Plain Text Emails: Yes Design Still Matters

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Despite the prevalence of HTML email, plain text emails are still viable tools for soliciting a response from your subscribers. Plain text emails appear in place of HTML emails in certain email clients and are often used in transactional email and on mobile devices.

But just because it is plain text doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be designed. In fact, the lack of the design options with a format that is inherently hard to read will challenge you to be more creative with your copy and delivery. Here are few tips on how to design and thereby maximize the effectiveness of your plain text messages.

* Keep Text Short. Email clients tend to break up lines of text in odd ways. Therefore keep your text short, no more than 60 characters per line and use hard breaks to denote paragraphs.

* Keep URLS Short Too. Likewise, keep URLs short to avoid breakage in the URL string. If your URLs are long for tracking reasons, use redirects or be sure that the URL is displayed with the full http:// tag in place to ensure the email reader recognizes it as a clickable URL.

*Use  a simple text editor to create content. Word processing software like Microsoft Word tends to add additional characters that are not compatible with email clients. By using a text editor like Notepad, you’ll avoid the hassles of removing odd characters that won’t render properly in your final draft.

While there are some cons to sending plain text messages in addition to the design limitations (for instance, open rates can’t be measured) the potential impact these emails provide can be exponential if you take the time to think through their delivery.

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Carly Brantz is a veteran in the email deliverability space working to make email simple and easy for developers by regularly writing whitepapers, research briefs and blog posts about email, technology and industry trends.

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