Subscriber JB writes: “I enjoy your newsletters, and have a question for you. You use plain text e-mail. You do not use HTML or other fancy formatting, images, etc.
“I presume you do this on purpose, and that you have found that plain text e-mail newsletters outperform HTML formatted e-mail newsletters?”
Before I answer, let me point out that, technically speaking, this newsletter is not text; it is “text in an HTML shell”.
That means it looks like a text newsletter. It was written in Word and saved as text. But then it was put into HTML code prior to distribution.
The reason is twofold. First, the e-mail distribution service we use, Constant Contact, sends only HTML e-mails, not text.
Second, with HTML you can measure the open rate. With straight text, you cannot.
But other than that, most people would call mine a text newsletter vs. a typical HTML newsletter with design, color, graphics, and images.
As JB correctly points out, I prefer plain text e-mail to HTML and “fancy formatting and images”.
And there are 3 reasons for this preference.
First, text e-mails look like personal e-mails. HTML e-mails look like advertising.
That matters because communications that look like personal mail get better readership and response than communications that look like marketing.
Second, text works best for products and services that don’t need to be illustrated. Example: CPA services, info-marketing, copywriting, consulting, training.
HTML works best for products and services that need to be shown visually. Example: beach vacations, jewelry, fashion, artwork, real estate, interior design.
Since I sell only the former, HTML would not improve my e-mail clickthrough rates and therefore designing an HTML e-mail would be a waste of time.
Third, text e-mails are easy to create; you can dash them off yourself at your PC in minutes.
HTML e-mails require graphic design, which means they take more time and effort to produce: You either have to learn HTML, use newsletter templates, or hire a freelance HTML designer—all of which cost time and money and slow down the project.
Writing text e-mails as I do is simple, easy, effective, and inexpensive, and that is why I send only text e-mails to my list.
I asked e-mail marketing master Ben Settle why he only does text e-mails. “I do it for speed, ease of reading, and making it look like a personal e-mail at a glance,” he replied.
Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.