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Plain Text vs. HTML: Which Is Better For B2B Email Marketing?

Jenny Reardon | 24 November 2016

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B2B email marketing is a powerful marketing tool – it’s cost effective, measurable, generates higher ROI than other marketing methods, and with an estimated 4.6 billion worldwide email accounts, it’s possible to reach an audience far greater than that of social media.As great as its potential, email marketing needs to be executed correctly if it’s to generate leads and convert them into customers. One particularly important aspect of any B2B email marketing campaign is email design – plain text or HTML. Let’s discuss which is better in a B2B marketing context.


Big Data has precipitated the rise of personalised marketing – plain text emails create the personalisation that leads expect

Thanks to advances in technology that allow for vast quantities of data to be captured and analysed, marketers have access to information that allows them to create highly targeted and relevant B2B email marketing campaigns. Data sourcing has given rise to a new theme in marketing – personalisation. Content, user experiences and email communication can now be tailored to each and every lead, and businesses who fail to get on board with this new trend risk losing leads to competitors who do. Consider plaint text vs HTML emails. Plain text emails are what you receive from people you know. HTML emails are formatted to look like a web page, and given the amount of coding required to produce them, it’s unlikely they’ve been personalised for every recipient. It’s obvious which is more appropriate to use for B2B email marketing and an inbound marketing strategy.


HTML emails are more costly to create, and are not always viewable across devices

There’s another obvious reason why plain text emails trump (pun unintended) HTML – they’re easier to create. HTML emails require coding, which increases the cost and time involved in creating an email campaign. Plain text emails are easier to deliver, and can be viewed across all devices. With HTML emails, the time and effort you might have invested creating them would be wasted if some elements – like images or layout – are not viewable on devices like mobile phones or Apple watches. What’s more, HTML emails are more likely to be identified as spam, which would have devastating consequences for the success of your email campaign.


Plain text emails enjoy higher open and click through rates than HTML emails

There is concrete evidence that shows plain text emails to be more effective than HTML – HTML emails have a 23% lower open rate than plain text emails, according to a HubSpot study. Even plain text emails with only one image have lower open rates than those with no images. We might be visual beings, but when it comes to email we prefer the intimate and personalised feel we associate with plain text. After all, this is how we communicate with people we know. Not only does plain text enjoy higher open rates than HTML emails, but click through rates – whether recipients follow any links within the email or not – are higher too, with HTML emails having 21% lower click through rates than plain text. Which format will you choose for your next campaign?


B2B email marketing is an essential part of any inbound marketing strategy, and data should underpin how you craft that strategy. For further information about how to manage your contact data lists, download our guide:


Image Credits: digitaltrends

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