HTML vs. Text Emails – What do you respond to?

5 years ago everybody wanted their email marketing to use HTML. The obvious benefits of HTML emails are that they have additional text formatting capabilities, incorporate graphics,  and puts more creative options at the marketer’s disposal.

841Take this email from Pottery Barn for example.  This is a great example of a strong HTML email.  It is visually appealing, the message is clear and it contributes nicely to the brand’s image. But what I think makes this email work, is that I am familiar with the brand.

I think HTML emails make perfect sense for any large business that has a developed brand and strong customer loyalty (not to mention a huge design budget).

I’m just talking from personal experience here…  If I get an html email from Pottery Barn, or Best Buy (for example), I’m interested in their promotion and how I might be able to benefit from a special.  If the special intrigues me enough then sure, I’ll click to visit their website and learn more. But, on the other hand, if I get an email from some small business that I never hear of, my ‘JUNK’ radar immediatly sounds.

Take this html email a client of mine was thinking about sending out. (Thanks Steve for allowing me to use this as an example).


The goal of this email was to send people to their Personal URL landing page, and ultimately sign up for their wine of the month club.

By the way this is a great deal for all you wine lovers out there.  Go to for more info.

Now this email, like Pottery Barn, is also able to carry the brand for U.S. Wine Association with their colors, logo and font choices.  It looks nice and everybody is happy….  But how will prospective customers react to the email?  If they are anything like me  my ‘JUNK’ radar immediately goes off. What about you?

My argument is this. For small businesses who don’t have a strong brand and loyal customer following (or thousand dollar design budget for each email), it is better to use plain text emails. The biggest reason is that it looks like a PERSONAL message.  From experience, I would rather receive a personal message from a company that I am unfamiliar with, than something that looks like it went out the a million people.  What do you think?  Do you have the same reaction as I do?

Good search engine marketing idea

I just ran across a good idea for search engine marketing. HelpSpot is an open source help desk software. If you search Google for “open source help desk software” you will see that their company doesn’t come up, but a review site does: . And guess what, HelpSpot is the “Sponsor.”… More like HelpSpot quickly through up this review website, made themselves the sponsor, and now ranks number 1 for their top keyword. Not a bad idea! Would only take an hour to implement something like this. I think I’m going to give this a try…

How “A” Prospects Provide the Fastest, Least Expensive Way to Dramatically Increase Sales.

The following strategy has helped more companies double their sales faster than any other single concept. In a sentence: There is always a smaller number of “A” prospects, than there are all prospects. So marketing to them is cheaper than marketing to all buyers. A direct mail effort to 100 “A” prospects is obviously less expensive than a direct mail effort to an entire audience of 10,000 prospects.

“A” prospects have shown interest in your product or service. By focusing your marketing efforts intently on “A” prospects, you can dramatically increase sales.

To succeed with this marketing approach, a business needs an effective way of gathering “A” prospects – which is the advantage of Personal URLs. Start with a larger mailing to all prospects, and include on that mailing a Personal URL (PURL). The PURL will direct the recipient to a customized website that automatically tracks their activity. Voila! You have your list of “A” prospects who have shown enough interest in your product to visit your website.

The trick is to treat your “A” prospects like gold, because that is exactly what they are. This group of people is more likely to purchase your products or services than the rest of your prospect list. Plan on reaching out to them every two weeks from every angle — phone, email, snail mail. Be creative and fun with your marketing efforts. By doing this, your prospect will go from not knowing you, to knowing a little about you, to understanding exactly what you offer, to almost feeling obligated to purchase from you because of your persistence! This approach separates you from the competition and will double your sales faster than any other single concept.