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10 Tips for Creating Stunning Email Graphics (+3 Platforms)

Saffa Faisal

Ever went to the mall, and this one display item made you stop and stare? 

That is exactly how you want your subscribers to act when they open your email. Well-designed email graphics are an absolute necessity for capturing your audiences’ attention and converting them. 

Including graphics in emails makes perfect since 90% of information sent to the brain is visual. 

But not every visual element will work. In a world dominated by Instagram and Pinterest, wonky-looking graphics are just plain cringey. In this article, we explain 10 tips for creating high-performing email graphics and mention some platforms where you can design them smoothly. 

What Exactly are Email Graphics? 

In simple words, graphics are anything that can be represented visually. In emails, graphics include the following: 

  • Static images. 
  • Animated images or GIFs.
  • Videos. 
  • Interactive content, like carousels and rollovers. 
  • Dynamic content.  

Why are Email Graphics Important? 

5 reasons why email graphics are important

Email graphics are like garlic bread with tomato soup, cookies with afternoon tea, and ketchup with fries - they make everything better. 

If you’re questioning using graphics in emails, the following benefits will make you a convert. 

Traps reader attention

The average person spends less than 14 seconds reading an email. Well, you can’t blame them as most emails are just plain boring. 

When the first thing your recipient sees is long paragraphs when they open an email, congratulations, you’ve scared them away. When you add visuals in emails, you not only capture their attention from the get-go but maintain it long enough for them to read the entire email - breaking the 14-second habit. 

Helps in understanding 

Consider email graphics as a secret tool to explaining your message when words fail you. Not only that, but people resort to visual communication when they’re unable to understand a message.

As per research, more than 64% of millennials understand messages faster when communicated graphically. Surprisingly, 58% of them retain information longer if it is shown through visuals. 

Makes emails scannable 

Did you know that 80% of people only scan emails? 

In today’s busy lifestyle, you can’t expect your audience to give undivided attention to each email they receive. They scan to look for the main message and then decide whether to follow through on the call to action or not. 

Graphics naturally section out content, so it’s easy to scan. In some cases, they provide a pictorial representation of the content written so recipients can get an idea of what the email is about by looking at the graphics. 

Boosts engagement 

Email graphics increase subscriber engagement

Email graphics are synonymous with increased engagement. Since they’re attention-grabbing, they encourage readers to engage with the emails sent. In fact, 66% of marketers have witnessed greater engagement after including interactive content in their emails. 

Creates personalization

Talk to any marketer, and they’d vouch for personalizing emails. But while you’re customizing subject lines, preheaders, and email copy, don’t forget to personalize the design as well. 

By including dynamic content in emails, you’re showing targeted content to different segments without having to create multiple emails. For instance, if you’re an apparel brand that targets all genders, dynamic content will show those clothing items that are meant for that specific sex.  

10 Tips for Creating Stunning Email Graphics That Convert

How do I design email graphics that my audience will love? How do I create visuals that don’t increase my email size? How do I ensure brand consistency when designing graphics? 

The tips below answer all your burning questions and unravel insider tricks to begin your journey towards successful visual emails. 

1. Stick to brand identity.

What do Nike, Apple, Coca-Cola, and Vogue have in common? They all have strong brand identities. 

These prominent identities didn’t happen overnight - it took countless labor hours and lots of dollars to create a consistent image across all marketing channels. 

With email graphics, you must consider your brand’s image and personality. For instance, if your brand follows a minimalistic style, muted color palettes should be used along with clean lines and uncluttered elements. You can also consider adding subtle animations to add motion to your emails without looking too intense. 

The following transactional email from Verve Wine captures the brand’s classic and minimalist brand style perfectly.

Minimalist email example from Verve Wine

2. Optimize the size. 

As a marketer, emails being sent in the spam folder is your worst nightmare. 

Did you know that each email you send gets assigned a spam score? To successfully avoid the spam filter, you must monitor the email graphic size. The heavier the email is visually, the greater the spam score will be; hence, your emails will be flagged as spam. 

Your email’s size should not exceed 1 MB at all costs. Considering this, the total size of visuals in a single email should not be more than 400 KB. 

3. Dimensions matter.

Ideal email graphic dimensions

Dimensions of graphics can make or break your email campaign. If the measurements are incorrect, your visual elements will look distorted. 

For the dimensions, anything below or equal to the maximum limit will work. The graphics’ width should not be more than 700px on desktop screens and 350px on mobile devices. The height is flexible but remember, the longer the graphic is, the more your subscribers would have to scroll. Excessively long graphics also make it difficult to comprehend and recall the message being communicated. 

4. Host email graphics online. 

With multimedia elements, there are many ways to include them in your emails. No matter what happens, never attach images or videos. They appear shady and considerably increase the email file size. 

