Text vs. HTML Emails

Should You Choose Text or HTML Emails for Your Newsletter?

People are arguing for years if it’s better to offer HTML or text version of their newsletters. Text based emails are widely used by marketers and ezine owners. HTML based newsletters on the other hand look much better and are easier to capture the attention. So let’s find out if you should adopt HTML emails in your newsletter or stick to plain text.

Why Plain Text Emails Are Popular?

The reason why plain text emails are very popular is because in the older days, not many email clients were able to read HTML based messages. So ezine publishers didn’t think much and offered simple text format to their readers.

Another reason why text emails are used more often by newsletter publishers is that text emails are easier to maintain. With HTML emails, you need to create a template and format your message using HTML editors. This takes a lot of time. So publishers simply use text emails and don’t look at HTML much.

Third reason is that HTML emails are filtered out much more often than plain text. As spam filters became very popular (almost every email service is offering them), more and more people started using filters to filter out junk content. The problem is that HTML content in many cases is considered to be SPAM content and HTML messages are filtered out even if they are from reputable ezine owners.

But still, as many surveys show, majority of readers prefer HTML over text and every ezine publisher should not overlook this fact.

Why HTML Emails Show Better Results?

In some ezines over 90% of readers have chosen to receive HTML version of a newsletter instead of plain text. This can be explained by a couple of factors.

First, HTML emails are much easier to read (not in all cases). Instead of looking at the same old and boring Times New Roman font, your reader can see Arial or Verdana, which are much easier on the eyes.

Second, HTML emails are much more attractive. Look from the reader’s perspective. An Email with a picture is much more compelling than a simple text. Everyone is offering text emails. So by offering a HTML email you differentiate yourself and also attract your readers attention more effectively.

It’s All About the Results

Basically, you shouldn’t join one or another camp right away. Instead, test for yourself and see what is better for your target market. If your readers will enjoy reading HTML newsletter more, then offer them HTML email. If majority will prefer text, then keep your ezine in text format.

There were many researches done by many list owners. They asked their subscribers which format was better for them. Almost in all the cases respondents answered that HTML emails are much better than plain text messages. So if it’s easier for your readers to read HTML emails, then naturally more of them will read your newsletter and click on your links or ads or take any other action. But there are also many text email lovers who’ll say they don’t like HTML. So you should test for yourself and see which format pulls better results.

Offering Both HTML and Text Formats

As you can see there are and will be people who like to read text emails and HTML emails. So you can’t be perfect to everybody.

Or can you?

Actually, you can deliver both HTML and text emails to your readers. The solution is called multipart alternative. The solution sends both text and HTML messages to the end user. If user’s email client can’t read HTML messages (or a reader chose not to receive HTML emails), then text based email message is presented. Otherwise readers will receive HTML emails. So this solution allows you to offer both email formats and satisfy text and HTML email lovers. Majority of quality mailing list software or autoresponder services have this options included.

In Conclusion

While in almost every case HTML emails outperform text based emails, you should test for yourself and see what works better. Remember that what works for one, might not necessarily work for the other. So you should allow your visitors to receive HTML emails too, in case you offer plain text only. You can allow your plain text subscribers to re-subscribe and receive HTML emails. Or, if you don’t have a list yet, start offering both text and email options to your readers. This way you’ll gain much more subscribers and you’ll be able to see which email format produces better results for you.