7 Replies - 523 Views - Last Post: 26 August 2012 - 05:52 PM

#1 nick2price  Icon User is offline

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img alternative

Posted 26 August 2012 - 02:27 PM

Hi guys. Doing some work for an email marketing company, and one of their problems is a lot of email clients block images (which is not good for image heavy emails). So I am trying to see if there are ways around this. I have seen tools which turn images into html code, but these can be heavy. Then I was thinking that the block must be on img, so if there was another way of displaying an image using a different tag, it may work. Anyone know of any? I have tried object but couldnt get it working. Or maybe someone may have an idea of how to bypass these filters another way.

Cheers

Nick

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#2 Atli  Icon User is offline

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Re: img alternative

Posted 26 August 2012 - 04:16 PM

Quote

Then I was thinking that the block must be on img, so if there was another way of displaying an image using a different tag, it may work.

No, it won't. There is a good reason why email clients block images. It's a privacy control thing, to avoid allowing email marketers to track users without their consent. - A request for an image in an email can easily be linked to a specific email, allowing the sender to both know exactly which email accounts read their messages, and (via the HTTP request meta-data) various details about the user that they really shouldn't have access to.

No decent email client will allow ANY requests for external resources without the users consent, no matter which methods you use to show them.


There are a couple of ways to embed images in the email itself, although with varying decrees of support from popular clients. - The simplest way would be to embed the image data in the <img src> attribute itself, using the Data URI schema. Another way would be to create a multi-part email with the image attached, then reference it in the <img src> attribute. A quick Google search turned up this SO question which shows pretty well how it works.

But, like I say, email clients have mixed support for both of those. It's always dangerous to send emails that rely heavily on images. You should, at least, set the email up in such a way that if the user chooses not to display the images, the contents of the email will still be readable as text.
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#3 nick2price  Icon User is offline

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Re: img alternative

Posted 26 August 2012 - 04:49 PM

Unfortunately, with the companies we deal with, their campaigns are usually quite reliant on images, although we do provide a text alternative. I did actually look into that images embedding, but I read that it could become quite heavy, although I havnt tried it. The new one is to take the image, and basically turn it into a html table (table cells coloured to the images colours). This generally results in a somewhat pixelated image, but can be good on occasions.

So do you know what the actual email clients block? Would it be possible to somehow bypass it if I was to create a program in say java which sent the emails for me (doubt it, but might as well ask).

Its not really vital to find a solution, but the topic intregues me. I wonder if I approached google mail and told them my clients emails were sent to customers who specifically signed up to receive them, if they would remove the filter for outgoing mails on our ip :bigsmile:
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#4 Mina-no-Hime  Icon User is offline

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Re: img alternative

Posted 26 August 2012 - 04:57 PM

View Postnick2price, on 26 August 2012 - 04:49 PM, said:

So do you know what the actual email clients block? Would it be possible to somehow bypass it if I was to create a program in say java which sent the emails for me (doubt it, but might as well ask).

Most good ones, as Atli pointed out, block all content from external sources by default - images being the most prominent content. What you use to send the emails will make no difference.

View Postnick2price, on 26 August 2012 - 04:49 PM, said:

Its not really vital to find a solution, but the topic intregues me. I wonder if I approached google mail and told them my clients emails were sent to customers who specifically signed up to receive them, if they would remove the filter for outgoing mails on our ip :bigsmile:

They won't. Most clients do allow users to specify "safe" domains to allow pictures to automatically load form. For GMail users, this is simple - they can choose to either "Display images below" or "Always allow images from address@domain.com" by simply clicking one of two very obvious links shown.

--

As a personal note, I do want to say that it seems unethical to me to try to get around these image blocks. They exist for a reason, and almost every web client that implements image blocking has an easy (often obvious) way to add somebody to the "safe sender" list.
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#5 Atli  Icon User is offline

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Re: img alternative

Posted 26 August 2012 - 05:17 PM

View Postnick2price, on 26 August 2012 - 11:49 PM, said:

The new one is to take the image, and basically turn it into a html table (table cells coloured to the images colours). This generally results in a somewhat pixelated image, but can be good on occasions.

That's interesting. I can definitely see that working, but man that would be one hell of a HTML table. The amount of bandwidth a decent quality image rendered like that would require must be enormous.
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#6 nick2price  Icon User is offline

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Re: img alternative

Posted 26 August 2012 - 05:20 PM

The actual reason to bypass them is because studies have shown people dont tend to pay attention to emails where they have to click buttons to view the content. In the email marketing world, bypassing them has become quite a hot topic, and a number of prominant people are searching for solutions. The only real solution so far is the one I have mentioned about turning the image into a html table Example

I can totally understand why blocks are in place, I think I became to fixated on finding a solution :bigsmile:
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#7 Mina-no-Hime  Icon User is offline

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Re: img alternative

Posted 26 August 2012 - 05:38 PM

View Postnick2price, on 26 August 2012 - 05:20 PM, said:

The actual reason to bypass them is because studies have shown people dont tend to pay attention to emails where they have to click buttons to view the content.

Well, if they've specifically signed up for emails from the site and it's something they actually want to look at (as opposed to "just forgot to uncheck a box on registration"), I don't think you'll have people ignoring them as often as people who ignore general spam emails. The point that's been said here, that I think you should seriously consider, is to set it up in a way that it doesn't rely on the images to get the message across. If you're using HTML-formatted emails, add title and alt attributes to your image tags, and format them through DIVs or tables to show the text in a proper way. Many companies do this, and companies that don't are the ones I won't download images from regardless of who they are.

Images should never be the key source of information, because you often don't even know that the client using them is going to be capable of viewing images (very small data connections on a smartphone, or even classic phones?).
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#8 Atli  Icon User is offline

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Re: img alternative

Posted 26 August 2012 - 05:52 PM

Mina-no-Hime said:

Images should never be the key source of information, because you often don't even know that the client using them is going to be capable of viewing images (very small data connections on a smartphone, or even classic phones?).

Yea, that's a good point. I frequently read my GMail on my Android phone, but I rarely download images on there. 3G bandwidth is too expensive to be downloading image heavy advertisement emails.
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