A guide to plain text emails

4 minute read

In an age of HTML I’m sure that not everyone will be familiar with the concept of plain text in email marketing; its importance however should definitely not be overlooked. With this in mind we’ve put together a quick guide to plain text emails, what they are and why you should be incorporating them into your email campaigns.

What is a plain text email?
It’s an email devoid of any HTML formatting. It’s not very pretty, but it does the job of getting your message across when an HTML email is not appropriate.

Why should you send plain text?
Some people choose not to receive HTML emails and some people simply cannot, so it pays to cover all bases and send plain text as well as HTML wherever possible. Nowadays many people also choose to read their email on a mobile device and these won’t always be fully compatible with HTML emails. Furthermore, setting a plain text version of your campaign will gain you brownie points with spam filters, as it is often assumed that the ‘lazy spammer’ wouldn’t bother to do so.

How does plain text differ from full HTML?
In a plain text email there will be no images (alternative text will not even be displayed), text formatting cannot be applied and our social share buttons will not work.  Also things like anchor tags, indented text and bulleted or numbered lists will be stripped from the email. A link will be displayed as its full URL and technically won’t appear as a hyperlink, but most email clients are clever enough to know what a link looks like and make it clickable. This is not the case however with Outlook 2007, 2010 or Lotus Notes 7, which will display URLs in a non-clickable format.

OK, so what does actually work?
Personalisation and campaign links such as forward to a friend or unsubscribe will work in plain text, however the rules regarding hyperlinks still apply. Like I said, plain text isn’t pretty, but it’s often useful.

How do you make a plain text version of a campaign using Sign-Up.to?
The Sign-Up.to Create section makes creating plain text emails very straightforward. Just one click will generate a plain text version of your campaign, see this handy guide for details.

How do you send the plain text version of a campaign?
Conveniently Sign-Up.to takes care of this for you. The system will automatically send out a multi-part email which contains both the HTML and plain text versions of your campaign. Depending on the inbox settings of your recipient, the appropriate version will be delivered. Your subscriber will only ever receive one version of the campaign.

How do you preview the plain text version of the email?
If you simply send a preview of a campaign, chances are you’ll get the HTML version as it will deliver what’s appropriate for your inbox. You’ll need to tell the system to send you the plain text version. Find out how here.

Hopefully this post has helped shed some light on the topic of plain text, but if you’re still unsure then drop our support team an email and we will be happy to help. Anything to add? Please leave us a comment in the box below.