1. Email Marketing

HTML vs Plain Text emails, which is the best choice?

In general, most of the emails we receive can be classified into two categories based on how they look.

The first category would be the emails that are colourful and have styles, those are likely HTML emails while the other set of emails that are just text and sometime also have images fall under the Plan Text emails category. There is also a constant debate on which is a better option.

In this blog, we’re going to dive into both email formats, discuss their features, and evaluate which is best for you according to your email communication needs.

What are HTML emails

HTML (HyperText Markup Language) emails are messages that are created in the same coding language as websites. These messages contain rich material such as images, hyperlinks, custom layouts, and other designed elements such are coloured background or text designs.

This provides recipients with a visually appealing and exciting experience while reading the email. In most ESP’s like EmailOctopus, there’s no need to code these emails – it can be easily built using the drag and drop email builder.

Example: There are several examples of HTML emails, and you can find then in your inbox too. Below is an example of HTML email by ETSY.

Email campaign by ETSY
Email campaign by ETSY


Here are some of the benefits of sending HTML emails:

  • HTML emails let you can add designs, fonts, colours, and much more, allowing you to develop visually engaging content.
  • With HTML emails, you can create CTAs with various designs that will encourage recipients to perform the action required.
  • It also enables you to add GIFs and links with different designs, making your email more interactive.
  • You can also track user engagement, open rates, click-through rates, and other important metrics with the help of tracking pixels to analyse the performance of your email campaigns.
  • It also helps in building brand identity by utilising logos, brand colours, and customised layouts.


There are some disadvantages as well:

  • Occasionally, HTML emails can have larger file size than what’s supported by email inboxes like Gmail. This may cause the emails to be clipped and not completely shown.
  • HTML emails can sometimes be displayed in different ways across different inboxes, this is because each inbox service interprets HTML/CSS differently. It’s better to test your email in popular inboxes such as Apple Mail, Gmail and Hotmail before sending it.

What are Plain Text emails?

Plain Text email is exactly what it sounds like, an email containing only text. There are no designs, colours, or typefaces; just plain text in a basic font delivers the message.

Although it’s the most basic type of email used for email campaigns, it does have some benefits. Marketers are still using plain text emails to communicate efficiently.

Example: Not many companies use Plain Text emails for email marketing as it lacks things like unique fonts, inline links and much more. Here’s an example of how a Plain Text email looks like.

Sample Plain Text email


Let’s look at some of the advantages of plain text style emails.

  • The first and the most prominent benefit of a plain text email is that it feels more personal and human-like.
  • Plain text emails are lightweight and quick to load.
  • Due to their simplicity and lack of potentially malicious prone elements, plain text emails are less likely to be flagged as spam by spam filters.
  • It is simple and clear to read, with no distracting elements.
  • As these emails don’t contain much code the look of the emails across different inboxes providers is likely to be uniform.


They also have certain drawbacks:

  • A plain text emails do not provide tracking, which limits data collection and makes assessing the success or failure of email campaigns a little difficult.
  • Due to their absence of visual elements, they can sometimes be not used in every case.
  • You cannot create a brand identity because it lacks branding elements such as a logo, colour, font, etc.

A middle ground

You’ll also find some companies using emails which are actually HTML emails but looks like Plain Text emails. Superhuman does in their onboarding emails. Here’s an example of how it looks.

Onboarding email by Superhuman

This is essentially an HTML email, styled to look like plain text. These are primarily used in places where the email design needs to be simple and clean but also incorporate things such as links and CTA.

Which is better

Which format is best depends on the context and the use case of the particular email. HTML emails and Plain text emails are completely different; however, both can be used for email campaigns but in most cases HTML emails are much superior,

For example, HTML emails are great for newsletters or other marketing emails such as cart abandonment email in the e-commerce industry because of its ability to incorporate designs and interactive elements such as GIFs and CTA.

On the other hand, Plain Text emails are good when you want to write just simple communication emails with just text in it, but keep in mind that it lacks the basics, such as the capability to have hyperlinks.

If you need the flexibility of HTML emails and simple look of Plain Text emails, then you can use Plain Text style emails which are made with HTML but look like simple text emails.

If your email requires visually appealing elements, such as designs, typefaces and much more, and you want to track your email campaigns, you should definitely use HTML emails. They will be your best option.

Use Plain Text emails when simplicity and communication is more important than tracking and designs.


The choice between HTML emails and Plain Text emails is completely dependent on your specific requirements and use case, as they serve different communication purposes.

It is important to weigh the benefits as well as the drawbacks of both formats so that you can make more informed decisions to enhance the impact and effectiveness of your email communication.

Irrespective of whatever email type you choose, EmailOctopus supports both, and you can get started for free.

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