I'm just curious how important it actually is. Does anyone have data approximating what percent of email users are viewing the plain text version by default these days? I guess blackberry and some other mobile users for sure, but most of those people go home and go through the same email at their desktop machine...
Thanks for any info!
Although I have no idea on the number of subscribers that see the plaintext message, it is very important to include to avoid your email being automatically marked as spam.
Plus some people just don't like the pretty things we build, and prefer plain text.
I figure the rate is pretty low, and I still place a link to the web version at the top of the message either way.
Most mobile devices will see text only as well, so it's still important to have a text version just in case.
Since there's no way of tracking it, you can't really know, but it will vary a lot from list to list.
As mentioned, many mobiles only view plain text, as well as those who change their email client settings (the stubborn geek segment). There's also a lot of web mail clients that don't support HTML email. I'm guessing B2B lists tend to have more of those.
But in any case, the little effort it requires to make at least a decent text version (starting from the "import from HTML" function) is well worth it. If only to avoid pissing off those who have given you permission to email them.
There is a way I track plain text click-throughs using Google Analytics (GA) that might help.
By default, the url you use in the plain text version will appear in GA as a direct visit. Not very helpful for tracking.
You could create a separate url/landing page for plain text recipients and the activity for this url can be measured in GA. The downside is that you'd have to create a duplicate landing page for plain text traffic.
You could add GA tracking parameters to the plain text url in the email but recipients might get spooked by this.
A better approach is to use a re-direct on a ‘nice’ plain text url so it points to a single landing page for all campaign traffic. The HTML and plain text urls are still different but this approach avoids duplicate content. This plain text re-direct can be set up so it appends the GA tracking parameters once the visitor has clicked through. So for eg:
plain text url: www.yourdomain.com/plain-text
would redirect to:
This will give you stats in GA on your plain text visitors as a segment which is better than nothing.
If you're not comfortable doing re-directs (or don't have a friendly webmaster), you could do this using one of the free url shortening services eg www.tinyurl.com but this is may reduce click-throughs: the url won't be www.yourdomain.com, it'll be something like http://tinyurl.com/XXX, plus if the url shortening service goes down...
Obviously you won't be able to see who clicked through on the plain text link with this approach - I think this is technically possible but I've not tried it and it’s likely to be against GA's T&Cs regarding personally identifiable information...