How do I create a plain text email campaign?

Plain text is one of the email formats you can choose when creating regular campaigns or autoresponder emails. They're a good option for non-marketing-related content or giving your emails a more personal feel, and they also come in handy for keeping subscribers who prefer plain text emails.

On this page we'll show you how to set up a plain text campaign, but first, here are some important things you should know about how they work:

  • You can't control text size to make headings stand out, or emphasize words with bold, italic or colored type.
  • It's not possible to include images or use hyperlinks in text-only emails.
  • Only basic reporting is available with this format.

Note: Plain text format cannot be chosen for RSS-to-email campaigns or A/B test campaigns because they both require HTML to work.

Creating a plain text email campaign

The steps below explain how to create a regular campaign as text-only. To set up a plain text autoresponder email, please see our list of ways to use autoresponders and click-through to the instructions from there.

To get started open your client's Create & Send tab, click Create new campaign, then select Regular as shown here:

Fill in the campaign and sender details then click Next to choose the campaign format. Select the Plain text option, as shown below, then either copy-and-paste your content into the text area, or type it in on the spot:

On the right of the text area, pictured above, are a list of quick link tags you can add to your content:

  • [forwardtoafriend]
  • [preferences]
  • [fblike]
  • [tweet]
  • [webversion]
  • [unsubscribe] *must be included

When the email is sent, the tags are replaced with personalized URLs for subscribers to do things like forward the email to a friend, share it with people online, or unsubscribe if they want to.

All you need to do is write some copy to go with the tags and we'll do the rest. As shown in the example below, the copy is to explain what the link is for:

Let's say we sent the example above; when a subscriber to ABC Widgets opens the email, the first sentence would look something like this:

Would your friends like this email? Why not forward it to them: http://abcwidgets.forwardtomyfriend.com/j-ilglkk-l-u

Tip: The tag text for unsubscribe is especially important if your email is not in English, because our default unsubscribe message will be added if you don't have one. It has an English language introduction, so will confuse your recipients.

Reporting for plain text campaigns

Only basic reporting is available for plain text campaigns. You'll get bounce rates and numbers for social sharing, unsubscribes and spam complaints, but no stats on clicks or opens.

URLs that you put in your plain text campaign are not converted into trackable links, therefore we can't record clicks. 

Opens cannot be tracked either, because of the way they are measured. In an HTML email we add a piece of code that requests a tiny, invisible image from our web servers. So when a reader opens the email, the image is downloaded, and we can record that download as an open for that specific email.

Note: Most modern email clients, such as Yahoo! Mail, Apple Mail and Outlook.com, detect URLs in plain text messages and automatically make them clickable to benefit recipients. However, clicks are still not able to be recorded for the campaign report.