VerticalResponse Blog

VR Plain Text EmailI know, as you who build your email marketing campaigns, you need to get through it fast so you can move onto important stuff like running your business. I get it. But I think it’s time to tell you why you need to take a few extra minutes to include a text version of your email with your HTML email (Wikipedia: HTML email may include typographic information like colored headings, emphasized and quoted text, inline images and diagrams) when you send out your email marketing campaigns.

A few years ago, it was very necessary to include a text version of your emails since so many email clients munged images and HTML in general. These days most email readers like Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo! render HTML and images nicely but there are a few reasons I wanted to tell you why you need to offer both.

If you use an email service providers (ESPs), chances are when you create an HTML email, your provider sends out two versions of the email you create; the HTML version and a text version that you also need to create. Does your recipient get both in their inbox? No way. Depending on how they set up their email client, they get the appropriate version in their inbox. Here are some reasons for spending the extra 5 minutes to create a text version of your email.

Email Filters – Some spam filters recognize an email that is coming to them with only the HTML version. Many spammers don’t include a text version when they send their emails, so the filter might think that a spammer might be trying to get an email through and filter your email.

Sending to Large Businesses – Some large companies don’t accept email with HTML so you might want to test a text-only version vs. a nicely laid out HTML version. You might find that your text only gets a better response.

Mobile Devices – Many people today are checking their email on their PDA and many of the PDAs don’t render HTML well, especially the older versions. For this reason you’ll want to include a text version. Since text emails on a computer have line breaks at about 65 characters and mobile devices are 20 or so, you might consider making it much shorter than you would for an email that is read on a computer.

Transactional Emails – If you’re sending a notification of shipment or delivery, or a confirmation, you might not need to send an image-heavy email unless you want to include an offer. People like to scan transactional emails and move on.

I hope this clears up why you should be including text versions of your email. They don’t have to be elaborate but you should include one in all of your campaigns.

© 2009 – 2012, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

  • Doug

    Thanks for the info. Is it possible to add some sort of conditional code to a custom HTML email we use in VR to force Lotus Notes to display the text version of an Email rather than the HTML version?

  • Karl

    Great article. I will begin sending out both text and HTML versions to increase deliverability. Thank you.

  • Ray Tolley

    Perhaps you have missed the most important reason for providing a Text Version – that of Accessibilty. Nice layouts with lots of graphics might attract some audiences but make reading for the VI very difficult, particularly when using a text-reader either for magnification or voice.

  • William

    I completely agree with the mobile reason for using text-based emails. When you’re on the mobile and scrolling through a list of emails to review, nothing is more annoying than waiting for an email to appear while it’s trying to download images that may or may not be relevant to the message itself.
    Even more importantly, creating a text-based email will help you focus on the actual content. I think we can sometimes get carried away with how images look, where they are placed, how text flows around them, etc. and forget about the actual message.
    Great article!

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