of the simplest methods of adding spacing, the line break. See below for implementation.


Content goes here

As you can see, you add breaks inside of the content HTML. Unfortunately, this method is largely unused except for adding spacing between text or forcing line returns in your content. Various email clients are known to read the linebreaks at different height, making it virtually impossible to create a pixel perfect HTML email.

Where I use breaks

I only use breaks to break copy (text) in the email content, I do not use it force spacing in other places.


Part of the CSS box model, padding a common method used in web development for creating spacing and often used in email development too. In the past, padding has been a big headache for email developers. However, we’ve seen over the last year or two that companies are consolidating their email efforts, such as Microsoft switching the rendering engine to the Office 365 rendering engine. This opens the door for us as developers to revisit padding.


Above, you can see how simple it is to implement; just a bit of inline CSS and we’re away. The big advantage to this, as mentioned above in the Cellpadding section, is the ability to override this in the head of the email. This means that, for example, we could use media queries to switch 30 pixel padding on desktop to 10 pixel padding on mobile to take up less screen real-estate. With Gmail’s recent announcement of support for media queries, this is a very big plus.

On the other side of the coin, there are a few considerations when using padding in HTML email. It’s best to stick to using padding on table cells, rather than on tables, for ease of use and troubleshooting. Outlook has also been known to throw a bit of a tantrum when using padding on paragraph, div or anchor tags.

Where I use padding

Anywhere I need to add padding that could change dynamically I add padding. For me, it comes down to a choice of using padding and cellpadding to force spacing.


Another part of the CSS box model, margin is another common method used in web development to add spacing. Though, in my opinion, lesser used in email development. This is how you would implement margins:


Margin works by adding spacing outside of the border in a CSS box model, compared to padding which will add it inside the border. Historically, margins have always been tricky. But, much like padding, the efforts by email companies to modernise their rendering engines could well lead to a resurgence of margin in email.

Where I use margin

I do not use margins, but if you do use them in your emails please let me know!

Closing words

The email development process is an ever-evolving beast: if we don’t review what we do and why we do it, we run the risk of our process becoming archaic. When I started developing emails, I only used empty cells to control spacing. I did this simply because I didn’t realise there were better methods. How do you control spacing? Do you use a mashup of methods or do you stick specifically to one method?

Naver Webmail Testing: What You Need to Know

Launched in 1999, Naver is a Web portal in South Korea featuring lots of services including email. Naver received 2 billion queries in 2007, accounting for 70% of search queries in South Korea and making it the fifth most used search engine in the world. More than 25 million South Koreans have Naver as their home page.

In this post we’ll be examining how well Naver supports common HTML and CSS elements in email. If you need to see how your email looks in Naver, try out email testing platform! Email on Acid proudly supports email testing in this client.

The Good

We tested a set of common HTML elements and CSS styles to see how well supported they are.

Headers and Paragraphs

As always, semantic HTML markup is very helpful when trying to increase the accessibility of an email. I found Naver to have good support for paragraphs and headers.




Like other good webmail clients, I found Naver to have support for all the usual spacing methods. We tested the following code.

padding: 20px;   
padding-left: 20px;   
padding-right: 20px;   
padding-bottom: 20px;   
padding: 20px 0px 20px 0px;


Naver has good support for borders, including styles like dashed borders.

border: 5px solid #ff0000;  
Border-radius: 5px;

A fun little element to use in email, border-radius enables us to use rounded corners without images. Naver will also render dashed and dotted borders.

Font and Text styles

Naver does support commonly used font styling techniques. Pretty standard stuff, but good to have. We tested with this following code.

font-size: 14px;   
font-family: sans-serif;   
line-height: 16px;

Animated GIFs

Anyone who knows me knows I love animation. I’m very happy to say animated GIFs will render fully in Naver.

Background colours

Background colours also render well in the Naver webmail. In terms of adding colour you have the freedom to do it with either HTML attributes or inline CSS.

HTML: background="#ff0000" 
CSS: background-color: #ff0000;

I’m also happy to report that background images will work in Naver, both using inline CSS and HTML.

background-image: url(images/image.jpg) 


The backbone of a fluid-hybrid layout, max-width will work within Naver!

max-width: 600px !important;


I found that both ordered and unordered lists work.

