Text Based or HTML Emails: Which Email Format Converts Better

Text Based or HTML Emails: Which Email Format Converts Better

Computer with email on the screen displaying text based and HTML emails

Do Text or HTML Emails Work Better for Affiliate Marketing?

If your email marketing campaign isn’t generating the type of leads you expected, format may be your issue. While there are a host of reasons why your campaigns aren’t generating good results, your content or email template may be to blame. Which should you pick – text based or html emails?

Why Invest in Email Marketing for Lead Generation?

While email may be a challenge for you, it would be foolish to give up. Email is one of the best ways to generate leads. The most commonly used B2B lead generation strategy is email marketing, with 78 percent of companies investing in it. Additional reasons to invest in email include:

Email marketing definitely works, but how do you improve your results? Do beautifully designed HTML emails work better than simple text? You would imagine so, but that might not be the case.

HTML Email vs Text Email

In the past, it was believed that HTML affected deliverability. In truth, HTML email won’t hurt deliverability as long as it is properly coded and there is a plain-text version available. If there are broken tags in your HTML, it could get marked as spam by the ISP. It can hurt not just that send, but future sends as well.

Your email marketing tool should allow you to create a plain-text version within your editor. Gmail and Outlook may mark you as spam if you don’t provide this additional version, so it’s worth the extra few minutes.

What do people prefer?

According to a 2014 survey of a thousand professionals, people preferred emails that consisted mostly of HTML and images to those that were text based.

But did they lie? When HubSpot tested HTML vs text emails, text-based emails won. In every single split test, the simpler-designed email won with statistical significance.

While HTML doesn’t affect deliverability, it can affect open rates. Why? Email providers, specifically Gmail, can filter emails into different tabs. Emails with heavier HTML often get marked as “commercial” or “promotions” where users are less likely to look and open.

In addition to open rates, click through rates were lower as well. People see email as a personal communication channel. They don’t use images often when communicating with friends or colleagues, so they don’t expect to see it in their communications.

What will work for your audience?

To test which format works best for lead generation, you can conduct two email drops and compare performance. Check open rates, click through rates and deliverability.

When we conducted our test, we found that the open rates were the same. However, text emails had a 17 percent higher click to open rate. In addition, 20 percent more people clicked on the offer link in a text email than those who received an HTML email.


Studies and split tests have shown that text-based emails perform better than HTML. If your email marketing campaigns aren’t generating leads, it’s time to simplify your templates. Always split test to see what works best for your audience.

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