There has been an ongoing debate, since the beginning of time. The debate is about the usage of HTML emails vs. plain text emails. Which types of emails give better results?
Let us briefly establish what these 2 types of emails are.
Plain text emails, as the name suggests, are emails that just have text. These emails typically don’t have multimedia – images, videos, gifs, etc. You can think of HTML emails as webpages.
Okay, so now which ones are better… or who kicks whose butt?
Well, the answer is not black and white. There are a few nuances here.
HTML emails, for the lack of a better word, are a little heavy. They contain many more files than plain text emails. Due to this, Marketers have often claimed that there are higher chances of an HTML email landing in the spam folder, and not reaching your audience. However, there is an article by Hubspot that says that the quality of coding matters – poor quality coding (for example, broken links) increases the chances of the HTML email landing in the spam folder. So one way of avoiding this would be using high-quality coding practices.
However, it seems that when it comes to performance, HTML emails still can’t beat text emails. Brands like Hubspot and ConvertKit have claimed that text emails do perform better than HTML emails. I believe that these claims are based on parameters like open rates, clicks and so on.
It might seem that HTML emails are useless. Well, hold on.
I do believe though that HTML emails have a place.
Text emails are extremely personalized, human and hence have a ‘vulnerability’ about them. In other words, in a text email, a human being is talking to another human being. This is risky, of course. It can become scary for a brand to send such vulnerable emails, as they feel too exposed.
B to B business, (for example, product companies or offshore software development companies) do not want to take such a risk. They are not comfortable with this exposure.
And hence, they would want to use an HTML emailer… or in other words, a newsletter. An HTML newsletter is not sent by a human being. The newsletter is a representation of the company as a whole. This newsletter typically consists of different content pieces like – an article posted on the company blog, the product updates that were launched, mergers & acquisitions, and so on. For brands that want to be formal, and less vulnerable, HTML newsletter works the best.
There is another advantage to sending HTML emails.
Some brands (or a freelancer) prefer sending only one email a week. In fact, some brands prefer sending an email once a fortnight. In such cases, it is better to collate all the information and send it in one go. In other words, combine multiple content pieces in a single email and send it as a newsletter.
One podcast that is gaining a lot of traction lately goes by the name “The Long and The Short Of It”. The podcast has been created by two lovely individuals- Peter Shephard and Jen Waldman. This podcast brand sends out a weekly emailer, in which they make various recommendations like the book that you should be reading, the book that you should be reading, the quote that you should ponder on, and so on. HTML emailer works great for them.
Now let’s consider the other side.
Just a simple google search of ‘Best email marketers in the world’ will give you a list of marketers who are changing the world using their emails. Go to their website and subscribe for their newsletter.
Almost all of them, would have text emails.
Such is the power of text emails.
Let us explore a few characteristics and advantages of text emails.
Text emails allow you to create a human connection with the audience. Your audience wants to hear from a person… not from an ‘organization’. Text emails allow you to create intimate relationships. Text emails also generate conversations… which means that people will respond to your emails.
Subscribe to Andre Chaperon’s email list and you would know what I am referring to. An HTML newsletter has limitations when it comes to telling a story… but text emails will allow you to use the craft of storytelling in your emails.
If you are anything like me, you prefer writing over designing. I can write all day long, but if you tell me to design something, I am going to frown. HTML newsletters often take a longer time to be designed. And hence, it’s much easier to show up every day, write that email and send it to your subscribers.
If it looks as if I have some bias towards text emails, you are right. I do love text emails.
But the open-minded part in me wants to accept the existence of HTML newsletters. They do have some role to play.