Email marketing can be one of your strongest and most reliable form of marketing. Unlike most other digital marketing, email marketing is not dependent on any single carrier or platform. Search engine marketing – whether it’s organic or paid – is dependent on search engines. You’re either paying them for ads, or your SEO is dependent on today’s search results – and that could change at any time. Similarly, all your social media marketing efforts are dependent on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. And things can change their without a moment’s notice. In all these cases reaching your audience, or customers, involves a ‘third party’. Of course they have their upsides too – potentially increasing your audience and customer exposure. Exposure you wouldn’t have gotten without a third party. Email marketing is different. Sometimes you want to be able to communicate directly with your audience. And you want to know you’ll be able to keep doing it – without relying on FB or G. This is where email marketing comes into its own. In fact, Forbes calls email marketing the most powerful tool to take your business to the next level.
Fancy v Plain
With email marketing platforms like MailChimp give you the ability to create fancy html emails, it’s not always the best option. It’s worth taking the time to think about how you engage with email, and what’s likely to get your attention. Most of us get a few types of emails – work emails, personal emails and well, advertising emails. This last category includes all those businesses you’ve left your email address with at some point in time. Most of these emails will be what we call HTML emails. That is, they’re designed similar to a web page with images and other visual design elements and styles. Maybe you read them, maybe you don’t.
The trouble is, clients often want the smart looking HTML email because they just look great. But seeing your email in a test environment versus the real world can be sobering – more on this later.
There’s another reason HTML emails aren’t always best. Because most marketing emails are formatted like this we quickly identify them as marketing. It really gives recipients the chance to dismiss your email as ‘just’ marketing.
Of course, for some businesses, this kind of HTML email is appropriate – and can work. Retail businesses who are primarily communicating things like product specials are a good example. But there are limitations too. And it comes down to something that’s quite out of our control – email clients. Email clients are simply the app a recipient uses to access their email. If you have an iPhone, it’s likely to be Apple’s Mail app or Gmail for iPhone. Or Outlook for iPhone. If it’s Android, there’s a whole other raft of apps. And we haven’t even gotten to desktop email clients! or the fact that every one of those apps has a multitude of versions… wondering why this is important?
This is important because we have little control over what these email clients actually do with your HTML email. Many have settings which by default will only show a text version of your whizz bang HTML email. And then things can get pretty ugly pretty quickly – especially if you haven’t prepared for it.
The benefits of Plain text emails.
In the next section, we’ll look at what types of businesses can benefit by switching to plain text emails. Even if it’s only for a portion of your email campaign. But first, let’s look at some of the basic beneefits.
As mentioned earlier, our emails can broadly be grouped as work, personal and marketing. We looked at how HTML emails can quickly be identified as marketing – and perhaps equally as quickly dismissed. We also know that everyone – hopefully – reads their work and personal email. So it makes sense to make your marketing emails fit the format of emails that are more likely to be opened and read. In the same way you adopt a social tone on FB because it fits the platform, it can be useful to adopt an email tone on email. Plain text emails feel more personal and more important. And its likely they’ll get more of your readers attention.
Email Subject Lines and Loading Times
The thing about email marketing is that it can also be a very crowded space and you have to use every tactic get your email read and hopefully acted on. HTML emails can also be slow to load. And just like with websites, this amounts to clicks away from your email. Both plain text ad HTML emails give you the chance to write attention-getting subject lines. This is the text that appears in your recipients’ email client subject field – the text you see before opening the email. This is where working with a professional email marketer really helps. But if you’re going it alone, just remember to include relevant, enticing subject lines. Something that will encourage your readers to open your email.
If you’re using an platform like email marketing platform like MailChimp, you can also customise your ‘preview text’. What’s preview text? You’ll notice that email clients like Outlook and Gmail will also show a snippet of the email content. This appears alongside the subject field as the email sits in the inbox. By customising this text you can add further enticement to get readers to open your email.
How often should you send marketing emails.
How often you send marketing emails will depend a lot on your business. And the products and services you provide. This article provides some great insight into how often email campaigns should run.
What type of businesses do plain text emails work best for?
As mentioned earlier, different types of businesses will have different email marketing requirements. It also depends on the intent of your email. If you’re straight up selling, HTML can work. If you have a very visual product or service, it also makes sense to present this in your email marketing campaigns. However even the, it doesn’t hurt to mix it up with some more subtle email marketing and measure the results. But there are some businesses that are much more suited to plain text emails. Let’s say you provide professional services to other small businesses. And each month you send an email newsletter with important news and updates. It might look great on the test screen, but it makes no sense to send this type of email as HTML. In fact, formatting quirks, load times, and the simple fact it looks like marketing might mean your audiences misses out on getting important information.
Similarly, if you’re a knowledge based business, and your emails are intended to be educational lead generators, why waste time with fancy HTML designs. It’s much more likely that you’ll get a higher percentage of ‘opens’ if your email looks to include valuable information.
Just about any business can seriously benefit from an consistent email marketing. It’s a matter of knowing your audience and your own marketing goals. Then finding the most appropriate way to connect with them directly through email.