      The Bad

      Unfortunately, Naver follows the pattern of many webmail clients in stripping elements out of the header. To fix this issue, make sure to inline your styles. This has some implications as you can see in the reference table below.

      Naver Support

      Element/Style Support
      in head
      in body
      CSS Selectors
      Animated GIFs

      CSS inline background
      HTML attribute background

      Closing words

      Overall, the Naver webmail client follows the standard webmail support guidelines: we have a lot of support for HTML and inline CSS including borders, animated GIFs, border-radius but, the big drawback is the lack of support for style in the head. Do you send to Naver? Have you found some weird quirks? We’d love to hear what you find so we can keep this guide updated.

      It’s important to test emails constantly, we never know when an email client will change how it handles code. Naver is included in our suite of email clients to test on, so if you’re sending email to South Korean recipients, we’ve got you covered!

      Mastering Styled Alt Text in Email

      Though it might seem like an afterthought to add alt text to images, it can make a huge difference for the success of your campaigns. Alt text is easy to style in many clients, and can help get your message across whether or not image blocking is on. I’ll cover how to style your alt text, as well as some email client considerations.

      How to Style Alt Text

      Styling alt text is actually very easy! We’ll be using this image for our example. Images that have text in them with a message you really need to get across are the perfect place to use alt text.

      a sample of the email we'll be adding styled alt text to

      First, you’ll need to add the alt text attribute to the image tag.

      Get 30% off today!

      This text can appear in a variety of different ways in the email, but by default it will take on the styles of its container. There are a few styles we should set for maximum readability.

      Get 30% off today!

      Font size will help make sure that the alt-text doesn’t get lost. Don’t forget to set line-height, as many email clients will cut off the bottoms of letters if the line height is shorter than the font-size. Line-height can also be used to create spacing above and below the alt text.

      Next we’ll add a background color and font color, to mimic the color of the image.

      Get 30% off today!

      Most email clients support background colors for blocked images, and this can really help maintain the look and feel of your email.

      Finally, some centering. We can use text-align:center to make the text center within the image. Vertical centering is a bit harder. We can use line-height to center the text vertically. Our example image is 300px tall, so we’d set the line-height to 300px (assuming the text will all be on one line) to get it to center inside the image.

      Where does alt text show?

      Now that Gmail no longer blocks images, most clients will show images by default. However, many clients allow their users to choose whether or not to download images by default. They may opt to not download these images for security or to conserve mobile data.

      Note that Outlook desktop clients (2007-2016) will show the alt text you’ve added, but only after a long “security warning” message. They will not allow you to style the alt text at all. Outlook 2011 for Mac does allow you to style alt text.

      Alt Text in Email

      Email Client Blocks Images by Default? Alt text displayed? Alt text can be styled?
      Google Apps
      Yahoo! Mail
      Office 365
      Apple Mail
      Lotus Notes 8.5
      Outlook 2000-2016
      Outlook 2011 (Mac)
      iOS Mail
      Gmail App

      Gain more control with Mozify

      Using our unique Mozify tool, you can have even more control over what appears when images are blocked. For example, you can add spans around different sections of text to more closely mimic the appearance of the marketing copy that was included in the image. You can use this to apply different font-family, font-size, line-height and so on.

      I’ll show you how to do this quickly in the tutorial below.

      First, start a new Mozify and paste your code into the start form. Mozify will load the code of your email, and each image (if displayed at its native size) can be clicked on to Mozify it. I’ll click on the 30% off image in this email and start the process.

      An image showing step 1 of the mozify tutorial

      Select “Text” and click “Next” to get started. Mozify will sample the colors in the image and choose one that is an average. For this image it was a bit too dark, so I’ll select “Cell” and change the background color to #619540. I’ll also select “Font” and change the color to white and the family to Verdana.

      An image showing step 2 of the mozify tutorial

      Now we’ll add in our text. For this example, we have just two lines of text. I’ll put each line in a span and use a BR to separate them. Then we can style each line on its own. Use the original/Mozified toggle to tweak your text until it matches the image as closely as possible. I settled on the following code:

      30% OFF

      After adding that in, our Mozified image should look like this.

      An image showing step 3 of the mozify tutorial

      Click “Next” on the bottom right, and then “Insert” the Mozified image. Grab the code from our site and you’re ready to go! If you’re curious about where Mozify is supported, check out our Mozify page.

