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Embedded Images: Fewer Opens but Better Results?
Question: Would it be better to use embedded images rather than linked images in HTML email marketing? Does embedding images increase the likelihood the images will display even if the email client is blocking images by default? People are more likely to act on emails when my images display right away, rather than having to download blocked images. I read that email deliverability was lower on messages with embedded images, but I wonder if the benefit of getting my emails opened with images outweighs the delivery challenges. What do you think?
Answer: Very tough question! First, some background before we answer.

Embedded images include attachments with the HTML and display a paper-clip icon in many email clients. Because of virus concerns, many email recipients will delete your message without opening it, fearing you may have sent a corrupted message, and some might route your message to their bulk folders.

Because of the email deliverability challenges, we recommend linking to hosted images over embedding images. We haven’t seen any studies that indicate that embedding graphics causes them to display in clients that block images, nor have we tested embedded images vs. linked images ourselves to see if they render differently. So, we can't be certain that embedding will even increase the number of people who will see your message with images displayed.

It’s also important to remember that opening the message doesn't depend on images loading. It comes when recipients recognize your sender address and see a compelling subject line. The action the recipient takes, however, depends heavily on how the email renders.

This is why we stress using images to support copy rather than replace copy, leveraging alt tags to explain what is not seen when images are turned off, providing links to view the message online, and other design tactics to encourage readers to display images.

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