How to Increase eCommerce Email Revenue with Plain Text Emails

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Guide to plain text emails

Plain text emails aren’t as glamorous as their designed counterparts. But they can play an important role in your eCommerce brand’s email marketing strategy.

In this article, we’re taking a deep dive into text only emails:

  • What they are, and why they work.
  • A plain text email case study.
  • Plain text email tips and best practices.

Do Plain Text Emails Really Have a Place in eCommerce Email Marketing?

A plain text email is exactly what it sounds like: no images, no GIFs, no buttons. Also known as “text only”, these emails are simple and straightforward. In the right hands, plain text emails can do wonders for eCommerce store revenue.

The reason is simple. There is something intimate and personal about email as a communication channel. Emails feel like a one-to-one interaction, unlike, say, videos. Plain text emails amplify this effect. They can even bring up to 51% more clicks, under the right circumstances.

These emails are also cost effective and easy to produce. And because they’re light on design elements, they’re easy to read on mobile. That’s perfect for urgent or short communication, like apology emails or personalized offers.

Bonus Points for Deliverability

Another benefit of using plain text emails is the impact on deliverability. Because they have no code or special elements, these messages are less likely to trigger the spam filter or land in the promotions tab, helping deliverability and domain reputation.

Plain Text Email Brings 3X Campaign Revenue for Online Sports Retailer

In July 2023, one of our longstanding sports brands had an interesting problem. Open rates were healthy, but click rates had slumped to an average 0.42% for a few consecutive weeks. Campaigns were generating $3500 on average.

So, they had a great product, a loyal community, and decent revenue. But the Hustler Marketing team knew they could do even better.

The Account Manager responsible for the store decided to experiment with plain text emails. The team crafted a short, direct plain text email with one of the store’s most common discount offers.

Plain text email for a weekend sale

There wasn’t anything remarkable about the offer itself – the store regularly offered subscriber discounts like this. But the team thought that putting it in a plain text email could boost lagging click rates.

Emails were scheduled for Sunday afternoon in the recipients’ time zones. This was a calculated risk. In low-competition periods like Sunday afternoon, it’s more likely that readers will open your email. But, it can also irritate them. The Hustler Marketing team took this decision in light of their deep knowledge of the store’s audience.

After carefully segmenting that audience, they hit the send button.

The Results: 300% Boost to Campaign Revenue

The first plain text campaign earned $4550, a 30% increase over the average.

Two weekends later, they repeated the experiment using the same offer. This time, revenue soared to almost $11,000.

The experiment had paid off. With the help of Hustler Marketing team, the brand had discovered a way to bring variety their email marketing strategy and engage certain segments of their audience in a more effective way.

Plain Text Email Best Practices for eCommerce Email Marketing

So how did the team achieve these results using such a simple tool? Let’s explore some strategies for effective text-based campaigns.

If you’re using Klaviyo, it’s pretty simple to set up a plain text email using the platform’s intuitive controls.

But before you hit send, make sure your email has these elements:

Get your list segmentation right: make sure you’re targeting the right email addresses. For example, it’s a good idea to exclude people who have already made a recent purchase.

Add a personal touch: consider signing off with the name of the store owner. You can even use this in the subject line. Make readers feel like you’re communicating directly with them.

Keep it simple: emails should always be easy to read. Make sure the copy is clear, with a straightforward offer that the reader can easily understand. Provide a link and clear call to action.

Make it look good: it’s important to present the email well. Use a font that makes sense for your brand. You can also emphasize important information with colors and different font sizes, and bullet points for an easy read.

Pick the right time to send: as we saw earlier, send time really matter. You may need to A/B test to identify the best day and time. This comes down to understanding the audience and researching their preferences and behaviors.

What Not do Do: Common Plain Text Email Mistakes

You may be worries that sending messages in plain text could make your brand look unprofessional. That’s a legitimate concern.

To avoid compromising your brand image, keep these factors in mind:

  • Don’t use plain text for campaigns with many product showcases. For a multi-product showcase, product images are important, so it’s better to go with a designed template.
  • Be very clear about the purpose of the email. You don’t want the reader to think that something has gone wrong with your emails. They must understand exactly why you’re communicating in this way.
  • Take a consultative approach with your team. Consider testing different text lengths and tonalities to figure out what will work best for your audience. Let your copywriters take the lead here.

Plain Text Email Success: the Right Message, at the Right Time

Knowing how and when to use plain text in email marketing takes experience and deep knowledge of a brand’s audience.

At Hustler Marketing, each Account Manager leads a multi-disciplinary team of email marketing professionals. This pool of world-class talent provides the agility and flexibility it takes to identify and exploit email revenue opportunities.

Check out our case studies to learn more about our solution-oriented approach to eCommerce email challenges. 

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