HTML vs Text-only emails – preference or necessity?

July 18, 2007

Much to my dismay, after trying to get my own Free Email Marketing Templates page dugg on Digg (and getting a measly 3 diggs), I saw Campaign Monitor get way up there on the first page of Digg with their page of 30 free templates.  Great for them.

However, more interesting than the templates on offer was the comment section on Digg (seriously click and go read them, they’re a good laugh), or more specifically the sheer hatred towards HTML emails vs text-only emails.  It seems that about 75% of the Digg community are so against HTML email campaigns arriving in their inboxes that they’d rather gouge their eyes out with a rusty spoon than receive them.  Why?  Among the reasons cited were trojans and virus infections, size, lack of necessity, spam filters, and so on.

This might be a broad stereotype, but I’ve known developers/techies that abide by the ‘HTML email is the devil’ rule, and insist on using Courier font, 10 point, text-only at all times (Luc, if you’re listening, that’s you), and they seem to rule the Digg comments section.  However it raises the interesting point of unsub and open rates, seeing as if the Digg community (all 1 million and growing) feel this way about HTML email,are they the only ones? If more people feel this way, and refuse to open an HTML campaign, then how many email marketer’s efforts are going out the window?

It’s an aesthetic thing, to make and receive HTML campaigns.  I like to design nice-looking HTML campaigns, but ones that will work in most email clients and hand-coded so they make it past strict filters.  But it really would be interesting to see a controlled experiment pitting a nice-looking HTML campaign against a nice-looking TEXT campaign (they can be done artfully), and declaring a winner.

As for you, which are you? Do you despise HTML emails, or love them? Why? Share!

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