HTML vs. Text Formatted Emails...

As mentioned in the email design practices discussion, marketers have the option of sending the permission based emails either in HTML format or in pure text format. While the text formatted emails may have better delivery rates, the technology advancement in rich text (fonts, colors, images, etc.) can not be leveraged to get the attention of the users.

However resorting to only HTML formatted emails also have problems, as still some percentage of users prefer text only emails and shut out HTML email messages. Hence a combination of HTML and Text emails is the only option left to the marketers. Using a multi-part email formatted campaign is the preferred one. The email server delivers the HTML or Text email content based on the receiving systems capabilities.

While designing HTML based emails, a lot of rich of content could be provided. When the same email has to be delivered as a Text formatted email, the message contents may have to be significantly modified. Generally, most of the content will put on a web site and a brief message will be included in the email informing the recipient how to to get to the web site. Please note that the web site links have to be simple in these cases, as the user has to copy and paste the URL to the web browser.

It is also a good practice to include reasonable amount of text even in HTML emails without overloading with images and flashy stuff (see the discussion on number of images in a HTML email link). This would help translate the contents into text easily.

Another disadvantage of Text email is that there is no tracking mechanism for Email Opens. A clear gif or web beacon is used in HTML emails to track the open activity. This option can not be used in fully text based emails.

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