Creating a Profile Image for Your Gmail Subscribers

Posted by Brittany Luebke 

If you use Gmail, you’re probably familiar with the way emails are displayed, especially for mobile devices. When viewing your messages, the From Name, Subject Line, and Preheader are displayed. You’re also shown a profile image for that particular sender.

I love profile images. As a consumer, I can quickly glance over my messages and see who they’re from. And as an email marketer, it’s a great way to build trust with subscribers and create engagement. Many of the brands I subscribe to use this feature. If a sender doesn’t select an image, the default is a brightly-colored circle with the first letter of the sender’s name.  

We recently added our logo for Gmail users for our email marketing efforts (if you’re not on our newsletter list, fix that here). But alas, this task was not as easy as it seemed! In case you have issues like we did, here’s how we eventually solved the problem:

Talk to your IT department
We found out that Google treats alias accounts differently when it comes to profile images. Because our reply-to email address was set up as an alias for people to email, it took some trial and error to finally land on a solution—we had to turn that reply-to email address into an actual account. Our IT department then delegated access to our marketing team, who is able to make changes to the account.

While you’re chatting with your IT team, you might also ensure that your DMARC record is built and correct. If your domain alignment is off, it’s possible that your profile image would not display.

Involve your ESP
Your ESP might have tips and tricks they’re learned—or at least point you in the right direction. They can also advise if you’ll need to set up a SMTP relay.

Test, Test, Test
This was probably the most frustrating part of the process! It took many, many tries to test out each setting—and each time I crossed my fingers and hoped for that image to show up. Eventually, we did figure it out and now every email we sent has our logo.

Look at that beautiful email!

If you think adding an image wouldn’t apply to you—you might think again. Back in February 2016, Gmail reported having over 1 billion active users per month. So even if you don’t use Gmail, you can bet a group of your subscribers do.

Happy emailing!

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About Brittany Luebke

Brittany is a Digital Marketing Coordinator at Return Path. You can find her writing through our corporate social media channels - Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Outside of work, you can find Brittany spending time with her family, walking her dog, or cooking up something in the kitchen a la Martha Stewart. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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