The plain text version of your WebbMail campaigns (automatically delivered to anyone in your audience who can’t receive html) may lack the oomph of its html sibling, but it serves an important purpose. After all, recent surveys indicate that up to 25% of your audience may receive that version.
Here are tips for making your plain text pretty (and a link to the plain text version of this email to let you see them in action):
1. Don’t touch the plain text until the html is done.
WebbMail builds your plain text for you from the text of your html version. So it’s easiest if you focus on the html, get that completely done, and then turn your attention to the plain text. If you do change the plain text and then make changes to the html, you’ll notice the option appears to refresh your text to incorporate those changes.
2. Clean up your line breaks.
Plain text is a fairly ignorant creature, and it doesn’t always get line breaks right. Which is why when you first preview your plain text you may see some lines ending abruptly. Spend a minute cleaning up those line breaks and it will make a big difference (to do this, place your cursor in front of the first word on the next line and then hit backspace to remove the break and join the two lines).
3. Use spacing, dashed lines, & other characters to make things more readable.
Without the benefit of bold headlines, colors and other rich formatting, plain text requires a bit more creativity when it comes to making headlines and important content stand out. Try putting spaces or dashed lines between sections, and using CAPS and *asterisks* in place of the bolds you’ve used on the html side.
4. For longer emails, consider putting a brief summary or menu at the top.
If your html campaign has two columns, remember that in the plain text you have just one. Which means that sidebar that fits nicely at the top of one version will be pushed down to the very bottom in the other. If the sidebar is important, consider mentioning it near the top of your email so folks know there’s reason to scroll, or try incorporating the sidebar elements into the main body. Also remember that those nice images you used in the sidebar of your html won’t appear, so your captions will need to stand on their own.
5. What is the plain text experience like? Send it to yourself and find out.
The best way to proof your plain text is the same way you proof your html – by sending it to yourself or someone in your test group. So make sure you’ve got the ’email format preference’ field turned on in your audience, and then set at least one person in your test group to ‘plain text.’ If you have two email addresses yourself, even better – you can set one to receive html and the other to receive text. And you’ll experience each version the same way your recipients will.
A few of these tips were incorporated into the plain text version of this WebbTips – click here to see the plain text version.