Friday, November 30, 2007

Email Content – Text vs. HTML

This is every email marketer’s dilemma. More so, due to the fact that there is no clear majority of people preferring one format over the other. Some people will always prefer text to graphics, and some email readers only support basic text. A prominent Internet marketing website recently carried out a survey asking not only which format was preferred but why one format was preferred over another. Over 600 people, mostly marketers and small business operators, responded. 55% favored HTML and 45% preferred text. Given that well over 90% of email readers can view HTML, it is surprising that almost half the people would prefer to receive text. To investigate this point further, the survey gave those who chose text a list of possible reasons to explain why. On average, people listed about two and a half reasons each.

They said:
.. Can't read HTML 6%
.. Just want the meat without the distractions 32%
.. Like to read offline 15%
.. Ads are more intrusive in HTML 22%
.. Slow to download 14%
.. Other 11%

The most popular reason for choosing plain text over HTML was an interesting one. People were clearly expressing a desire for email layouts that focused on the message, and they often saw HTML emails as containing elements that distract from the content — the content being the reason they signed up for the email in the first place. 11% of the people who selected “Other” as their reason gave their own reasons as:

.. Text takes up less storage space 28%
.. Security — fear of viruses 22%
.. Easier/faster to read/scan 13%
.. Text is easier to read on a PDA 9%
.. Text is more reliable, formatting/forwarding etc. 7%
.. Easier to save/file/copy text 6%
.. Like to read email in preview pane 4%
.. Text is more personal 4%
.. Fear of tracking/being spied on with HTML 4%
.. Text is more easily searched offline 1%

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