Email marketing is the best way to reach your customers. 72% of consumers report that email is their favorite way to receive promotional content from brands and the reach of email marketing is wider than any other channel. However, the debate remains: are plain text emails or image-based emails better?

What’s the difference between image and plain text emails?

Image-based emails use HTML (HyperText Markup Language) and can contain, of course, images and more design elements. A plain text email, simply put, is one that just uses text without flashy design elements. Most email marketing platforms make their templates with HTML, so it isn’t difficult to create the elements for an image-based email. However, some email clients won’t accept HTML emails or automatically send them to the Spam folder.

Is plain text or image-based email better?

Did you know, 82% of marketers believe that content which contains images is more likely to be consumed? However, that doesn’t mean they’re right. Image-based, HTML-heavy emails may be more attractive but, they’re also more likely to get flagged by spam filters. Whereas, plain text emails are more likely to get in front of subscribers’ eyes because they are rarely flagged as spam.


HTML emails also use more bandwidth, and many email servers won’t automatically show HTML elements (images)  in emails. This means the receiver has to manually enable these elements to see them, which they may not willingly do. Meanwhile, plain text emails are likely to be opened as the subscriber can see every aspect of them right away. The best answer is to include a plain text alternative even if you’re sending HTML emails.

What about personalization?

Over 80% of marketers reported higher open rates thanks to email personalization, and 75% believe that it leads to higher click-through rates.

Personalizing your email campaigns can be incredibly helpful. It’s particularly important if you’re sending plain text emails. The more personalized your emails are, the more likely it is that receivers will engage with them, whether that means opening them, reading them, clicking through to your website, or even making a purchase.

Personalized plain text emails will generally include, at a minimum, the subscriber’s name. They can also include further personalization, based on the subscriber’s location, age, gender, occupation, previous purchases, or click-through activity. The more of these elements that you include, the more likely that subscribers will open your emails and engage with them.  

Plain text is an important complement to image-based HTML emails and they can also work well on their own. If you’d like to find out more about using image-based and plain text emails, get in touch with us at MMG  to find out more.