Your best bet is to host images on an external cloud like we do at Unlayer. Not only will this display well always, but it will keep the email light and breezy. 

With Unlayer, all images are hosted on the built-in file storage with Amazon S3. There is ample space to host all your graphics, so there is never a problem with how your email loads. 

5. Use high-quality, custom images. 

What’s the quickest way to lose all credibility as a brand? Use pixelated images in your marketing communications. 

We thought we wouldn’t have to say this in 2021, but please use high-quality images. Poor quality visuals reflect badly on your brand. There is the argument that the greater the quality, the heavier the size will be. But, we’d recommend using a single high-quality image over three poor-quality ones. 

Naturally arises the debate of stock images vs. custom ones. The answer is simple, and that is to use custom images whenever possible. They have been developed specifically for a particular message and will save you from altering the graphics excessively in the future. 

However, if you’re short on time or money, stock images will do the trick. But remember that they don’t include any watermarks or copyrights issues. 

6. Make responsive email graphics. 

According to Adestra, almost 62% of all emails are opened on mobile devices. It makes perfect sense to create responsive email graphics. 

By following the recommended dimensions as stated earlier, you’re good to go. However, it is always suggested to test your emails prior to sending them to gauge the graphics’ responsiveness. You can test through an email marketing software or manually check by sending emails on multiple email accounts. 

7. Add alt text each time. 

Do you add alt, short for alternative, text to all your email graphics? If not, you’re making a big email marketing mistake. 

Alt text provides a textual description of what the graphics entail. Why is it needed? This is mainly because it provides context for the visually impaired and those who have turned their multimedia off by default. 

Make sure to keep alt texts short but meaningful at the same time. The following example will boost your understanding of alt texts better: 

Email graphics must include alt texts

8. Choose the right format. 

When designing email graphics, you must take into account their format. The universally accepted formats are JPEG, PNG, and GIFs. 

JPEG

Images in the JPEG format have a compressed file size but are of the lowest quality. Conversely, they load faster and are less likely to be flagged by the spam filter. JPEGs are best for graphics that do not contain any text in them. 

PNG

Graphics with a PNG format are of the highest quality but are considerably heavy in size. The latter will increase the email file size and might create problems when loading images. PNGs are best for vibrant and sharp images but should not be used excessively in a single email. 

GIF

GIFs are images that consistently loop. They’re a great substitute for videos as some email clients do not fully support them. GIFs in emails work best for not overly vibrant graphics, as GIFs don’t show as many colors as JPEGs or PNGs do. 

9. Select impressive typography. 

Some of the graphics you include will have text in them. This is to give context and reinforce the message further. 

When combining text and graphics together, be careful about the font you use. The text should be legible and must be kept as concise as possible. While we recommend using email safe fonts with emails, you can use any font style that your heart desires - provided it’s easy on the eyes. 

For headings, you can opt for decorative and script fonts to stand out. But for the remaining text, opt for sans serif fonts for readability. 

Bonus Tip - Text should only appear against solid colors; otherwise, your audience will have difficulty figuring out what is written. 

10. Be trendy in design.

When designing email graphics, make sure to follow the latest design trends. By keeping up with what’s happening today, you have a greater chance of resonating with your audience. It also gives the impression that you put extra effort into designing your email graphics. However, ensure that the design trend you follow is consistent with your brand personality. 

Editorial-worthy emails are extremely popular these days, and The Sunday Collective gets it right through its choice of graphics. 

Editorial-worthy emails from The Sunday Collective

3 Platforms that Make Killer Email Graphics

You’ve got all the ingredients to bake the cake, but where do you make it? 

The following platforms will enable you to create the best email graphics your subscribers have ever seen. Which one will you go for? 

Unlayer 

A two in one - Unlayer not only provides a vast collection of readymade HTML email templates but offers a noteworthy inbuilt image editor as well. 

Search from more than a million pictures to select the one most suitable for your campaign. With the image editor, you can add filters, write text, add shapes and stickers, and much more. 

The following image gives a quick teaser of what this feature is capable of: 

In-built image editor from Unlayer

Canva 

A budding startup, Canva offers a drag and drop editor from where you can create impactful email graphics. Choose from its library of elements or upload your own, with Canva, you can design graphics in minutes. 

Canva interface

Visme 

With Visme, you receive thousands of prebuilt templates that you can easily modify. You might also enjoy its library of vectors and images, preset color palettes, and premium fonts.

Visme interface

Conclusion

Email graphics are a sure-shot way for standing out and instantly capturing your audiences’ attention. By following our recommendations, you won’t be making just any email graphics - only those that help in increasing conversions and revenue. 

Happy designing, Picasso. 

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