Newsletter emails vs. text-only emails have different applications in the marketing world. A newsletter email will be more visually pleasing, whereas a text-only email aims to get the point across without visuals – just text. When trying to decide which way to go, it’s important to know your audience. Depending on the age group (and several other identifying factors) of your intended target customer, people may prefer one format over the other. Regardless of what type of email you choose to send customers, you also have to make sure your email formats correctly and legibly on a mobile device.

Here is some data showing how people respond to certain email formats, and how knowing your audience will better help you with choosing the “right” email setup. Read on to learn about engagement differences between newsletter and text-only emails.

General Usage of Email

MobileMany people use a cellular device to view emails on the go, and busy professionals set notifications to ping their phones whenever they’ve received an email. Most people are unwilling to wait until they’re in front of a desktop computer – convenience is key.

A recent study by Adestra found that more than 50% of email messages are read on mobile devices. This has led to a phenomenon people are referring to as “inbox triaging.” Inbox triaging refers to the situation where users scan their inboxes quickly, and decide between what they want to read now, read later, and what will get deleted and ignored. Adestra found that 44% of baby boomers use this system, but it’s primarily a tactic for teens (73%) and millennials (81%) to manage the constant influx of emails.

Most people also use email for personal use, and have many of the same expectations as business users. Personal email users might sign up for newsletters from companies, or to get coupons sent to their inbox.

Newsletter Format Emails

HTML (HyperText Markup Language) emails allow for attention-grabbing graphics and colors, similar to controls available to web designers for other online properties. These emails tend to be more picture-centric, and tell a story through a series of images. HTML emails are more visually pleasing than just plain-text posts.

Design BasedWhen sending a newsletter format email, making sure that it’s mobile friendly will increase chances of reaching more people. The same Adestra report shared insights on mobile email viewers, and how they tend to be the most unforgiving of email consumers. If you’re interested in demographics, 25% to 29% of younger mobile users will opt out of your email if it doesn’t look nice on their devices. It’s important to think about the future – even if they’re not your demographic right now, you still want to appeal to them so that they don’t count you out when they are.

Obviously, having visually pleasing emails is a strength when communicating with customers on your list.

Text-only Emails

Plain TextPlain-text emails do not have the fancy images/graphics of newsletter format emails. They are clean cut and precise. The intended use of these types of emails is for a group of people that are already familiar with whatever company is sending the emails. When people get a plain-text email, they are more inclined to think that it’s personal to them, instead of just another flashy marketing message.

Research by Adestra has indicated that millennials tend to respond to text sign ups more so than other groups. Therefore, one could make an educated guess that they might respond better to plain-text emails after the initial newsletter greeting from a company. It’s important not to give into assumptions, regardless of how certain tactics work for similar companies. Every assumption needs to be tested heavily and continuously.

The use of both newsletter emails and plain-text emails are of value in their own unique ways. Both can be visually pleasing, but that ultimately depends on the group of people receiving the email. Both can convey important messages, but it’s important to measure the effectiveness of those messages. Depending on your target audience, you may want to use one type of email vs. the other, but no matter what mobile-friendly emails will always get the better results.

Using both newsletter and text-only emails is a wise marketing move, but overdoing it with one or the other may result in loss of future clientele or followers.

What’s been your experience with the engagement differences between newsletter and text-only emails? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Tweet @MabblyTribe to continue the conversation.

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