There are two basic formats that can be used by email newsletters: HTML or plain text. Although many existing newsletters are actually sent using plain text, marketers that want to appear more professional to their readers should really be using HTML email marketing.
Plain Text vs. HTML Email Marketing
An email newsletter that is sent in plain text format does not contain any text styling, graphics, or special coding. In general, it is nothing more than text and generic links that show the destination website address. This means that plain text newsletters are extremely limited when it comes to the ability to have a customized appearance.
A plain text email is the most popular because it is simple to use, especially for beginners. A lot of people actually like the fact that there is no styling involved because it helps to keep the reader focused on the content instead of the design. The content of the mail and the link or links contained in it are the only things that a marketer will need to create to send newsletters.
HTML emails can actually look exactly the same as a plain text email, but they can also be made to look drastically different. A newsletter in this format can be designed and styled a normal website using HTML and CSS coding. As a result, an email can be made to look just like the website of the company running the newsletter.
A lot of businesses and especially large corporations want to use HTML email marketing to help with brand recognition and to set themselves apart from their competition. These types of companies often depend on their brand recognition to make money, so being able to send mails in this format can be extremely important for them.
Choosing a Mailing Format
When the two formats are compared, there really is not a lot of competition when it comes to choosing one that is better than another. HTML newsletters are perfect for companies which have a lot of focus on brand recognition or even for businesses that just want a more professional appearance to help attract more customers.
Before a company decides to stick with a specific format, it is also important to understand how email services work. In general, people will always read their emails in one of these two formats. Some of the services will let their users choose what type of format they want to see, while others may only deliver a specific format.
A plain text email can be viewed properly despite the format being used, but an HTML email can be hard or even impossible for people to read if they used a plain text only email service. For this reason, there are a couple of important rules that a marketer needs to know to ensure that everyone receiving their newsletter will be able to read it.
Most email marketing services will allow both formats to be provided when a newsletter is created. A marketer can choose to only send plain text emails, but all HTML newsletters should be sent along with a plain text version to avoid problems. Following these methods will ensure that all subscribers will be able to read their mails.
Effective Use of HTML Newsletters
The one downside to HTML email marketing is the potential for newsletters to get automatically flagged as spam. Legitimate companies trying to utilize the power of HTML emails need to understand that they are also commonly used by spammers or even identify theft phishers that are trying to disguise their real intentions.
Since this format allows for a mail to be designed like a website, some people will use them to send fake mails that try to steal personal information. A common technique that these people will use is to disguise the website links that are in the emails. This allows them to show one website address, which is typically the address for the company being imitated, while the reader actually gets directed to a completely different web address.
This is important to know because legitimate email marketers can get automatically flagged as spam by specific email service providers if they utilize this type of technique. Unfortunately, this can actually happen without meaning to do so. This happens because of link tracking technologies that are offered by email marketing services.
The link tracking is actually a redirect through a script run by the email marketing service. In general, a redirect may not cause this problem, but it becomes a problem for some email service providers when one website address is shown to the email reader and the link actually lands on another address. To avoid this problem, simply disable link tracking or make sure that every single link in HTML newsletters contains anchor link text instead of a standard web address for the link text.
Designing HTML Email Newsletters
A lot of beginner email marketers will desperately avoid HTML newsletters because they simply lack the knowledge to write their own HTML and CSS code to design it. Fortunately, this is not a reason that should actually stop anyone from using this format for their mailings because templates can be used that will take care of this work for those without any HTML knowledge.
An HTML email template is a design made by someone else that is available for others to use with their newsletters. Although this doesn’t allow the appearance of the emails to be completely unique, these templates can be customized with a business name, logo, and other information.
HTML templates made for websites are not recommended to be used for this purpose, because they are generally made in completely different sizes. One of the best ways to get a lot of these templates is by creating an account with a good email marketing service like Aweber. They offer a wide variety of high-quality templates for both newsletter sign up forms and emails that are completely free to use for active users of their service.
Professionally made templates of both types can help email marketers save a lot of time and money while also boosting the impression that they give to their readers. The only way these templates can be used is with HTML email marketing.