Image Alt Tags and Email Clients – Email Thursday



We’ve all received an email message where the images have been blocked. You’re certainly familiar with this if you use Microsoft Outlook as your email client. Now each email client will handle blocked images differently and, as you can see from the above example, Gmail treats blocked images very differently than Outlook does. Let’s take a look.

Although it doesn’t look as “blocked” as the Outlook message, the first email rendered in Gmail is in fact blocking the images. What you’re seeing is the alt text for the image. Since the alt text is nice and clear, the lack of image rendering does not negatively affect the impact of the overall message. In addition, even though the image is blocked, it is still a clickable link. In fact, by doing it this way, the sender has guaranteed that the idea and call-to-action behind the email will come through loud and clear, even if the images never appear. In contrast, the blocked images in Outlook prevent the user from knowing what the intent or message of the image is as well as masking the call-to-action. If you look closely, you can see the alt text underneath the outlook message telling you that the images have been blocked. Because of this, the user is less likely to see the alt text because, let’s be honest here, most users are not likely to read the blocked image message in detail for every blocked image. Thus, the alt text is overlooked and the user simply sees a system message.

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When constructing an HTML email, it is of paramount importance that you include alt text in your images. This is an email best practice and should be implemented across the board. Neglecting this small task can result in your message not getting across to the user which, worst case scenario, can mean that you’ve wasted money on the send or even lost a potential sale or damaged a budding relationship with the user. Sure, these are extreme examples, but you should never underestimate the effect of skipping a major component of HTML emails.

We offer Optimized Lifecycle E-mail Marketing as a service to clients who are looking for a way to get a lot more revenue from their e-mail approach. We’ll show you how it works if you’d like – just give us a call at 800-504-4324.

Thank you for listening – have a wonderful E-mail Thursday!