Email-Marketing: Recipe for proper plain-text emails

| November 1, 2016

The email-marketing-world performance of discovery and CTR play a significant role, so marketers have to constantly find new ways to improve these metrics. Often when creating e-mail distribution companies have resorted to developing complex patterns that require knowledge of different layout techniques. However, nothing other than a quality of segmentation, so does not increase the conversion as plain text emails.

People say that they prefer HTML-emails

In 2014 Hubspot company conducted a survey of thousands of people, determined to find out what they prefer to receive letters – HTML or plain-text, images or text. The survey results of 2011 and 2014 were the same: the majority of respondents (64% in 2014) said they prefer HTML-mails.

On the other hand, the number of people who prefer plain-text letter has not changed, so it is necessary to optimize the letter both formats.

… But in fact they prefer text emails

A / B-testing conducted by Hubspot, confirmed that the simple design of effective writing. Moreover, letters with fewer elements HTML-users often open. Any other marketing channel tends to visualize, but in the case of e-mails, this approach gives the opposite result: the addition of images in GIF-mail reduced the rate of discovery by 37%.

But it is not only in the record of discovery. Most marketers believe that the conversion of HTML-mails above, since they look more attractive and better reflect the essence of the proposal. Is email with a picture of the e-book will be more attractive to the customer than plain text? Does not seem plain-text letter is too boring? After all, we have by nature attracted to beautiful things.

Unfortunately, this principle does not work in relation to an email. And the reason is simple: emails, unlike other marketing channels are perceived as personal communication. Remember his conversation with colleagues and friends: sure you do not create HTML-templates, and do not add a bunch of pictures to his letters. You and your subscribers, who are accustomed to using email for personal purposes. Thus, the plain text emails from companies increasingly resonate.

So, what are the benefits of plain-text emails

Adaptability – plain-text emails are guaranteed to appear well in the greatest possible number of devices and email applications. Therefore, if among the readers of your mailing many users of different devices, and mail clients, you should pay attention to plain-text. Of course – if you want to humanize the letter and make it more personal, you do not have the HTML helper. People do not write each other HTML-letter, they simply open a window mailer and typing.

Avoiding spam filters – when the company produces an email-newsletter, plain-text and HTML-version of the letter “glued” together using the MIME format. If the letter is no text version, a spam filter it will alarm bell, indicating that the message may be spam.

Users tastes – there are those who prefer to read text, not HTML-examine the letter. Therefore, some e-mail clients, such as Gmail and the Outlook, allow you to easily switch to view text versions of emails.

Mail clients – simple texts easier and take less traffic, so open them much easier. But HTML-templates contain many different materials, long cargo, and therefore sometimes ignored. So, open the email-sending in text mode by default many devices. These concerns and Apple Watch, because I read a normal message with wearable expedient due to the small screen.

Disadvantages plain-text emails

Lack of branding opportunities – if you have sent a lot of effort to create a bright and attractive corporate identity, you do not want to abandon it for marketing newsletters. Limited capacity for statistical collection – in plain-text email is not possible to insert a tracking pixel to determine how many users opened the letter (although clicks can be measured using marked reference).

How to create an effective plain-text email

When using tools for email-marketing like MailChimp, CampaignMonitor and others, plain-text version of the letter will be created automatically. However, even in this case, you should take the time to optimize it to achieve the highest conversion rates. Create effective text message will help you our advice:

  1. Use the “negative space” so-called “negative” (blank) space around the important elements of letters – titles or calls to action, makes writing more readable and the overall perception, helps to highlight the most important aspects and stimulate the reader’s imagination. To see this, just compare the two versions of the text of letter:. No free space, the free space
  2. In order to avoid incorrect display text does not arrange the lines of transfers by hand.
  3. Organize writing content and be brief Typically, when a user receives a long text message it just iterates over it eyes to understand, is it really worth it once. Therefore, if at the time of the “screening” the user will see a sheet of text, from which nothing is to isolate a cursory glance, it might scare him. If the content of your letter diverse, clearly mark the fragments using symbols or a blank space. If the text of your letter contains a list, use the symbols for its labeling.
  4. Select the call to action Tests show that the presence of the letter keys for calls to action increases conversion. In the text the letters highlight calls to action, of course, more difficult than in the HTML-template, but it is still possible to draw the reader’s attention to these calls by selecting them from the total mass text with spaces, characters such as an asterisk (*) or angle brackets (< >).
  5. Do not go overboard with links If the link does not extend the content and does not add value to the email-message, it is better not to add. Moreover, seeing the letter, consisting of a heap of links, the user probably will not read it.
  6. Select the correct font in the past year on the website of Bloomberg published an article titled “The font in your emails spoils your life”, which the author has come to It concluded that such fonts like Arial and Helvetica are not very suitable for reading emails on the go. This is because some forms of letters – such as p, b, q, d – too similar to each other, and the reader is difficult to distinguish between them. As an alternative to Arial and Helvetica in the layout of long letters is recommended to use Georgia and Verdana. “As for the emails we usually look through a couple of paragraphs – the article says. – Wide letter spacing greatly accelerates the reading … A serifs help distinguish the letters between them. ”

    For short messages, and individual text passages are more suitable fonts group sans serif (without serif). The main advantage of a good text – readability: the combination of speed and convenience in the process of reading, as well as the clarity of the text, something like an emotional decision font. . The way the letters look like, their size and the distance between them determines, how easy is it to read the text font in your letter should not only be readable – it should be a reflection of your brand and ensure its consistency. Therefore, for the header, try using the same font as the main text of the letter, but larger (and / or apply a different color and style, for example, selecting or typing the title in bold capital letters only).


Ultimately, in the case of e-mails more – is not better. Perhaps marketers difficult to accept this bitter truth, because many of us are addicted to using HTML to create mailing lists. However, research consistently shows that plain-text emails are more effective.

As with any rule, there are exceptions. For example, companies engaged in e-commerce, it is necessary to send HTML-letter, because their customers expect to see product images. In any case, before you make a choice, test your emails.

There is nothing wrong with a simple design. Not having at his disposal nothing but text, marketers have to be creative in the basics – the title and the text of the letter, the location of elements and links – to achieve the desired result. Sometimes a simple text messages can work even better than a beautifully laid out templates.

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Category: Marketing, Technology

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