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Why plain text emails don’t work

In the wild, wild world of online marketing, there is often two points of view about plain text emails:

Either they work better than any other email “style” you can try.

Or they work worse, ruin your brand’s image, and make people wanna unsubscribe faster than they can say “good riddance.”

And y’know what’s funny?

Most copywriters fall into category #1. While most brands fall into category #2. The latter wrongly believes that pretty templates are persuasive, and the reason someone buys is whether you use a #FFFF00 or #FF5733 color code.

Maybe they got duped by going through the Klaviyo course of email marketing. Or see their competitors using pretty templates and copy them. Or something else entirely.

But here’s the truth:

Plain text emails DON’T work.

Lemme explain…

When a new brand “discovers” plain text emails and how, on average, they have better deliverability, opens and clicks, and make more sales, they think a plain text email is their next Bright Shiny Object.

(Take a second to appreciate the utter irony here of plain text emails, something as old as the internet itself, is seen as a new Bright Shiny Object.)

And so, what do these brands do?

They go to their ESP, pick the plainest text looking template, and barf cringey copy onto the page. Usually, this cringey copy also comes with a hefty discount, which pulls the weight for making sales. But then these brands hit a wall when they can’t get plain text emails to work without fat discounts.


Well, they’re not copywriters.

And if you’re not a copywriter, you’re gonna miss out on some important persuasive elements to add to your plain text email. These persuasive elements are the fundamental reason plain text emails work.

Plain text gives you more “room” in your email to, well, persuade. And if you ain’t got a persuasive bone in your body besides offering fatter and fatter discounts, then, well, the end of the story writes itself:

You’ll have to keep outdoing your proffered discounts, until you’re actually paying your subscribers to pay your product or service.


So, do plain text emails still work?

Yes, and no.

If you have a skilled copywriter, they’re mayhap the single most important “asset” you have for your brand.

Because a skilled copywriter can…

* Smash objections before they even arise in your subscribers’ minds

* Build bonds with your subscribers so they’d go to literal war for you

* Make your product seem like the single best option for each individual person, obliterating your competitors

* Help you create new products and services almost on demand, so you can afford to break even on your paid advertising because you know you’ll make it up in the backend

And the list goes on…

But if’n you don’t have a skilled copywriter on your team?

Then, plain text emails won’t be much of a benefit for you. It’s possible they convert worse, ruin your brand’s image, and make people wanna unsubscribe faster than they can say “good riddance.”

But I’d argue a pretty design ain’t gonna prevent those things from happening anyway.

Moral of the story?

Using a plain text strategy without a skilled copywriter is like using Leonardo da Vinci’s chiaroscuro style of painting without knowing the first thing about wielding a paint brush.

The fix?

Hiring a “Leonardo da Vinci” for email copy.

And you know what?

You’re just one “reply” away from booking a meeting with someone like that who can help you get all the benefits of plain text emails without any of the nasty side effects.

The choice is yours.

If you wanna see how this works, grab a time here, and we’ll set up a quick, 15-minute call to see if working together makes both sense and cents.


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