ALT Tags and Humor = A Great Email

I received another email from (former coaching client) Children of the Nations yesterday that impressed me so much that I wanted to share it with you.

First, let’s look at images off.  As you can see, they did a masterful job with the ALT tags — those bits of text that appear when images are off. The “this or that” wording is very skimmable, and I very quickly see the point they are making to me. I don’t even need the photos to understand what this is about.

Sure, some additional body text would have made it even better (all image emails are risky), but as far as the ALT tags go, this is great.


How ALT tags work

I’m intrigued now, so I click on the images and get the full email, full of fun. If you are going to make people click to see the images on, you should reward them with something good, and COTN does. Instead of using guilt or ridicule to say that chocolates or goodies are bad,  they use humor to convey why those might not be the best choices. The language is casual and friendly.

now with images on

This single email is part of a much bigger gift catalogue campaign that includes a physical paper catalogue and other reminders like the Black Friday post on Facebook and breaking the email graphic into smaller posts.

Emails like this will make it THAT. MUCH. HARDER. for donors to overlook this campaign. Way to go COTN!

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  • Annaliese

    Alt tags are also incredibly useful for the visually impaired. By describing what the image is or what it’s meant to convey, you are essentially bringing an entire, vast population to your cause. I don’t think this example is all that great. It looks more like the alt tag option was abused rather than utilized. Sure it’s creative, but it’s also dismissing an entire population that could help your organization or cause. Text only emails aren’t meant to be an opportunity to take advantage. It’s an opportunity to reach out to even more people than you would have with just HTML. I’m kind of discouraged that Kivi liked that email so much. This could have been a great opportunity to teach others about the importance of accessibility in nonprofit communications.

    • Thanks for your comments Annaliese. ALT tags have many uses these days, including the one you advocated. From that perspective, I think it also does a pretty good job of saying what is actually in the photo in just a few words. If you include too much text, many browsers won’t show it at all. What would you have used as the ALT text for these images?

      • Annaliese

        The text does say vaguely what each image is, and you’re right about the browser issue. However, I would’ve divided the images so that one would say “box of chocolates” and the other “child holding bible.” It sounds petty, but from a blind perspective, it makes a difference. If the images can’t be divided, I think the ones that have an accurate description, like “chocolate” and “bible” would suffice, but also potentially deter people from clicking because of the vagueness. I have a problem with “what will you give this Christmas?” because it doesn’t describe the image and doesn’t include the other words from the HTML version. I work for an accessibility firm, so I apologize if I seem too heated or anything…

        • No apologies needed! We love good debate about best practices! Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      • Funny, I was worried about the same thing when I saw the headline, but I do think that they captured the essence of the picture, but also my sighted attention. It takes someone very creative to do this! The only problem is that in the no image version, you can’t really tell what to click to get to their donate page! (big oops!)

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