New feature: “Text only” emails in automations

In response to a request from one of our users, we are releasing a new feature: “text only” emails can now be sent within automations and other campaign types.

You’ve always been able to send “text only” emails, by creating a single one-time “Text Only” campaign, and now you can use “text only” messages with:

  • Autoresponders
  • RSS to email
  • Date based campaigns
  • Automations

The inclusion of automations is especially notable because you can automatically send very personal looking emails in response to a contact’s behavior.

These “text only” emails could be sent when a contact views a certain web page, clicks a link in an email, or performs a notable event on your website (such as placing an order).

You might want to send “text only” emails in instances when your contacts would expect to receive an email from individual people within your organization.

For instance, if you send a welcome email to new subscribers from the CEO of your organization, that email can now appear more like a one-to-one email rather than an HTML email template or broadcast email. This could also be useful for automating some of your sales or support emails.

If you are sending a text only campaign within an automation, just select “Build from scratch” and then “Text Only:”

You’ll notice that there is an elegant new text editor:

You can still add hard line breaks where you’d like them to appear if you want to wrap lines a particular way. If you’d like to see where your line breaks are in terms of character count, go to “Desktop preview.”

When delivered, these text emails will appear like any other email you’d expect to receive from an individual:

It’s important to note that, with plain text emails, it is impossible to track opens (however, you can still track link clicks, replies, and forwards) so there is a trade-off with using them. In most cases, this probably isn’t too significant because clickthroughs are usually a better indication of engagement anyway.

You’ll still have the option to use personalization tags and conditional content so you can customize and personalize the content of these emails.

With this release, you’ll find that the “Text Only” email option has moved. It used to be found on the “Campaigns” screen:

Now, if you want to send a “text only” campaign, you select the type of campaign you wish to send, and then “Build from scratch.” You’ll have the option to choose “Text Only” on the following screen:

This update is rolling out to accounts throughout this week. If you haven’t already gotten it, you’ll get it soon.

You’ll also notice some subtle design and UI improvements in various places throughout your account as we continue to improve the look and feel of the app.

This feature is another great example of our customer-driven development. I’m continually impressed by how closely we listen to our user’s feedback here. If you’ve got a feature you’d like to see, or an idea for how we can make the platform even better, please submit feedback — we’ll definitely take it into account.

If you have any questions about how this feature works, please leave a comment.

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  • Breakthrough Email Marketing -

    Great feature. Thanks AC!

  • Jason R. Ayers

    Thanks for adding this feature! It will save us a lot of time :)

    • jvandeboom


    • Brian Gladu

      You’re welcome, Jason. Glad it’s useful to you!

  • jeffcouret

    Wouldn’t this still have the unsubscribe link at the bottom, though?

    • Jon

      Yes Jeff, it would still have an unsubscribe link at the bottom to comply with the CAN-SPAM act. This new feature is to allow you to create emails with no HTML version.

  • Thanks for this. Been waiting a long time for it!

  • Great feature.
    Will be using this heavily thankyou

  • Homeschool Realist

    Any chance when this will go live for all users? I really need it for an automation like today.

    • Brian Gladu

      Hi —

      We expect that all accounts will be upgraded by next week.

      If you’d like to get your account upgraded immediately, just shoot an email to Ask to receive the latest update and include the account URL. We’ll get you sending text only emails in no time.

  • Logan Lee Samuel

    Great update. Our account doesn’t yet show this feature. What’s the timeframe on the rollout?

    • Brian Gladu

      Hi Logan —

      We roll updates out slowly so that, if there are any issues, we can identify the problem and fix it with minimal impact to the majority of our users.

      We expect that all accounts will be updated by next week. If you’d like to be upgraded immediately, just send an email to Be sure to include your account URL (so that we know which account to upgrade).

  • Jude Hiri

    Very cool, thanks.

  • Awesome! Thanks AC, going to use it right now! :)

  • THANK YOU! Have wanted this forever.

  • Harshad Jagtap

    Hey Brian, We have been using Active Campaign and are using this feature. However, while used in automation, you cannot detect the opens of Text-Only emails. Like who all opened and all

    • Brian Gladu

      Hi Harshad —

      Yes, unfortunately, open tracking uses HTML so it’s not possible to track opens on text-only emails. So, it’s a bit of a trade-off. Click-through tracking will still work fine though, and that is often a better indication of engagement.

  • Andrey Sanches

    Hey Friends,

    Using the plan text feature, How can I add a link to a webpage since I don’t have any available toolbox? Thanks!

    • Brian Gladu

      Hi Andrey! To create a link to a webpage in a plain text email you simply insert the URL. Most email clients will convert the URL into a clickable link. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  • Timothy Sarazen


    2 things-

    Can we add simple formatting to text only emails like Bold or hyperlink?

    Is it possible to add open tracking to this now? Since this update is 1 year+ old?

    • Brian Gladu

      Hi Timothy,

      These are plain text emails so no formatting is possible. Open tracking requires HTML so it’s still not possible to do open tracking with Text only emails. That will probably never be possible so it’s not really a matter of time.

      • Kunal Sampat

        Hi Brian, does this also mean “anchor text” is not permitted with text emails?

        • Brian Gladu

          That’s correct, Kunal. Any links you include would display the actual URL.

  • Matt Rubinstein

    How do you add a link to a plain text email? And is it possible to have the href of the link be drawn from a custom field?

    • Brian Gladu

      Hi Matt! Great question. The answer is “yes,” if you put a URL into a custom field and then insert the personalization tag for that custom field (something along the lines of %CUSTOM-FIELD%, when the campaign is generated, the URL will be inserted.

      • Matt Rubinstein

        Most excellent. Thanks!