When to Use Plain-Text Emails in Marketing 

In the beginning of email marketing, plain-text emails were all we had to reach leads and customers. But as email grew in popularity, many marketers started looking for ways to differentiate themselves from the competition.  

Enter HTML emails. Now you could include color, images, and other design elements in your emails – catching your reader’s eye and standing out over the rest. It led to higher open rates and better engagement with email content, even though HTML messages took a bit more time to create than plain-text emails. 

Superior Plain-Text Emails 

In some situations, plain-text emails are still superior to their design-heavy HTML counterparts. We’ve listed some of the most common emails below: 

  • Creating Automatic Emails for Sales Reps 

For many sales teams, following up with hundreds of customers every single week seems tough, if not impossible. Most businesses typically employ an automated email platform to help alleviate the strain. It sends check-in emails to a curated list of customers, either every week or every month. In these situations, using a plain-text email format helps the emails feel more personal to the recipients. 

  • Notifying Your Contacts of a Crisis 

If you’re alerting your customers to a crisis that requires urgent attention, a plain-text email is the best choice. It gives your emails a sense of urgency. You wanted to get your clients the information they need as soon as possible. You don’t want to waste time making everything look pretty. It also forces them to focus on the words themselves, without getting distracted by fancy design elements. 

As an example, plain-text emails are frequently sent by businesses when updating employees about pandemic protocols. 

  • Relaying Major Corporate News 

If your company recently purchased another entity, or was acquired itself, send a plain-text email. That way it won’t be mistaken for a newsletter or a typical marketing communication. And if the message is being sent from a senior executive in the company, plain-text will make the email feel more personal.  

  • Sending Legal Updates 

It is crucial that your customers read legal-related emails carefully. Plain-text emails should be used when sending out updates on your terms and conditions, changes in your privacy policy, etc. It’ll help recipients focus on the content and give them a clear reference point to refer to later. 

  • Notifying Customers of Services Updates or Interruptions 

Many companies plan for downtime. Whether it’s updating a website, fixing a bug, or switching to another service provider. Plain-text emails are great for letting your customers know when downtime is coming. They can also be helpful for error messages, delayed order messages, and more. 

  • Composing an Email That’s Text-Heavy 

Sometimes, you have to send a lot of information all at once. Plain-text emails are perfect for the job. For instance, articles and interviews are commonly sent via plain-text email. They’re usually longer than most emails and require explanations that might be missed if you threw in a picture or video link.  

Getting the Most Out of Plain-Text Emails 

Generating plain-text emails can seem easy to the untrained eye. Just write the content, pick your recipients, and send it. But if you want the best results, it’s important to know the best practices of plain-text email marketing 

  • Include Your Brand Name in the “From” Line 

Many businesses forget to include their brand name, especially when sending automatic sales emails. They prefer to put the sender’s name to make it feel more personal. But the recipient probably isn’t going to know who that person is. Not at first. Your email will end up in their trash or in their SPAM box. 

So, until you have an established rapport, try using both the sender’s name and your brand name in the “From” line. Here are a few examples. 

“[First Name of Person] from [Your Brand]”  

“[Your Brand] – [Name of Person]”  

“[Name of Person] at [Your Brand]” 

If the person’s name is unusually long, lead with your brand. Remember, most inboxes have a sender name limit of 20 characters so include the most valuable information first.  

  • Say “No” To Walls of Texts 

Just because you’re sending a plain-text email doesn’t mean you should write whatever you want. It is crucial that your writing is clear, engaging, and concise. That’s what your customers have come to expect. It’s also important that you break up your text visually, to help make it even easier to read. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started: 

  1. Keep your paragraphs under a strict 90-word limit. 
  2. Add visual interest with bullet points  
  3. Mark separations between paragraphs using a line of unintrusive characters (asterisks, dashes, plus signs, etc.) 
  4. Help readers skim smartly with subheaders 

  • Place Your Call to Action (CTA) Strategically 

With plain-text emails, it’s difficult to create eye-catching CTAs. It simply doesn’t have the colored text and beautiful buttons HTML does. Which is why it’s important for you to do two things:  

  1. Place your CTA “above the fold.” This means have your CTA near the top of the email – the part that’s visible without scrolling. It makes it far easier for recipients to see it and engage with it. 
  1. Be sure your CTA links to a shorter-than-average URL. Not only does this ensure the email is cleaner and loads faster, but it also prevents the email from being marked as spam. And if you try using URL shorteners, you run the risk of getting blocked by automatic filters. 

  • Always Include a Way for Recipients to Unsubscribe 

Providing an unsubscribe link is required by law. If you’re sending professional emails via a service provider or platform, you must give all recipients the option to opt-out. Even if it’s a personalized batch email from a specific salesperson. 

  • Make Sure Your Emails are Properly Optimized 

All-text emails for most email service providers aren’t actually plain-text emails, but HTML emails in disguise. That HTML coding is what lets you track open rates, use hyperlinked text, etc.  

Thankfully, most service providers autogenerate a true plain-text version of your HTML emails. But most autogenerated plain-text emails don’t look appealing. So be sure to clean up this version with bullet points and line breaks. And make sure your CTAs are in the right position! Taking just a few minutes to check on, and optimize, these emails will make a world of difference for your customers. 

Get The Right Emails for Every Occasion with GreenStar Marketing 

Looking for more expert advice about email marketing? GreenStar Marketing is more than happy to help! Whether it’s email generation, content marketing, or social media campaigning, our team of experts is dedicated to making you stand out from your competition. Contact us today to schedule a meeting and learn more

Joanna Toso

Joanna Toso

When to use plain-text emails in marketing
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