Which email marketing is better: html or plain text?
Many people think that html emails are the best because they offer a more professional look.
However, there are many drawbacks to using html in your email campaigns.
Plain text emails can be just as effective and will save you time, which is something small businesses don’t have much of!
This blog post will talk about how both formats compare with each other so you can make an informed decision on what type of campaign to run for your business.
Ultimately, success in email marketing doesn’t correlate with how your email looks. It’s about the story you tell and the content you provide. The biggest gains in email marketing come from improving your product and improving your pitch to really connect with your customer.
But we aren’t all born legendary copywriters, and crafting emails takes time. That’s why I use Conversion.AI to help me churn out the most powerful emails I’ve ever sent.
Forget everything you know about robot writers that spew out a thesaurus with poor grammar. Conversion.AI is truly next-generation technology. Frankly I’m worried. As a writer I fear being left behind, and so I’ve embraced the AI to stay ahead of my competition. I even use the assistant on my blog posts, including this one, which has seriously levelled up my output.
The biggest problem most marketers make with their emails is simply not emailing their list enough. It really takes a lot to make someone unsubscribe – we’re talking actual spam. A weekly or even bi-weekly email that inspires poses very little downside risk and a lot of upside for your business. But writing compelling copy is hard, so try a free trial of Conversion.AI and watch your conversion rates skyrocket.
Text Vs HTML Emails – Is it better to use HTML or plain text?
HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language, and is a programming language that makes up the “code” of websites.
In an html campaign, the text is formatted and styled with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). This makes it difficult for recipients to read in some cases.
Plain text emails are easy on the eyes and more pleasant to read because they’re not cluttering up your inbox with formatting.
But do know that plain text can come across as less professional than html campaigns due to lower engagement rates which means you may need other strategies such as social media marketing or landing pages if you want higher conversion rates.
Text vs HTML Emails – The Visual Medium
Many email marketers obsess over the look of an email campaign, including fonts and text size. HTML lets you control these things by adding markup to the email that tells it what font types to use; where on screen to place specific content; or how big a button should be.
This extra step is worth taking because html emails can come across as more professional than plain text ones.
Pros of HTML vs Plain Text emails
– Control how content is displayed
-HTML emails can come across as more professional than plain text ones.
-Branding – colours, fonts, logos
-Better for visual products
-HTML emails can be tested in Gmail
Cons of HTML vs Plain Text emails
-Higher time and effort commitment.
-Can create design challenges if something goes wrong with your html code, for example creating an email that’s too wide to fit on most screens or doesn’t display properly because the text wraps around incorrectly (e.g., wrapping a paragraph at just the end of one line).
-Can trigger spam filters more easily because html emails are more likely to include links.
-HTML email may not render properly on older versions of Outlook, including some Android phones and iPads
If you want higher conversion rates–media marketing or landing pages–go with html. Also worth using it for any creative products where customers might appreciate seeing images in their inbox. If you’re not confident about coding html yourself, hire someone who is or use the best email marketing software for drag and drop email design.
HTML usually means gifs, videos, flash files, etc., which are all blocked by some ISPs so recipients don’t see them until they activate certain settings . Besides being flashy and eye-catching for web browsers (where those tools are needed), these extras increase your security risks when sending out an html campaign – if someone has access to the code of your email campaign then he/she will have easier time spamming
But generally, one of the biggest issues with HTML emails is hesitation. Many entrepreneurs agonise over the look of their emails. Does this represent my brand? Is my logo eye-catching enough? How can I make this look more official?
But in truth, the look of your email is only a small part of the story. The biggest mistake most entrepreneurs make is simply not emailing their list enough. It’s limiting beliefs like the perfect look of an email that cause this. Done is as good as perfect.
The best email marketers I see nearly always send plain text emails – or very minimal HTML emails.
When someone opens an email on their phone, they are not looking for art. They are looking for a story – advice and solutions to their problems. All this can be conveyed by plain text which you can knock out in a short time.
The Pros of Plain Text vs HTML Email:
– Extremely easy to edit – it’s just text.
– Cheap for your customer – doesn’t require images, html formatting or other design work that burdens the recipient and costs more for you (plus it loads faster).
– Customers can read it right away – no need to open up a web browser, find your email in the inbox and then click on an html formatted email.
– Easier for people with visual impairments or who don’t have access to images/html formatting.
