Choosing the Right Email Format – Plain Text Vs. Html

Marketing emails can be the bread and butter behind your campaigns, allowing you to directly message those who matter most to your business. Part of figuring out the right way of communicating your message is settling on the email format that suits what you’re trying to convey.

You’ll likely be running some A/B testing alongside your email marketing, tweaking subject lines and calls-to-action to see what generated the best response. But, at the fundamental core of your email, you’ll want to decide whether to use plain-text or HTML as your main delivery method. We’ll be breaking these down for you and weighing up the benefits on either side.

What is a plain-text email?

A plain-text email is exactly what you’d expect – an email written in a plain text format. There aren’t any exciting fonts to use or images, just your words written as if sending a standard email.

This type of email can be especially useful due to its simplicity, making it hard for the vast array of email clients to misread the formatting and ruin the look of your email.

What is a HTML email?

Hypertext Markup Language, or HTML for short, gives you a markup language you can use to code your emails to look however you wish. You can add images and layouts to craft bespoke emails that support and strengthen what you’re saying within your email.

HTML emails function in a similar way to HTML design for webpages, with all the necessary information added to a document using HTML code. This can be done manually or using drag-and-drop editors, depending on your skill level.

What are the main differences between plain-text and HTML?

Speed of creation

When getting started with your email, you’ll want to consider the purpose of the email and what message you’ll be including. For plain text, your copy is everything so you can get started pretty much right away. For HTML emails, there are more elements to consider so it may take more time to pull these together.

Branding and visual elements

HTML emails can be designed to match up with your core branding elements, giving them a more professional and official finish. This can be useful for establishing trust with your audiences, as well as allowing you to integrate graphics to convey key messages in a more visually interesting format. It’s worth noting that phishing emails may leverage these branded design elements to exploit customer bases.

Knowledge of HTML

HTML emails also require a more in-depth knowledge of coding HTML emails in order to get the full bespoke experience. With this comes the risk of coding errors ruining your marketing emails, or an email client not rendering your email correctly on the recipient’s end. Broken tags in your HTML can also result in your emails incorrectly being marked as spam – preventing them from being delivered properly.

Customer preference

The preference between the two is hard to agree upon. Historic surveys have shown that people prefer the concept of HTML emails, due to the inclusion of imagery and more interactive elements. However, A/B testing between the two formats resulted in plain text coming out on top by a considerable margin.

Plain-text emails let your copy and messaging shine without competing with other elements, so if you have a finely crafted email with a definitive purpose then plain-text can be the way to go.

These points are just some of the considerations that go into deciding what email format to go with when outlining your email marketing automation processes. Working alongside an experienced email marketing agency can give you the insights you need to make informed decisions and understand how to make both email formats work effectively for your campaigns.

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