In a world where we’re bombarded with marketing messages, it can be tempting to add all the bells and whistles to our emails in an effort to stand out. But more often than not, less is more. That’s why plain text emails can be so effective. I’d include “sending a plain text email” as a key to every nonprofit’s email marketing strategy. Keep reading to learn more about why you should send a plain text email, as well as how to do it.
What is a Plain Text Email?
A plain text email is simply an email that contains no HTML, images, or other fancy formatting. That might sound boring, but there are actually several benefits to sending plain text emails.
I’ve tested plain text emails against designed emails at multiple nonprofit organizations and plain text emails result in increased open rates, click thrus, and gifts. There are a number of reasons why they work so well, let’s explore why:
1. They’re More Personal
They’re more personal. As mentioned above, plain text emails feel like they’re coming from a real person instead of a faceless organization. This helps create that personal connection that’s so important in building relationships with potential donors.
Since plain text emails don’t have any HTML or images, they forcing you to focus on the message you’re trying to communicate. As a result, your emails will sound more like a conversation than a marketing pitch. Plain text emails come across as more personal and intimate. They’re the perfect way to build relationships with potential donors, as they allow you to share your story in a way that feels organic and natural. Plus, studies have shown that people are more likely to donate to a cause after reading a personal story than they are after reading a formal appeal.
2. They’re Less Likely to Be Marked as Spam
Many spam filters are triggered by HTML-rich emails, which means your email could get caught in the filter and never reach the intended recipient. By sending a plain text email, you can avoid this problem entirely.
Plain text emails are often seen as more trustworthy is because they can’t be used to hide anything. Anyone who’s ever received an HTML email knows that it’s possible to embed all sorts of things in them, from images to links to external websites. This can often be used by malicious actors to try and trick people into clicking on something that they shouldn’t. With a plain text email, what you see is what you get; there’s no risk of hidden content trying to trick you into clicking on something dangerous.
3. They Take Less Time to Load
We live in an age where people are constantly checking their email on their phones. If your email is loaded down with images and HTML, it’s going to take forever to load on a mobile device. But since plain text emails don’t have any images or HTML, they’ll load quickly and easily on any device.
If an email takes more than a few seconds to load, chances are they’ll give up and move on to something else. With plain text emails, there’s no need to wait for images or graphics to load; the entire message will appear instantly in the recipient’s inbox. HTML emails, on the other hand, can take longer to load—especially if they contain large images or videos. And if potential donors have to wait too long for your email to load, they may not stick around long enough to make a gift.
4. They are Easier to Forward
Have you ever tried forwarding a rich-text email only to have the formatting get all messed up? It happens all the time. But with plain text emails, there is no risk of losing any important information or having the email look wonky when forwarded.
5. They’re More Likely to Be Read
Let’s be honest, most of us receive a ton of emails every day. As a result, we’ve become pretty good at quickly scanning an email and deciding whether or not it’s worth reading. When an email is nothing but a big block of text, it’s easy to see what the important points are and decide whether or not we want to read further. However, when an email is full of images and graphics, it can be much harder to figure out what the email is actually about. As a result, many people will simply ignore HTML emails altogether.
When it comes to email marketing, sometimes less is more. If you want to make sure your fundraising messages are getting read by your busy subscribers, ditch the HTML and send a plain text email instead. You’ll be surprised by how much more effective it is!