“Knowing who to trust is everything in this business” (Die Another Day 2002)

Text only emails are more effective than ones with images in? As an email service provider, we hear this all the time from our customers. But how do they know? The answer is there is no information that can suggest that text only emails are more powerful than a visual campaign, but there is nothing to suggest vice versa either.  So, in the wise words of Roger Moore: “Well, let me try and enlarge your Vocabulary.” (The Spy Who Loved Me – 1977)

Achieve the look of an email from your own inbox.

Many email marketers like the thought of crafting an email in HTML which looks just like there own email signature. Of course, you  want to be the next 007 agent and spy on your recipients to see who is opening and clicking. I think James Bond has a more exciting life personally!

This is, in fact, quite a successful technique implemented by many companies, especially Recruitment companies. The technique means companies can appear to be speaking as an individual.  This convinces the recipient that they have received an email directly from the recruiter. It also enables the recruiter to broadcast a new job alert to their entire database of qualified candidates quickly.

The issue with this technique is that by law, you do need a valid “unsubscribe” mechanism which can indicate to savvy candidates that they are on a mailing list. I do not advise hiding it or pushing it down the page. So, the technique is very good for responses, but is becoming more and more uncovered as people in general are becoming more tech savvy.

“I always enjoyed learning a new tongue” (Tomorrow Never Dies 1997)

Why do millions of companies send out newsletter type emails. It all boils down to learning styles and preferences, as well as the type of product or service you sell. You can’t sell a suit without first seeing the material.

Understanding your audience.

There are many ways to find out if your audience prefer a certain format of emails.

Shaken, or stirred.

The simple answer to this is just ask them. If you have a large list of contacts, you could do a simple email campaign with a survey link placed in the email “How do you prefer your emails, HTML or Plain Text?”

“For your eyes only, darling” (For Your Eyes Only 1981)

According to What is my Learning Style, visual learners remember 75% of what they read or see – they prefer pictures, images and spatial understanding.

But there are also Verbal (Linguistic) learners who prefer using words, both in speech and writing.

As a marketer, you are going to have your own biased preference. There is no scientific answer, your opinion is correct.

There is no answer as to what is right or wrong and you please everyone. Some will dislike your email campaign and others will love it. You need to approach your email marketing with an open mind and the view of optimizing moving forward.

“You always were a cunning linguist” (Tomorrow Never Dies 1997)

Text only emails are normally much quicker to produce. No photographers or image sources are required. Visual campaigns can demand more time and resources, as images will need sourcing, creating or editing.

A complex scenario can be better described in a text rather than trying to capture something obscure through imagery.

Visual campaigns used to be hand coded (and can still be), but in todays email marketing world I advise people to use drag and drop editors. Our own drag and drop builder is very easy to use. Try it for yourself.

“Well it’s all a matter of perspective” (You only Live Twice 1967)

I am much more of a visual person. But it does all depend on the type of media used. If I’m expecting a gas gill I would certainly expect this to be text based. But, companies are now becoming aware of the opportunity to cross sell/upsell other services, so you may now find a “Skyscraper type banner” down the side of standard text-based emails with promotions or advertisement to additional services a company may offer.

“Nobody takes the time to do a real sinister interrogation” (GoldenEye, 1995)

The majority of companies do not take the time to split test what works best for their own email marketing. It is very easy to get carried away with what you would presume is working well. But explore all possibilities to find out if there is a better alternative.

“If it hadn’t been for Q branch you’d have been dead long ago” (Licence to Kill 1989)

Its always to best to speak with your ESP if you’re undecided on whether to stick with text only or image (if your lucky enough to have a supplier that provides you with a dedicated UK support agent – like mailingmanager ?

Text only emails, it is rumoured, have more chance of by-passing SPAM filters.  This is something I cannot confirm with any degree of certainty.  However, it might be worth testing your own success with text only email.


“How the hell does he know these things?” (Casino Royale 2006)