Key Elements for Text Based Emails

The response rate for HTML emails is far higher than for text based emails.

However, between 25 and  30% of the people who receive emails can’t get HTML emails. 

And, of course, there is a certain percentage of people who simply prefer an email with text over HTML, which can often take longer to open.

Therefore, it just makes sense to know how to design a text based email, and to offer it as an option to your subscribers.

Unfortunately, like HTML, sometimes the email environment doesn’t allow the text to be displayed  properly…or at least in the manner you intended.  Like HTML, you will need to test your text email messages before sending them out.  If you find problems, or if your plain text email is generated by your software or your email marketing service, you may need professional assistance.  One source to consider is Text Formatter Plus. 

There are other sources to look at as well, whether you’re designing HTML or text based emails.  They will also provide you with email design testing services and tools.  Inbox Inspector, Email Reach, PreviewMyEmail are just a few companies that will preview your email for design and deliverability in various display environments.   They will help you create emails that are delivered…and readable…in every environment you send to…or may send to.

If you currently have a limited number of text based email clients, however, or don’t want to spend the additional time or money on further review, here are a few key things to know about writing and sending text based emails:

  • Use software designed for text.  If you’re working in Windows, use Notepad, not Microsoft Word or Word Perfect.  Notepad is not an add-on software program, so you’ll incur no extra expense, and it’s perfect for text based emails.  If you have a Mac, TextEdit is equivalent  program.
  • Keep your emails short.  Two or three paragraphs is all it takes to deliver the message, and all that will get read. 
  • Use bullet points.  You can highlight the critical points and draw attention with a few bullet points.
  • Use short line lengths.  Text emails should be no more than 80 characters per line.
  • Use hyperlinks…with full URL.   You can use hyperlinks with text emails, but it has to be an absolute link.  An example:  Click here to sign up:  
  • Use hard character returns.  With hard character returns, you can force line wraps where you want them.

Whether you’re sending a text based email, or one in HTML, you want it to look nice…and more importantly, do the job.  What recipients see when they look at your email is critical to how they will respond.


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