The inbox is a busy place. With 281 billion emails being sent and received every day, globally.

This means that email marketers have to fight harder than ever to get noticed.

And no matter how carefully you craft your copy. Sometimes your emails need a punchy visual to really grab attention.

In fact, images have been proven to increase willingness to read content by 80%.

But choosing images for emails can be a daunting task.

How many images should you use? What format should they be in? And where can you find them?

Read on to find answers to all of the above, and more.

Image to text ratio

Let’s begin with one of the classic considerations when it comes to using images in emails.

Image to text ratio.

Simply put, this means the amount of space in the email taken up by images, and by text.

Some marketers give little attention to this important ratio. But getting it wrong can have a big impact on your email results and deliverability.

For instance, spam filters will struggle to identify how relevant your email message is to the recipient if the email contains only images. Increasing the chances of your email ending up in the spam folder.

We recommend a 60/40 split in favour of text, however you may be more likely to pass spam filters if you up this ratio to 70/30. Or even 80/20.

Unfortunately, there’s no ideal ratio that will ensure fantastic results. Instead, it is a case of testing and tweaking as you go.

How to choose the best image for email marketing


As a marketer, you’re probably aware of the variety of formats that images can come in.

However, there are some recommended formats to use in email marketing. Which should narrow your options down slightly.


PNGs offer some of the best image quality available, and can be compressed without having a drastic impact on resolution and quality. PNGs also offer transparent layers, meaning they can be overlayed over other images and content, without looking messy.


GIFs also offer very high quality and a wide range of colours. The primary benefit of GIFs is that they can come in animated format, which is great for showing how a product works, or simply catching the recipient’s eye.


JPEG is commonly used in email, partly due to its image compression capabilities.

That being said, JPEG do not offer as high quality as PNG and GIF, particularly when compressed. So may not do some images justice.


Personalised emails deliver six times higher transnational rates. So any opportunity to add personalisation should be embraced.

And there are a few different ways that you can do this using dynamic images in your emails.

Start simply by adding the recipient’s name in the image, this works particularly well for promotions or anniversary emails.

Or, tailor the images to your recipient’s demographic, such as age, gender, or job role.

And of course don’t forget one of our favourite personalisation tactics – recommended products. This can be based on past purchases, related products, or browsing behaviour. And ensures the images of products are as relevant as possible.

How to choose the best image for email marketing


Images are also a fantastic way to improve your brand awareness. As long as they’re kept consistent.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative with the images you use.

Ensure that you have a full understanding of your brand guidelines. And then tailor the images to your campaign and audience, keeping these guidelines in mind.

Similar to personalisation, you can also tailor the images based on demographics or location, for instance.

To ensure your unique brand style shines through in these images, you can work with a designer – or try getting creative yourself – to add your brand colours, overlay brand patterns and logos, and ensure the crop fits your guidelines.

All of this will ensure an email which is relevant and tailored to your audience. Whilst also re-enforcing your brand.

How to choose the best image for email marketing

Finding the perfect image

All this talk of the perfect image for email is all well and good. But how do you find them?

Brand photography

If you have the budget, brand photography can be the perfect way to develop your own personal gallery of on-brand images that appeal to your different audiences.


If you don’t have the budget for photography, but have a designer to hand, illustration could be the answer. These illustrations can then be added to for specific campaigns and promotions.

Stock imagery

Stock imagery is a great option for finding high-quality images, without the photography or designer budget.

Depending on the license, they can be purchased (or downloaded for free) and edited to fit your brand style and campaign.

User generated content (UGC)

This type of content refers to imagery created by a user, such as photos posted on a social network. You will require their permission to use their images in your marketing. But once that is received, UGC can be really powerful.

How to choose the best image for email marketing

Struggling to find the right images for your emails?

Imagery plays a big part in email engagement, so we understand that you’ll want to get it right.

Why not get in touch to chat about your options and strategy?

Our team of experts have worked with fantastic visual brands such as innocent, Wagamama, and Tetley. So they really know their stuff.

I took this advice from an older Pure360 blog – but let me know if it needs updating:

Let me know if you have issues with this GIF – I can forward the email on directly