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Looking at the evolution of social media over the last few years, you can plainly see that social media sites are being driven by imagery. Consider Facebook's Timeline (and its acquisition of Instagram) or the breathtaking rise of Pinterest, and you'll see evidence of a visual revolution.

Dozens of resources are available for choosing killer Facebook cover photos or putting together must-follow pinboards. However, we forget that email, too, is a social medium. And now is a great time to evaluate how you use images in your email marketing.

In particular, acquisition email campaigns—those designed to gain new customers by addressing an email ad to a publisher's list—require attention to the images used. Because they are paid media, acquisition email campaigns can be more costly, but they are also a good opportunity to start off a relationship on the right foot with a new customer.

At my company (where we assist advertisers in optimizing offers to get into the inbox and get noticed), we see a huge variety of acquisition email creatives. Below are our Top 3 tips for making your campaigns more visual while maintaining an eye on the overall strategy of your brand. Many of these are equally applicable to acquisition and retention email.

1. Remember that images must make the right first impression

The sheer volume of strange images that appear in the ads on Facebook should give you an indication that, sometimes, weird images drive clicks (even if only among the curious).

In acquisition email, though, the email may be the first time your brand is in front of a potential customer—in an environment that's very personal: their inbox. If you're doing acquisition email the right way, you've even gotten an introduction from a brand that the recipient trusts (to minimize spam reports, acquisition email should include the name of the list that the consumer subscribed to).

Your emails must be clearly branded. Obviously, that means your brand's logo should be visible, but it also means that other images should match the aesthetic of your brand. The goal is not just to drive clicks and conversions but also to introduce a consumer to what your brand stands for. Moreover, your imagery should be designed to draw attention to your call to action.

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Eric Didier is CEO and co-founder of ividence, a standalone acquisition email ad exchange that uses behavioral targeting to deliver the right message to the right target.