Plain Text vs. HTML Email

One of the ongoing debates in the email marketing world is whether you should use plain text or HTML emails when you send a broadcast to your list.

Each format has its advantages and disadvantages.  Let’s take a look…

HTML Email


  • More engaging
  • Can use images
  • Can cloak links
  • Can track Open and Click Thru Rates


  • Email’s appearance varies depending on browser/email program
  • Higher percentage of emails blocked vs. plain text
  • Some subscribers don’t download your images, so they don’t get the full message

Plain Text Email


  • Lower percentage blocked
  • Text emails look the same no matter where you open them
  • Because you’re depending on text alone, your full message will always come through


  • Can’t track open rates
  • Limited Click Thru Rate tracking
  • Message may not be as powerful in plain text format
  • Cannot cloak hyperlinks

Looking at the advantages and disadvantages of both, you can see it really comes down to a case-by-case decision.  What are your priorities when it comes to email marketing?  Based on those priorities, which type of email makes the most sense?

As I mentioned in an earlier post about increasing email deliverability rates, I prefer to send out both HTML and plain text emails at the same time.

And, when I design my HTML email, I don’t do a lot with graphics.  In fact, my HTML emails generally look a lot like plain text.  A simple white background with black text.  I believe designing emails this way has the advantage of using simplicity to get my message across, while still retaining the ability to use images, cloak my links and track my results.

What do you think?  Plain text vs. HTML emails?  Leave a comment below.

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