Plain Text Emails – Yes, They Do Matter.
What marketers think and the truth may be two different things when it comes to email recipient behavior. About 82 percent of marketers believe email recipients want visuals, while Thinkshift Communications found a trick that revealed a surprising number of instances involving customers reading plain-text messages.
The San Francisco-based ad agency ran an "opens" report, which only tracks HTML. Then Thinkshift looked at a second report that only included recipients who clicked on links.
"The names or email address that do not show up on the 'open' list but do show up under the 'click' list are most likely people who opened and engaged with the plain-text email," explains Thinkshift's Sept. 19, 2013 blog post. "The downside to this analysis: If a person opens a text email and doesn't click a link, there's no way you'll ever know."
The agency ran the reports for its clients and found between 5 percent and 25 percent of clicks were not tracked as opens.
"Other marketers who've done this same analysis report their plain-text email readership to be 40 [percent] to 50 percent in addition to what's reported on the open email reports," according to Thinkshift.
This is counter to commonly accepted wisdom that HTML emails are the bee's knees. For instance, one email marketing vendor may not be alone in incorrectly paraphrasing research on April 10, 2014, as saying "visual media is 82 percent more likely to be viewed than plain text."
The cited research, an October 2013 survey of U.S. marketers by Palo Alto, Calif.-based content curation providers trapit.com, actually says something far different (Opens as a PDF).
"When asked to identify major trends surrounding content marketing," the report reads, "nearly four-fifths (82 percent) of marketers believe that content is more likely to be consumed if it is visual, signifying the value in photos and video content." [Editor's note: emphasis added.]