If you’re like most people, you probably want your emails to look a certain way and you don’t want their appearance to change from device to device. For this reason, it can be tempting to create an email that uses one big image. This way, everything appears perfectly in place. Not so fast. Even though creating your email as one big image might seem like the way to go, it can introduce other issues which we have outlined below.

See the related article Three Common Reasons People Unsubscribe From An Email List.

Below are four reasons to avoid sending an image only email.

Spam Filters

Spammers frequently use Image only emails. Consequently, many spam filters reject emails constructed this way. In addition, image only emails have high bounce rates. (An email bounces when it can’t be delivered.)

Images Turned Off

Some email clients have images turned off by default. AOL and Thunderbird are two examples. Some subscribers will have images turned off by choice. (According to Limtus.com, 43% of Gmail users read email without turning images on.) In both of these cases, when the person receives your image only email they won’t see your message.

Below is a screenshot of an image only email from Best Western that I received. Images are turned off in my email settings.

Example of an image only email viewed with images off

Not very nice. Not compelling. And really, kind of annoying.
Here is what the sender intended the email to look like.

Example of an image only email viewed with images on

Long Download Time

Emails with too many images or large images can take a long time to download. (This will depend on the user’s internet connection.) This can be annoying, and for mobile-users with data limits, it can get expensive, too.

The Layout Should Be Fluid

Many graphic designers get their start in the print world where layouts are static. Those who do often build beautiful, but ineffective, marketing emails that are a single image. What many people don’t realize is that building an email as a single image is a problem.

Designing for the web is different than designing for print. One difference is that a printed page does not change its size or shape, yet a digital document such as an email must. People access the web on a variety of devices and that means that the size of their page – their screen – is unpredictable. The email designer doesn’t know if this email will be viewed on a smart phone, an ipod, an iPad or a desktop computer.

Those looking at the email on a smart phone will have to zoom in and out, swipe left and right, just to be able to read the email. This is not acceptable. Web pages and emails should work well regardless of the size of the screen that they are being viewed on. A fluid layout makes this possible, but single image emails are not fluid. Instead, we recommend using a mobile-friendly email template. Doing this means that the email will work equally well on all devices, regardless of the screen size.


If you’d like help building or managing your email marketing, contact us by calling (518) 392-0846 or email [email protected]. Finally, learn more about our email marketing services by visiting this page of our website.

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