Should I email my list using HTML or plain text

36 replies
Hi. I have just started building my list for my free report and I have been writing my auto responder emails in HTML.

I have noticedcthat the click through rate is very low.

Could this be down to the format of the email?

Or is it most likely my wording of my emails.

This is my first ever list so I'm a complete novice when it comes to writing emails.

Any advice would be great
#email #html #list #plain #text
  • Profile picture of the author cassidywilliams
    98% will be able to read HTML emails just fine.

    But most autoresponders will allow you to send emails in both, text and html, at the same time. People who can receive html emails will, and the rest will get plain text.

    It is highly unlikely the format affects the CTR.

    Whats the CTR rate anyway? It's normal for it to be low (~1% is common).

    Key factors for CTR:

    - Email was sent to an opt-in list
    - The subject line matches the content
    - The content is interesting
    - There is only one call to action, but can be repeated many times
    - The call to action is benefit oriented
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  • Profile picture of the author simonhewitt
    My click through rate on a couple of the emails is 3.2 and that's because they have been opened. I am trying to make sure I give good content rather than all the one line emails I receive that say " your download is ready" . I know my list is tiny at the moment but I really want to get it right so that I build up a good relation with my subscribers.
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  • Profile picture of the author Deborah Marsden
    Hi,
    I have to agree with Cassidywilliams. Most folks will be able to open html and others won't. What is most important is the subject line (as well as providing value in the email). The subject should make them want to open the email, so concentrate on that since you said you do provide good content.
    All the best to you
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  • Profile picture of the author simonhewitt
    Thank for the advice. I think I will sit down and write 10 different catch subject titles for my next email and see which grabs me the most..

    Shame there isn't a report on how to write subject lines.

    I think I just need to practice.

    Cheers
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    • Profile picture of the author Michael D Forbes
      Originally Posted by simonhewitt View Post

      Shame there isn't a report on how to write subject lines.
      Do a search for Headline Handgun by Chris Munch (WSO), it may be what you are looking for.

      Edit: Nevermind - Wasn't paying attention well - Subject line/Headline not the same thing. Still a helpful product though.
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      • Profile picture of the author MatthewNewnham
        Originally Posted by Michael D Forbes View Post

        Do a search for Headline Handgun by Chris Munch (WSO), it may be what you are looking for.

        Edit: Nevermind - Wasn't paying attention well - Subject line/Headline not the same thing. Still a helpful product though.
        Hi Michael,

        I'm not so sure - I think that headline writing should leverage headlines. As you rightly suggest, Chris Munch's Headline Handgun is a great WSO, and his sales page points out that this skill is really key for email marketing...

        Best wishes from Scotland,

        Matthew
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  • Profile picture of the author glinda2011
    HTML emails are easier to click than pasting the plain text in their browser.
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  • Profile picture of the author simonhewitt
    Looks like I'm sticking with my HTML emails and just improving on my writing of subject lines..

    Do you have any pointers.. Ie.. Certain words that work well..

    Thanks again.
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  • Profile picture of the author ColinChia
    Hey Simon,

    Why don't you do a split test?

    Send half your list the HTML version and the other half the plain text version.

    Then compare the results. Depending on which autoresponder your using that should be an easy job.

    Hope this helps,

    Colin
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  • Profile picture of the author simonhewitt
    I'm currently using list wire and I know it let's me send both text and HTML but not sure about the split test. Will check that out.

    As I said my list is smaller than my family members but it's a start and the only way I can go is forward.

    Especially when I get great advice from here.
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  • Profile picture of the author dalereardon
    Hi,

    Html emails are more likely to get sorted into spam/junk folders. I also personally hate Html emails as my Outlook doesn't display them properly.

    Dale.
    moving to Tasmania
    moving to Tasmania
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  • Profile picture of the author Fazal Mayar
    I been wondering the same, i use html and its fine for me and the readers too. In html there are more features.
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    Blogger at RicherOrNot.com (Make Money online blog but also promoting ethical internet marketing)

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  • Profile picture of the author 36burrows
    You should be able to send both
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  • Profile picture of the author Simon Lim
    Sending in html or text usually doesn't have an influence on CTR.

    There are a lot of different factors that come down to whether the reader actually clicks the link: subject line, your actual email copy, how engaged/interested/curious they are about what you have to say, the relationship you have with them, whether the topic actually fits in with their needs, how well you sell the click...

    You said you had about 3% CTR on your list...that's not bad. Some people with lists in the 10,000s or even 100,000s barely get 3%.

    Keep testing and tweaking your copy, notice what works best, and keep improving on them.

    Simon
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  • Profile picture of the author Liam Murray
    HTML emails are best but it should send both. Again although HTML is better it's up to you on what you think is good to use.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dee Odus
    People here are saying HTML format doesn't have influence on CTR, really? Also some are saying 98% can open and read HTML email just fine. I disagree a little bit.

