HTML Vs. Text Emails: Anyone tested here?

by 23 comments
Hey Warriors,

I'm running some tests on this...and I can't get a concrete pro vs. con list going. Text seem simple but HTML can do all that too plus graphics.

Has anyone split tested which has higher conversion rates?


Brad Spencer
#internet marketing #emails #html #tested #text
  • Profile picture of the author Michael Dominic
    Text is clean, you get your message across, and you don't run the risk of a ruined layout when someone opens an unsupported HTML message.

    The message is more important in my opinion.
    • Profile picture of the author Neil Morgan
      Everyone needs to test this in their own niches because it will vary.

      In this niche, one of the most successful marketers there is, Derek Gehl of IMC, says he has tested this extensively and the best converting emails are those that look like plain text but are actually HTML.

      Meaning, they're fairly plain looking, but have the occasional bits of bold, italics and clickable words without huge long URLs.


  • Profile picture of the author Mark Brian
    I think most lists in the IM niche uses plain text.
    HTML emails can be a pain for some users and most email clients disables images automatically.
  • Profile picture of the author TheRichJerksNet
    I would agree with most others.. It realy depends.

    I have some clients that have 20,000+ members and most those members prefer html but then again under the same type of site I have other clients that have only 4,000 members and they prefer text..

    So really is just depends upon many different factors and you are best to test within your niche..

    • Profile picture of the author SeanIM
      another reason to use html is so that you can embed an image
      and track open rates...not thinking you can track open rates
      with a pure text message...that's only if you're seriously into
      testing your subject lines

  • Profile picture of the author mbacak
    Here's something that I discovered that may be of intrest to some here:

    I watched my deliverablity with both deliverymonitor and with senderscore
    and both show that I got better delivery with plain text messages.

    The real answer is to test it. Because, there is really no blanket
    statement here.

    But, I have personally found that plain text emails work better for me.
  • Profile picture of the author Mark Hendricks
    Plain text works better for me.

    Focus on using psychological triggers without hype to get clicks
    to your sales page and sites.

    Here's something that will help.


    Mark Hendricks
    • Profile picture of the author Brad Spencer
      Originally Posted by hunteridge View Post

      Plain text works better for me.

      Focus on using psychological triggers without hype to get clicks
      to your sales page and sites.

      Here's something that will help.


      Mark Hendricks

      Thanks for the free gift.

      I appreciate it.

      I'll look into it.


  • Profile picture of the author trafficwave
    It's not as simple as HTML vs Text.

    HTML used sparingly can be a real benefit.

    Get carried away with HTML and your message may not make it past the spam filters, may end up looking like junk, or (gasp!) get flagged as spam.

    For me, the best way to use HTML has been sparingly so that the message looks clean (almost like plain text) but still has some nice formatting to cause headers, sub-headers, etc... to stand out.

    I can format my bullet points nicely with HTML and I think that helps the message stand out a bit more, as well.
  • Profile picture of the author omnisin
    My main concern is that my emails are not automatically marked as spam.

    I basically have always used Aweber, and it has worked quite well for me. Their spam analyzer seems to work quite well. A lot of times when testing new lists I will sign up for other email accounts and then sign up to my own list just to make sure everything is working correctly. I have never noticed a problem as long as I have a decent spam analyzer score with Aweber.

    Text emails are by far the easiest to make sure are not marked spam, but html emails can easily be done as well.

    Like I said, my number one concern in this area is to make sure that my email is seen and not marked as spam, and this has worked quite well for me. Also, I feel having rather plain text emails, for the most part, works best for most niches. I kind of look at it as a squeeze page. Basic ones that get the point across quickly work the best.

    The point of an email to a list is generally to do one of two things: provide information to help your list while building your credibility or tell a story and warm them up to purchase. Mostly plain seems to work the best for this in a lot of niches.

    I will point out there is one niche I have come across that this does not seem to work well for... Poker/Gambling. This is from my own personal testing, others may have had different results.

    • Profile picture of the author sylviad
      You have to consider your reader when choosing whether to use HTML and just how much of it to use.

      I've been getting some sizeable emails lately that are HTML. These are around 2MB! A bit much, since it takes time to download the stupid things. My impression initially was that there was an attachment, but there wasn't.

      I turned off the graphics download on Outlook. But some sites are all graphics, which makes them unreadable unless I ask to download the pictures. So I then have to ok to download images just to read the message.

      HTML allows you to put your logo on your emails, but is there really any reason to have graphics beyond that?

      Emails are much easier to read when they aren't cluttered with images.

      From a personal standpoint, I would recommend keeping special effects down to bold, italic, colored text and perhaps a small logo for quick identification.

      GetResponse suggests text is better to cover those recipients who do not have HTML capability.

      A related question...

      When your auto responder has the option to send HTML and/or text, what happens if you choose text AND html option? Does everyone get both emails? Do they get messages they can't read and the same message that they can read? Wouldn't that irritate people?

  • Profile picture of the author GuerrillaIM
    I was emailing out a very nice looking HTML email to my list. I changed it to a plain text format and tried to make it look more like a personal email and not an advertising email. The response went up over 300%
  • Profile picture of the author abelacts
    It's hard to say. I use HTML with plain style because I want to track open rate and click rate.

    But overall, the priority comes in this order:

    deliverability -> open rate -> click rate

    If your email is not delivered, open rate and click rate become irrelevant. You have to get passed in the above order first before you talk about something else. Again, to find out what is best, testing is the only way to tell.
    • Profile picture of the author Neil Morgan
      When your auto responder has the option to send HTML and/or text, what happens if you choose text AND html option? Does everyone get both emails? Do they get messages they can't read and the same message that they can read? Wouldn't that irritate people?
      I can't speak for the functionality of other autoresponders but in AutoResponse Plus it means that the email is sent in multi-part format, which contains both plain text and HTML.

      If the recipient's email software can display HTML then they'll see HTML. If it can only display plain text, then they'll see plain text.

      It's worth noting that SpamAssassin will give your email a higher spam score if it only has html, and is not multi-part. In other words:

      Only plain text: lower spam score

      Only html: higher spam score

      Multi-part (both plain text and html): lower spam score


  • Profile picture of the author zeurois
    As far as I know, HTML gives you a free spam point to help your message get in bulk. Try to use plain text.
  • Profile picture of the author angelnetwork
    I own the site and I have tested text vs html and what I have found is the text emails have a better deliverability but I get higher actions, therefor making more money, with HTML. I htink with this site becuase it is so graphic in nature and creates a "feeling" the graphics brings the viewwer back to the web site experience.
  • Profile picture of the author tommygadget
    If this helps any, I will post my own observations. Many of you know, the electronics online giant. The only time I buy anything from them is when I get those cool html emails.

  • Profile picture of the author Teenage Genius
    To be honest i have no experience yet of building lists and e-mailing customers.

    However, whenever i log into my Hotmail and read a message it blocks all the images and some of the HTML coding. - This leaves the message looking messy and all-over-the-place. You can view the HTML message properly if you click "mark as safe".

    Where as if you just wrote a plain text e-mail then Hotmail customers would not have to click "mark as safe"

    This may be worth taking into consideration. It's the only piece of help i can give you im afraid.

  • Profile picture of the author SullyUI
    Definitely use text, HTML can create way too many hassles. Spam guards love catching HTML, not so much plain text.

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