We’ve all received those flashy marketing emails that catch our eye and encourage us to take action. They often follow all the rules for a successful email marketing campaign and often yield great results. However, there is power in plain text email marketing in certain circumstances.
Recipients need to be in the right frame of mind to respond to a beautifully designed call-to-action – otherwise, they will recognise 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 colours, logos, buttons and imagery – except for the occasional funny GIF.
“Text-based emails have a 21% higher unique click-to-open rate on the offer link.” – CDMG
While there are some limitations to plain text email marketing, Bart Pilarczyk discussed how to overcome these at EMSA this year.
In true plain text emails, marketers are unable to track interaction metrics such as click-through-rates.
Bart’s recommended creating an HTML email that appeared as text-only, giving you the best of both worlds and the chance to create some great call-to-actions.
It allows for some design aspects to be considered, specifically regarding the call-to-action button and, more importantly, attracts higher engagement rates as it is less intrusive than a blatant sales pitch.
Bart’s suggestions around hybrid plain-text-HTML emails begin at the 12:50 mark of his EMSA presentation, but I also recommend listening from 7:45 to get the idea of a real ‘sales pitch’ HTML email marketing campaign.
“For the simple HTML template vs. HTML-heavy template, the simpler email had a 5.3% higher click-through-rate, which, combined with the higher open rate, resulted in getting 30% more clicks.” – Square2Marketing
So what’s the best way to create a plain text email marketing campaign? Let’s have a look at these five examples and why they are successful.
Think about the message you are sending your audience. Will it be informative or conversational? Each has their own tone and format.
An informative approach might discuss how to get the best results when completing a task that relates to your product or service.
For example below, JB Hi-Fi sends an order confirmation to customers who have made a purchase and it provides all the information they need to track their order. There’s no flashy graphics or sales pitches – just a friendly and concise message to the customer.
A conversational piece may focus on a current event or popular topic in your industry at the moment. It may ask for feedback or it may be an informal poll or survey to engage your audience.
You could connect with your audience through a personalised plain-text thank you note from the founder or CEO. Using automation and wildcards, you can streamline your communication without losing the personal touch.
This example below is HTML (note the logo and button) but appears as a plain text email from the Co-founder & CEO of Milanote, Ollie Campbell.
It’s personalised, automated and makes new users feel important as it is from Ollie himself.
When you send plain text email campaigns, personalisation is vital.
Personalisation can incorporate things like including the recipient’s’ name in the subject line and in the content of the email. Also, sending from a personal email address instead or a corporate one.
Timing is everything. For example, if you’re considering sending a seasonal campaign it needs to be planned well in advance like emails for Christmas.
You need to consider how close to Christmas is too close for your message. Is there a benefit in getting your message out before Christmas or can it wait and be repurposed for the new year?
There is still time to send personalised plain text emails to your clients for a number of reasons. Some content doesn’t conform to the time of year
Usually, email marketing campaigns include a call-to-action (CTA) that is designed to encourage and motivate the readers. CTAs lead to further action or desired behaviour that is aligned with your business objectives.
It may be completing providing some feedback after a purchase, clicking on a link to go to a landing page on your website, to call your sales team, or to make a purchase online.
As mentioned above, designing emails in HTML allows you design your plain text emails to appear as
Whatever the case may be, you need to ask them to take that step with you – if you don’t ask, you don’t know. Call-to-action buttons, with the correct tracking setup, become a powerful tool for you. Not only do they encourage the reader to interact with you, they can also be a tracked for measurability.
Tracking is an imperative aspect of any email campaign. In fact, we provide regular updates with our Email Marketing Metrics.
UTM tracking is the most common way to track performance in emails. If implemented correctly, can provide great insight into what aspect of your email marketing content is working well, and what isn’t.
If you’re not familiar with UTM tracking, simply use Google’s URL builder and add the link to your email text – like BuzzSumo has done below. With this unique link, which has also been made shorter and neater using Bit.ly, BuzzSumo can report on traffic to that particular webpage via their welcome email.
It is a good way to see what offers perform the best and provides feedback data to you about your audience’s interaction with your emails. This data can be used to plan your future marketing campaigns.
By adopting a ‘plain text’ style HTML email marketing campaign, we get the benefit of an improved engagement and interaction rate with our audience.
We also have the ability to gain greater insight thanks to the better tracking that can be implemented. Most importantly, we can conduct our own testing as to which format better meets our customer’s needs and gains better interaction.
If you would like to know more about how to achieve the ‘plain text’ email campaign, please feel free to contact Vision6 via chat on the website, email or phone. The friendly customer success team are always more than happy to help.