Why images don’t show in e-mails
Posted by the markITeer on May 22, 2007
Ever wondered why you receive all your emails without the images?
If you’re using MS Outlook, Google Mail, Windows Live Hotmail or any of the quadrillion other email readers that suppress images, chances are you did.
The reason behind this phenomenon is to protect you against spammers: By using the images in (HTML) e-mails, spammers can figure out if your email address is valid!
So how does it work?
When sending out HTML e-mails (ie emails containing layout code, images etc.), only the text and layout are sent while the images are kept on a web server. Only when the recipient opens the email and requests to see the images, the images are loaded from the web server.
This has the advantage that images must only be sent to people requesting to see them, and the requests are spread over time, thus optimizing the bandwith usage. But more important: when the images are requested from the web server, the request can be logged! This way the sender knows which email addresses have requested the images, and hence which email addresses are valid!
In a nice picture this is what happens:
This system is used by spammers as well as legitimate email marketeers: Spammers use it to identify which email addresses are valid so they know which addresses they can use again (and again and again… ), while self-respecting email marketeers use it to calculate their open rates.
But in the heat of the spam battle, email marketeers had to give in and images were suppressed by all major email applications, resulting in much less trusty open rates (and email marketeer’s headaches)…
There are however a few things email marketeers can do to deal with the issue:
- try to get listed in the address book of the recipient. Senders who are in the address book are automatically ‘white-listed’ and the images will always show!
- add a ‘view email online’ link to an online version of the email
- include alt tags for your images describing your images
- use text-based ads
- focus on click-through rates and conversion rates
for more tips: check out the EmailGarage website