This past holiday, my 8-year-old daughter proudly created her own holiday cards full of crayon art, sparkles, and other fantastic creativity.

Each card was sealed in its own custom envelope and her mother gave her a list of addresses and stamps so she could even send them off herself.

A few weeks after this project, a family friend called to tell me that he and his family got the custom envelope, but sadly there was nothing inside. Apparently in her excitement, one envelope was sent off without the contents. All of her hard work was for not because the card’s recipient never got to see it.

In a way, it’s possible to do this same act (sending a blank message) when sending an email.

One subject that comes up in the Boot Camp email marketing class that I teach is the importance of images in emails. Images tell the recipient a lot about the contents of your email. Images are also often clicked on by recipients and can be a fantastic way to drive traffic to a website.

But while using images in your newsletters and announcements is important, it also comes with some dangers you’ll want to avoid.

When sending through Constant Contact and using images in an email, your images are shown using a design language called HTML.

One constraint to having an image show up this way is that the image can often be blocked. Email providers do this to protect against images that could contain harmful viruses or malware. Instead of showing images right away, they will ask the recipient to verify that they trust the sender and then click to download.

This can cause a major roadblock, especially for people who use a single image for their entire email.

Often, a graphic designer will create a beautiful email as a graphic that contains sales info, event details, hours, directions, price points, etc. The entire email is an image. This is dangerous because that email might show up as a big white square with a small red X in it. No sales info, no price point, just a blank box. Most recipients wouldn’t bother downloading the image as there isn’t much incentive for them to do so.

As a result, the beautiful email you just spent so much time creating ends up looking completely blank, much like the empty envelope our friends received from our daughter!

This is why it’s important to use a mix of text and images.

By including both text and images within your next email, you’ll not only improve your chances of getting your message in front of the right people, but you’ll also have more people paying attention to the content you’re sending out.

For people who aren’t going to take the time to download your images, they’ll still have the chance to get the information they need to take action. And for people who may have been unwilling to click to download your images in the past, being able to see your content right away could be what they need to take that next step.

A happy ending for all

Fortunately for my daughter, she was able to see our friends and give her special card in person. She was rewarded with a very nice hug from a good friend and is starting her new year with a smile.

Remember to use a mix of images and text in your upcoming newsletters and announcements and you’ll be well on your way to better email marketing results in 2014.

Constant Contact Boot Camp: Constant Contact offers a wide range of beginner and advanced hands-on, in-person Boot Camp classes that teach small businesses and nonprofits how to be successful at email and social media marketing, as well as event management. Our nation-wide Boot Camp trainers are some of the best in the field.

Find a Constant Contact Boot Camp near you!