With email marketing, boring is usually better

November 30, 2023

If you are sending out an email newsletter or promotion, it’s tempting to go for a “flashy” high-tech design, rather than “boring” plain text.

But my experience over several years has convinced me this is usually a big mistake.  In fact, it was confirmed recently when I designed a slick, professional-looking email newsletter template according to my client’s directions (and against my better judgement). The newsletter looked fantastic. But a large percentage of them went straight into the recipients’ junk mail folders.

The important point is, every time you send an email to your subscribers, their email service checks to make sure it meets their deliverability standards. Emails that contains a lot of graphics and HTML automatically raise a red flag with email service providers, because that’s what a lot of spammers tend to use.

For example, SPAM Assassin, which is a spam detection software used by many email providers, will penalise your email if it has more than 30-40% HTML content.

Furthermore, most email clients now block images in emails by default, as a built in security precaution. In order for the recipient to view the graphics, they have to click on a button or link to allow it. (And why would you want to make a customer click anything just so they can read your email properly?)

Experienced email marketers know newsletters that focus on content rather than design achieve a higher sales conversion rates than newsletters with heavy HTML and graphics.

Your subscribers might be duly impressed by the design of your first email newsletter. But after that, the only reason they will keep reading your emails is if they contain something of interest to them. 

The bottom line is, if you want your email newsletters and promotions to get read, you should make them plain text… or if you must use HTML, keep the graphics to a minimum. Leave plenty of white space, so it’seasy for people to read.

Email marketing can be highly effective. But only if your messages get past your subscribers’ spam filters and they can actually read them. The most important thing about an email newsletter is not how nice the design is… it’s the content. That’s the only reason people will want to read it.

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