The Pros and Cons of Text-Based Email Versus HTML

Which is better: text-based emails or HTML? The debate is almost as old as email marketing itself. In 2011 and 2014, HubSpot asked survey takers which they prefer, and both years a majority chose HTML. In practice, though, simple, text-based email designs win out time and time again in A/B testing.

Of course, it would be silly to write off HTML emails — and in fact, images, videos, and creative design elements are some of the most memorable features of successful email marketing. What is there to make of it all then? In this post, we’ll explain the basics of both text-based emails and HTML emails as well as their pros and cons so that you can decide for yourself which is worth your time and effort.

Plain Text Emails

Plain text emails are messages that contain text without any additional flair, such as fonts, colors, or design elements. Nothing is embedded, including images or links. They’re just plain Jane, good ole’ fashion text emails — the same as you might send to your friends or colleagues.

These types of emails were commonplace when emails were first being used in marketing. For obvious reasons, too, considering we hadn’t yet tapped the potential of what emails could be and look like — or built an infrastructure of email tools and platforms to aid in their transformation.



HTML Emails

HTML (or HyperText Markup Langage) emails are a much more visual approach to email marketing. You can incorporate your own colors, styles, and images, as well as all the links your heart desires. While they originally caused a lot of rendering issues, especially on mobile devices, the rise of responsive design has changed that, making it easier to send HTML emails that look just how you intended them to.



Both plain text and HTML emails service a purpose — it just comes down to what you’re trying to achieve. Do what most marketers do and send a hybrid of both to maximize your email marketing potential. 

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