      Alt text and accessibility

      Using alt text as described above can greatly increase the accessibility of your emails. Screen readers will be able to read this text for the visually impaired. If your image has no text in it, the alt text can still help get the message across.

      Similarly, links can have the title attribute filled in to help the visually impaired. This text will also appear in some clients when the user hovers over a link.

      Other considerations

      Where possible, define height and width for your images using HTML attributes. This will preserve their dimensions (and your layout) when image blocking is on, and give you enough space to display your alt text. For fluid images, this may not be possible.

      Very small images, like social media icons, may break out of their correct size if too much alt text is included (see below). In this case you may want to keep alt text to increase accessibility To do so, define the image size using attributes, reduce the font-size to 1px, and change the font-color to white. This will prevent the blocked image boxes from blowing out their size.

      An image showing how social buttons can get blown out

      If the image is linked, some clients will show the text in blue and underlined. You can use inline styles to counteract this behavior in most clients.

      Finally, you may want to leave alt text off of some images. All things in moderation, and alt text is no exception. If an image isn’t important to communicating the message of your email, and is just there for decoration, you may want to leave alt text off of it so as not to distract from the real goal of the email. As always, this is a judgment call.

      How is your alt text looking?

      If you haven’t tested your email to see how it looks with images off, you should start today! Just make sure to check in the “Include a preview of each client with image blocking enabled” checkbox at the bottom of the test form, or select “Process all my email previews with blocked images by default” in our email testing platform to get image blocking results for your auto-process tests.

      Don’t have access to our email testing platform? Get unlimited email, image, and spam testing, free for 7 days!

      Know any other alt text tricks or considerations? Let us know in the comments below!

      5 Brands That Are Using GIFs to Elevate Their Email Marketing

      As email marketers, we are constantly asking ourselves what makes an email great. Witty copy? Stunning design? Eye-catching imagery? Sure, all of these combine to create powerful email campaigns, but nailing those elements down to an exact formula across industries is impossible.

      Universally, great email all boils down to one element: level of engagement. The goal of email marketing is to establish a business relationship with a prospect and eventually convert them into a customer, so catching and holding their attention is key.
      While static emails are able to accomplish this through many means, the emergence of animated GIFs in email makes it clear that these animations can draw and focus attention on your product in an incredibly powerful way. These five brands have proven just how effective – and fun – GIFs can be in email.


      Everyone’s favorite mobile streaming service did an incredible job with their marketing of the release of a new season of House of Cards. The GIF in this email does an incredible job of instilling intrigue – and fear – in subscribers by layering provocative copy over Frank Underwood’s ice-cold stare. Extra points should be awarded for the animation’s black and white color scheme, which allowed the Netflix logo and its CTAs to stand out.

      Kate Spade

      I’m consistently drawn to Kate Spade’s impeccable email marketing, with their mastery of GIFs as a huge reason to love their campaigns. The women’s accessory and clothing retailer primarily uses GIFs to demonstrate the multi-functionality of their products as well as different views of each look. This email quickly delivers the visual information that subscribers need before making an online purchase, all while allowing them to stay on the email instead of navigating away from your CTA. Added bonus for the fun copy and eye-catching tile design.


      Boden is another retailer that does an incredible job of centering their design on animated GIFS. In this email, the animation of the disappearing lemonade not only flawlessly ties into the copy of “squeeze the last few drops,” but also conveys the exact sense of urgency that Boden intends with this email about shopping their temporary sales.


      In this email about an update to the Lyft app, the taxi alternative company expertly utilizes animation to demonstrate the simplicity of their new UI. With the hero copy reading “Getting around is now easier than ever,” the GIF delivers on this promise by demonstrating the simplicity of ordering a Lyft car through the application. This engaging GIF encourages the reader to go beyond the fold and explore the app’s new offerings.

      Below is the animated image in the email. Click here to view the whole email.

      West Elm

      I’ve highlighted West Elm before for their email prowess, but this recent send regarding their lighting sale earns the home décor company another mention. The otherwise simple email truly shines with the on/off animation of their lamps. With the animation casting a literal spotlight on their copy, this email truly shines.

      Test before you send!

      How do these brands ensure that their GIFs are powerful across platforms and devices? By testing their emails, of course. Elevate your email marketing efforts by trying out Email on Acid’s free 7-day trial.