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HTML vs plain-text? Here’s more proof that “ugly as sin” emails convert better


I landed a new client who, despite my many warnings, still foolishly believes that heavily designed HTML emails convert better than “ugly as sin” plain text.

Yet, he was still unconvinced.


Well, according to him, one of his flagship product’s main selling points is the design. It’s a simple health and wellness product that also looks good as decor, so his thinking led him to believe that a heavily designed and “on-brand” email would work better.

Again, I told him ad nauseum that I disagreed. Especially since the campaign we’re putting together is targeted to an ice cold audience. And ice cold audiences don’t care about how pretty your branding is, how aesthetic your product looks, or how “on-brand” your font selection or email template is.

Ice cold audiences need persuaded.

The same is true for warm audiences, but the warmer your audience, the more you can “get away” with making mistakes in your emails.

Anywho, my endless disagreements with him over plain-text vs HTML didn’t get anywhere. And he was so convinced in his mind that a designed email with minimal copy would convert better. So I finally gave in and recommended we run a test.

Well, the results are in…

My “ugly as sin” emails led to two brand new customers—one of which a customer ordered 5-6x the typical average order value (which led to him sending me a celebratory text). More customers will follow as the days and week pass by.

But what about the beautifully designed HTML emails he was so convinced would work 1000x better?

Not only did they not lead to a single conversion, they didn’t even lead to a single click.

Hundreds of people saw the designed HTML template. Yet not a single person even clicked!

Of course, I count the zero clicks thing to the ice cold audience. Had we sent it to a warmer audience, we might’ve got some clicks and even some sales.

But, in comparison, not only did my plain-text emails result in many clicks, but it generated two sales of almost $1,000 total.

If’n you needed more proof that plain-text emails convert better, look no further than this example.


Need help designing an email strategy that actually generates revenue for your business?

Hit reply, and let’s chat.


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