Like most things in life, less is more. Plain text out performs HTML emails in almost all cases. By HTML, we mean those pretty image heavy emails that you get all the time, they have their place, but if you can send a more personalized plain text email, do it!
We do use "plain text," a bit loosely, we still suggest your emails have links and possibly an image in the signature, but the idea is an email that is similar to what you'd send from your Outlook or Gmail account.
Although people say they prefer HTML emails, that doesn't exactly pan out in reality. We ran numerous internal tests and analyzed our customer's messages and found that those messages with fewer images performed much better.
Our guess is that what people are saying is "I don't want to read a lot" vs "I want a bunch of images in emails."
We also noted that among those images with images, those with less HTML (fewer images and formatting) were opened at a higher rate.
But wait, how could people know what's in the email if they don't open it? The simple explanation is that they are more likely to be flagged as spam or a promotion. This is a bit of a different issue than we are mainly focused on in this article, but it is still relevant as you are deciding how to deliver your message.
What about clicks?
Plain text wins there too! The principles of design and human behavior seem to not be applying to email here, what's happening?
We attribute it to how people perceive email as personal interaction, unlike billboards, commercials, social media or any other medium.
It makes sense, when you send an email to your candidates about a great new job, do you include an image? Or when you send an email to your colleague, do you have a picture of a stack of resumes to show how many you've received recently?
You don't right? You are likely to just send timely and interesting information. Your marketing emails should be no different.
Less is more
We suggest you deploy concise messages focused on the recipient's needs. This means putting their needs first, leveraging triggers based on actions taken by the contact, their current status in the job hunting lifecycle and keeping it short and sweet.
An simple recipe for success is to keep a message unique, about the recipient, under 4-5 sentences and timely.
This is often easier said than done, but the good news is that it takes the sales and interpersonal skills you already have, rather than design skills that are needed for a big pretty HTML message!
With all that being said, you can A/B test any Herefish email. Your audience could be unique or your message could take better with HTML, so if you are ever in doubt, just run a quick test.