Tutorial: Tips for Using Stock Photos in Email

Stock photos sometimes get a bad wrap for being cheesy, outdated, and irrelevant. Luckily, many new stock photo resources offer beautiful, high-quality images that email marketers can actually get excited about using in email.

But it’s still important to use these images properly.¬†There’s an art to¬†finding, editing, and incorporating photos in email.¬†Make the process of choosing stock images even easier¬†by searching for free photos directly in¬†the BEE editor.

Today, we’ll give you our top tips for using stock photos in email, along with a tutorial on how to use the photo search tool directly from the BEE editor.

1. Find stock photos that fit your brand.

For¬†many readers, the¬†visual elements of your email get more attention than the written components. Eyes naturally gravitate toward images, buttons, and colors first, and we digest that information more quickly. So, when choosing stock photos, it’s important to be mindful that those images¬†are on-brand. Your brand or style guide should have a section that explains the kinds of photos to be used and details for how they should look‚ÄĒlike the kinds of people and scenes that should be depicted, the emotions they should evoke, if they get treated with filters, or if they should be cropped a certain way. If you don’t have something for your brand, then¬†create one by following these visual style guide tips! Some of the most effective style guides are simple and straightforward.

In a recent¬†post,¬†21 Email Design Tools to Transform Your Emails, we listed some of our favorite stock photo libraries and tools, like¬†Unsplash and¬†Pexels. Since then, we’ve partnered with three popular stock photo services‚ÄĒUnsplash, Pexels, and Pixabay‚ÄĒto give¬†BEE users the ability to search through a huge¬†repository of¬†high-quality images that are free to use¬†under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license.

BEE file manager photo search using stock photos in emails

How to add a stock image in BEE

Simply pull up the file manager in the BEE editor by clicking on Change image when an existing image is selected, or by adding a new image block and clicking on Browse. Open your Image folder, then select the new Search free photos button in the top bar.

BEE Pro upload image using stock photos in emails

In the search menu, simply add a keyword and browse the search results for an image that works for you. When searching¬†for “summer,” you’ll notice that each image preview shows you which of the three services photos came from, the link to the original photo, and a¬†blue Import¬†CTA button.

BEE Pro search free photos using stock photos in emails

Once you import one of the photos from the search results, it gets added to your file manager. Simply click on the Insert button (a plus sign) to add the image to the message.

BEE Pro upload photo using stock photos in emails

2. Edit stock photos to make them your own.

Email images often include text overlays to make a branded statement. We previously discussed how effective this SkillCrush header image was at connecting with its target audience and communicating a strong value proposition:

Skillcrush using stock photos in emails

Scanning our inbox today, we can find hundreds of emails with text-and-image pairings from different brands, like these from Jimmy Choo, Restoration Hardware, and Express. As you can see, adding text to images doesn’t have to be complicated. You can save time and design resources by skipping Photoshop and editing¬†photos¬†directly in the BEE editor.

Jimmy Choo using stock photos in emails Restoration Hardware using stock photos in emails Express using stock images in emails

How to edit images in BEE

Choose an image and navigate to the menu on the right. Select Edit Image.

BEE Pro edit image using stock photos in emails

From the Aviary editor window, you can make almost any adjustment to the image, like setting a filter, cropping or rotating, adjusting the saturation and contrast, and more.

BEE Pro photo editor using stock photos in emails

To add text, select the Text option from the menu. In the text editor, adjust the font type and color from the top menu. You can also adjust the size of your text by dragging the corner of the text box.

BEE Pro text editor using stock photos in emails

By using separate text boxes, customize the look of the message.

BEE Pro text editor customize using stock photos in emails

When you’re adding text to images, just make sure your font color contrasts with the background, so it’s easy to read. Treat text in images like headers: short phrases work best, and keep the total amount of text to a minimum. Your image should communicate a single¬†key message.

3. Remember image design best practices.

Whether you’re using stock or¬†original photos, and whether you edit them or not, keep in mind design best practices for all your email images.

Be cognizant of your image-to-text ratio.

An all-image email is likely to get filtered as spam or it may take too long to download. A best practice is to make sure you have at least 500 characters of text to pass spam filters. Once you design a beautiful header image, complete your email with supporting text.

BEE Pro photo to text ratio using stock photos in emails

Add a link to your image.

Treat your image like a call to action and link it to the landing page where you’re driving readers. All images in your email should be linked.

BEE Pro add link to image using stock photos in emails

Use ALT text.

Even when your images don’t appear because of a reader’s settings, the ALT text you set for each photo will still show up. This means you can still communicate your message in text form,¬†which is critical when that’s all readers are seeing!

BEE Pro alt text using stock images in emails

Lead readers to a call-to-action.

Not only should your image be linked, but it should lead readers to your CTA button. Since images are¬†where readers‚Äô eyes are likely to land, the CTA shouldn‚Äôt be far away. Plus, if your image doesn’t load or show up in a reader’s inbox, your bulletproof CTA will still appear. So even if your image is linked, it’s valuable to have a button, too.

BEE Pro call to action using stock photos in emails

Check out our free, HQ stock photo gallery and go Pro!

We hope you enjoy this new stock photo gallery, as we’re striving to build the Best Email Editor or BEE in short! If you’re not already using BEE, sign-up for a BEE Pro free trial and have access to additional templates and design features.

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