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Denise Keller

How to Make Your Plaintext Emails Stand Out

Mar 11 2011, 07:01 PM by

Scroll through the messages in your inbox and you will likely see that most of them are designed in the HTML format. Although HTML is largely preferred over plaintext, as email marketers we have been taught to send along a copy of both to be on the safe side. Some readers actually prefer the all-text version, but how do you make an impact when it is so, well, plain? Don’t worry. I’m about to share some easy ways to make your alternative plaintext emails stand out and get attention.
Think Short and Impactful
Plaintext email means you have no images, logos and other graphical elements taking up space. However, that doesn’t you mean you can just go crazy with your text and send readers a mini ebook. Even when text is your primary weapon, you still want to abide by the best practice of getting straight to the point and grabbing the reader’s attention right away. Give them the juicy details from the jump and avoid all the fluff. The images in an HTML email newsletter can be distracting but a plaintext email that fails to get right to the point can turn your readers off just as fast.
Enhance Readability
Even what appears to be a few short sentences and paragraphs on your end can result in long blocks of boring text when there are no graphical elements to work with. Many subscribers will scan over their messages - and if your email comes off as a chore to read on first glance, chances are they won’t even bother. Consumers don’t have all day to spend on your message, so enhancing readability should be among your top priorities when designing plaintext emails. All you have to do here is complement your text with basic formatting such as adding bullet points to break up the copy and using words in boldface or italics to highlight important elements.

These are simple ways to make your message easier to digest for people who fear that reading it may keep them from something more important.
Write Superior Copy
The lack of HTML features is no excuse to slack on your email copywriting. You still have to make your plaintext compelling and engaging. If anything, your copy is more important, as you have no visual aids to lean on for support. Since the plaintext readers can’t enjoy the awesome images you send along to your HTML subscribers, your copy has to bear the load of painting a descriptive picture. It must do its job of gaining their interest and convincing them to take the next critical step in the process.

HTML email is statistically the better choice, but plaintext still has its place in the email marketing arena. In fact, it may actually perform better for you with some members of your audience. And while plaintext emails are fairly easy to create, always keep in mind that there are actions that can and should be taken to increase their effectiveness.

Posted in Email Design & Templates

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