WhiteSites Blog

Do Mail Servers penalize for not including Plain Text Email Content

Posted on Sep 5, 2009 by Paul White

This was a question I asked myself recently.  Its hard to believe that there are still people out there that don't accept HTML formatted emails.  But do mail servers from major providers punish emails that don't provide some old school plain text formatting for the 5 people in the world who are still get their email via compuserve?  So I will be experimenting to find out.

The Situation

First I have a client that does weekly blasts to about 6200 emails.  The emails are not spam.  They are a newletter that includes a listing of our upcoming events.  At present we only provide an HTML version to our maillist subscribers.  We never thought that there was a need to provide an plain text version.  The graphics are all tied to our server, which tracks the open rates.  Out of 6200 emails we get about 700 we can confirm that are opened.  To me this is very sad.  The other emails don't bounce, but we don't see a traffic spike that would indicate people opening the emails.  I suspect that the vast majority of our emails are going into the users Spam folder.  We already do everything possible to authenticate our emails ( SPF, Domain Keys, DKIM, Reverse DNS ).

What put this idea in my mind

Recently I got one of those you have a friend on facebook that wants to connect with you.  I don't get paid to play on Facebook, therefore you will never find me on there.  Just as I was about to click delete, I decided to view Source instead.  What I found suprized me.  The email had a separate HTML and Plain Text Content.  Facebook must know what they are doing, as any website this large is not run by amateurs.  So I decided to impliment this on my clients newsletter.

Results as of 9/11/2009

From my test the open rate was unaffected, and actually lower,  but this is from an entirely different issue I have discovered.. It seems that Godaddy has problems with their Relays and the reputation of the IPs it uses.  The result is a much lower open rate.  I will be creating a new blog posting to focus on this discussion. So at this point the results of my test are inconclusive.

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