The importance of the ‘text-only’ version

Every once in a while a client will ask me, ‘What’s up with the text-only version? Do I have to do it?’

The short answer is no, it’s optional, but why wouldn’t you?

A ‘text-only’ version of your mail helps insure that you’re reaching as much of your audience as possible. While it’s true that the great majority of email programs display HTML messages with no problems here are two great reasons to create a text-only version of your message: BlackBerries and Recipient Preference.

How many people do you know using BlackBerries (or other smart phones)? The standard mail program on a BlackBerry only displays text emails, no HTML. It will process the HTML email you send but the display will be way, way off. However, if you provide the text only version the BlackBerry will use that instead, making your message much easier to read for your recipient. Most BlackBerries can enhance the text mail by turning any URLs it finds into active links.

Did you know that recipient’s can change their email format preference? It’s true. They can choose from HTML, Text-Only or HTML/Text by visiting their preference center. Of course, if a recipient sets their format preference to “Text” and you don’t create a text only version of your mails, they get nothing.

In short, the ‘text-only’ version of your mail, while optional, is a great way to insure that you’re reaching as much of your audience as you can.

Text Only FAQs

If I make a text-only version of my email do my recipients get two mails?
NO. The text-only version of the mail and the HTML portion are bundled together as a multi-part message. If a recipient has requested only text messages they will receive the text version. If the recipient has indicated no preference the multi-part message will be delivered and their email program will determine the best version to display.

Can I add personalization to the text-only mails?
YES. You can add list personalization when composing the text only version.

Can I track links in the text version?
YES. Link tracking is handled in much the same way as in the HTML version. The only catch is that you have to include the full URL in the text version for proper tracking to occur. For example, if I want to track a link to, the text has to appear in the text version, will not be tracked.

Where do I setup the text version?
The text version of a mail is added in the edit mailing process just like the HTML version. The text step comes immediately after the HTML link tracking screen.

Questions? As always I can be reached at