The disappointing answer to this problem is – it depends. Both types of emails are a good fit for different communication purposes. But what are their crucial pros and cons?
When we first started to communicate with each other by email, there was nothing but text in the content. Over time companies found a lot of space for effective commercial advertising in this channel and that is how plain-text emails transformed into HTML decorated with visuals while links are used as advertisements themselves!
50 years later, the debate about plain text vs HTML emails in the PR community is alive and well. And while constructive knowledge exchange is commendable, favoring one email type over the other without context or considering any communication purposes isn’t completely fair since both plain text and HTML emails can suit your needs. Before bringing their pros and cons to the table, let’s describe the differences between both types of mail.
So what’s the difference?
With plain text emails, there is no variety in terms of formatting. Every character looks alike and takes up the same amount space on your email body as well – even if you adjust fonts for specificity purposes or try using a larger font size (which most users cannot see without scrolling), their settings won’t show because it will default back to what they’re used too!
Plain text email is the most basic and economical form of communication. It’s like a phone call but with no background noise, video calls in which you see each other instead of talking face-to-face (though that would be ideal), or chat software where people can interact without speaking aloud–plain old written words!
HTML (Hyper-Text Markup Language) lets the sender structure an email in columns and rows, enabling them to use bold text or change colors. HTML also enables sharing of images/videos as well as gifs from site templates which are much more eye catching than plain emails!
The use of multimedia in emails allows you to boost your brand recognition and make it unique, without overcomplicating the process. Furthermore
you can embed links so that recipients will be able follow them easily while they’re reading content!
Why not send both at the same time?
You can’t know if your message will display properly in the recipient’s inbox. Your carefully arranged message might have lots of errors, especially with certain email clients that don’t load all implemented materials or convert it into an unreadable mess because you left some mistakes when coding – which is why we always send our emails both ways: HTML & plain text so they have a fallback option for reading simple texts and getting clear transmissions no matter what happens first!
People often talk about HTML emails, seeing their rich multimedia and messages without visuals but with slightly formatted text treated as plain-text ones. Bolding without coding does not exist in this case though so it’s more properly called “plain” mode for short!
Let’s list the pros and cons of both types and highlight the distinctions between them.
Pros of plain text email
- Easy preparation
- Highest deliverability; most often land in inboxes, if you don’t use spammy words
- Low size & immediate loading
- Accessible on all email readers
- Readable on all devices, even wearables, and IoT equipment
- No distracting elements
- Feels more personal
- Non-compulsory unsubscribe option
Cons of plain text email
- No extended text formatting options
- No capacity for building engagement & brand awareness with visually appealing design or multimedia
- Old-fashioned link displays
- No possibility of tracking user behaviors, even open rates
- Limited calls to action
- No attention-channeling option & difficult prioritization of message values in the wall-of-text format
- No way of personalizing the content for various recipients when sending the same email at a glance
Pros of HTML email
- Advanced text formatting options
- High capacity for building engagement & brand awareness with aesthetic design templates or multimedia
- User-friendly navigation through embedded links
- Complex tracking of user behaviors, like unique & repeated clicks of every piece of content
- Easier to implement calls to action & achieve measurable goals
- Possible prioritization of message values through the content hierarchy & design tricks that control attention channeling
- Easy personalization of content with recipient contact properties when sending mass emails
Cons of HTML email
- Difficult preparation
- Lower deliverability when inefficiently coded or filled with too much content; can land in the Promotions tab or spam box
- Bigger size & longer loading, potentially losing recipient interest
- Inaccessible on some email readers
- Not readable on all devices; when missing RWD – even on mobiles or desktops with a wide range of possible resolution specs
- Can be distracting with an overwhelming design
- By inappropriately selected target, can be perceived with a strong aversion in advance due to the salesy look & automated execution with little direct communication
- Mandatory unsubscribe button, which is being checked by spam filters when analyzing your content
In a world where the number of customer touchpoints continuously rises, it makes sense that plain text emails can be an option when readability is your priority. However in order for this type of email to display well on mobile devices or desktops you will need whitelisted addresses which may not always align with established business goals; as such consider what content would work best depending upon who receives them!
In Prowly, you can create and distribute both plain text emails in 1:1 communication, as well as send personalized HTML emails to many recipients at once.