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HTML vs. Plain Text email


When you create an email campaign you can choose to send it in either HTML or Text format.  HTML emails are aesthetically much more pleasing. They are easier to read and can include images. They have a higher impact and can be much more effective in delivering your messages to your customers. Only HTML emails can be reported on. Statistics such as who opened your email and which links they clicked on only pertain to HTML email campaigns. These statistics are not available if you send your email in Text format. Keep in mind unsubscribe and bounced reporting is available for both HTML and Text emails.

So why would you decide on Text formatted emails if HTML formatted emails are so much more powerful? Well there are a number of reasons why you would opt for a Text formatted email. Firstly not all your recipient's email clients support HTML emails. Many mobile email clients do not support HTML formatted emails. When you send HTML emails via our system we automatically include a Text version. This means if a recipient doesn't support HTML then they will automatically be shown the Text version.

Plain Text

Reasons to Use Plain Text

  • Displays Consistently Across Email Clients
  • Always Necessary for All Messages (whether you use HTML or not)
  • Looks More Like a Personal Email Message

Reasons Not to Use Plain Text

  • Can’t use Colors or Graphics
  • Can’t turn words like “Click Here” into Links – must type out URL
  • Harder to Break Up Into Easy-to-Scan/Read Sections
  • Can’t Use Multiple-Column Formats Easily


Reasons to Use HTML

  • Can Track Subscriber Opens and Actions. (you can even track subscriber’s purchases by email opened)
  • Can Make Text Links Clickable
  • Can Use Images and Colors – Good Branding Opportunities!  (good looking emails get passed on to others)
  • Easy to Break Up Content into Digestible Bits (using columns, headers)

Reasons Not to Use HTML

  • More work than text only emails. 
  • Images are often blocked and sent to junk or marked as span.
  • Looks less like a one-to-one message. (less personal)

HTML formatted emails are often mistakenly considered to be spam. It's not unusual for up to 20% of your recipients anti-spam software to consider your email newsletter to be spam and deliver it to the spam folder where the recipient is unlikely to ever see it. You can ask your recipients to add the email address you use for broadcasting to their white list (trusted list) but not all your recipients will do this or most likely know how to do this.


Text is cleaner and looks more like emails that we send to each other everyday. But HTML gets more attention.  HTML doesn’t always load correctly but you can use ALT text to get your point across to enable images to display or describe the images and HTML doesn’t always get through the spam and junk mail filters. 

The dilemma between choosing an HTML or Text only formatted email affects anyone familiar with email marketing. Experimenting and reviewing your bounced reports is an effective way to find out how many of your emails are getting through and how many are considered to be spam.

Now, The Million Dollar Question…

Is it better to reach more subscribers with a text only based message or possibly reach less people with a more powerful message using HTML?  Discuss amongst yourselves…

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