Advice: Should marketing emails have graphics?

Dear Karen: I see marketing emails using pictures and graphics, which I had been warned against. Are visuals effective with today's technology, or are they annoying and difficult to see in emails?

Answer: If you do it correctly, adding visual imagery to your email marketing campaign can work wonders, said Melanie Attia, a product manager at Campaigner, an email marketing service.

There are best practices that you can keep in mind as you plan email campaigns using visuals. For instance, stay away from background images — they often fail to download properly or obscure your text if they do.

Place larger images below the preview pane so readers who block images don't miss your message. And include a clickable "call to action" with your email so that you can measure the response you get and determine whether your campaign has succeeded.

• Resources for new exporters

Dear Karen: How can we start exporting to China?

Answer: Don't go it alone. There is ample help available for small companies wrestling with exporting-related issues such as financing, intellectual property protection and market strategies.

A counselor at your local Center for International Trade Development can help you identify the most promising overseas markets for your product or service, write a marketing plan and get financing. When it comes to funding, try the Export-Import Bank of the United States at

Small-business questions? Email Karen at

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