HTML Emails Vs Plain Text: Which Option Is Best for Your Email List?

The email arrangement you use has a substantial impact on your email deliverability, overall movement achievement, and of course, conversions. 

But the big question is: Which works better for your email marketing efforts – HTML or plain text email? 

While the HTML vs plain text discussion isn’t new, it still can complicate amateur marketers who are new to email marketing. This guide will help you discover the assistance, critical differences, and indispensable factors to help you regulate which one will best suit your email marketing policies for 2023.  

Of course, there are assistants to plain text emails and examples where things are best kept simple. But HTML isn’t going anywhere moreover. As you’ll see, when — and how — you should use these mediums be contingent on your spectators, message, and objective. So, in this object, I’ll be excavating into the paybacks of both plain text and HTML emails as well as their individual best performances. I’ve also tapped a few specialists to share their words of understanding on the matter.

Why this choice is important

The conclusion to use HTML emails over plain text or vice versa is significant for one important reason: email deliverability. Deliverability should be at the top of your list of urgencies when it comes to email marketing. Enhancing things like subject lines, email content and delivery times is meaningless if your emails aren’t landing in your subscribers’ inboxes.

HTML emails are generally, though not always, sent by brands for marketing purposes. This has led some email services, such as Gmail, to mark these emails as promotional or even spam.

What are HTML emails?

In practical terms, an HTML email is an email built with HTML elements. HTML is the profit language or code, we use alongside CSS to format text and add things like images, backgrounds, and buttons to web spaces, which comprises email. In simple terms, HTML emails are the heavily-styled emails you can send to subscribers or obtain from marketers like Netflix and Amazon. They feature frequent colors, fonts, and even things like GIFs, clickable images, and buttons.

Many Email Marketing Services market HTML email patterns as primary features of their services. Get Response is a good example:

What is a plain text email? 

A plain text email is what the name proposes — an email format containing only simple text, that needs minimal formatting (or none at all) and doesn’t comprise complex HTML. 

Plain text emails usually don’t comprise formatting options, such as font size alterations and italics and bold. There are no images, entrenched links, and other dynamic rudiments usually found in HTML emails. While emails with humble text might not be amazing or thrilling for readers, these serve detailed purposes and assistance.

For occurrence, most plain text emails safeguard high deliverability rates and serve as a one-on-one discussion with your contacts.

Plain text emails also:

  • Lesser email overheads, plummeting the email size
  • Lessen the probability of your emails getting tagged as unwanted, unwelcome, or virus-infected messages by junk filters since plain text emails can’t get vaccinated with malicious HTML code

Plain text emails can be countless options if you send recurring emails that don’t necessitate fashioning and visual elements. 

Plain text emails are also reinforced by all email customers (or email programs), making them safer selections for sending episodic notification-style messages without receiving flagged as junk. Here’s a sample plain-text email from Movement Creators. It is simple, clear, and direct to the point.

8 Key alterations between HTML and plain text emails

Now that you know what HTML and plain text emails are, we’ll go over what makes each format separate from the others based on these factors. 

  • Analytics 

You can effortlessly track your HTML email open rates using an entrenched HTML snippet. 

For example, Mailmunch delivers progressive analytics features to help you track your email campaign’s presentation. Mailmunch Dashboard lets you display your Key Performance Pointers (KPIs). It comprises several presentation data imaginings, such as your adaptation rate, subscribers, top referrers, and imitations. You can use your analytics visions to develop more actual and conversion-optimized email operations. 

However, healthy tracking aptitude is almost non-existent in plain text emails. 

 Some email marketing platforms permit you to track when contacts click the link within the plain text email and count it as an open rate, but not all providers offer this option. Without chasing, you have no way to measure your plain text email presentation and campaigns’ achievement. You could end up worsening time and income by sending plain text emails that don’t transport your anticipated results. The HTML version is the vibrant winner in a battle between HTML vs plain text founded on analytics.  

  • Convenience

Convenience means how available the technology is to the user. For occurrence, images, buttons, and images in HTML emails are often unreachable for the blind and other users with disabilities. Most basic HTML email rudiments don’t have the right format, stickers, alt texts, and other qualities to make them available.

For this motive, messages with basic text are more available since everything is in plain text. It makes it easy for blind users’ shade reader software to “read” your email’s gratification.  

  • Spamming

Basic text emails with overly advertising gratification or lacking indispensable information, such as an unsubscribe link, can be highlighted as junk. Check out the changes between a junk email and a publicity email first. Remember, HTML emails can also land in the same advertisement if they’re too “spammy”, such as counting too many images. So, the probability to land in spam is advanced as associated with plain text email. So, whether you use HTML or the basic text version, it all boils down to confirming your emails don’t disrupt any anti-spam laws.  

  • Attraction

Dashboard: the console on the wall, which is the restored email of them all? Luckily, an email marketer can use both differences in the email. HTML emails permit graphic elements, images, and hypermedia gratification, making them more good-looking and convincing than plain text emails. Plus, plain text emails can be level and frequently drown in the piles of emails the regular person obtains daily. So, I guess, our winner is pretty much clear here, right?

If you want to reassure clicks and adaptations, you’re well off using HTML emails.  

