Email Marketing Basics HTML Vs. Plain Text
Which is a better email marketing format, sending a plain text message, to your list of subscribers or emailing your list a full colored, full image HTML message? Is that even a consideration when you create your email messages?
It is a consideration for some; discussed by many. The format debate over which email is better has been around since the first HTML message was created. Up until that time, (a mere 20 years ago) email was strictly sent as a text email. As HTML became the norm, marketers discovered they could send a visual and audio representation of their product. They could track their messages, complete with statistics showing email engagement using clicks and opens.
As HTML emails evolved, next came the HTML template and eventually the mobile-friendly responsive design HTML. Design companies and Email Service Providers began to offer pre-designed WYSISYG HTML templates, with drag and drop capabilities. So many to choose from, and if luck is on your side you wouldn’t be using the same template as one of your competitors selected.
If your email provider only offers a handful of templates, you can find free responsive design templates anywhere on the Net, some already compatible with your email program, some offering the HTML code, ready to copy and paste right into your ESP’s HTML editor. And if all else fails, hire a template designer, to get that perfect look and feel.
Plain Text Message
Plain text is so much easier. There are no concerns with colors, pictures, and layouts. ListManager hosted by Dundee has always created a plain text version of the created HTML email so that the recipient receives the correct formatted email their device accepts. For tracking purposes, such as clicks and opens, our customers can use the built-in editor, to add those links.
However, for what it’s worth the majority of people who were surveyed say they prefer HTML emails over plain text.
We know HTML emails are designed to be appealing to the eye, sometimes with three or more images that most mail clients will not render automatically without a click of the mouse to do so. And a mobile, laden with images, email may require some scrolling to see everything; this should be disconcerting to most marketers looking to the future, as the average Gen Z has the attention span of about eight seconds.
Are HTML emails really the preferred format? If you test that theory on your own email subscribers, you may find the email you sent with the least number of images or plain text is most preferred.
That could be because of:
- Readability: Android, iPhone to Samsung can all render plain text messages, no mobile-friendly HTML coding necessary, no fancy templates.
- Smaller sized email may get your message delivered to places an HTML message can’t get to because they aren’t being filtered by email providers. Do you download every image in your received HTML messages?
- HTML can carry viruses, so some Email Service Providers regularly strip out some of the HTML elements from the incoming messages, making the format display improper.
- And then you have devices that users wear, like smart watches and smart glasses: plain text may be the only way to reach this audience.
HTML has its own issues with:
- Improper coding, which does happen and broken links,
- Some of the free Email Providers filter email messages, to keep the mail flowing for their customers. In some cases, unless your recipient re-configures their email setting, providers will filter out “commercial” email from their inbox, automatically.
- Reduced click-through rates. You are selling dog collars, different colors, styles for different dogs. To enhance your email, you provide your subscribers with a well-designed crafted HTML email with several images showing collars. Do you think one picture would work, click here to go to your collar landing page or plain text with a link to your landing page? To best answer, test this theory out with one image of your product, no image of your product and several images of your product with a segment of your users.
What does this mean, well without testing you may never know for sure? Your subscribers may opt for HTML in their profile page, but in reality, will they read a text email from you first, as it’s more personal, like an email message from their friend, or will they click on that image? Let us know how your testing goes.