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Improving your email accessibility with Beefree: A Step-by-Step Guide

Improving your email accessibility with Beefree: A Step-by-Step Guide

Email marketing is a powerful tool for reaching your audience, but it often comes with its fair share of challenges.

One of the most common dilemmas that marketers face is the need to create visually appealing and accessible emails without the support of a skilled HTML developer.

This challenge has led many marketers to resort to image-only emails, which may look great but often lack when it comes to accessibility. For instance, screen readers can’t read text that is contained within an image, rendering much of your email content inaccessible to those with visual impairments. 

Fortunately, there’s a solution: Beefree.

In this blog post, we will explore how Beefree can help you improve your email production process and enable you to build beautiful, responsive, and accessible emails. We’ll demonstrate how this intuitive drag-and-drop email builder empowers marketers to create emails faster, ensuring they meet accessibility standards and best practices.

Why Marketers Resort to Image-Only Emails

Here are some common reasons why marketers might choose image-only emails:

Visual Appeal: Image-only emails can be visually striking. Marketers may believe that a well-designed, image-heavy email will capture the recipient’s attention and leave a memorable impression.

Simplicity: Creating image-only emails can be straightforward. For marketers without HTML coding skills, using an image as the main content is an easier and more efficient option.

Design Control: With images, marketers have more control over the design, layout, and aesthetics of their emails. They can create visually appealing content without relying on complex coding.

The downsides of image-only emails

While sending image-only emails may have certain advantages in terms of design, they can pose several issues and drawbacks, which can negatively impact your email marketing efforts and give some users a poor experience. 

Here are some of the key issues associated with sending image-only emails:

Accessibility Concerns: One of the most significant issues with image-only emails is that they can be inaccessible to recipients with visual impairments or those who rely on screen readers. Since the email content is embedded in images, it cannot be read aloud by screen-reading software, effectively excluding a portion of your audience.

Reduced Engagement: Image-only emails may have lower engagement rates compared to emails with a mix of text and images. Because images don’t always render properly or are compatible with screen readers, recipients may be less likely to engage.

Spam Filters and Deliverability: Many spam filters and email clients view image-heavy emails suspiciously. Sending image-only emails may increase the likelihood of your messages ending up in recipients’ spam folders or being flagged as potential spam.

Mobile Responsiveness: As mentioned above, image-only emails may not be mobile-responsive. This causes them to display poorly on smartphones and tablets, leading to a poor user experience and decreased engagement.

Slow Loading Times: Emails consisting of large images can take longer to load, especially for users with slower internet connections. Slow-loading emails may lead to frustration and decreased reader patience, which can cause a bad brand reputation. 

Lack of Fallback Content: In cases where images fail to load for some recipients (due to email client settings or other factors), image-only emails provide no fallback content, leaving the email effectively blank.

It’s advisable to use a balanced approach in your email marketing campaigns to address these issues. Incorporate HTML text, alt text for images, and a good mix of text and visuals to ensure your emails are accessible, engaging, and capable of reaching a broader audience. 

Additionally, consider using responsive design techniques to optimize the email’s display on various devices and screen sizes.

Introducing Beefree

Beefree is an email marketing game-changer. It’s a user-friendly drag-and-drop email builder that empowers marketers to create stunning emails while adhering to best practices and accessibility standards.

Key Features and Benefits of Beefree

  • Drag-and-Drop Interface: Beefree’s intuitive interface lets you build emails by simply dragging and dropping elements onto your canvas.
  • Responsive Design: Ensure your emails look great on any device with Beefree’s responsive design capabilities.
  • HTML Text: Easily add HTML text to your emails for improved accessibility.
  • Bulletproof Buttons: Create CTA buttons that work seamlessly across all email clients, ensuring a consistent user experience.

Now, let’s put Beefree to the test by recreating an image-only email with accessibility and best practices in mind.

The Experiment:
Recreating an Image-Only Email with Beefree

Step 1: Selecting a Sample Image-Only Email

To showcase the capabilities of Beefree, we’ve chosen a sample image-only email as our starting point.

For example, this email on Email Love from Last Crumb features some stunning photography and engaging content; however, the whole thing is made with images. While, the overall look and feel of the email could easily be recreated with HTML using Beefree. 

example of an email that is not accessible

Source: https://emaillove.com/head-baker-at-last-crumb-email-design

The Last Crumb’s image-only email at least uses descriptive Alt text, but we think we can significantly improve the email’s accessibility with Beefree. 

image only email with alt text

Step 2: Recreating It Using Beefree

  1. Extract the images from the original email

The first step in this process is to extract those delicious-looking cookie photos from the original email and any other elements that we want to keep as an image. In this particular email, most of the text can be easily recreated with HTML text in Beefree. 

