We have been noticing a trend over the past few months of wineries wanting to improve upon the look of their e-mails. We love this. After all, a smartly designed and well crafted newsletter can move more product than any other online marketing initiative.

And, while we know that text-only e-mails are still the most effective, branding is important to every winery, and e-mail is a strong tool to use for branding purposes.

This is why, when we create e-mails for our clients, there is a balance of both branding graphics and text.

Examples of e-mails we send - full or pretty graphics AND text.

Examples of e-mails we send – branding graphics AND text.

However, we have definitely been seeing an increase in image-only e-mails over the past few months. They are beautiful. The branding is solid. The wine is gorgeous. And, if these e-mails were anywhere near as effective as graphic/text e-mails, we’d start using them immediately. But they aren’t, so we don’t.

There is no shortage of articles that explain why your e-mails shouldn’t be image-only. Generally, the biggest reason businesses should avoid using image-only e-mails is because they aren’t mobile-friendly. I can’t speak for all businesses, or all wineries, but, I can tell you that, of those opening our clients’ e-mails, 60%+ of them are doing so from a mobile-device. Which means, if we send out image-only e-mails, 60%+ of people receiving them can’t easily read them – which means most won’t read them.

This is how big this image-only e-mail would appear on your iPhone.  Pretty challenging to read.  Although the biggest crime here is that they forget to name the newly rated wines then drop you into the store's front page when you click "Shop". People have no idea what they are looking for.

This is how big this image-only e-mail would appear on your iPhone. Pretty challenging to read. Although the biggest crime here is that they forget to name the newly rated wines then drop you into the store’s front page when you click “Shop”. People are lost.

There are many more study-backed arguments against image-only e-mails, ranging from getting stuck in SPAM filters to making customers feel marketed to, however, our reasons for being anti-image-only e-mail is due to our own unscientific study, done just this past year.

Believe it or not, we have clients who go against our years of e-mail marketing wisdom (shocking, I know! 😉 ). We are here to consult and we here to serve. So, when a client asks for us to do something, we share our thoughts, then we do as they ask. And, on two occasions we were asked to send image-only e-mails designed by their graphic designers.

One image-only e-mail was an invitation to a great event in wine country. A GREAT event. One of the best we’ve ever seen out there. There was space for 24 people. The image-only e-mail got 4 reservations. Four. We followed up a week later with an e-mail that contained smaller images pulled from the graphic designer’s e-mail combined with copy we wrote, and we filled the rest of the seats.

This past holiday season one of our winery clients offered gift packs. The image-only e-mail sold five such packs. A week later we followed up with a text/image combo and sold 40. Forty.

Again, we love how image-only e-mails look. We understand the draw. But, the technology simply isn’t there yet to serve them up correctly, and your audience isn’t ready to embrace them. When both the technology and audience are there, we will be the first to let you know.

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By the way, we will be launching an e-mail service in 2015, which will include templates, copyediting, and consulting. Premier accounts will also include copywriting and promotional planning. Contact us now to get in on early-bird pricing.

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