Why Email Marketers Should Avoid the Coming Wave of Mosaics in Email and What to Do Instead

Comments: 8

  • Entertaining read, Nate; thanks! Pixelation seems to be a drastic measure to overcome the image issue. I wonder if the high CTR isn’t merely because of the novelty of a pixelated (low quality, frankly) image in place of the ‘images not loaded” icon. Not sure I would even want to bother with that. My email service however will divide larger images into seamless, side-by-side jpgs in order to load faster, which is nice…Doesn’t it always come down to this, as you said: “Only send to true opt-in subscribers.”

  • Jen,
    Thanks for the comments. Yes, it’s possible the CTR is due to the novelty, but I also think that marketers who’s emails are image heavy (like retailers) would benefit broadly by being able to display a good representation of their images even when images are turned off. That being said, and like the article points out, I don’t think ISPs are going to accept mosaics for very long before they start stripping them out anyway.

  • Sorry for being naive here, perhaps, but what proof is there that a) those like gmail will indeed be seeking to block mozaics and b) that they are going to be able to do so reliably?

    • There is no proof. These are my predictions of what I believe is coming. My bet is that if mosaics become popular, Google will have no trouble creating technology to detect them (at least the large file size ones). Thanks for your question.

  • Sorry Nate, I don’t buy this argument. Google is only going to block mosaics if people either complain about them or enough people start using them that is interferes with their delivery. Most email marketing providers (us included) aren’t too crazy about them because they chew up bandwidth. That’s a legitimate beef, and is, I suspect, the real agenda behind some of the comments. There are some very good reasons not to use mosaics. I addressed some of these here. But I don’t think the fact that Gmail and the others might some day block them is one of them.

  • Another thing – this is just a cheap trick to circumvent the customer’s preferences. If they don’t want to see images, we shouldn’t be showing them any, blocky or otherwise. This feels like something you’d find in a spam email.

  • Adrian, the customers in most cases have not set these settings. Therefore, it’s presumptuous to call them the “customer’s preferences.” For instance, I don’t prefer images be blocked at all. However, they are in my Gmail account, as well as in my Outlook client. Why? Because that’s the default, and because while I would prefer images render in my emails, I don’t have a huge vested interest in it, so I don’t change the settings.

    The benefit of mosaics, I would suggest, is that they can properly render the images without track-back functionality. As such, there is the benefit of displaying the email the way it is meant to be seen (and if they’ve “subscribed,” I daresay, they probably want the email) while maintaining the privacy of having images off.

    And truth be told, I actually disagree with Nate that ISPs are going to disable them (though I did enjoy the read, and I do value your perspective, Nate). The primary reason for this is because ISPs don’t seem to have done anything about embedded images.

    Embedded images, unlike linked images, present the same two-fold benefit of mosaics:

    1. The email is viewed the way it was intended by the sender, and
    2. The privacy of the end user is still maintained, resulting from the image referenced in the code being sent with the email, making for no callback.

    It also comes with the same drawback: The file size of the email is increased … potentially significantly so.

    It seems as though the ISPs have been happy enough to permit the practice of embedded images, simply throttling the file size if it is too large. They’re already doing the same with mosaics, so I can’t say I think they’ll treat them any differently. They’ll continue to be able to:

    1. insulate themselves from the burden of large file sizes,
    2. protect the privacy of the end user, and
    3. still render the email properly.

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