Every now and then the 'text vs HTML' debate is re-kindled. Just when is it best to send in plain text?
Let's consider the benefits:
- no worries about rendering or image blocking
- good delivery rate: less likely to fall foul of filters
- may be more likely to get read, doesn't look like a 'marketing email'
- the 'low tech' approach may be better received by some target audiences
But what are the cons? Here's what comes to mind:
- no way of tracking opens
- trackable links can be very long and in some email clients this will cause them to break
- with no graphical content the copy has to be excellent
- for some businesses the images are crucial (eg mail order clothing)
- lack of visual branding may make the message unmemorable
My consultant colleague only sends out small numbers of highly targeted emails, and I would guess her high success rate is down to relevance and timing, two of the most important factors in any email campaign.
For the majority of clients I still recommend HTML, but with the usual caveats: don't rely too heavily on images, include a link to a web version, offer a plain text version for those who prefer it and send your campaigns in multipart format, so that the text version is delivered if HTML can't be displayed.