Could plain text emails make a comeback?

Email on a smartphoneUsers of iPads and other tablet devices will tell you how wonderful it is to be able to view web pages and graphical emails in the palm of their hand. They’ll also wax lyrical about the value of a 10-inch screen and how brilliant that is for checking emails compared with the tiny little screens on the iPhone. Maybe.

More email is now opened on a mobile device than on a desktop. The average desktop computer uses a 19-inch screen nowadays, but the average mobile screen is still only three or four inches. In spite of the popularity of iPads and similar devices the bulk of email opening is on phones.

This means that if your email marketing is based on a graphical template there is a chance that the bulk of your recipients will not be able to view it effectively.

And there are two other factors combining now to make graphically-based emails more of a problem. As more and more people use mobile devices the telephone companies have started to restrict new contracts with much more limited and less generous data allowances. Gone are the “unlimited” data arrangements for most people; nowadays data is increasingly costly. And that means users – such as your email recipients – will be more wary about downloading complete emails, especially if they are graphical ones as they will eat into their more restricted data allowances.

On top of this, there’s another issue people are muttering about. The graphical email SEEMS less personal. If you are using a fancy template it is clearly not something you are going to produce on a one-to-one basis. Open rates for email marketing hover around an average of 20% – eight out of ten people ignore them. One of the reasons is that they know they are marketing emails because they are not personalised as much as they might be and part of the influence of this apparent lack of personalisation is the use of graphical email templates.

So three things are colliding – the increased use of small screens, lower data allowances for mobiles and the heightened awareness that graphical probably means non-personal. There can only be one result of this combination – an increase in the desire for text-only emails.

And if that happens all the people who have moved towards iPads so they can read those graphical emails more comfortably may well have wasted their cash…!

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