The Cons of Plain Text vs HTML Email:
– You’re missing out on seeming like you know what’s going on when compared to html emails that look better than plain text (but if someone opens an image heavy email two weeks after they receive it, will they still think about how good it looked?).
- It may not look as professional as an email with HTML code in them. But this is a small price to pay when considering all the benefits listed above. Plus, many smart people don’t care how good something looks anyway – they care about what works best!
If you’re serious about growing your business then I suggest starting by investing in plain text emails rather than flashy ones that actually make things worse.
If an html email campaign has a low click through rate, it would be beneficial to use the same style but in plain text format instead so that your message will still reach all recipients and there’s no chance for formatting errors.
To ensure that both formats are successful, many marketers include links at the bottom of html campaigns linking back to the corresponding page on their site when clicked using a hyperlinked label (example: “Click here for a plain text version of this email).
Text Vs HTML Emails Fewer Variables For Split Testing
The real optimisation of email campaigns comes down to split testing.
With a HTML email you have a lot of variables like colour, design, images and finally the text. With plain text you have a lot less variables.
Most good email marketing platforms let you set up split tests to compare two emails. With plain text this is easy as you only have to choose between simple elements like call to action copy and intros. Should you include a personal story or not? Do you go aggressively salesy or more gentle?
With fewer variables, you get to results more quickly. This is far easier than fussing over button size, colour, positioning and your column formatting.
The other huge difference is that HTML emails can take up to three times the amount of time to create than their plaintext counterparts, due in large part because designers must consider all these extra factors.
Working with clients and testing different combinations of plain text vs HTML emails has shown us that when it comes down to the wire, html campaigns are just not worth it if your goal is engagement rates or click throughs. Plain text works better for those goals on average.
That’s most likely because a plain text email looks like a real personal email from a friend. A lot of successful marketers use their own name as the sender rather than a brand.
Many users now suffer from “banner blindness” which means they ignore the banner ads on websites. This is much the same principle with HTML emails vs plain text. They get bombarded with brands sending seasonal sales, discounts and other fairly low-value content.
An email from a named person on the other hand stands out. The snippet shown in their inbox preview is not “click to view a plain text version of this email” but a line of personal compelling copy if it is a plain text email.
Here are some examples:
“David, I’m sorry. I’ve let you down on this one…”
“Last chance, Paul. Doors close at midnight…”
“Natalie, I’m so sorry to hear that you’re feeling this way…”
“I missed my wedding for this.”
When the user opens the email, they are not blinded by visuals. Just plain text – a story.
“I’ve let you down, David. I wasn’t able to inspire you to take action on my latest course release.
And now there are only a few hours left before the price increases forever.
I know how you feel. ‘Why do all these so-called gurus keep emailing me courses about things I can find online for free’
I was the same as you. I spent five years trying to bootstrap my business by hand. But then this one guy got through to me. I could have shortened those five years of delay to just a few months, once I had the formula for success I needed.”
Pretty compelling if I do say so myself? Copywriting like that is worth more than the colour and image placement of every HTML email you’ve ever sent.
The great thing about plain text emails is they take no effort once you master the art of copywriting.
But as I mentioned before, there are now highly sophisticated tools that make crafting lines like that so easy. I genuinely fear the future of marketing if everyone discovers them and narrows the huge advantage a select few who use them currently possess.
HTML Vs Plain Text Emails – Ecommerce
The exception to this conclusion of HTML vs plain text is ecommerce where you may be selling very visual products and using tricks like basket abandonment emails. These rely on exciting your potential customer with visuals and branding. So if this is you you should certainly keep going with HTML emails. You can also add elements like countdown timers for urgency.
If your ecommerce venture is not so visual – like coaching and consulting – it is best to stick to plain text emails rather than HTML emails.
Plain text vs HTML: Do plain text emails perform better?
Plain text emails perform better than HTML for two primary reasons:
The first reason that html email performs worse is because people are less likely to open the content. Plain text emails have a higher opening rate so they get seen more and improved performance due to this increased exposure
Secondly, there is some evidence that HTML email may be blocked by spam filters or flagged as being malicious. So if you want your customers engaged with what you’re doing – use plain text!
How can you tell if an email is HTML or plain text?
The easiest way to tell if an email is HTML or plain text is by looking at the formatting. If there are graphics, embedded videos and links – then it’s html!
Every major email service provider offers both options of html vs plain text emails so you’re free to use whichever one suits your needs best 🙂