I'd like to thank Sherpa Reader Jeffrey K. Rohrs, President Optiem LLC, asking me to look into tests he's noticed retailer Ross-Simons conducting this year.
He wondered why sometimes he gets email campaigns from them in text and other times in HTML. (Link below to samples Jeff sent me.)
Ross-Simons' Internet Marketing Director Anne Driscoll told me, "We tested HTML when years ago just like everybody else, and it was four-times as effective as text. However, now we're testing to see if text can convey an urgency that's not necessarily there in HTML."
So her team has created two different HTML templates for their house-list campaigns. The first is a standard, branded HTML email that looks similar to their site. They'll use it for regular announcements, and a first wave of sales promos.
The second is a looks-like-text HTML format with all obvious graphics stripped. This pared-down look is used for promo reminders - sent as a second wave to a campaign. Turns out it's "as effective or even more effective than standard HTML" for an urgent reminder that a sale is about to end.
"It's less to do with deliverability and more to do with the way a customer interprets a message," notes Anne.
Here's a link to the samples Jeff sent me of the text vs HTML: http://www.marketingsherpa.com/ross/ad.html
Thanks again for your support, and keep those suggestions coming!