Alt tags: Part one of a three (or four, maybe five) part series.
These two emails arrived in my inbox within about 20 minutes of each other. They're similar at first glance. Almost identical, really. Both are very image heavy, both came from brand name clothing retailers, both include simple calls to action, both drive traffic to an online store, on and on I could go. This time I took a look 'under the hood' to see how these two email marketing teams prepared their campaigns for the all-too-common scenario of images being blocked.
The Gap team (left) coded their html with a backup plan, since about half of the email programs out there don't display images by default. That backup plan is known to the html-savvy as the alt tag – the alternate text that shows when the images don't load. For a visual, peek at the screen shots to see how the message of free shipping still comes through, even when the images don't.
Next time you create a campaign, be sure to think about your own backup plan. The general rule is to set an alt tag for all of your images. Sound complicated and technical? It's not at all. We've made it easy by offering to 'add a description' each time you upload an image into your campaign. (If you're working with an html designer, they'll add the alt tag before uploading the code your Emma account.)
Last, but not least, don't forget to test the email and see the alt tags in action. A simple preference tweak in your email client of choice should let you see the test email with the images blocked.
One note to Outlook users: Outlook has a default text that overrides these tags. You'll see a note about clicking to download images.