Over the course of my email marketing career, I’ve made a case for the inclusion of visual elements in emails. Email without a pretty picture seems like a wall of insurmountable text that most busy readers would quickly discard - making images seem like a likely way to reach out and get attention. In most types of marketing, this is certainly the case. However, recent research and experimentation has re-opened that rusty attic door: The text-only email. Why on Earth would you send a plain-text email through l my emaimarketing provider? Good question.
Because, my friends, 109 million Americans use smartphones. Anywhere from 20-50% of your readers are likely using a smartphone to check email. If you don’t know by now, that image will be turned off in most email providers. A reader has to to click “allow images” in order to see your image. Are you going to do that on your smartphone? Maybe, maybe not. What does a reader stand to gain by waiting 30 seconds for the images in your email to load while they are boarding the airplane, walking to their hair appointment, or slurping a coffee on their way to the office?
Pictures definitely have their place in marketing, but its place in email marketing is getting wedged out by the busy lives of our readers and the increase of mobile phone email checking makes it nearly impossible to hold the attention of your reader for more than a few seconds. The best game plan with limited time is to create a single focus in your email, deliver a strong call to action and catch their attention before they go back to the engaging task of uploading their dinner contents to Facebook.
P.S. If you want to know for sure how many people are reading your emails on a smartphone, review your reports. Each email report breaks down the method your readers use to check their email, including smartphones.