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  • Writer's pictureTom Levers

The Myth of Plain Text Emails

Updated: Jan 7, 2020

In the United States it is not true that plain text messages to subscribers is good for your deliverability, inbox placement rate and open rates! Those who think it is are guessing.

Technically, it’s impossible to prove whether or not plain-text emails receive better open rates; in fact, plain-text emails don’t process opens at all... unless you add an HTML tracking code.

There are lots of factors that weigh in on your ability to get into the inbox (as opposed to the spam or bulk folders). Among them are domain reputation, IP reputation, subject text, and content – but whether your email is HTML versus plain-text isn’t one of them.

The Real Question is do people prefer reading content in HTML or Simple TEXT email?

To find the answer to this question, a survey was conducted.

First the question: “Do you like this new format for the email newsletter? " Here were the answers:

55.1% of the respondants said “Yes”

19.7% of respondants said “No”

25.2% of respondants said “Kind of…”

And then the 2nd question:

“If you selected Yes, No, or Kind of…, can you please elaborate? What did you like? What didn’t you like? Be as specific as possible.This is where the interesting information came out…

People said they LOVED the text email because it was simple and much easier to read. Here are some quotes:

  • “Clean”

  • “Much easier to read”

  • “The new format tended to make me feel as if I were a tried and trusted confidant— and that was welcomed”

  • “It’s clean and easy to read. Call to actions are also clean and easy to follow.”

(+1 for minimalist web designs that focus on readability instead of fancy graphics :-D) However, there was also some backlash. Not much, but there was some. What was the main complaint? People didn’t like that we didn’t include the whole article in the email.It seems that people DO want to read in their email client, and when they do, they’re okay with staying there. They also want the text to be clean, and easy to read, which makes sense.

So the takeaway is no matter what, let them read the email in their email client simply and easily.

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