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This is a guest post from Heroic Search.

Emails can take a long time to craft. You’ve got to grab attention with a killer subject line and intro, you have to nail your copy, and you need to sustain the reader’s attention right through until the call-to-action.

And as online resources continue to grow in availability and popularity, one of the best ways to stand out from the crowd and increase conversions is through your content’s accompanying visuals.

55% of B2C content creators say that creating visual content is now the main priority, and for good reason: Visuals work. In fact, communications that include images produce 650 percent higher engagement than text-only posts.

Compelling visuals catch the eye, bring an email to life, and they add a spark of creativity and imagination to your message.

In this article, we take a look at exactly what you need to do to use visuals in order to boost your conversion rates.

Use GIFs

Who doesn’t love a GIF?

An animated GIF can reinforce your message and add a touch of personality to your emails. They also grab attention and can boost click-through and conversion rates if you use them appropriately. In fact, they have been shown to improve email conversion rates by 103%.

It’s actually easier than you might assume to create a customized GIF. There are plenty of free GIF makers available online, for example. You don’t need to know how to code, and you don’t even need to spend any money. Just play around and make sure your GIF is fun-yet-relevant to your audience.

This article asks, "Do visuals affect conversion rates?" This image is a GIF image of a fleece jacket.

Here are some ideas you could try using your first GIF:

  • Provide a quick product demonstration with your GIF.
  • Provide a concise how-to video with your GIF.
  • Go with a brief-yet-informative animated infographic.

Make sure to optimize your GIFs properly, though, as otherwise they will be too heavy for emails. To this end, keep your animated GIFs as close to 1 MB in size as possible and try not to exceed 600 pixels when it comes to the width of your GIFs.

It’s also a smart idea to keep monitoring your analytics, as there are occasions when GIFs won’t improve conversions. Using GIFs to reap maximum reward is just a case of experimenting and performing A/B tests, and seeing when is an appropriate time to use them and when isn’t.

Add images to your CTAs

When you think about it, CTA buttons are usually pretty simple. Many times, the amount of emotion they conjure for readers is either too aggressive or not enough.

If your CTAs are generally text-based, it’s time to experiment a bit by adding images. After all, imaged-based CTAs in emails have a higher conversion rate than simple text links.

Image-based CTAs pack more punch than simple links. They’re more compelling, help to push a few more emotional buttons, and they’re impossible to miss.

Add images to your CTAs to improve the visual effectiveness and conversion rates

All you really need is to ensure the color of your background contrasts nicely with the color of your button. For example, if your background is orange, you could go with a blue CTA button.

Make sure your color choices grab attention, too. If you’re not sure about your color combinations, perform split-tests to see which work best at improving conversions. It might be that simply changing blue for purple has a significantly positive impact.

At all times, though, it’s really important that you keep your CTA visuals simple and size them sensibly. Don’t go overboard, and remember to make it look like a CTA button at all times.

UberFlip is a tool that easily helps you create an image-based CTA in just a few minutes.

Consistent branding

Branding is what people recognize, and it’s this sense of familiarity that can keep a reader engaged with your emails. Over time, it also establishes trust, and it also shows professionalism.

This is your brand and who you are.

And visuals play a big role in branding.

Brand-specific images, like this one from a Monkl email, are perfect for improving conversion rates through email

This is why having email brand guidelines is important. Brand guidelines will let every team member know what font, image styles, header size and logo placements should be used when and where. In fact, marketers who describe their email programs as successful are 27% more likely to have brand guidelines for emails.

In some ways, your logo represents the face of your brand. This is why it’s a really good idea to add your logo to the top of each email you send out. If you haven’t got a company logo yet, or if you think yours needs to be improved, you can use a tool like Hatchful from Shopify.

Pro tip: If collecting emails from your website, the site’s page load speed can’t be slow. And if you want quick speeds, reliable hosting is essential.

We recommend using a hosting provider that comes preinstalled with a WordPress page builder. With a WordPress page builder, you will be able to build the design of your website to match the branding of your email easily.

Be careful with stock photos

While visuals can have a tremendous impact on your conversion rates, they can also bring engagement down if you use the wrong visuals.

A case in point is stock photos. Stock photos can work—but they can also backfire. How? The wrong type of stock photo looks generic and dishonest; it doesn’t represent your brand, and the user will know this. Moreover, they’ll know you just pulled the image from a stock photo website, and this shows a lack of care and a lack of personality.

The problem is that stock photos are easy to access for the average online marketer, perhaps the easiest of all images to access. Indeed, 35% of marketers say they use stock photos more than any other type of visual content.

What you need to do is sign up to a reputable stock photo platform, such as Shutterstock, and always go for unique photos that look genuine and natural.

If a stock photo looks and feels artificial to you, it will look and feel the same way to your subscribers.

Add videos

Videos have the potential to boost your email click-through rates by an astonishing 500%.

However, you need to implement videos right because a number of email clients—Outlook and Gmail included—won’t let your subscribers play your videos inside their emails.

To overcome this issue, add a play button over an image of your video. The play “button” should then take the viewer to YouTube (or your website), where they can actually watch the video for real.

Other than that minor wrangle, here are a few ways you can use videos to boost your email conversion rates:

Show behind-the-scenes footage

It seems that every business is giving its consumers a glimpse behind the scenes, and for good reason. Behind-the-scenes footage can help to build trust between you and your audience, as well as promote openness and transparency.

Create personalized video messages

This one might take a bit of time and effort on your part, but since when was time and effort a bad thing? After all, personalized videos in emails have been shown to increase conversion rates by 500%.

Take a look at this example from Nike, who created personalized video messages that they sent out to their subscribers. The videos celebrated its customers’ achievements and went a long way to cementing their already awesome relationship with them.

This screenshot from a Nike video ad is a perfect example of how images can help you boost your conversion rates through email

Source: Marketing Land

All you need to do is segment your list, gather together personalized user data, and tailor personalized content to thank your customers for their continued support.

Promote a social cause

It’s no secret that millennials warm to brands who fight for the same social causes that interest them personally. A cool idea might be to create a short video that raises awareness of a cause that’s close to your heart.

Create a tutorial

By creating a tutorial, you’re positioning yourself as an expert in your niche; You’re educating your audience and providing value, and you’re also improving the bond between you and your subscribers.

Add charts, graphics, and infographics

Charts, graphics, and infographics are awesome visuals that boost engagement with your subscribers. They make it easy for your customers to process data, and they’re super attractive (if executed well). In fact, over 41.5% of marketers said that original graphics, such as infographics, performed best.

Moreover, by creating charts, graphics, and infographics, you’re adding more credibility to your posts and brand, and you’re strengthening your position as the expert in your niche.

You also provide lots of value to your customers. Remember, it’s important you don’t go for the sale with every email you send. By educating your customers, you provide the kind of value that will ensure you stand out from your rivals.

Wrap up

Email marketing is far from dead and continues to be one of the best ways of reaching your customers and building a lasting relationship with them. However, it’s evolved, and it’s important that your email marketing strategy gets onboard with visuals.

Use the tips in this article to craft killer emails that pop. Don’t overdo things, and definitely don’t make your emails too heavy for servers. Instead, keep things simple but cheerful and always remember to add your logo.

 

Headshot of Michelle Deery, copywriter for Heroic Search

Michelle Deery is a freelance copywriter for Heroic Search. She is an email marketing enthusiast and her content has been featured in Entrepreneur magazine. You can find her on LinkedIn or Twitter. Or find her on Gravatar: michelle(at)heroicsearch(dot)com 

 

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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