A vote for plain text

email inboxI was realizing the other day just how much of my email, work and personal, I get on my iPhone. I get the same messages on my computer, but very often, I wind up reading them first on my phone.

It got me thinking about people who have to draw a clear line between their work email and their personal email. Those folks may well get all of their personal email on their mobile device. A quick search found a study by The Pew Internet Project in April that found that 49% of all U.S. adults use phones at least occasionally to use the internet or email on their phones. There's a very good chance that a large portion of your population is getting your emails on their phone.

It is really common to get HTML emails on a personal address - advertisements, spam, offers, newsletters. Many look really good on the computer screen on which they were composed. Unfortunately, it is just as common that those HTML emails look pretty awful on your phone. They are hard to read, have missing images, require a lot of scrolling to get to the point… and, honestly, I often just ignore them.

On the other hand, I always take the time to read a short, to the point, text based email. It is easy to do on a small screen.

In my experience working with schools, parents are most often identify non-work email addresses as their primary. I wonder how many of the pretty HTML blasts with great information are missed by the smartphone email checkers like me who don't enjoy having to work at reading their messages. 

Many schools use our Spark communications module and get excited about the HTML email, but practically, the thing that makes it powerful is the ability to easily send merged information in a personalized format. The plain text messages will be read by prospects and constituents alike. 

There is a place for HTML emails, for sure, but if I want to be sure that someone reads the message I am sending, I'm sticking with plain text. And when you decide that HTML is the way to go, be sure to include a plain text part that gives the gist of the message for the smartphone users.