The ability of the email clients and users to block images and tracking either by default or by using tools such as Trackbuster means that e-mail tracking is unavoidable and inevitable (Vinton). However, email marketers can work around the email combatting problem by working alongside email designers. Strategies and techniques can be developed to ensure that the marketing campaigns effectively reach the users or subscribers. Lauren Smith provides several strategies to combat email blocking which include the ALT text, bulletproof buttons, balance of imagery and text, use of background colors, and the use of mosaics and pixel art (Smith).
The alternative text technique (shortened as ALT text) is the most common technique to counter image blocking. An ALT text is the text that the email client displays instead of the blocked image (Campaign Monitor). An ALT text enables the subscribers to know the context of the blocked image, which would then compel them to disable image blocking and thereby displaying display the campaign image. Once email marketers add ALT texts in their marketing campaign emails, then the subscribers would see a text explaining the blocked image (referred to as an “explainer” text) instead of a blank box (Campaign Monitor). In order to make the ALT text more appealing and compelling to the subscribers, an inline CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) can be added to change its color, style, font, and size (Smith). The bulletproof buttons technique works by protecting the call-to-action buttons. The call-to-action buttons (CTAs) are persuasive and well-designed buttons that redirect the subscribers to other pages such as the landing pages, product pages, blogs, or pricing pages. Since CTAs are designed as images, they are also blocked when images are disabled (Smith). Bulletproof buttons are live text which replace the image-based CTA button once the image is disabled. The balance of imagery and text technique encourages designers to avoid an all-image based design in favor of a balance between imagery and live texts (Smith). When a proper balance between imagery and live text is employed, the subscriber’s access and interaction with the email is maintained whether the images are blocked or not. Furthermore, Smith states that by using the balance of imagery and text technique, the HTML-to-text ratio is improved preventing spam filters from registering the email as spam.

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The background colors technique involves the addition of chosen colors behind the images creating a hierarchy (Smith). As such, colorful backgrounds remain once the images are blocked. The colorful background design improve the visual perception of the subscriber in an image-off environment, compelling them to take action and probably convert. Finally, the mosaics and pixel art technique which employs fancy designs in the image-off optimization (Smith). Mosaics and pixel art utilize the background colors coupled with image slicing to create appealing and striking texts that captivate the subscriber in the absence of images. A designer can also combine two or more techniques to create an alluring email once the images are blocked.

According to Campaign Monitor, another approach to counter blocked images includes formally requesting the subscribers to whitelist the marketing campaign emails. A whitelist is an option that the subscribers sets within the email client, giving access and mobility privileges to the entities within the whitelist since they are considered safe. As such, any entity registered in the whitelist is given mobility access and subscriber recognition access which allows tracking. Emails from entities within the whitelist are not harbored by the default image blocking settings set by email clients. Although some users may not agree to the whitelist request, marketers should strive to explain to the subscribers that their emails are safe and reliable.

  • Camaign Monitor. “How To Address Image Blocking In Email Marketing.” Campaignmonitor.Com, 2018,
  • Smith, Lauren. “The Ultimate Guide To Email Image Blocking.” Litmus Software, Inc., 2017,
  • Vinton, Kate. “50% Of Your Emails Are Tracked And Trackbuster Wants To Stop It.” Forbes.Com, 2015,