6 min read

Digital Marketing Image Optimization Cheat Sheet

The human brain is hard-wired to process the world in a visual form. It seems we view the web the same way. People prefer images over text. Images draw attention, trigger emotion, and create strong first impressions. Text without images simply makes digital designs fall flat. Image optimization improves the entire digital campaign.

Dan Bowen

Dan Bowen

Founder + CEO
Published: March 19, 2020
Last Updated: April 22, 2024
(Digital Marketing/Web Design)
Digital Marketing Image Optimization Cheat Sheet

Images can have a huge impact on the user experience of a website or digital marketing campaign. At the same time, images can slow down a site and counteract a positive experience. There’s a fine line between using the right and wrong image. Bowen Media is here to help you select the perfect image to meet your project requirements.

Our Website and Digital Marketing Image Cheat Sheet covers all aspects of using photos on the web. From web design and email marketing to SEO and social media.


Goal: Attract attention, trigger emotions, and engage the website visitor. 

Your website needs images – plain and simple. But it also needs the right images – not just any old photo you found on the web. The two most important image optimization factors? Quality and relevance to your content. Follow these tips to catch a visitor’s attention and prompt a desired response:

  • If you have the budget, consider investing in a professional photo shoot to capture and represent your facility, team, products, and more.
  • If you can take high-quality photos yourself, it’s a great way to get a professional look without extending your budget.
  • Use stock photos as a last resort. Stock photos are not ideal – but far better than low-quality photos or no photos at all.

Message Balance

Goal: Communicate your brand message with creativity and clarity.

Great web design strikes the perfect balance between images and text. There’s no magic image optimization ratio – but a few guidelines can help you create balance across your website:

  • Ditch unnecessary words and repeating images. Brevity is your website’s best friend.
  • Don’t “describe” in text anything you can “show” in an image.
  • Don’t need words? Don’t use them.
  • Turn text into a visual to balance a lopsided design. You can also supplement a visual with additional text.
  • Use text and image surface area to create an equal balance.


Goal: Make your website easier to find – and more valuable.

The best complement to an awesome image – an optimized keyword phrase. Google loves optimized images – and your website will, too. Image optimization helps potential clients find your website and boosts your website’s value at the same time. Use these techniques to make the most of optimized images:

  • Include the keyword phrase in the image file name. Use hyphens to separate words (file-name-example).
  • Include the keyword phrase in the alt tag. Google can read the alt tag of any image unable to load.
  • Scale images – while maintaining good quality – before you upload to increase page load speed.


Goal: Establish trust with potential customers.

First impressions mean everything in ecommerce web design. You have no more than a few seconds to make a strong and lasting one about your products. Few consumers trust ecommerce sites with their credit card information without a quality product image. Use these ecommerce image optimization tips to significantly boost your chances of making a sale:

  • Use high quality, professional images. When your primary goal is to impress the potential customer – nothing is more important.
  • Easily display the style and features of a product. It’s the next best thing to looking at a product first hand in a store.

Email Marketing

Goal: Bring your message to life.

Nothing brings an email marketing campaign to life like a beautiful image. But how many images should you use? What’s the best way to format images for email marketing? What can you do to increase conversion rates? Start with the following email marketing image optimization tips:

  • Use fewer images rather than more. Image-heavy emails tend to end up in spam folders.
  • Avoid background images (most email clients won’t recognize them). Use a background color instead.
  • Use alt tags – some email clients don’t automatically load images.
  • Specify the image height and width to maintain the structure of the email design.
  • Make image file sizes as small as possible – without losing their visual integrity. Optimized image sizes prevent long email load times.
  • Use JPG or GIF image formats – some programs don’t support PNG image formats.

Social Media

Goal: Increase engagement on the social web.

Visual-centric platforms like Pinterest and Instagram made a huge impact on the social web. Great visuals are now a critical aspect of success from Facebook to X and more. Images now make up 63 percent of social media. Use our image optimization cheat sheet to make the most of images.

  • Facebook. Share photos on mobile. Smartphone technology now enhances Facebook images for clarity, lighting, and shadow.
  • X (Formerly Twitter) Use a 2:1 ratio. X’s in-stream preview is always 440 pixels wide and 220 pixels tall. Double the numbers (880 x 440) for optimal image performance.
  • LinkedIn. Add images to link posts. Link posts with square images may dramatically boost engagement. Use 1200 x 1200 images to reach more followers.
  • Pinterest. Height and width are important to stand out in the Pinterest news feed. We recommend 736px wide by 1128px high.
  • Instagram. Enhance mobile images. All images shared on Instagram are 510 x 510 pixels. Change the orientation on your camera app to square to seamlessly integrate with Instagram.
  • YouTube. Upload a custom thumbnail. It’s hard to get a great shot from YouTube’s automatically generated thumbnails. Complete the shot by adding text with a platform like Aviary or PicMonkey.

Display Ads and Retargeting

Goal: Establish brand awareness and trigger a direct response.

There’s a strategy behind display ads and retargeting. You may want to promote a specific product. Maybe you want to upsell to customers. Or perhaps you want to introduce a special message or offer. Whatever the goal, it’s important to match the target audience to the message. Use the following image optimization tips to make the most of display and retargeting ads:

  • Make the ads in line with your brand. Match them to the look and feel of your website – including the colors, typeface, and logo.
  • Test different calls-to-action. “Buy now” could be more effective than “Learn more” – depending on your goals.
  • Should the ad feature rotating images, include the company logo in every frame.
  • Review Google display ad guidelines for the most successful ad dimensions across desktop, mobile and tablet devices.

Our expert design team is always here to transform digital fluency and creative innovation into client success. Let us design and integrate the perfect images into your website and digital marketing campaigns. Contact us today and discover the Bowen Media advantage.

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