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Tips on Plain Text vs. HTML Email

Email can be sent in two different formats: Plain text and HTML. Plain text email is simply text. It doesn't contain formatting, hyperlinks or images. While many email programs that your recipients use will convert any text appearing as http://heresmylink.com/ to something the user can click on, there are some email programs that don't do this for text messages.

HTML email can contain most (but not all) of the layout and formatting capability of web pages, including formatted text, named links, and embedded images. However, most email programs that recipients use do not support forms, dynamic content, Java and javascript capability. (Thank goodness!) That's because people don't want their email programs behaving under ways they can't control carefully.

What do I send?

M5 Mailer can send both plain text and HTML in the same message, and the Gold license includes the capability to send either plain text or HTML messages, based on user preference. The best thing to do is to deliver to the recipient what they want. But it's rare that you get to know whether or not the user wants plain text or HTML content, and they may not even know what that means.

If you need formatting, it's best to send both formats, if you don't know what the recipient likes. If you don't need formatting, it's best to send plain text. It's smaller, simpler, and can be just as easy to read.

When you send both formats, don't be fooled into thinking the plain text content needs to be the same as the HTML content. They are two different mediums. You can lay out text content nicely, with indentation and asterisks for headings, for example, and that kind of layout would not transfer over to HTML well.

M5 Mailer and message format

Most people wanting to compose HTML messages already have and use a HTML editor that they like. In addition, it's generally best to pull graphics from your webserver rather than sending them as attachments to your email message. Because of that, the ideal process for creating HTML content is as follows:

  1. Make a private web page that contains your message
  2. Insert into that web page placeholders for any fields you want in your mailing, such as Dear <<Name>>
  3. Make sure the private web page displays correctly and nicely.
  4. Use M5 Mailer's HTML import function to import the private web page content into Mailer (with graphics already on your web server, since they display correctly as a web page)
  5. Replace the placeholders with Mailer's "Insert Field" functionality.

That makes the process of getting images and layout up onto your web server familiar, because the images have to be on your webserver anyway.





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