Email marketing involves making many strategic choices. A key one is deciding whether to send an email in plain text format or HTML.
Deciding whether HTML vs. plain text is right for your brand requires considering several different factors. However, you first need to ensure you fully understand what an HTML email is and how it differs from plain text.
What is the Difference Between HTML and Plain Text?
What is plain text? As the name implies, plain text emails don’t feature any media aside from text. This means you can’t include GIFs, images, video, or similar multimedia elements. That even includes formatting elements (such as headers) and hyperlinks.
So, what is an HTML email? When you send an HTML email, you’re able to incorporate more dynamic features. While it may seem like in HTML vs. plain text format, HTML is the clearly superior option, not all email marketers were quick to make the switch when it first became possible to send HTML emails. That’s because such emails wouldn’t properly render on occasion. Additionally, rendering issues became even less predictable when people began using small mobile devices to read emails.
This has fortunately become less of a problem in recent years thanks to responsive design, which allows marketers to send emails in “templates” that adjust to the screen of a user’s device.
HTML vs. Plain Text
Again, you shouldn’t immediately assume HTML emails are the better option. There are some potential drawbacks that are important to be aware of when you’re thinking of which is best for your emails: HTML or plain text.
Plain Text is Less Likely to Be Marked As Spam vs. HTML
First of all, HTML emails are more likely to be caught in spam filters than emails in plain text format. They’re also naturally larger than most plain text messages, are more likely to contain viruses or similar threats, and have a more time-consuming formatting process.
Deciding Between HTML or Plain Text Depends on Your Audience
You also need to consider who your followers are when comparing plain text vs. HTML. Do you have blind subscribers? If so, an email reader program could read the content of a plain text message back to them. That’s not a possibility when you send HTML email. Additionally, some of your followers may still have slow Internet connections. This means it will take a relatively long time for HTML emails to download on their devices.
HTML Email Helps Establish Brand Identity
Still, when choosing between HTML or plain text, it’s also necessary to remember that incorporating dynamic multimedia elements in your emails gives you greater branding opportunities. Plain text can’t reflect the identity of your business to nearly the same degree as HTML.
Can’t Choose? Use HTML to Plain Text Conversion
Luckily, there is a way to bridge the gap between the two options. With a simple HTML to plain text conversion program (there are numerous free programs available online), you can create two versions of each email you draft. Survey your followers to segment them into groups: those who prefer the HTML versions, and those who can only receive plain text emails.
You definitely shouldn’t neglect to send HTML emails entirely. Again, it’s crucial for branding purposes. You simply need to remember that the plain text format also plays an important role.
Don’t forget basic best practices regardless of your choice between HTML vs. plain text. This includes verifying every email on your list to ensure you’re not sending content to invalid addresses. Sending to invalid addresses could result in a high bounce rate that will make your emails less likely to reach inboxes.
By keeping essential best practices in mind and creating HTML and plain text format versions of your emails, it’s much easier to reach as many followers as possible.