Salsa Blog

The Email Gnome: Shrink Your Images

Welcome everyone, to the first installment of The Email Gnome. I’ll be giving you tips and tricks to make your email blasts faster, better, and more reliable.

Being a gnome, I’m a fan of all things small, and email blasts are no exception.

Small is beautiful.

The larger an email blast is, the longer it takes to send, and the longer it takes for your recipients to download. Large emails also increase the suspicion of spam blockers and filters, and increase complaint rates because of downloads timing out.

The optimum size for an email blast is under about 25 Kilobytes (KB), and the maximum size of an email blast is about 250 KB. As an example, a recent Friday Fiesta email was about 8 KB.

In terms of size restrictions, don't worry much about text: type away until your heart’s content, and you won't have to worry about your e-blast being too big. (I'd keep it brief, as your supporters are unlikely to want to read a novel in their inbox. But if they did want to, you could send an entire text version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and it would top out at only 177 KB!)

Where you really get into trouble is with pictures and images, especially the high-resolution ones that you or someone else took with a fancy digital camera. While these look awesome on your computer screen, they can slow email to a crawl.

Which brings us to today’s topic: image resizing.

Most of you good folks have used images in your eblast to highlight an upcoming event or a fundraising ask.  The “resizer” in your email blast WYSIWYG tool allows you to scale down HUGE images (or even just big ones) to fit into email blasts. It works well as a formatting tool to make everything look the way you want it.

However, the resizer just changes the visual size of the image, not the physical size. To put it another way, even if you changed the size of a 4 MB image in the WSYIWYG using simple html, your eblast recipients will still have to download a 4 MB file to see your image. This can cripple both delivery speed for your outgoing eblast and download speed in your supporters' inboxes.

Here's an illustration. Look at each of the pictures from this link. Both look to be the exact same size, but in fact, Photo 2 is almost 14 times as large as Photo 1. Furthermore, not all email clients are smart enough to resize Photo 1 to look like Photo 2. In some cases, the email client will show the image in its actual size so it will look like this and totally ruin the layout of your whole email.

Fortunately, there are some great online tools out there that you can use. The Email Gnome’s favorite is Shrink Pictures, which allows you to choose from a preset pixel size. (Pixels are the smallest measurable unit of an image. For reference, the "shrunken" email gnome image in this post is about 262 pixels × 350 pixels.)

Shrink Pictures is simple and effective, and works well for shrinking images. It also happens to be completely free to use. Just upload your picture, set it to resize, and then download the resized image. Here’s a video of me shrinking a self-portrait. As you can see, I took a HUGE image, and shrank it down to only 10 KB! You can also use tools like Picasa, Gimp, or Photoshop to do this. Try resizing images this way for your next email blast, and you’ll make it easier for your supporters to get your message quickly.

As always, if you have questions about email, send us an email, or post something to the Salsa Commons forum at www.salsacommons.org

Happy shrinking, everyone, and keep an eye out for the next edition of the Email Gnome!

Topics: Marketing