Why the ALT Tag is Important and Yet Foolishly Ignored

First, let’s see what the ALT tag (or attribute) actually is in relation to an email campaign.

The “ALT attribute” specifies alternate text for an image if the image cannot be displayed. It describes what the image is for people who have not loaded images in their email client.

ALT tags can also be read aloud to visually-impaired users on a screen reader. If no ALT tags are provided, then a screen reader would only be able to say “IMAGE” or perhaps provide a file name.

Many people, either by email client defaults or personal preference, are blocking images in the HTML-formatted messages they are accepting. According to a 2009 study, only 48% of email recipients see images automatically. It’s logical for recipients to block images but good practice for you to prepare for this scenario when creating campaigns.

Why Should You Care?

We still see campaigns go out without ALT tags on images (insert sad face here) even though the option is present to add one. It can also make a difference to your bottom line as more opens with images might mean more click-throughs to your website.

You want subscribers to load images to not only see your campaign as you intended but to record an “open” in your reports. If images are not loaded, our system will not know a campaign has been opened and your results will be skewed downwards.[bar_graphs]

[bar_graph title=”Open rate with no ALT tags” percent=”40″][/bar_graph]

[bar_graph title=”Open rate with great ALT tags” percent=”60″][/bar_graph]


That’s The Way To Do It!

See some well-written ALT tags in this client campaign.

Adding ALT tag

Luckily For You, It’s Not Too Late…

Adding ALT tag indicatorThe option to add an ALT tag area is already present in your editor after you upload an image (see right).

With it, you can not only add a suitable description but a link to a web page. We highly recommended using the same link as your headline as people tend to be “clicky” (or “tappy” is an iOS device).

You can upload most image types:

[checklist type=”eg. checked, dotted, arrowed”]

  • JPEGs
  • GIFs
  • PNGs


It’s there. You just have to use it.

It’s natural and reasonable why people disable them, but with the right approach, you can improve the experience for your subscribers.

Paul Mycroft

Having emigrated from south London, England, Paul has moved between cities in North America, building a loyal following since starting the business back in 2002. Many US and Canadian clients are with him today who were there from day one.