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We use email to communicate with our customers in various ways and I'm looking for ways to improve the UX. I stumbled upon a site showing examples of really good email communication but wasn't able to find any data backing up the claim.

Has anyone done A/B testing using plain text email with links versus an HTML formatted email like the example below?

Thanks in advance for sharing anything you've discovered about email formats that work.

web email

  • +1 Great question. I've wondered about this a lot because even if the layout renders properly on email clients, there is a curious behavioral pattern where users may equate page-like emails with ads. I've been looking for data too. – tohster Jun 19 '15 at 17:06
  • I have never seen any actual research into this but I would suspect not given html, images, etc... seem to be blocked in most mail services by default. – the other one Jun 22 '15 at 11:33
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    I just get to see a placeholder telling me to switch to html view. I never do because every html-email i ever received was spam. Your email would get the same treatment. – nwp Jun 24 '15 at 9:16
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This is something we have been discussing for a little while. On the one hand, pure-text emails (in this day and age) come across as vague and often untrustworthy by most audiences. The look-n-feel of a richtext/html email wins over most of the time. This is basic UI design. Even more so because the corporate identity can be injected into the email and this already begins the association and decision process. The are complete guidelines available on how to get the most out of email marketing, from using powerful subject lines to the call-to-actions on the email...

One the other hand... and this is a bit controversial considering I have no data to base this on... rich emails can be seen as a type of online advert. We may argue that emails are more targeted, but the reality is MOST of the ads you see are targeted at YOU anyway...

So does online advertising still work? Here are two great articles with somewhat differing viewpoints:

http://www.business2community.com/infographics/effective-online-advertising-0996804

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/06/a-dangerous-question-does-internet-advertising-work-at-all/372704/

I also found these articles very interesting: http://conversionxl.com/how-your-customers-actually-read-your-emails/

http://www.impactbnd.com/blog/25-compelling-statistics-about-the-importance-of-email-marketing

Finally, to tie up, do users respond better to rich emails? Without getting too technical about what a defines a "better response" and etc, the answer is YES. Users respond better to things that are more attractive. Remember that, however, the final experience will be affected by email reader blocking images and etc.

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Personally, I like it because it gives clear understanding to all people who have concern with page types of mails.Although, this types of mail is most suitable for marketing but not in informal life.

  • Please don't include short URLs in answers. It obscures what they are linking to and are therefore treated like spam here. If they are relevant then include links with rationalistion as to what they are for, and include the full URL (not short ones). If they're not relevent then don't include them. – JonW Jun 22 '15 at 10:47
  • Welcome to UX.stackexchange. However I'm not sure how this answers the question. Do users respond well (or better) to emails formatted to look like a webpage? This is only done in the context of B2C or B2B. – Mayo Jun 22 '15 at 10:57
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This could be difficult regarding cross browser support. Most of the time images are deactivated, so the newsletter from above would be a piece of plain tables with many of fall back placeholders.

I would strongly recommend to use as many text elements as possible. You can still 'inline style" the output to ensure correct formatting in all email clients.

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