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Reason #875 why plain-text emails reign supreme

True story:

I was on a discovery call with a potential client recently, and she had a major problem lurking in her Klaviyo account.

The problem?

Damn near 100% of her welcome series’ emails—if not 100% flat out—were landing in the Spam Folder o’ Death.

As you can imagine, her open rates were crawling into the gates of hell itself. Her newest leads didn’t know a damn thing about her business, killing a relationship before it even began. And this created quite the sinkhole for her email revenue.

As I was diagnosing her problem, I asked a bunch of questions I usually do:

* What automations do you have set up right now and how are they doing?

* Are you using campaigns as part of your strategy and how many do you average per month?

And the important one for this story:

* Are you using at least a healthy balance of copy and images or are you designing your entire email and filling it with images?

Her answer to this question?

Well, we only use a hero image at the top of the email, then the rest of the email is filled with short-form copy.

At this point, I recommended that she take out the hero image and simply let the copy do the job the copy’s supposed to do, thinking it was a simple logo image, as is the case with most ecom brands.

We hung up on a positive note, and we may work together. So I signed up for her emails after the call was over to see if I noticed any problems on the subscriber-side.

And, boy, were there a lot of problems I noticed:

First, I noticed she lied… Yeah, the hero image that I thought was a logo turned out to be the entire email. Well, since said email landed in my spam folder, I couldn't see a damn thing. Images break and you cannot see them from the spam folder.

But even if you could see images in the spam folder, I wouldn’t have been able to see these emails.


Well, the images are broken inside Klaviyo itself. Even after reporting the email as “Not spam,” when I loaded the email from my primary inbox, I still couldn’t see the email. Instead, I just saw a bunch of broken image icons.

And this is reason #875—at leeeeeast—of why plain-text emails reign supreme.

She told me her email only had one image… But the entire email was an image! My best guess is that something in the HTML source code for the email template a shytty email marketing agency created for her broke. When it landed in spam, I knew immediately why 100% of her welcome series landed in the spam folder. But when I took it out of spam, I expected to see it.

Here’s the thing…

Even if I’m completely wrong—and I’m not wrong here, but I’ve been wrong before, so mayhap I am here—and plain-text emails paled in comparison to heavily designed HTML emails, this is never even kind of a problem for plain-text emails.

Even when they land in spam, you can still read the copy. But they’re also far less likely to land in spam. They make you seem like a human vs a brand (and people trust humans over brands). When you let copy do its job instead of images, you forge stronger relationships with your list, which leads to more sales. And I could keep going on and on and on. But I wont.

Moral of the story?

Well, cully, it should be obvious:

Hit reply if your brand uses pretty HTML emails and let me prove to you how ugly plain-text emails that look like they’re straight outta 1996 perform better every day of the week and twice on Sunday.


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