  • Design 

While generating a plain text email necessitates meaningfully less time and exertion, HTML emails take the cake when it comes to projects. Not only can you get as original as you want with your email content (within reason, or your messages might get highlighted as junk), but designing HTML emails is now calmer than ever with templates. You can generate visually attractive and high-converting emails without coding or enterprise skills by modifying the HTML email templates. The email patterns can make the lives of busy email marketers so much calmer, abridging totaling images and other film elements  


  • Readability

Plain text emails can be more complete, but not everybody will take the time to read the whole text.

 On the other hand, an HTML email can be cooler to abstract since you can substitute many texts with videos and more images to carry your message. It permits better readability, helping your bibliophiles understand and recollect your message professionally.

  • Performance 

While HTML emails deliver sufficient occasions to generate high-performing gratification, the general presentation of HTML and plain text emails are contingent on many factors. Indispensable factors such as your mark spectators, email type, and industry can influence your engagement and changes.

 For example, if you’re sending formal, transactional infrastructures, you’re probable to have more achievement with a plain text email. 

However, if you’re pointing to increasing your employment, click-throughs, and adaptations, HTML emails are healthier choices.  

  • Email display

All email customers care about plain text emails, safeguarding your email will display to your receivers as you propose. However, this isn’t the case with HTML emails; meanwhile, you can’t pledge the email workers your contacts use to support the HTML email format. Email Service Workers (ESPs) load messages inversely, meaning your email can look a convincing way when viewed on Gmail and another way when displayed on Outlook. 

The safest and more suitable method is to comprise a plain text email along with your HTML emails. Doing so permits your receivers to view your message if the ESP can’t display the HTML form correctly.

Pros and cons of HTML emails

Using HTML emails suggests much assistance, but these also come with difficulties. Below is a quick termination of the pros and cons of HTML emails. 


  • More cultured and better plan control.
  • Permits you to implant images, links, tables, and other multimedia. 
  • More Personalized and self-motivated messages.
  • Permits tracking and analytics to regulate appointments, clicks open, conversions, etc.
  • Can stand out effortlessly from your recipients’ inboxes.
  • Let’s generate more contemporary and stimulating messages to inspire conversions. 
  • Popular systems such as email marketing automation platforms are reliable. Customer service software comprises ready-to-use HTML email templates


  • Not all email customers (or email programs) and mobile campaigns will reduce HTML well, subsequently in a mishmash of code.
  • Usually used for phishing scams and vaccinating viruses into the receivers’ systems. Assailants can infect HTML emails that built-in antivirus software some ESPs use can’t notice directly.  
  • Can be flagged as junk, and the emails end up in the junk folder in their place in your contacts’ inboxes.
  • Flowing Style Sheets or CSS styles can be exposed. 

Pros and cons of plain text emails

Underneath are some of the common compensations and difficulties of using plain text emails.


  • All email customers provision plain text, safeguarding reliable distribution. 
  • Delivers better convenience likened to HTML emails.
  • Messages load rapidly since the emails contain only text.
  • Allows for conversation-like messages between you and your receivers.


  • Doesn’t allow control over arranging, and you can’t comprise images, multimedia, and other visual elements.
  • You can’t track critical email metrics. 
  • Often flat and informal for your contacts to overlook in their inbox. A plain text email can. also make it stimulating for your CTAs to stand out, even if you use convincing copy, such as “Get content with links.”
  • Not 100% safe from being highlighted as junk. 

Which of the two should you use?

Factor in these indispensable considerations when determining between HTML vs plain text emails.

Regulate which one best suit your brand

Visual elements can help transport who you are as a brand, making an HTML email arrangement an outstanding choice if you want your email movements to reproduce your brand individuality stalwartly. It also helps with brand constancy diagonally in your other campaigns. Also, if your product is known for physical products such as shades or shoes, you’ll have an advanced chance of undoubtedly contacting your contacts to act on your proposals and buy via HTML emails. After all, if your main memo is that your smooth new shades look countless, you’d need to demonstrate it through images in your advertising emails. The HTML ones are excessive for cumulative brand gratitude since you can comprise your logo, color scheme, email signature, and other marking elements.

However, if your brand is focused more on delivering direct, no-frills communication, which is common in Business-to-Business (B2B) companies, then a plain text email would be a better option.

Comprehend what your spectators prefer

Not all addresses have the same email penchant. Some favor clear and direct messages and favor bare text emails, while others are more probable to act on your proposals through graphic, convincing elements in HTML emails. The key is to comprehend your target spectators, their welfare, demographics, etc., and examine your email campaigns’ presentation. Run A/B tests to measure which differences between your email message and elements get the best replies. Challenging can also help safeguard you implement a receptive project so your emails are exhibited correctly on manifold device screens.

You can also section your spectators and control which groups favor the precise email formats.

Reflect on the technical aspects

One of the main risks of HTML emails is faulty HTML arranging. It can get your emails highlighted as junk, or inferior, and get your sphere tagged as a doubtful sender. HTML-heavy emails are also less likely unlocked when ESPs such as Gmail mechanically send or classify them in an Elevations tab in its place of the Primary tab in your receivers’ inboxes. Your contacts can overlook your emails effortlessly, dropping your open taxes and, in turn, your changes.   

While plain text emails are less likely to get marked as junk, there’s no assurance these won’t end up in your contact’s junk folders either. An outstanding method is to obey anti-spam laws and devise proper email cleanliness and best perormance.

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