    Consider that most people now read their emails on mobile devices, especially blackberries, iphone and android devices. Windows Phone and Blackberries disable images by default and sometimes the email looks completely garbage on these devices.

    When I open email on my mobile, either forces me to scroll left-right, images are disable and even some HTML don't load completely.

    I love plain text emails, straight forward.. but it all depends on your target market.
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  • Profile picture of the author David Allen
    I always prefer to send plain text as a lot of mobile devices display them better but it's always been at the expense of tracking stats that you can do in HTML.
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    • Profile picture of the author Shaun OReilly
      I send both Plain Text and HTML version of each message.

      I use minimal formatting on the HTML version with no extra
      images aside from the tracking pixel.

      I find that CTRs for the HTML links are higher because I
      use call-to-action words as part of the anchor text.

      Trackable links in a plain text e-mail are more ugly, more
      prone to being broken off if they're too long and so they
      tend to have lower CTRs.

      That said, I send both Plain Text and HTML versions so
      people receive the most suitable version for the device
      they're using to view the e-mail at the time.

      Plus, I'm a testing and tracking nut so I prefer to track
      my advertising whenever possible and HTML allows me
      to do that better.

      Dedicated to mutual success,

      Shaun
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  • Profile picture of the author WebPen
    As a few people mentioned, the CTR probably won't change based on the format. The only way I would think that it might improve it is if you switch to HTML, people like what they see, and next time you shoot an email they're more likely to open it (since it isn't boring text).

    But your best bet is probably to improve your subject lines.

    Good luck!

    Justin
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    • Profile picture of the author Shaun OReilly
      Originally Posted by Justin Stowe View Post

      CTR probably won't change based on the format.
      Have you ever tested it?

      I've found that CTRs on HTML are higher because I
      can use call-to-action words in the anchor text for
      the link...

      e.g. click here, get your copy now, etc.

      Rather than butt-ugly links in text e-mails like...

      e.g http//clicks.aweber.com/y/ct/?l=5E1U_&m=3hb7K5B3gyf1nRX&b=HCYZsv0yMl7tml9JMsftm P

      At least my subscribers tend to be more hesitant
      to click on the raw plain text links.

      Test it for yourself... your mileage may vary.

      Dedicated to mutual success,

      Shaun
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  • Profile picture of the author sandrasims
    Most email services like aweber will allow you to send both. The receiver's email program will read the HTML one if they have it turned on. If not, then they will get the plain text.
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  • Profile picture of the author JamesGw
    I'd imagine the CTR would be better with html, but I don't know for sure. I think plain text looks absolutely horrible.
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  • Profile picture of the author Randall Magwood
    You should roll with the text format. It's proven to work and will still get you sales. Plus you can rely on the fact that it will pretty much look the same on different email services. Plus... if you went with HTML, some of your images and graphics could be blocked by default by some email providers like Gmail.
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  • Profile picture of the author Usmile
    If you find HTML doesn't works well, try writing it in plain text. If the result is still the same, I guess it has something to do with your delivery. Try do go over with your words, make it more catchy and pro.
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  • Profile picture of the author paul_1
    It doesn't matter to me actually - As long as you've got good Subject and Content, you should be fine - it's what matters most.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dann Vicker
    You must always send both...

    I generally see a little more ctr when I send both html and text rather than just one.
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  • Profile picture of the author KimboJim
    I would say both work, but since I'm not big into doing any HTML/CSS work, I usually just send plain text. As long as the message is good, then it won't matter how bad it looks.
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  • Profile picture of the author surferchris
    I would certainly send both
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  • Profile picture of the author daddykool
    Always send both html and a text version

    That way you have them all covered!
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  • Profile picture of the author big-marketing
    1. ctr most certainly can be affected by format (in most cases positively with html but in "some" cases plain text can win.) Test for yourself.

    In your case, could be subject, your content, list source, copywriting, etc

    2. html email looking bad on mobile devices is not a problem with html emails. it's a problem with particular senders. plain text can look bad on mobile devices as well.

    hth
    big jason
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  • Profile picture of the author Exel
    There is much more what you can do with html than with plain text.

    As many others, I send both plain text and html, and use minimal formatting in my emails,
    mainly the classic, bold, italic, underscore. Also use call to action as anchor text for the link.
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  • Profile picture of the author LegionNate
    Am I understanding you guys to say a 1-3% CTR? So for every 100 emails sent out, 1-3 get opened? I haven't began list-building in the internet marketing niche area, but that seems incredibly low.
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  • Profile picture of the author mtbux
    I think Plain text is better Because If you add images, It won't be appeared until user click "show images"
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  • Profile picture of the author jingrong
    For me I use both. HTML is better than plain text but make it simple
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  • Profile picture of the author WorkOnline
    Hi, I also noticed that problem that's why I'm no longer using HTML instead I'm using the PLAIN text. So far it's working just fine for me.
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