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Why plain text emails are better for engagement

Email, Engagement4 min read

By Abril Taker - Content Creator at Palabra

Plain text sounds boring? Well, let me tell you that plain text is more important than you can imagine. At Palabra we love plain text to send every email, specially our onboarding sequences. And in this article we’ll share why we think you should start using it too.

Isn’t plain text for grannies?👵🏼

Plain text has been around since the beginnings of the Internet. So it is understandable that some people think it is obsolete. Maybe there was a time where HTML emails were on a boom, but plain text today is more functional than ever.

Before we continue we’d like all of us to be in the same page about what plain text is:

The term Plain text, when we talk about an email, refers to the composition that consists of the copy within the style. Which means that it does not include complex formatting or styled fonts. Although it can have images and links.

Even if plain text could sound boring at first compared with HTML emails, you will discover that their use can bring many benefits in general, and especially for onboarding sequences.

Use plain text for onboarding sequences 🏆

When you have a service or a product that depends, on a large portion, of having a constant flow of users, you might want to apply an onboarding sequence in order to avoid the churn rate and to connect with your community.

If you’re still in the early stage of your strategy, we recommend to read our article about 5 questions to ask yourself before creating an onboarding email sequence, it will guide you in the process.

Over the years, new technologies have risen in the field of user experience. We now have many tools to call the attention of customers. This means people are getting a bunch of emails that now look like ads delivered right to your inbox.

Onboarding should look nothing like ads. That's when you start a close relationship with early users, you educate them about how to use your product better, and open communication channels.

5 reasons why plain text is always a good idea

📩 It ensures deliverability

The number one thing that you need to do to engage with someone is to get their attention. And for that, you need to get them to open your emails.

As we said before, HTML emails have images, links, GIFs, all sorts of things that attract the attention of email filters. So they’re more susceptible to being redirected to the spam folder if they have broken links or suspicious behaviours.

Since plain text emails don’t contain much more information than text, it’s much more likely that they will not alert spam filters.

Also, plain text emails seem more “real” to your email filters. And that's also handy for your readers!

📜 It feels more personal

Once your customers open your emails, you don’t want them to say “ugh, another stupid corporative email. DELETE”. That’s probably the worst case scenario.

Plain text has been proved to have higher click-through rates. Not just because they can pass spam filters, but also because they feel more personal. They look like something a real person sends, to offer information instead of driving sales.

Then, when you receive a plain text email, it is more associated with a regular person, someone who just wants to talk and know about you as an individual (and not as a target). Your users can perceive you more relatable, human and trust-worthy ✨.

🗣️ Starts 1-1 conversations

As you can see, there’s a progression. And with plain text you help your emails to be delivered and opened. Do you know what is even better? If your users answer the email!

We like plain text precisely because of this. Through this kind of emails, we’ve received feedback from our users that was very valuable for us to grow as a company and as a team. They respond because there's a real email address from a real person to answer to.

We send onboarding emails that appeal to conversation. Having a dialog is the fuel to power the relationship with the users. We try to build a space where the user can feel part of the process and can say something to improve the use of a tool that is so necessary in his life.

👩🏼‍🦽 Is more accessible

Now we want to highlight something that usually goes unnoticed. Plain text is readable for accessibility systems. This kind of emails has an ethical benefit, because they’re reachable for people with different needs.

When you send an HTML email, you’re making it more difficult for a blind person, for example, to understand your message.

At this point, it is good to ask ourselves if our emails can be accessed by a blind person using a screen reader.

🔮 Adapts to new technology

From the previous point it follows the fact that plain text is more readable. I personally was surprised to discover that you can read your emails in smartwatches and smart assisters,or that you can obtain a more comprehensible preview of the content.

I know, it is super obvious when you think about it. But we do not always have in mind that there are other kinds of displays where people read their emails or notifications. And that we have to be ahead of the new possibilities, because we don’t know what type of devices will be developed in the future.

In this case, keeping it simple will ensure you that people can read your messages.

So, now you know, don’t be shy and start sending those emails and talking to your users. You may be pleasantly surprised with what you discover.


Hope you enjoyed this post! If you are curious about what you can do with Palabra or would just like to try it go ahead and create an account here.

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