Bringing back the text-only email

October 4th, 2019

What’s the first thing you do in the morning? I bet you check your email on your phone. On average, how many emails do you wake up to every day?




Because of this phenomenon, we sometimes consider an old school email design – the text-only email – for some email messages that might require a more personalized touch.

What are the best uses for text-only emails?

While not perfect for every email message, a text-only email can replace HTML emails for instances like:

  • Appointment reminders: Reminder emails hardly ever require product imagery, and are intended to be quick nudges (not lengthy sales messages). In these cases, a simple plain text email might suffice.
  • Post-event emails: Did you recently exhibit at a trade show or complete an in-person sales call? Sometimes a quick follow-up email helps to maintain the relationship and continue a discussion. Text-only emails can come off as more personal in these instances, so it might be preferred.
  • Emails with single-focused calls-to-action: A single-focused email will have a call-to-action at the end that might invite the reader to view a web page, download a brochure, or sign-up for a meeting. Keeping the focus very singular, a text-only email can be short & sweet, and they can be personalized so the user is more likely to take action.

What are some benefits of a text-only email?

In general, we have found the following benefits of plain text emails:

  • Better deliverability due to fewer graphics that can be flagged by inbox spam filters
  • The more personalized style leads to greater response rate because the reader feels the email was tailor-made for them
  • Natural communication sounds authentic
  • Emails can be more easily read on wearable devices
  • Short and sweet message structure

Text vs. HTML

This is not to say that HTML emails are no longer needed – in fact, they may still be in the majority. Emails that are have significant sales messages, product imagery, infographics, links to videos, .gifs, banners, etc. may still be best displayed in HTML. Anytime it’s relevant for a message to appear as though it was sent from one-to-many (rather than a plain text email that appears like it was sent one-to-one), an HTML email is the way to go.

The next time you have an email message to send, consider your message, your audience, and the information you want to convey. Which kind of email will be the most appropriate?  Taking a beat to consider this might lead to an uptick in your deliverability and engagement rates.

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