You’ve probably seen a lot of beautifully designed emails come into your inbox. These emails are often well-branded and very visual using imagery to grab the readers interest.
While these types of emails work well in many situations, there are clear benefits to using plain text emails as well.
What is a plain text email?
A plain text email has no styling and contains only text with nothing else too fancy. It typically resembles an email you would send to a friend or coworker.
Here are 2 examples…
Helpscout’s HTML welcome email:
Namecheap’s welcome email from the CEO:
See the difference here? The Helpscout welcome email features a large logo header, 3 emphasized buttons, and a large image of friendly support team faces.
The second Namecheap email has no styling and doesn’t have any visual elements. While it’s from the CEO, it’s safe to assume this email is still automated (i.e. scheduled and sent to every new customer automatically). It has a personal feel that makes the CEO seem approachable.
Create a personal connection
The bigger your company gets, the harder it is to seem human. Even small companies struggle with this sometimes and plain text emails can help to create a deeper connection with customers right from the start.
Sending a plain text email from a company executive to each and every customer at some point in their lifecycle shows them that the company cares. Using these emails to ask for feedback is a great way to find out what your audience is thinking and how you can better serve them.
Name cheap in this scenario, has created a special reply-to email just for CEO feedback. This makes sure that someone reads and responds to feedback without overcrowding the CEO’s main email inbox.
One of the biggest concerns with html emails is that they don’t look the same in all email clients. You can use some premade templates that help you avoid having any odd looking emails mishaps or you have to diligently test your emails…
There’s also a few good testing platforms out there like Litmus which let you preview your email in several different email providers to see what it’s going to look like. In the end, you’ll never be guaranteed that every person is seeing the same thing.
With plain text emails on the other hand, what you see is what you get. Without any fancy styles to display, there’s much less room for error.
Transactional email services typically don’t have drag and drop editors like the services you use to send newsletters. This can be frustrating so plain text is a good option for those who can’t code.
You don’t need to know much code (if any) to make plain text emails. Most email platforms have a plain WYSIWYG text editor that lets you add content easily.
The best option
Now that we understand a few of the pros and cons, which option is best? Honestly, it depends.
Plain text is great if you want to send a personal message to your audience or if you’re concerned about your email subscribers using older or outdated email platforms.
In most cases, it’s nice to use styled and branded emails so your emails stay consistent and customers know what to expect. I personally like simple designs best so don’t feel like you have to spend hours creating the perfect html template. Make sure every element in your emails has a purpose and keep the distractions to a minimum.
Which do you prefer? Plain text or html? Let me know in the comments below.