HTML vs. Plain Text: Which Will Your Subscribers Open?

Who is really viewing plain text emails instead of their HTML counterparts? We ran a little experiment to find out.

Two types of emails will enter the inbox. One will win.

Actually, it’s not that simple. And your inbox (hopefully) is not the Thunderdome.

When we covered the HTML vs. plain text email debate last year, we explained that deliverability was a big concern for many people when it came to choosing which type of email to send. Some people avoid sending HTML emails altogether for fear that email service providers won’t properly display their messages. But that’s not the case – at least not anymore.

HTML or Plain Text: Which Will Display?

These days, every major email client (e.g., Gmail, Yahoo, etc.) should have no trouble displaying the images, graphics, colors and all the other great stuff in your HTML emails. The only exception is when something is broken in your HTML.

When you create any message in AWeber, we auto-generate a plain text version – just to be on the safe side. We couldn’t help but notice that some of our customers were spending a lot of extra time editing the auto-generated plain text versions of their HTML messages. They just weren’t convinced that all email clients would display HTML messages.

It got us thinking: Who is really viewing emails in plain text instead of HTML? We ran a little experiment to find out.

The Hypothesis

html emails

At AWeber, we send out a weekly newsletter (like the one above) that contains our top blog posts and latest news. Like most of the emails we send, it’s a nicely designed HTML newsletter. We hypothesized that the vast majority of subscribers would interact with the HTML version, and very few would interact with the auto-generated plain text version.

The Experiment

Before we sent our weekly blog newsletter last week, we tagged the links in the plain text and HTML versions with different UTM parameters. After a week, we used our own email analytics to check out the results. Only 1.6% of our total clicks happened in the plain text version of the email.

The Winner: HTML

Our hypothesis was correct: most subscribers interact only with the HTML versions of emails. Yay!

So what does this mean for you?

You don’t have to hold back from sending great-looking HTML emails anymore! There is also no need to edit the auto-generated plain text versions of your emails. Most of the people on your subscriber list will never see the plain text version anyway.

Still worried? AWeber not only auto-generates a plain text version of your emails just in case, if you’re using our drag-and-drop editor we also automatically make sure your HTML is correct.

Want to start sending great-looking emails? We have more than 700 HTML templates available in our template gallery. Just plug in your content and hit send!

Need something a little more customized? Our design team can create a tailor-made template just for you. Get in touch with them today!

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