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Effective text only emails

Text only emails are a reliable alternative to HTML emails. They work in any email client and can be read by all. Here are some tips on how to make text only emails more user friendly.

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Table of contents

Structure content

Structuring your content is a general practice that applies to all emails. Place the most important message at the top of the email so readers can see what you are trying to communicate within the first few sentences. Readers often spend only a few seconds reading an email so get your message at the top and support the message with further content below.

Page sections

Dividing your text only email into sections is a good way of breaking up the communication. Although text only does not allow styling you still have a number of characters to divide the page up.

=======================================================
Section 1
=======================================================
Magnus es, domine, et laudabilis valde: magna virtus tua, et 
sapientiae tuae non est numerus. Et laudare te vult homo, aliqua
portio creaturae tuae, et homo circumferens mortalitem suam, 
circumferens testimonium peccati sui et testimonium.

=======================================================
Section 2
=======================================================
Magnus es, domine, et laudabilis valde: magna virtus tua,
et sapientiae tuae non est numerus. et laudare te vult homo, 
aliqua portio creaturae tuae, et homo circumferens mortalitem 
suam, circumferens testimonium peccati sui et testimonium.

*******************************************************
Footer content here

Use lists

You can still use lists in text only emails. A convention is to use asterisks.

You should be happy because:
* You have cake
* You have tea
* You have a job

Text only links will often be converted to blue links in many email clients. For email clients that do not convert links it is a good practice to put links on a new line if possible. This allows reader to see the link clearly and to follow it if they wish. If the link is not on a new line it can get lost in the other content.

Taudare te vult homo, aliqua portio creaturae tuae, et  
circumferens testimonium peccati sui et testimonium.
http://www.bbc.co.uk

Calls to action

You can still use calls to action in emails with punchy messages followed by links.

20% OFF FOR NEW CUSTOMERS. BOOK NOW!
http://www.linktopage.com

Keep it short

A common mistake is simply to have too much content. Readers simply won’t read long text. Keep your message short and to the point. If your content is too long edit it. If you cannot edit it consider breaking the message into more than one email or providing extended information via a PDF download.

What do you think?

Have some experience of effective text only emails? Leave a comment!

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