What is a plain text email?
As the name suggests, a plain text email is an email that has no other elements—such as images, graphics, links, special formatting, and HTML code—aside from text.
If you want a more in-depth understanding of this topic, check out the FAQ section below:
Question #1: Why should I bother sending a plain text email?
The question is not why you should bother sending a plain text email, but why you should make sure your plain text emails are formatted properly and create a pleasant user experience for the recipient.
You see, most (if not all) modern email marketing platforms automatically send a plain text version of the HTML emails you send out for the following reasons:
- Sending an HTML-only email may trick spam filters into thinking you are a spammer. After all, why would a spammer go through the trouble of crafting a plain text version?
- Some people just like plain text emails better. If you send HTML-only emails, you effectively exclude people like this from your email list.
- Some people are wary of HTML emails. They do not want to deal with malicious code possibly being embedded in the emails they receive—that and they prefer to see all links in the emails they receive in one go.
- Some recipients do not have access to fast, reliable internet with a sizable bandwidth. This means they might be unable or unwilling (or both) to open HTML emails.
- Some inboxes only show plain text emails. This one is pretty self-explanatory. With these inboxes, HTML emails simply will not work.
Question #2: What are its benefits?
The biggest benefits are as follows:
- It can help improve your email delivery rate. As we have seen earlier, by sending a plain text email along with your HTML emails, you eliminate the risk of being incorrectly flagged as a spammer by spam filters.
- It can help improve your email open rate. Again, not everyone is able or willing to open HTML emails. By giving those who prefer plain text emails exactly that, you can significantly bump up your open rate.
- It can help improve your conversion rate. When more people open and read your email, you get more people to sell to.
Question #3: What are the disadvantages?
The biggest disadvantages of a plain text email are as follows:
It does not let you brand your email—at least in terms of graphic elements. As the name suggests, it is literally just text.
It does not let you use eye-catching calls to action. Again, it is all text. You cannot use colours and graphic elements to lead the recipient to your call-to-action buttons.
It can appear boring to some people. While some people prefer plain text emails, others actually enjoy more dynamic HTML ones.
Question #4: Is a plain text email better than a branded HTML email?
No, it’s not necessarily better than a branded HTML email—but the opposite is also true.
As we have seen earlier, different recipients have different preferences. In addition, different email clients have different configurations. Some are designed to handle both HTML and plain text emails; others only work with the latter.
At the end of the day, if you want to reach as many people on your list as possible, you will need to make sure that you not only send an HTML and plain text version of every single marketing email you send out but both versions are written and formatted in a way that would effectively deliver your message.
Learn more on the difference between plain text email and branded HTML email by visiting this helpful page.