  1. Adding HTML Text for Improved Accessibility

One of the key improvements we’ll make is to add HTML text to our email. This ensures that the content is accessible to all recipients, including those who rely on screen readers. Once we have added our images, you can easily use the Paragraph content block to add your text. The text font, color, line height, and spacing can all be adjusted to replicate the look of the image-only email. 

adding accessible text in Beefree

There are a couple of limitations when using HTML text over images. Firstly, Beefree offers a range of Google and Websafe fonts that will work in most email clients, but there were custom fonts used in this Last Crumb email that we could not exactly replicate. Last Crumb also uses multiple fonts in a single paragraph, which could not be replicated in Beefree – A small price to pay for improved accessibility. 

  1. Incorporating Bulletproof Buttons

Next, we’ll replace the image-based buttons with bulletproof buttons that render consistently across all email clients. This ensures a better user experience for our subscribers.

Adding an accessible button inside of Beefree

Step 3: Comparing the Original and Recreated Emails

As you can see, the recreated email looks great and adheres to accessibility standards and best practices.

email accessibility

Accessibility and Best Practices in Email Design

Email accessibility is a critical consideration for modern marketers. Beefree makes creating emails that everyone can access and enjoy easier than ever. This is how the Beefree email looks with images turned off—a significant improvement over the image-based email.

accessible email with images turned off

Our Tips for getting the most out of Beefree

  • Set Clear Objectives: Before you even start designing, clearly understand what you want the email to achieve. Whether it’s a promotional campaign, an announcement, or a newsletter, the content and design should align with your goals.

  • Use Templates: Beefree offers over 1000 templates! Start with these and customize them to match your brand rather than building from scratch. This can significantly reduce the time it takes to produce an email.

  • Drag-and-Drop Builder: Familiarize yourself with all the features and tools available. The more comfortable you are with the interface, the faster you can create emails. The key things to understand are how rows work, what you can do with content blocks, and how to customize the look and feel of your content. I recommend playing with Beefree’s padding and spacing features to make your emails look right.

  • Consistent Branding: Set and use a consistent color palette, font selection, and logo placement for all emails. This not only establishes brand consistency but also streamlines the design process. This can quickly be done in the settings of Beefree.

  • Mobile Responsiveness: Always preview and test your email on mobile devices. Your email may not stack correctly or your padding may make some parts of your email look strange. Don’t worry; Beefree enables you to show and hide content on mobile and desktop, so your email looks right across devices.

  • Use Custom Blocks: If you use a particular design or content block often (like a particular footer or header), save it as a custom block. This lets you quickly insert it into future emails.

  • Integrate with Other Tools: Beefree allows integration with numerous other platforms. Ensure that your email designs can be easily exported and used in your email marketing tool, whether Mailchimp, SendGrid, or others.

  • Images: Use high-quality images, and always optimize them for the web to ensure faster load times. Beefree provides tools to resize, crop, and adjust your images.

  • Test, Test, Test: Before sending out to your entire list, send test emails to yourself and a small team. Check for broken links, visual consistency, and any other issues that might arise. You can do this directly from Beefree.

  • Collaborate: If you’re working with a team, use Beefree’s collaboration features. Get feedback directly in the platform and streamline the review and approval process.

Make accessible emails a priority with Beefree

Beefree has proven to be a great tool for email marketers with limited design and coding experience. It empowers you to create visually appealing, accessible, and best-practice-compliant emails without the need for coding skills. Whether you’re a seasoned marketer or starting, Beefree can streamline your email marketing efforts and help you deliver better results to your subscribers.

Ready to supercharge your email marketing with Beefree? Sign up for free today and experience the difference for yourself. Your subscribers will thank you for it.

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Andrew King
Andrew King

I’m an email marketer, agency owner, husband, and dad. I’ve designed, coded, and deployed hundreds of emails (to millions of people) and most recently consulted on email strategy for some of the world’s largest retail, gaming, publishing, and SaaS businesses. I regularly speak at industry events and can often be found publishing the best email design and content ideas over at www.emaillove.com. You’ll find my articles on Chief Marketer, Econsultancy, and MarTech.