The benefits of plain text email marketing

We are always covering topics that will help you format your emails to include the most engaging images and design, but we can’t forget to include plain text email marketing and the benefits it can provide.

It’s important to keep in mind that a portion of your email audience may not be able to view an HTML email. Even for those who can view an HTML version, some may opt out of them all together. It’s imperative to not rely solely on HTML emails no matter how visually engaging they may be. It’s in your best interest to include a plain text version with every HTML email you create.

Today, we’ll focus on the type of email marketing that requires no more than your words.

We’ll cover the benefits of plain text email marketing, but we’ll first introduce you to what it actually is. While it may seem like a type of email marketing that’s not worth your while, you shouldn’t write it off just yet.

What is plain text email marketing?

Plain text email is the composition of an email that consists of the copy you write within the body—and that’s it. It's similar in appearance to the type of email you send to your co-workers, family, and friends each day. 

Plan text emails don't include any stylized fonts, images, or hyperlinks. No GIFs, pretty headlines, or bells and whistles. Plain text emails are exactly what they claim to be—They are plain text and that’s about it.

Plain text emails remain simple and, well, plain, because they’re personal and that’s why they can provide a lot of benefits to your current email strategy. Don't count them out just because they don’t provide the fancy images or sophisticated visual elements, rather, their ability to resonate with your user and actually wind up in an inbox is something to take notice of.

Plain text email marketing shouldn’t be underestimated, even if it doesn’t rise up to the visual standards most of us set in place. Plain text email campaigns contribute much more to your marketing efforts than you would initially expect, especially when a good portion of your audience may be looking for a way out of the HTML universe. 

Image Source: Litmus

What plain text email marketing can do for you

Not only are users responding well to plain text emails over HTML, but they also can act as an insurance policy for your HTML emails. Creating a plain text version of your emails will provide many benefits to your email strategy.

Whether you’re trying to increase your open rates or deliverability, don’t ignore the plain text format because it could be the answer you’ve been looking for.

Plain text emails ensure deliverability

First and foremost, there is a chance that your HTML emails have broken links or tags, which can reroute them from the inbox to the spam folder. It’s just the name of the game. Ensuring deliverability is very difficult when you’re working with HTML for this exact reason.

Plain text emails ensure deliverability, thanks to their lack of HTML. When it comes to plain text versions, email providers and users won’t encounter any HTML hiccups or blocked images, resulting in a good email experience.

You'll want to avoid the spam folder at all costs and find your way to the top of those email inboxes. So, plain text emails that won’t trigger any spam filter sirens will help you avoid any HTML threats and ensure your deliverability.

While your open rates may not experience any improvement from the plain text version, they won’t suffer like they do with HTML.

When you send a plain text email, you can be confident that your open and click-through rates won’t take a hit. Spam filters prefer plain text email because they will have a more legitimate sender. As a result, your plain text emails will fly through the spam filters and land straight into your users’ inboxes. 

Spam filters can get hung up on HTML code and misinterpret its integrity. When your HTML emails are sent to spam and junk folders, it will have a significant impact on your open and click-through rates. The goal is for your users to view your email, and that will be very difficult if it never makes it to your users’ inboxes.

Users actually prefer them

When you send a plain text email, it is perceived by your user as a one-on-one conversation. While many may believe they prefer an HTML email, we actually respond better to emails that are personal—in other words, plain text. 

Now, this isn’t saying that all your HTML efforts are for nothing. HTML emails contribute a lot of success to your email marketing strategy. However, it would be irresponsible to leave out a form of email marketing that resonates with your users.

Users sometimes choose plain text over HTML versions because of the easy readability. A lot of white space and content breaks make it easier for your users to scan, but we’ll get into that in a bit.

They cater to new technology

Plain text emails are essential to your email marketing strategy thanks to its ability to support new technology like smartwatches. I’m sure you couldn’t even imagine opening up an HTML-rich email on your smartwatch. So why would you assume your HTML emails are serving that portion of your audience?

Plain text emails are easily accessible when it comes to new technology such as smart watches, and including plain text email marketing into your strategy allows you to target that sector of your audience. They'll also be a great tool to rely on as technology continues to transform the way we view emails.

What is Multipart MIME?

So we’ve covered the downside to HTML emails, but as we mentioned before, that doesn’t mean you should avoid them. HTML emails are packed full of engaging images, content, and links. All of these HTML features are great, but it’s a balancing act considering the downfalls that come with them.

  • Will you be flagged as spam?
  • Will you grab your reader’s attention?

And when it comes to plain text email, they have the personable layout, easy readability, and insured deliverability. But what’s visually engaging about a white background with black font?

Not every user is the same, and it’s up to you to do what it takes to cater to each and every person on your email list. 

That’s when Multipart MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) comes into the picture. Multipart MIME is a process that will send out your emails and include both its HTML and plain text version. Having this process involved in your email marketing will allow you to cover all of your bases:

  • HTML emails will be sent out to those who can view that content.
  • Plain text emails will be sent out to those who can’t view HTML formatting.
  • Plain text emails will be sent out to those who opt out of HTML emails.

Multipart MIME allows you to deliver the type of email your users want, and ensure the delivery of your email depending on what your user’s email server allows. With this process, you don’t have to choose one version over the other. 

You can include both into your email strategy and take advantage of the benefits of plain text email marketing and HTML email marketing. 

How to optimize your plain text email

If you’re going to attempt a plain text email strategy, remember, the content does still need optimization.

Although you are going back to the digital roots of email communication, your campaign should still include all the strategies you’ve already learned to maximize an email’s chance for success.

Copy that’s easy to scan

Today, we have to design our emails to look like an easy read - and it needs to be an easy read. Including headlines that section your content into bits and pieces will allow your reader to pick and choose which sections they find valuable. 

When it comes to a plain text email, you are unable to include the typical H1s and H2s that our HTML emails have become so accustomed to. To address this, when creating “headlines” within your plain text email, you can use ALL CAPS or symbols to set them apart and increase scannability.

Examples Include:
2. **What Plain Text Emails Can Do for Your Marketing Strategy**

Including the necessary white space

White space in terms of a plain text email is the actual white space that is within the copy of the email. It is a necessity in the digital world, and it should be utilized when taking content, images, and overall design into consideration. With your plain text email composition, you can stagger your copy so that it encourages your reader to proceed further down the screen and absorb everything you have included. 

Image Source: Campaign Monitor

Wrap up

When it comes to your email marketing strategy, you should not choose HTML over plain text or vice-versa. Both email versions are crucial to your email efforts and should be optimized to ensure a great experience for your users.

As new capabilities for HTML emails continue to increase, we also want to remind you that the benefits of plain text email marketing still exist, and you should be taking advantage of them. 

Find the balance that works for your strategy, and be sure to use Multipart MIME to cater to your users’ email preferences. No matter what one user prefers, you’ll have the versions needed to deliver your content the way they want. 

About the Author

Emma is an email marketing platform that gives you all the tools you need to send campaigns that really connect with your subscribers. With our

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