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Style Without Substance Will Html Email Survive

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troy janisch

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User since: 08 Jul 2002

Articles written: 17

While pop-up windows exhale a dying breath, HTML-based email messages find themselves looking at a similar fate. Surveys in 2003 are showing that plain text email messages are becoming more popular, and more successful, than HTML counterparts.

A July 10, 2003, Lucid Marketing survey indicated that 53 percent of AOL respondents said they prefer plain text emails to HTML ones. Although they've conducted this survey before, this is the first time that results have favored plain text emails. Plain text emails also proved to be more effective -- in three months of testing they consistently outperformed HTML message. Sometimes by 100%.

For companies using e-marketing tactics, 2003 may prove to be a time of change and opportunity as they apply answers to important questions:

HTML or Plain Text?


If 53% of recipients prefer plain text, a large number still like HTML email. Don't choose teams. Let email recipients choose whether they want to receive plain text or HTML. Make messages available in both formats and let customers, or email newsletter subscribers, decide the format they want to view.

Will HTML Add Value?

Not always. If 90% of the unsolicited junk email is sent as HTML email, your message may stand out more presented effectively in plain text. Every email message you send does not warrant HTML. Large text, bold fonts, and graphics don't by themselves increase the effectiveness of a message.

Is HTML Worth the Investment?

Sometimes. HTML-based emails need to be created by someone will a high level of HTML programming and design skill. They need to be tested with a variety of email clients before being sent. They need to be given the resources they need to succeed. If an email benefits from HTML, it benefits from having it done properly.

HTML messages aren't bad. However, most are still badly constructed and badly targeted.

This needs to change.

Each poorly-constructed HTML email fuels a decline in the effectiveness of HTML email as an effective marketing and communication tool.

Troy Janisch is president and founder of Icon Interactive™, an industry leader helping companies integrate Internet and other Interactive media into sales channels, marketing strategies, and overall branding. He can be contacted by email at

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