I’m sure you’ve read somewhere on the web that putting personalized visuals into cold email copy is the next big thing in email outreach. There are a lot of case studies that vouch for their effectiveness in increasing reply rates. Even here at Woodpecker blog, we have a guest post about including GIF into B2B emails. But is it worth the effort? What could go wrong? How to do that? Let’s see.
Should we embed an image/video into the email body?
Putting visuals into email is, undeniably, an interesting trend. After all, our prospects can clearly see that we are trying to differentiate ourselves from the rest, and in turn, we become more memorable. Plus, some of us aren’t that good with words to write a persuasive email copy.
As far as I know, our team runs some tests about the effectiveness of placing a personalized video in one of the follow-up emails to report its effectiveness. Let me know in the comments if you want a case study out of that.
Even so, we stick to our guns and still believe that cold emails should be as simple as possible because it’s meant to start a conversation. You’re writing a personal message to a personal inbox. And nothing breeds trust as much as simplicity. The graphics and attachments are only a distraction from the purpose of an email: a positive reply from your prospect.
Somewhere in our blog, Matt writes:
The email should be a simple, plain text message, without fancy graphics and frills. It should be a personal message, not a leaflet including your company offer.
If you’re sure that a video or an image will showcase your personality more than a text email, do try it. Nevertheless, it might be a risky strategy. Why? Because an image/video that we put in our email copy may not be visible for all email providers or may scale strangely.
What happens to an embedded image inside the email?
Now we know that there are two situations in which your strategy of putting an image inside the email could go wrong. It’s either that your prospects cannot see it or the image doesn’t scale well.
Your prospects can’t see the image
Some email providers block displaying external images to their users by default.
They do that because putting an image inside an email is a well-known spammy tactic. Some spammers used to send you an image to load your IP address or cookie information, or to spread harmful software.
When your prospects use an email client that prevents images from being shown, those prospects have to manually unblock that feature to see the image. If they don’t do that, they can’t see anything. In turn, your message loses its power.
According to Litmus (see the article), Outlook, AOL Mail, Yahoo! Mail, block images by default. So does a few operating systems on mobile phones, such as Windows, Android 4.x, BlackBerry, or phone apps, like Yahoo, AOL Mail, etc.
Your prospects see a strangely scaled image
Additionally, even if an email host shows the image/video, it can change its original proportions, or rotate the image. And if your image is an integral part of your message, you appear unprofessional and spammy.
Your image scales oddly because various email providers interpret the HTML code differently. Some email providers do not support the embedded styles (for instance, Outlook). Moreover, if an email client encounters an error, it removes your entire <style> block. That’s a risk I don’t know you want to take.
What about putting a video in the email body?
When it comes to an embedded video, it’s rather risky. Only Apple Mail, Outlook for Mac, iOS, some Android built-in email, and Thunderbird support video display (source). Also, very large messages can be clipped by an email client.
Instead of embedding your video into the email body, try putting a static image (a screenshot from the video) and superimpose a play button over it. Prospects click on the image and they’re taken to a landing page where the video is hosted. Set the video to autoplay, so that recipients only have to click ‘play’ once.
Still, I want to put image or video in my B2B email
If you feel strongly about the phrase ‘a picture says a thousand words’, and won’t resign from the idea, you still can put an image or a video inside of your cold email. But you need to prepare yourself for a lot of testing and some HTML knowledge.
Make sure a message is clear without image/video
A video or an image should be an added touch to your email; not a core of your message. Prospects should understand the purpose of your email and the value you give without seeing the visuals. So write a convincing copy and treat an image/video as an emphasis on what you’re trying to communicate.
Test your email copy
It’s better to set up a free account at as many email hosts you can, send your email copy and see whether the image/video looks all right. You can also read our help article about different ways of adding an image into Woodpecker >>
Fortunately, I found a tool that lets you test your email, PutsMail. It’s designed for marketing emails but why not to check your cold email with it?
Just paste the HTML code of your message and send it to your test accounts.
Are you going to give this trend a go? Or maybe you already did. What were your results?