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Text-Only Emails

Is boring the new trend?

We were researching upcoming trends in email marketing and there was one that really caught our attention. This was the trend of sending a text-only email instead of an HTML email. You probably know this, but just to be thorough, an HTML email is an email that is formatted like a web page, using colors, graphics, table columns, and links. HTML emails are what recipients are used to seeing when they receive emails from companies or organizations. You are reading one right now! ?

Text only emails seem really drab, however, after reading about them, we can see why some companies are adopting this trend.

What is the appeal of a visually boring email?

According to vision6.com. “Recipients need to be in the right frame of mind to respond to a beautifully designed call-to-action – otherwise they will recognize it instantly as a sales pitch and switch off. By contrast, plain text emails are what you’d expect to receive from a friend or colleague. Far from a flashy sales pitch, these emails are personal and recipients expect them to contain valuable information. We don’t email each other using sales copy, brand colors, logos, buttons, and imagery—except for the occasional funny GIF.”

Chamaileon.com also brought up two other benefits to text-only emails:

Higher chance of delivery to primary inbox in Gmail. As promotional messages were once full of images, emails with plain text or basic HTML are less likely to be recognized as spam.

The rise of wearable devices. Since smartwatches can only display text, the future might favor plain text emails or HTML emails with a plain text option.

Who would actually want to get emails to their wrist? Aren’t we already bombarded with notifications?  We can explore that in another email!

Back to the subject at hand. The above reasons are valid arguments for the text-only email, but there is nothing like a statistic to really get you thinking.

According to cdmginc.com

“Text-based emails have a 21% higher unique click-to-open rate on the offer link.”

And via HubSpot :

Adding images (GIFs) to your emails reduced open rates by 37%

Using an HTML template in your emails reduced open rates by 25%

Increasing the amount of HTML in your emails reduced open rates by 23%

Whoa. That’s a pretty impressive difference.

Why are text-only emails performing so much better?

Is it because the call to action is easier to see and not cluttered with images? Is it because they seem more personal? Are the emails rendering better on mobile? Probably all of the above!

There still may be times when images may benefit the email.

If you are sending an email that is designed to give readers information (much like this one) it might help to break up the long text with images.

Another example of where images might be beneficial is if you are asking readers to purchase a product such as clothing, shoes, etc. Seeing the image may entice readers to click on your CTA, unless your product is ugly, but that is another conversation.

As a team who loves images, we are a little sad to read these stats. Of course, there is always data to support what you want to be true—so we will be on the lookout for statistics to state why HTML is better so we can justify continuing to send them.


The incredible thing about the internet is that we can work anywhere! Woodchuck Arts is geo-located in Newark, Ohio, Caledonia, MI and Toledo, OH. We serve clients from Seattle, Washington, to Washington D.C.

Email Heather at heather@woodchuckarts.com or call 724-281-0559
Email Erin at erin@woodchuckarts.com or call 616-528-2747

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