Archive for May, 2010

In the latest MarketingSherpa Email Marketing Benchmark Report (2010), a survey of email recipients found that only 33% have images turned on by default. That means that 67% – or two-thirds of recipients – don’t.

Many popular email clients and webmail providers block images in emails by default for unknown senders, including Outlook 2007 & 2010, Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail. When emails arrive in a recipient’s inbox with images disabled, they will be presented with an alert which gives them the option to ‘click to download images’ which will activate images for that particular email only. Most clients also have an option to ‘Always display images for this sender’ but how this works varies based on the software and version.

In Outlook 2007 for example, the image download settings are managed in the Trust Centre. Based on the settings in here, Outlook will automatically display images for email senders which have been previously added to the safe list (this may happen if an email is filtered to the junk mail folder then marked as ‘not spam’) or from senders which appear in a users address book.

If image blocking is enabled in Outlook, there is no way for an email sender to over-ride these settings. The first instance of any HTML email from a new sender will have images blocked by default until the user vouches for the sender by either adding them to their safe list or address book.

screenshot outlook

There are some certification services which will enable default image downloading in certain webmail clients however this can be a costly exercise and there’s no guarantees. Instead I would recommend following these steps to minimise the impact of image blocking:

- Make sure there is HTML text and key messages visible in the preview pane, avoid relying on images too heavily and don’t use images for call to actions.

- Use the pre-header of the welcome email to encourage recipients to ‘add to safe sender’. Some people link to a landing page which provides an explanation on how to do this in different email clients e.g.

- Use the pre-header to convey the campaign value proposition which encourages recipients to download images

UPDATE 18/08/2011:  How to get around disabled images (2010 article)

Preview Panes, Image Blocking : another great article on blocked images (also 2010 article)

Preview Panes, Image Blocking

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.

Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.

All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now”.

- J. W. von Goethe

In a Social Media-mad marketplace, newsletters are largely regarded as like so totally 1998.  They’re so not.  Your organisations clients deserve to be the first to know about what’s going on. Many of you will even have a contracted or legal obligation to keep them up to date.  Newsletters can add real value to your clients lives, and to your brand, and are right on the money for many audiences.  Do you want to improve yours?  Or maybe just start doing one, finally?  Here is the first of my top 3 no-brainer ways to make sure the YourCo newsletter is the one your recipient looks forward to, and acts on.  The next 2 will follow over the next week right here at the GetSmart Blog.

#1 – Spy

You should receive the email newsletters from at least 10 other businesses like yours,  from at least three different continents.  This is my number one advised, most obvious, most effective and least used tactic.


It’s likely YourCo has dozens, hundreds or thousands of  ‘twins’ around the world and many of them have Marketing Managers with more experience and bigger budgets than you do.  You are looking for two things.  The world’s best YourCo registration process, and the world’s best YourCo email program.  In a nutshell, you want to be aware of businesses just like yours in Europe, in North America, and in Asia-Pacific, and how they use email marketing in relation to:

  1. What they do that you should be doing
  2. What they do that you should not be doing

You will be looking to offer your readers really useful  regular mandatory sections of content, ‘guest star’ type content, promotions both one off and ongoing, so look out for all of this.


Block out 2 hours in your diary for a solid start. Write a list of your key known competitors and comparable businesses locally and around the world.  Who are the award winners, the ones you aspire to be?

Next, write out search terms that describe your business – i.e. ‘modern art museum’. Register a webmail account for the purpose, and note the login details so you can pass them on if you need to, as this is research on behalf of your role ( not you.

Power up, and start by searching for the businesses you know/admire/relate to.


Follow their registration process for email news.  Make notes about what you like and what you don’t.  Is it easy to find the registration form?   Is it in several places on the website?
Does it make you feel wanted/safe/special?  Does it clearly describe expectations and the benefits of joining? Do they ask too much or not enough information? Do they ask you to ‘submit’ or is the button labeled a more user friendly ‘join’ or ‘go’? Do they offer ‘preferences’ so you can pick your own areas of interest, frequency etc.? Do you receive an attractive and clever welcome email?


As the emails start to come in make a note of what works for you and what doesn’t it.  Make a list of things to check against.  Get your colleagues to rate them too.  What works for YourCo in tone, content, relevance, personalisation?  Which ones would you refer to others?  Why?

Screen & Purge

Keep an eye on which emails are helping you out and which are just a distraction. When you realise your are receiving something that is a total waste of time, then unsubscribe from it, noting the unsubscribe process too.  Is it easy?  Trustworthy?  Pleasant?  What might you like to use from the way it worked?

I doubt I need to do this but anyway: Let me disclaim here.  I’m not suggesting you plagerise, copy, rip off, or mirror other’s work.  Rather, spying is a great way to learn from others and apply the best of what you see to your own communications.  You can use spying to travel the world, do a competitive analysis and bring to YourCo’s customers the best or the rest.

Repeat this process every 6-12 months making sure you have the best, including newcomers.

Remember to keep it doable.  Get the basics right then review the whole inbox again when you have a particular idea to implement, such as a seasonal promotion, a list growth goal, or a competition to launch.

So that’s the 1st of this series of 3, the next 2 are on their way over the coming week.

Until then, comments always welcomed.