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Should you use images in cold email? Yes, and here’s why

lemlist team
LAST UPDATED
June 9, 2024
READING TIME
7 min.

Is it a good idea to add images to your cold email campaigns?

The answer is yes.

We’ve analyzed millions of cold outreach campaigns and found that, to the right audience, images can increase conversion rates and drive sales up.

In this article, you’ll learn why images are effective in cold emails, see real-life examples, get practical tips, and upgrade your outreach using real data.

Should cold emails have images?

Yes, you should be using images in your cold emails. It’s a great way to stand out, add a personalized touch, and increase conversions. In fact, campaigns with images can have as much as a 42% higher click-through-rate than those without them.

Many guides warn against using images. They allegedly distract from your key message or appear unprofessional to prospects.

If this were true, campaigns with images would get lower reply rates than those without.

But when you look at the data, this isn’t the case.

In our analysis, cold emails with 1-2 images in the body text performed just as well as cold emails without images. Reply rates only start to drop when 3 or more pictures were added.

Images don’t only help with replies - they also drive conversions.

When you take a look at the click-through-rates of emails with images, they have a 42% higher CTR than those without.

Why do images give a big boost to your CTR?

The human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text. So when you add the right image to your email, prospects understand your message faster and can act on it sooner.

They’re also more memorable. Studies show that humans remember 10% of what they hear, 20% of what they read, and 80% of what they see.

So, add images to your cold emails to be understood faster and be remembered longer.

Wondering if using emojis has the same effect? See what the data has to say about emojis here.

The risks of including images in cold emails

Nonetheless, there are some downsides to adding images to your cold emails.

Risk #1: Your image may not be seen

Some email providers have a love-hate relationship with images. They block them, meaning your prospects either can’t see the image or have to manually click to open it.

Risk #2: Your image may be poorly formatted

Sometimes images land in prospects’ inboxes scaled incorrectly, rotated, or otherwise formatted wrong. This happens because email providers implement HTML differently.

While these are real risks, the likelihood of them affecting your campaign is small. Most email providers that block images are housed in large companies with strict security systems.

Unless that’s your target prospect, you likely won’t have this problem.

If you are really worried about it, just make sure that the text is clear, sharp, and strong enough to stand out on its own. So if the image doesn’t appear, your message is just as convincing.

Also, don’t use images as banners and footers in your emails. That’s where you’ll have the biggest risk, as they’ll come through like this if blocked:

Only add 1-2 images to your cold email to keep your reply rates up, boost conversions, and minimize the risk of blocked or poorly formatted visuals.

And, of course, A/B test your campaigns with and without images to see which works better for your target audience.

Should cold emails have GIFs?

As opposed to images, GIFs can actually hurt your chances of reaching prospects. GIFs get 16% fewer opens than emails without them. That’s likely because they’re a larger file size, don’t always load correctly, and can be too distracting.

Do images in emails cause spam?

Adding images to your emails won’t necessarily send your messages to spam. This only happens if the email file size is too big - which is rarely the case if you only send 1 or 2 images.

In fact, we tested the open rates of millions of emails with and without images and found that it made no difference in deliverability:

A bar graph with the title "do images in cold emails hurt your deliverability?" The y axis has open rates, and the x axis has three columns: "with images" "no image" and "all emails." All three bars have open rates at 40%

For more information, read the full data analysis of how images affect your cold email deliverability.

Here’s what to do to keep your emails with images out of spam:

  • Keep image size as low as possible, ideally under 50 KB. Use sites like tinyjpg to compress them.
  • Avoid GIFs, as they’re too large and hard to compress.
  • Only use 1-2 images in your email.
  • Use a warmup tool like lemwarm to keep all your emails out of spam.

For a complete guide to email deliverability and landing in your prospects’ inbox, use this deliverability checklist.

How to use images in cold emails

The key to adding images in cold emails is to personalize them to your prospects.

75% of people are more likely to buy from someone who recognizes their name, recommends things based on their profile, and knows their history. Plus, 81% of consumers want brands to get to know them.

So when you add images to your campaigns, make them specific to the prospect. You can do that by adding text and image variables to the visual itself.

Here’s an example.

This email campaign got a 92% open rate and a 32% reply rate.👇

Here’s why this image works:

  • It’s catchy, with a clear call to action
  • It calls out the prospect by name
  • The text communicates the message even if the image doesn’t show up
  • It’s simple and adds to the text, without distracting from it

The personalization worked so well that prospects responded asking for tips. 👇

How to add personalized images to your cold outreach campaigns

If you’d like to get the same results, here are 6 steps to boost conversions with personalized images:

  1. Sign in to app.lemlist.com. (Get your free account here.)
  2. Create a new campaign, or edit an existing one.
  3. Write your email in the “Sequence” tab, and select “add custom image.”

3. Use an existing template or create a new one.

4. From here, you can add images, custom text variables, and custom image variables.

5. Add your image to the email, and voilà! You have a visual element that will be personalized to each of your prospects.

Key takeaways

Adding pictures and images to your cold email campaigns is a powerful technique to get more replies and conversions.

Just keep these tips in mind:

→ Use personalized images that mention prospects' names or reference their profiles for a stronger connection.

→ Increase click-through rates with clickable images that capture attention and convey messages faster.

→ Minimize risks by adding only 1 or 2 compressed images to your cold emails.

→ GIFs can be distracting and reduce open rates, so avoid them.

Ready to use the power of images to get more conversions in your cold email campaigns? You can sign up for your free lemlist account here and start sending personalized emails today.

If you want more tips on how to perfect your cold email campaigns, don’t forget to head over to our most recent masterclass!

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