Make Sure Your Email Marketing is Showing Up

email images fail to loadEmail HTML Newsletter Marketing #Fail

Of the many avenues open to digital marketing and customer communications, newsletters are the bedrock of forging and maintaining a solid relationship. A staple of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) long before digital marketing came along, newsletters are the bread and butter of consumer B-to-C, and are essential for B-to-B outreach.

As soon as the internet broke onto the scene, text only emails quickly became a mainstay of digital content. The text email saw brief improvement when the capabilities grew to include file attachments — a format that persists today — but it wasn’t until the web spread its wings that newsletter formats escaped constraint to flyers, 11×17 brochure sheets, and one color grainy reproductions.

As web site ownership grew, HTML formatting enabled communicators to offer vastly upscaled documents containing crisp graphics and multi-page copy content. Broadband, remote hosting of graphics, and HTML styling were the game changers that combined to transform how we communicate.

Email Newsletters Aren’t Displaying Images

Which brings us to what could go wrong. Have you ever clicked open a subscribed email – I use Apple Mail, but other email clients like Outlook are also affected – and found those email newsletters aren’t displaying images? That the images that form the heart and soul of structured email content aren’t loading? In the HTML above, each blue square with a question mark is saying out loud there’s nothing to see here, move along.

It takes only a second to see that, by and large, the message most likely originated from Constant Contact, and to then realize that the problem for marketeers using the popular service based on the need to deliver basic formatted HTML only to have their best efforts delivered with images missing is chronic, and what’s worse, unknown to the client.

This is a known issue within Constant Contact. For many senders using their service, the failure to deliver the JPGs, GIFs, and PNGs that are a newsletter’s visual heart and soul is usually thought to be a faulty server setup at Amazon Web Services (AWS). Users who are just trying to communicate with their public in the easiest way possible are probably unaware of the problem.

And for many, it’s an expensive problem. If you’re one of Constant Contact’s many HTML email distribution service clients who only use images without copy as the sole content for their emails, you’ve got no idea what the recipient can’t see, and they have no idea what you’re trying to say.

These illustrations and photographs often represent the lion’s share of creative spend on the dollars and cents side; original illustration, subscription stock, or assignment photography bound together with graphic design. When missing, it means recipients aren’t seeing the coupons, special offers, or rich visual imagery senders have billed to their creative budgets.

Constant Contact Often Fails to Deliver

If as a recipient this has happened to you, maybe you’ve just ignored the problem. But if you’ve Googled for a solution, eventually you’ll discover that Constant Contact admits to having problems serving images as part of their HTML newsletter distribution service.

Constant Contact's response to inquiries about missing email imagesTheir answer to the multiple requests for a remedy is that they’re working on a solution, one they’ve not been able to solve for months, perhaps years, and that’s where it ends.

The problem of an image not found – in my experience, only Constant Contact – is typically compounded by the lack of an absolutely essential “if you can’t see images view open this newsletter in your browser” link, followed by alternate text – also an accessibility issue – that’s also missing. For senders, it’s no small matter:

“Having the same issue for the last month. I have called different customers and checked this across multiple browsers and operating systems. It is not a setting on my computer as it is universal. When I click on preview my emails it is restricting the images as well. What has happened and can someone please elevate this. My email campaigns are about 90% of our revenue. Without them I am going to lose hundreds of thousands in sales. I can’t sit and let that happen so I will need to jump from Constant contact.”

Here’s Help Finding Alternatives

The obvious solution is for Constant Contact to clean up an issue that likely originates with how their servers are set up, how their <HREF> and <img source = ” “> links are coded, or a combination of the above. It shouldn’t be a heavy lift, yet whatever efforts that have been expended have failed. Advice from Constant Contact is usually split between advising clients to whitelist the URLs above, and making sure your email client is set to allow images to load, followed by a reboot. Well, those don’t solve this problem.

Fortunately, emailing HTML formatted content is a well established practice that is easily accomplished by numerous other service vendors, including industry leader MailChimp, mailerLite, MailMunch, Campaigner, Active Campaign, and GetResponse, to name a few. There’s even a website to help find a service that’s right for your individual needs.