What you MUST now about Text vs. HTML Emails !

May 2


Bjorn Brands

Bjorn Brands

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We offer you some tips and suggestions for creating both Text and HTML emails. Run regular tests to see which format produces better results.


HTML messages allow for text formatting,What you MUST now about Text vs. HTML Emails ! Articles multiple columns, images, and brand recognition.

They are growing in popularity and over 95% of customer email programs today will support HTML email. Unfortunately most spam is also formatted using HTML and thus differentiating between requested email and HTML spam messages can be difficult.

HTML emails are therefore more likely to trigger spam filters. According to email deliverability expert Dori Friend, you should NEVER use HTML email. Dori's advice is supported by some studies.

A 2004 study by AWeber.com shows that plain text messages are undeliverable 1.15% of the time and HTML only messages were undeliverable 2.3% of the time.

But on the other hand we have seen tests were they changed from html to plain text and the open rates dropted with over 15%.

The whole Text vs. HTML email problem is still widely debated in ecommerce circles and the best advice we can give you is to test it out on your own.

Test and determine what works best for your customer base. Your test results will always be your most reliable source of information.

Here are some things to consider when making your decision:

· Over 95% of customer email clients are capable of receiving HTML emails. The compatibility rate will continue to increase. Few outdated email clients cannot display HTML, but you can pretty much bet that the majority of your customers will have newer versions of email clients.

· A surprisingly large portion of the population still uses dial-up to connect to the internet. This creates a longer load time for HTML emails.

· Spam filters are becoming increasingly sophisticated and often block HTML emails since most spam comes in that format. Work related and personal emails are generally in text and do not have delivery problems.

· HTML file sizes are typically larger than text emails and might therefore automatically get transferred to a user's Bulk/Junk or Trash folders. Aim to create HTML emails less than 24k in size.

Text has limited formatting features when compared to HTML, but it does not necessarily mean it is less effective. Whether you use Text or HTML, be sure to follow these formatting rules.

Tips for Formatting Text Emails:

· Use a text editor such as Notepad or WordPad when formatting your emails. Do NOT use Microsoft Word as it embeds a lot of formatting bugs that make it difficult to work with and results in errors on the recipients' ends.

· In text emails don't make the text bold, italicized, colored, or centered. Instead you can use CAPITAL letters for the words or phrases that need emphasis.

But don't go overboard; too much capitalization is difficult to read, gives the impression of yelling, and resembles spam. In fact many spam filters will deduct points for every CAPITALIZATION.

· The width most email clients can properly display is 65 characters (including spaces). Use a hard return (i.e. press the "Enter" key) every 60 characters or so. Remember that spaces count too. Exceeding 65 characters runs the risk of your recipients seeing awkward line breaks or cut off sentences.

· Create your text email first in Courier font and then in Arial. These are the most commonly used display fonts by email clients. Adjust line breaks and "white space" (i.e. the space between paragraphs). Your message will not look the same in both fonts, so do not stress over it. Concentrate on perfecting the format in Courier.

Tips for Formatting HTML Emails:

· Use an HTML editor like Dreamweaver and take advantage of all the easy to use formatting options. Here you can play around with the text alignment, font size, colors and more, and you don't even need to know HTML!

· Just as with text emails, HTML emails should not exceed a specified width. Wrap your message in a table no wider than 420 pixels. Your message may get cut off or not print properly if your table width is too large.

· Try to avoid using images. People with slow connections will have a hard time downloading them and those viewing your message offline will not see them at all, which could appear unprofessional on your part.

· Some email clients like Gmail initially don't show images, so make sure your messages are readable with or without images. We understand that images can be an essential component of your message, and if that's the case, then be sure to compress your image files properly.

· Use your formatting options tastefully. HTML allows you to make text bold, italicized, and underlined. You can use color and embed hyperlinks rather than use long URLs. You have a lot more ways to make your message visually appealing, however you want to be careful not to go too far.

We've offered you some tips and suggestions for creating both Text and HTML emails. Run regular tests to see which format produces better results; it's possible that your readers may change their mind from one email to the next and that's OK.

If you know how to effectively format each type you can cater to any audience.