plain text versus html emails resized 600Over the last six weeks we've discussed HTML and plain text emails and their differences. A lot of people have asked which format they should use and it truly depends on your email's goal and who your audience is.

At the very least you should experiment with both types of emails. Make sure you have your goals and metrics setup before you start experimenting so you can understand what email format is outperforming the other.

Plain Text Emails

They have no HTML formatting at all. All of the links in the email are visible and you can’t bold or underline and text. The only thing email marketers can do is add personalization to the email, like Hi "First Name." You should definitely try sending plain text emails if you’re sending emails to businesses that have sophisticated spam filters or firewalls.

If you’re audience is reading your emails on mobile devices, especially Blackberry’s, then definitely try sending plain text emails. Plain text emails will look very good on mobile devices. Plain text emails are great for B2B businesses and for businesses where people consume their emails on mobile devices.

HTML Emails with no Images

These are HTML emails but they only include text and a few minor HTML elements. Typically they include anchor text links, bolded text and maybe some font styling.  They usually have better deliverability rates than emails with a lot of images and will render nicely on most mobile devices.

HTML Emails with Images

Emails that contain images are the most common type of email. They typically contain several images and include a lot of HTML markup. The emails usually don’t render very well on mobile devices and because most email clients don’t display images; they usually don’t look very good in the recipient’s inbox.

The emails usually have lower deliverability rates than non-image emails because spam filters look at the image to text ratio of the email to determine if it should be delivered to the user. We recommend having less than a .025 image to text ratio (1 image for every 40 words).

Email Grader

HubSpot’s new Email Grader app will actually show you what your emails will look like on mobile devices including iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Andriod-based phones. Use the tool to idenitfy design errors the email might have and how well your email is formatted for mobile.

One thing you can do is survey your leads and customers and ask what types of emails they prefer to receive and what devices they use to read your emails. 

 Have you experimented with sending plain text emails?  Do you only send plain text emails? What's your opinion?

Image credit: smartpassiveincome.com

Originally published Jun 8, 2011 1:41:00 PM, updated January 13 2014