Rich text vs. plain text for emails?

Do you send your marketing emails and newsletters as a plain text email that looks like a standard Gmail email, or do you send HTML formatted emails that look more customized with your company’s brand? Have you seen major differences in open and click rates between the two?

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qthdh's avatar
2 years ago

Having sent both types of emails, I'd say it depends more about both the content, but also users' expectations.
I don't have much experience in e-commerce but I believe people are more used to receiving full HTML emails with pictures and much fluff.
For my previous startup, I got to try both types, and I noticed that people seemed to prefer standard, text-like email. It made them less salesy/promotional.
So now I mostly send plain text emails, feels more like a conversation than an impersonal newsletter.

5 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @qthdh )
2 years ago

This is a great point that context matters.

It may seem odd to receive a shipping notification or receipt as a plain text email. It also feels impersonal to receive a templated welcome message.

I really liked TinyLetter's design for newsletters because it felt like it had a balance between a nicer design than pure plain text emails, while still feeling personal. Substack almost has that, but not quite.

3 points
Richbenny's avatar
2 years ago

Coincidentally, we brought up this exact topic on Friday of last week. We run a platform connecting electricity meters to new homes under construction. When the client opts to open the account in their customer's name, we send an email to the customer inviting them to complete their personal details.

We were sending these in nicely formatted HTML templates and it was being seen as spam/junk and requiring a voice call to follow up the customer, over 80% of the time. In most cases, the customer's email platform had sent it straight to the junk/spam folder and those who hadn't had deleted it.

After some analysis, we found that whilst trying to personalise the email, we had gone too far and it came across as a potential phishing scam.

We restyled the template to feel more corporate and we have flipped the stats with 80% being actioned almost immediately after receipt and 20% requiring a voice call or SMS to prompt action.

We were just about to roll out a text-based email to test if that was the issue, but we have pumped the breaks on that now. I still think that, if that hadn't worked, the best course of action would be to A/B test HTML vs Email and analyse the data.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @Richbenny )
2 years ago

Woah, that’s a fascinating story, thank you for sharing @Richbenny!

That sounds like if you want to personalize deeply and make the email feel like a personal message you wrote to that person, plain text is likely better both because it feels personal and because spam filters aren’t as likely to think it’s spam. And if you go with HTML, make it seem like the mass-mailing it is.

1 point
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