Another one of those days at the office, tough, boring and tiring. Not exactly what you want, but they do exist. In addition, there are countless emails to deal with, each one more frustrating than the last, literally torture. But then it happens … BOOM … all of a sudden you are awakened from your half-sleep, your curiosity and interest are aroused and life returns to your almost lifeless body!

You are now asking yourself …WHY? Why has the life energy returned and what exactly has changed the situation so abruptly and immediately?

The answer to this question is as surprising as it is plausible! …Visuals! A spectacular, colorful feast for the eyes, an eye-catcher that suddenly captures your attention and causes an explosion of emotions. A short journey into another world and definitely a break from the monotony of gray everyday life, fruitless tasks and tedious documents. This may seem like an exaggeration, but visuals can easily have a huge impact on the state of mind, whether in emails, social media or instant messaging.

Joy can be shared – and communicated. So let’s take a closer look at the role visuals play in this and how they can be used optimally in email marketing.

Visuals – A Definition

Despite all the euphoria, let’s first take a very objective look at what we are actually talking about.

Definitions are popular and give us a clear orientation and a common starting point. So what are these “visuals”?

They are visual elements, i.e. elements that are perceived by sight. Visuals include a broad range of formats, including images, graphics, videos, animations and other visual media. As different as these forms are, so varied are the applications, requirements or intentions behind them.

These elements or content can be used to communicate information, ideas or even messages without long texts, although text can be included. They help to attract the viewer’s attention, make complex issues understandable and are an important means of evoking emotional reactions.

Email Marketing – No limits to the Possibilities

Whether it’s the imaginative design of creatures or minimalist graphics that present an issue in an amusing way, visuals are there to entertain and inspire. They make us pay attention, they distract us, they move us. And if they really inspire us, we don’t hesitate to share them with friends, family or colleagues.

If we look specifically at email marketing and the use of visuals, there are also many possible objectives and therefore motives. Let’s look at a few examples to illustrate this.

  1. Personalization: Personalization of emails is an important topic and familiar to every email marketer. This does not stop at the visuals and so suitable motifs should always be selected for the relevant target group or recipient. For example, a travel agency can use graphics or photos tailored to the interests of the recipient. On the other hand, an online bookseller could use book covers in emails tailored to the customer’s previous purchase or search history.
  2. Emotional response: Psychology is every marketer’s friend, we’ve covered this extensively in past blog articles. Emotions move people and with the right triggers, desired actions or reactions can be triggered. Of course, this can and must also be incorporated into the choice of visuals. For example, an animal protection organization could use images of rescued animals to arouse compassion and call for the desired support.
  3. Call-to-Action: Calls to action can be displayed or emphasized using concise graphics. This gives the request for a specific action much more weight than would be possible with a simple line of text, even if it is displayed in a different color. Let’s think of a call-to-action button in an eye-catching color design in an online store that literally invites the user to click on it. The same of course applies to a CTA to subscribe to a newsletter for a special event. Not only the actual button plays a role here, but also inviting photos of past events that make the reader’s mouth water so that they can hardly wait to take part and sign up today.
  4. Brand identity: Visuals can convey messages, conveying a company’s brand identity can be one of these messages. The written principles of corporate identity are an important basis, but a crucial part of corporate identity is corporate design – the visual identity of a company. This applies not only to the design of the company logo, but also to all forms of communication, such as the homepage, flyers, business cards or even e-mail marketing. Selected colors and design elements are used consistently and form a coherent unit. If a high-tech company uses futuristic visuals, this can represent its innovative strength and emphasize its entrepreneurial orientation.
  5. Communication of information: Imagine the following scenario: the complex analysis of economic data is to be communicated to an audience via email. In pure text form, this is a virtually impossible undertaking, as it is incomprehensible, boring and therefore very difficult for the reader to digest. Infographics, on the other hand, can break up the monotony and present important data in an understandable way. If photographs of the topics addressed are also added, a completely different impression is created and acceptance by the email recipient increases.

Sources for visuals

The use of visuals is therefore very important, but where do you get them from if not steal them?

The most customized solution is certainly in-house creation by an in-house graphics department, although this is the most expensive option.

Purchasing graphic services is another option that can be considered. Platforms such as Fiverr can help you find the right partner for graphics projects.

Visuals free of charge

If you want or need to find a free solution, you can access various websites that provide graphics and photos for download. A wide range and many categories ensure variety, even if not every individual requirement can always be met in its entirety.

You can try your luck with the following providers, to name just a few examples:

  • Freepik
  • Vecteezy
  • Unsplash
  • Pexels
  • Isorepublic
  • Skitterphoto

AI-Graphics Generators

Another interesting and promising option for the future is the use of AI graphics generators, which have been available since 2022 and are developing rapidly in terms of performance. With these, there are virtually no limits to creativity and a suitable graphic or visual can be created for almost any scenario.

Uncomplicated use combined with low costs make them an interesting alternative, which we have already presented in detail in one of our blog articles “AI graphic generators for email marketing”. It is worth taking a look at this article.

