“Can I just design my email outside of Constant Contact, bring the image into your editor, and use that as my template?”

That’s a question I got a lot recently as I spoke with small business owners and entrepreneurs at the Constant Contact booth during the New York Business Expo and Conference in New York City. The short answer to this question is “yes,” but the best practice answer is “no.”

This is why: If you design your email in this way—using software like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop—you’re going to save it as an image, and insert that image into one of our template boxes. Your image is doing the talking for you, and that’s a bad idea because a good portion of your list might not see it.

According to MarketingSherpa, more than 80% of business email users and more than 50% of consumers use the preview pane to view emails, and 67% of people who use preview panes don’t have images turned on by default.

Here’s an example of an email that was designed in Photoshop, saved as an image, and inserted into Constant Contact:

Here’s what happens when that email lands in an inbox of a recipient with images turned off:

That email you worked so hard on will appear as a red X in the preview pane, and that starts to affect your open rate. Your recipients might ignore it, delete it, or mark it as spam.

By using an image-as-email, you’re also not able to engage with your customers and offer them different ways to interact with you—there’s no links to your website, more information about you, your social media sites or videos. Using a Constant Contact template allows you to take advantage of all of those marketing tools.

Here’s that same email built with a Constant Contact template with images turned on:

And here it is again with images turned off:

When you design your email with a template, use text to ensure that your recipients will engage with your content, whether their images are turned on or off.

  1. Use the top of your email wisely. That means coming up with an interesting subject line, making sure your business name is visible in the subject line or from name, and using your most engaging content as your first article.
  2. Make your images clickable links—the text link shows up if the image doesn’t. Constant Contact’s image editor lets you add a URL to each image, as well as an image description. When images are blocked, the description becomes a link. Link your logo to your business name and website, and link each image to something of value to your readers. Plus, you can track the number of clickthroughs with Constant Contact email reporting.
  3. If you add a video link, include a URL and description, and the word “video” so readers know there is multimedia in your email. Video links get a lot of clickthroughs because watching video is the top activity of Internet users.
  4. Use a quick links block to provide additional information. Or try a “Table of Contents” block to link to your other articles, so your readers will know what’s in the rest of your email without having to scroll.

When you know better you do better

To quote the great poet and author, Maya Angelou, “When you know better you do better.” So, if you’re currently using or thinking about using an image as your next email—you might want to rethink this strategy.

To get the maximum benefit from your email marketing, start with an email template and add some quality content your readers can really grab on to. Then, sit back and watch your email open and clickthrough rates soar.

Ready to dive into Constant Contact templates? There are more than 400 templates designed for multiple industries and communication types. Check out some inspirational examples on our Facebook Page.