Toss Up – Simple Text or Fancy HTML Emails?


by Jerrik Neri  There’s no denying the obvious: email marketers are constantly looking for ways to improve open rates , clickthroughs, ...

by Jerrik Neri 

There’s no denying the obvious: email marketers are constantly looking for ways to improve open rates, clickthroughs, and other key marketing statistics.

But while topics such as subject lines and CTAs receive plenty of attention, the age-old debate regarding whether to send simple text or fancy HTML emails often gets pushed under the rug —even though it can have a huge impact on the performance of your emails.

Still, there’s a lot of quantitative data out there to help you settle the debate. There’s just one problem: a lot of those pieces of data conflict with each other.

So what can you do? No worries—we’ve got your back. In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of each option so you can make an educated decision as you decide which is best for you.

Simple Text

Now, we know you might be thinking that simple text emails are an odd decision in a digital world where so much of the focus is on images and video. But when you go about it the right way, simple text can be quite effective.

One of the biggest advantages of using simple text emails is that you’ll never have to worry about whether or not your message is displayed properly. No matter what device or email provider your recipients use, the message will be displayed in a consistent, easy-to-read manner.

Plain Text or HTML - Neil Patel plain text email example

Simple text emails also help your content feel more authentic. They’re less likely to be flagged by spam filters or shuffled under a “Promotions” tab because they look like they were written by an actual human being, rather than concocted by a major corporation. This also makes it less time-consuming to craft your email in the first place!

This doesn’t mean simple text emails aren’t without their drawbacks. After all, simple text can look kind of boring to your subscribers. As the old saying goes, “a picture’s worth a thousand words,” and this can be especially true when introducing a new product. Calls to action can sometimes get lost in a wall of text, and because it is more difficult to track simple text open rates, you may not get as much marketing data as you’d like.

Stick with these best practices when sending simple text emails:

  • Keep sentences and paragraphs short—you don’t want to create a wall of text
  • Use a link shortener like ClickPerfect
  • Focus on your copy! It’s all you have to convince your readers!

Fancy HTML

Fancy HTML emails are especially popular with digital stores that want a chance to show off their latest and greatest products. After all, most of us are visual learners, so visual content would naturally be highly engaging. With fancy HTML, you can include company logos and other materials to increase brand recognition. Call-to-action buttons stand out, and everything is easily trackable to give you a good idea of what works and what doesn’t.

Plain Text or HTML - Tee Fury HTML email example

But this doesn’t mean HTML emails are all sunshine and joy. Certain elements of fancy HTML emails could prevent your users from receiving them altogether. In fact, going overboard with images and other fancy design features could get you sent straight to the spam folder. The last place any marketer wants to be! Some email providers don’t even allow fancy HTML in the first place, which will lead to inconsistent formatting. This can mean your emails will have a low-quality appearance—on certain devices and email platforms.

Because of this, you need to be careful when sending fancy HTML emails. By finding the appropriate balance of text and visuals, you can ensure that your content actually gets to your subscribers. Don’t be afraid to take a “less is more” approach—quite often, this will be necessary if you want your emails to get opened in the first place.

Follow these tips when sending fancy HTML emails:

  • Use mobile friendly design options like large text or buttons
  • Make sure people can still read important info if they have an image blocker
  • Code using inline styles to avoid formatting disasters

Wrapping Things Up

While you can easily find several articles proclaiming that either simple text or HTML emails boast higher open rates than the other, truly understanding the pros and cons of these email options will help you make smarter marketing decisions.

Plain Text or HTML - Amazon Email Example

So which one is best for you? It totally depends on the type of email you need to send. If images are a must-have (such as when introducing a new product or sales promotion), then by all means go with fancy HTML. But if you can still effectively get your message across without images (such as in service updates or newsletters), simple text can be a great way to get the job done. Take advantage of Sendlane’s fantastic email marketing features so that you can evaluate your email needs, audience preferences, and ultimately select the right email format for each situation.

Which do you prefer? Simple text or fancy HTML? Let us know in the comments!




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#DIGITAL: Toss Up – Simple Text or Fancy HTML Emails?
Toss Up – Simple Text or Fancy HTML Emails?
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