Creating a Successful Email: HTML vs Plain-Text

By KC Hubbell,
Marketing Associate, Lessiter Media

When it comes to email marketing, most marketers believe open and click rates are everything. However, format is one of the many important aspects that influence the success of an email campaign. The two primary email format types are HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) and plain text. HTML emails are visually appealing — dressed up with bright colors and pictures. Plain-text is just that: plain text. No images, just words. Very simple. Kind of visually boring.

So, when the picture is painted like that, it’s easy to assume that most people probably prefer an HTML email. And in fact, according to a survey done by HubSpot, about 2/3 of respondents said they prefer to receive HTML-based emails.

So that’s settled, right? HTML emails are best! Well, not quite. People do think they prefer pictures and beautiful colors in their emails, but in reality, studies have shown most actually prefer plain text. Plain-text emails almost consistently produce better open and click rates.

To understand why this is, you have to think about how the customer perceives the email. Consumers typically view emails as 1-on-1 interactions. Subconsciously, they prefer simple plain-text emails because they seem more conversational and genuine. Because of their impersonal nature, HTML emails leave the receiver reluctant to take action, much less, open the email in the first place. An email doesn’t have to be dolled-up and shiny to cut through today’s noise.

Ensure your email promotions receive the maximum number of opens and clicks, and minimum number of unsubscribes, by A/B testing these two formats. It won’t take long before you learn your audiences’ preference.

Want to get started on creating your own plain-text email? Below are a few tips for creating a high-performing plain-text email up for success!

Sources: Hubspot, Databox, Litmus