Why Your Customers Aren’t Opening Your Emails
Mordi Levi
July 1, 2021

In the world of email marketing, we are constantly asking ourselves: What’s the most effective way to get your donors to open your emails? For years, the practice has always been design, design, and some more design. And rightfully so—it’s sound logic. A well-designed email should perform better than a plain text email, however, we discovered from recent tests that this might not be the case.

During a recent drip campaign, we ran an A/B test between a graphic HTML email and a plain text email. Each email used the same subject line and body but differed in design and layout. The first email was a standard HTML email containing plenty of graphics, fonts, and images. The second email was a much simpler plain text email, consisting of nothing more than some basic text.

The results we found were eye-opening. Our HTML email had an open rate of only 17%. But with the plain-text email, we almost doubled our open rate at 27%! Why is this the case?

Many email services monitor incoming emails and sort them based on category. By doing this, emails that heavily rely on graphics and images end up in a ‘promotional’ tab or spam folder hidden from the primary inbox. Many customers simply aren’t checking their ‘promotional’ tab, and your email goes by unread. On the other hand, plain text emails end up being sorted into the primary inbox, resulting in your customers seeing and interacting with your email. Additionally, customers want to interact with your business the same way they interact with anyone else over email. A plain text email will make your emails feel more personal and engaging over an HTML email.

Does this mean we should abandon HTML emails? Most certainly not. There is still a place for graphical HTML emails. But, it does mean we should begin rethinking our strategy when it comes to email marketing. Instead of sending only HTML emails, try shifting your strategy to a more text-first approach. When your message can be more personal, make it more personal by sending a plain text email instead. Plain text emails will lead to your customers seeing, opening, and engaging with your emails, resulting in improved conversions and more donations for your business.

(Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)