State of Email 2016: Webinar Recording + Q&A

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To understand how email marketing is changing and to identify opportunities for brands, Litmus surveyed more than 900 marketers worldwide for our State of Email Survey Research Series. Those extensive results powered our State of Email research series, which included:

In this webinar, we shared the most interesting and actionable insights from that research series—and also told you about the 2017 State of Email Survey and the opportunity to win a ticket to the Litmus Live conference (formerly The Email Design Conference). Watch the recording above and download the slides below:

The State of Email 2016 – Year in Review from Litmus


We received a bunch of great questions during the webinar that we didn’t have a chance to answer. Let’s tackle them here:

What’s the max size image file (kb) you recommend? What are the current industry standard in regards to total kb size (html + images)?

Because of clipping in Gmail and other considerations, it’s recommended that marketers keep the HTML weight of their emails under 102KB. However, it’s worth noting that on the average HTML weight of emails is around 53KB, according to MailCharts. When you add images to the equation, the average loaded or total weight of emails swells to 2.7MB. The higher your loaded weight, the more slowly your emails load.

Check out our Ultimate Guide To Email File Size & Load Times with MailCharts for more details.

Does the length of an email matter? Do people scroll? What is your philosophy on email length?

As the email isn’t so long that it’s negatively impacting the email’s load time, length isn’t necessarily an issue. If you’re delivering valuable, relevant content and, especially, if you’ve set the expectation that your emails will be long, then subscribers will absolutely scroll. In general, we think marketers are way too concerned with “the fold” in emails.

What percentage of devices support retina images?

The data here is really spotty, but we can make a rough estimate by looking at Litmus’ Email Client Market Share data and making some assumptions. If we assume that all iPhones, iPads, and Android devices have high-DPI screens, that has 54% of emails being opened on high-DPI displays. Plus, some Macs and PCs also have high-DPI screens, so making some conservative estimates that likely gets us safely over the 60% mark.

That’s certain more than enough market share that email marketers should be concerned, especially if you take into consideration that many of your best and wealthiest customers will likely be experiencing your emails on high-DPI screens. And, of course, if an even higher percentage of your subscribers are reading your emails on mobile devices, then using retina-optimized images becomes even more imperative.

What’s an example of when don’t you want retina-optimized images?

Generally speaking, the only time that you wouldn’t want to use retina-optimized images is when you have a long, image-heavy email since making them all high-resolution would seriously impact your email load time. That said, if you ever find yourself in that situation, you might want to ask yourself if the email truly needs to be that long.

Our own Jason Rodriguez just updated our Understanding Retina Images in HTML Email blog post to address this issue and the issues around using retina images in Outlook.

What is the suggested character length for ALT text?

It really depends on the size of the image that the ALT text is part for. This Mothercare example, which uses a lot of styled ALT text, demonstrates this well. They used two-letter ALT text for their social media icon images, but used dozens of words of ALT text for some of their larger images.

Mothercare example of defensive design

Any recommendations on how to preview ALT text? It seems to be getting harder. Turning images off in browsers no longer seems to work.

There’s an image blocking check built into Litmus Checklist that makes it super easy to preview your ALT text before sending.

Verify that your images have ALT text

With Litmus Checklist, you’ll get previews of your emails with images-off, and will be notified if any of your images are missing ALT text. Send with confidence every time.

Try Litmus free →


How important is the preview text?

While it isn’t universally supported, preview text is supported in the vast majority of email clients, including iOS Mail, Gmail,, and Yahoo Mail. Together with your sender name and subject line, your preview text helps your subscribers decide whether the content of your email is of interest to them.

Inbox at a Glance

What’s shocking is that so many brands are letting whatever random text happens to be at the top of their emails display as preview text. Far too often, administrative text, cryptic URLs, and other unintentional text gets shown. Marketers would never leave their subject lines to chance like that, so they shouldn’t leave their preview text to chance. It’s easily controlled with visible or hidden preheader text.

Are animated gifs supported across all email clients?

While animated GIFs are absolutely the safest and easiest way to add motion to your emails, they are not supported everywhere. The notable holdouts are all the recent versions of Outlook (desktop) and Windows Phone 7, so B2B brands are probably the most affected. Our Guide to Animated GIFs in Email details email client support, as well as discusses tactics and how to create animated GIFs.

What is your point of view on emojis, weighing the technical challenges of email clients vs. ROI. Any way to prevent the tech challenges of using them?
Tips on how to get emoji’s into subject lines.

In the same vein as animated GIFs, emojis are a “sometimes” tactic—if they fit your brand voice, that is. With special characters like stars appearing in subject lines in 2012 and emojis following in 2014, email users are pretty used to emojis in subject lines at this point. Support for emojis is poor to nonexistent on older operating systems, but that hasn’t stopped a 7,100% increase in emoji use in emails, according to Appboy.

Why would you test something in every email? At some point, does the testing finally come to a “standard” of sorts that you would use moving forward?

It’s impossible to ever completely understand your subscribers, so ongoing testing is key. Here’s why: First, there are almost an endless number of elements and tactics to test. Our friend Jordie van Rijn at EmailMonday suggests these 150 things to A/B test.

Second, tests need to be reconfirmed over time. Novelty can inflate response, so you generally need to run the same test over multiple emails spaced out over time to confirm a test.

And third, you generally only want to test one thing per email so you can be sure of what is driving the difference in response. There are a few different ways to run A/B tests, but you want your efforts to be focused. We recommend creating a A/B testing schedule so you can methodically test the tactics that you think will be the most effective with your audience.

Take the State of Email Survey

Take the 2017 State of Email Survey to power additional research and insights about the email community (plus, you’ll have the opportunity to win a ticket to The Email Design Conference!)

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