So, you want to know how to send HTML emails and make money from your email marketing instead of having them either look like crap or, worse yet, end up in the spam folder at t’other end?
Good. I hoped you would.
You may recall from my first post on this topic, your fancy and professional HTML marketing emails usually end up looking like a dog’s dinner, for all sorts of reasons.
But the very first thing I want to do is dispel a myth. It’s a common one, and one I have been guilty of perpetuating myself in the past. And the myth in question is…
Don’t Send HTML Emails Because Plain Text Works Better
Because it doesn’t. At least, not in the tests I’ve been doing recently it doesn’t.
Now, this isn’t to say it’s going to be the same all the time for everyone, but it does mean everyone needs to test this and not just swallow the accepted wisdom, because the difference I’ve found is definitely significant.
In the image above the two emails were identical except for one thing: Group 1 was plain-text only, and Group 2 was plain-text and simple HTML. And the difference in click-through rates is clear, with the HTML email outperforming the plain-text version by 56%. And on a conversion rate of 11.43% with a $40 average sale, that comes to a lot of chocolate bars over time.
Now, before we get into the meat of this, let’s just look at the open-rates for long enough to conclude we can safely ignore them. Why? Because the mechanics of how they actually work means they are unreliable at the best of times, and with plain-text emails they are absolutely useless (see here for why this is).
So, what are these stats telling us?
Well, quite simply that in this case, on this list if I send HTML emails I get a higher click-through rate than if I send plain-text emails, and so are very likely to make more money.
I can’t stress how vitally important this is, because doing it this way involves virtually no extra effort and so means you can make more money without working any harder.
Now… why is there such a big difference?
Well, it’s hard to be sure without further testing, and even then we’d be making some assumptions because we’re dealing with human beings and their weird-ass psychology, but as an educated guess I’d say it’s probably down to two things:
- When you send HTML emails you can give the link more appealing anchor text than just the ugly URL you get in plain-text emails (e.g. read this special report as opposed to http://www.mydomain.com/special-report).
- It’s possible there’s something odd going on with the way Aweber tracks clicks in emails. What it does is change the URL to one of its own so it can count the clicks. That URL is ugly, bears no relation to your site, and might even be flagged as a potential email-scam by your email client. To rule this out needs more testing, with the click-counting being done on the destination website rather than on the email provider’s site.
Even so, the difference is pretty impressive, don’t you think?
Now, given these results, how can we explain them seeing as when we send HTML emails they often get mangled, mauled and maimed at the other end?
If you want to send HTML emails… keep your HTML very basic
Here’s what a typical email from me looks like with the very simple HTML formatting I use:
And to achieve this effect just requires some very simple HTML in the email in the <head> section (unless you want it to be indented in Gmail’s reader, too, in which case you need to add the style=”" nonsense to every <p>, and that’s too much effort for me to bother with most of the time. There is a reason for indenting the first line of every paragraph – it gives the eye a visual cue of where to start reading and tests have shown it does increase readership and thus response. I do it in all my stuff, online and offline).
OK, so there we have it – if you want to make more money send HTML emails, but keep them simple and as plain as you can.