How to Choose the Best Image Format for Your Email Marketing

GIF, TIFF, JPG, BMP, PNG, EPS…after a while, image file type names start to just look like gibberish. So with the plethora of file types out there, how do you know which is the best image format for your email marketing? Some formats don’t work uniformly on every browser (emojis, anyone?). Some don’t show off your photographs in their every detail. Unfortunately, there is no magic image format that will work for your every need. It varies from photo to photo depending on the image and how you plan to use it.

But don’t panic! We’re here to help you with an outline of the most common photo types in order to help you determine which image file type to use for your email marketing. We’ll focus on three of the most common file formats: JPEG, GIF, and PNG.

Best Image Format for Your Email Marketing


JPEG (or JPG) stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group. A JPEG file is a great option for photos because it can show over 16.8 million colors. It has a great compression technique as well if you need to create a smaller file size. But that compression technique that’s awesome for photos can be terrible for images with text. The process of compression leaves behind “artifacts” that create a fuzzy look around text or areas of flat color.

Verdict: JPEG is the best all-purpose format for your photographs. It can give you a small file size to keep your email load times under control. The only exception to this rule of thumb is for images with text or even logos. For those types of images, look for a file format that upholds the original quality within your email marketing.


PNG stands for Portable Network graphics. This file format can handle both images and illustrations depending on your needs. PNGs use lossless compression so no information is deleted and no quality is loss. Contrary to JPEGs, the compression technique won’t allow you to get the file size down as low as you might be able to with a JPEG.

Verdict: Because of its higher range of color, it can be used for images or illustrations. The ideal use for PNG as the best image format for your email marketing is when you need to be able to control transparency. It’s also a great option when you are using more detailed logos or illustrations. The downside – it’s not supported in all browsers and sometimes these files can get large.


We get questions about GIFs all the time. GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format. They are awesome for plain text, casual emails. However, for any larger-scale email campaigns, you really need to know your audience before using them. Where the JPEG didn’t handle blocks of colors or text well, the GIF file format excels. Plus, GIFs have another bonus that the JPEG lacks. It can preserve transparency in your image. The compression technique used for GIFs is different as well, and no quality is lost during the process. Therefore you get a smaller file without the low quality issues.

Another popular feature of the GIF file format is the ability to use animation. This can be a clever way to add pizzazz to your ecommerce email marketing. But, be careful when you use animation, since not every email client supports animated GIFs. So if you’re using animation, make sure that the first frame can stand alone as an image – if your recipient’s email client can’t read the animation, that’s all that they will see. If you’re looking for some ideas, check out this article with 25 examples to get you started.

Verdict: GIFs don’t have the widest color range so they should be generally be avoided when using photographs. But this very trait makes them ideal for text and illustrations as the lack of color profile boosts the image contrast.

So what’s the best image format for your email marketing?

Generally, JPEG. However, your unique situation will determine what file format you need to use, so look at your options carefully. After all, you want your images to spice up your emails and give a boost to your ecommerce email marketing, so make sure they are going to work for your content in the best way possible. If you would like to get more information about creating the most effective marketing emails, check out our email marketing guidebook. Then contact us today to get started on an email marketing plan perfect for your ecommerce business.

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