The Perfect Visuals for Successful Email Marketing

The use of appropriate visual elements in email marketing is crucial to capturing audience attention and increasing engagement. We live in very fast-paced times and especially in a digital environment, readers are very difficult to captivate. A comparison is often made with the attention span of a goldfish, which according to a Microsoft study is 9 seconds.

It has been concluded that people’s ability to concentrate on something continues to decline in the digital age. From 13 seconds in 2000 to just 8 seconds in 2013. After another decade, the value is likely to be at an even lower level – far below our friend, the goldfish.

So let’s take a look at what the ideal visuals should look like to get the maximum out of the remaining attention.

  1. Relevant images: Make sure that any image you choose is directly related to the content of your email. The image should complement and reinforce the message and not distract from it.
  2. Optimized image or file size: Images that are too large can slow down email load times, which has a negative impact on usability and acceptance. Optimizing all images for web use is highly recommended, ensuring a balance between image quality and file size to ensure fast loading. The files can be optimized accordingly using graphics software, and attention should also be paid to using the correct file format to reduce the file size.
    • JPEG is ideal for photos and complex image files with many colors
    • GIF/PNG is ideal for graphics with few colors, simple color areas and transparency
  3. Authentic images: Use real photos instead of stock images whenever possible to increase authenticity. Real images of your team, products or customers can create a more personal connection with your audience and build credibility and trust.
  4. Alternative text for all graphics: An alternative text should be added for each graphic that is used. This ensures that the recipient understands the context even if the image is not displayed. For example, use a separate “alt text” for each product image that describes the product, not just its name.
  5. Brand consistency / visual branding: As already mentioned, the style and choice of colors should reflect the brand. When selecting any image or graphic, you should therefore check and carefully consider the extent to which the file actually corresponds to the visual branding of the company.
  6. Image placement: The placement of images in your email should be strategic in order to draw the reader’s eye and emphasize the most important messages.
  7. Balancing text and images: The right mix of text and images is crucial to ensure that the message is clear and the email appealing. The ratio of text and images should be balanced; imbalances lead to discomfort for the reader and the overall impression suffers. An email with too many images can quickly come across as unprofessional, while too few graphics risk boredom.
  8. Tests avoid surprises: The use of images is generally a risk factor in terms of correct display on all receiving devices and should always be taken into account. Nowadays, a large proportion of all emails are opened and read on mobile devices. This must already be taken into account when creating the email and has to be tested as well. Furthermore, different email clients react very differently, even if the same input is provided. This can affect, for example, graphics or the appearance of the email in dark mode.

The Science behind a Smile

Smiling and laughing are particularly important for us and the human brain.

Paul Ekman, an American psychologist specializing in non-verbal communication, has studied this topic extensively and has come to the conclusion that there are no fewer than 18 different forms of smiling, whereby up to 15 different facial muscles can be involved.

“Happy Face Advantage”

Compared to other emotional facial expressions, such as negative facial features, smiling has an enormous advantage because the human brain prefers happy faces, as these suggest a positive relationship with the other person. This makes them easier and quicker to recognize than their negative counterpart. This effect is also known as the “happy face advantage” and has been the subject of numerous studies.

Not only smiles are contagious

Everything that is valid in “real life”, for example when two people meet by chance in a park, can also be achieved with photos and images. Looking at a photo of a person laughing heartily will therefore also trigger positive emotions.

This subconscious mechanism runs extremely quickly and automatically. The amygdala, in the core area of the brain, processes all the necessary information. Studies with the help of fMRI scans have shown that the same emotions are triggered in the viewer of photographs as can be seen on the faces depicted, but with less intensity.

The system of “emotional transference” also affects the entire range of emotions, from sadness to fear to joy. This is a remarkable discovery, as it means that a feedback loop exists between two induviduals, completely unconsciously and without effort, in which the brains continuously send and receive a stream of data. This loop is used to synchronize feelings respectively the inner emotional state, or in the case of images, just to receive them.

Emotions for Email Marketing

Psychology plays an important role in email marketing, as we have already discussed in detail in other blog articles [LINK], and marketers can of course also benefit from the effect of “emotional contagion”.

As mentioned above, emotions can also be transmitted via images and photos and this can of course also be used excellently in marketing to achieve the desired effect on the target group.

First and foremost, of course, positive feelings should be triggered. Positive emotions, goodwill and satisfaction can be linked to a product or a brand, for example.

Another example is anger about a situation in order to offer a suitable solution to the problem.

An example of this would be the marketing of alarm systems that build on the feeling of fear and promise a peaceful night’s sleep.


Whether it’s a cat making a comment, a minimalist graphic, an attractive diagram, or a smiling face. All of these elements can make the difference between boredom or engagement for the reader.

Energize your emails, get your message across, make important information easy to understand or simply put a smile on your reader’s face.

One thing is for sure, the possibilities are endless and there’s nothing worse than boring emails. Visuals are the daily dose of joy, make it your business to spread them and enjoy the positive effects for your email campaigns.