Email template builder: External vs. Pardot

by | Last Updated: Jun 8, 2023 | Blog, Email marketing, Pardot | MC Account Engagement

At the heart of any marketing automation software (MAS) lies some solid email functionality. Although it’s been around for over 20 years, email remains one of the most effective ways to nurture and communicate with prospects and clients. The ability to easily create email templates that are visually appealing and that meet branding guidelines is a must-have for any MAS.

There are three email template builder workflows to generate new templates. We recommend using them all depending on the circumstance and blending them as needed.

Create a master email template using Pardot Classic

Pardot Classic offer over 20 preconfigured email designs that can be used to base new emails on. Some are very elaborate, with headers, sub headers and multiple columns, while others are simple in design and render well on desktop and mobile devices. Once you’ve chosen your layout, you can create a master, or parent, email template from which several child templates can be derived. You can do this by importing HTML layout from an external builder or by working directly within Pardot Classic. A good knowledge of HTML and CSS is hugely beneficial if going this route.

Classic email builder templates

Examples of child templates include
– Standard cultivation template
– Email updates template
– Autoresponder templates

This is a standardization and productivity improvement over typical historic process where everything is created using the Pardot classic email builder with ad-hoc changes made for every new email required.

What to know about using Pardot Classic email template builder

– Classic Pardot email builder houses the email template.
– Images and PDF downloads are hosted in Pardot
– Image/download reference links are set in the template during build
– UTM links can be set in the template within Pardot

Protecting email templates in Pardot Classic

We recommend locking email template content areas that should not be editable using Pardot code to prevent team members from messing up the HTML structure (requires manual editing of HTML code).

We will make certain editable areas and repeatable rows within the email template using Pardot code (requires manual editing of HTML code).

Pros and cons of using Pardot Classic email template builder

– You can test the email templates under Pardot/Litmus. Only the Growth package, which is Salesforce’s lowest Pardot package, does not include Litmus testing.
– Media and images used in Pardot Classic templates do not count towards Salesforce storage.
– Dynamic content and snippets can be inserted into templates.
– Entire HTML source code can be copied and pasted into template.
– Builder not as user-friendly as many competitive products. Hard to add buttons and do custom design without good knowledge of HTML/CSS.

Create a master email template using Pardot Lightning email builder

Pardot Lightning email builder doesn’t come with any preconfigured layouts but its ease of use almost negates the need for layout templates. Users can add features one row at a time and can select between image, HTML, rich text and button. Once you’ve created a parent email template, the process is generally the same as with Pardot Classic. You can then create child templates to be used to suit various outreach needs. Pardot Lightning email builder more user-friendly for those with limited HTML/CSS knowledge.

Pardot Lightning email builder

What to know about Pardot Lightning email template builder

– Pardot Lightning and Salesforce CMS set up are prerequisites.
– Pardot Classic cannot access Lightning email templates for editing.
– Like Pardot Classic, Lightning can be used to create templates for Engagement Studio and autoresponders.
– UTM links can be set in the template within Pardot Lightning.

Pros and cons of using Pardot Lightning email template builder

– Images and PDF downloads hosted within Salesforce CMS and count towards Salesforce storage limits.
– Dynamic content and snippets are not supported.
– Pardot-specific merge fields, such as EPC and unsubscribe, may need some finessing to work in Lightning.
– Litmus testing is not available for Lightning.
– Salesforce users with the appropriate SF permissions can use Lightning templates to send emails.
– Sections of email templates can easily be locked, with no HTML knowledge required.

Create a master email template using an external builder and port the HTML into Pardot

External email builders are excellent tools for creating and refining email templates. Whether your design needs are clean and basic or sophisticated and elaborate, external builders can offer the best choice for achieving your desired outcome. With external builders, unique content required for each campaign can be updated in the source from the external email builder or within Pardot. We like having the option of also building any derivative email templates needed under the external tool, rather than deconstructing the master email template in Pardot to suit the purpose.

Stripo email template options

Stripo offers many email template offers, both free and paid.

What to know about using external email builders

– Images and media are hosted in Pardot or Salesforce, depending on which Pardot builder you use.
– Image/download reference links are set in the template during build.
– UTM links can be set in the template using the external email builder during build.
– The external email builder houses the source version of the email template.
– The external email builder can also retain email template versions.

We’ve written a blog post on our top email template editors. It was recently updated to reflect our current (2023) choices.

About the Pardot rename

In April 2022, Salesforce announced the rebrand of Pardot to Marketing Cloud Account Engagement. While the rebrand unfolds and the world adapts to the new nomenclature, we'll typically keep the Pardot name in our blog posts.

There are several permutations of the new name being thrown about, so you may see us use any one of them as things evolve:

  • Pardot
  • Marketing Cloud Account Engagement
  • Marketing Cloud Account Engagement (Pardot)
  • MCAE
  • MC Account Engagement
  • Account Engagement by Pardot

Author | Jeff Kemp

Marketing Automation & CRM Consultant

hire Jeff Kemp | Marketing Automation & CRM Consultant

I help select and optimize your processes & tech stack for improved marketing & sales effectiveness, operations, and ROI.

My superpowers are Knowledge, Experience, and Business acumen. I enjoy the intersection of working with people, processes, and technology where I can provide leadership and add value.

With 30 years of marketing experience I've been laser targeted on Marketing Automation for 10 years, seven of those as a Salesforce Certified Marketing Cloud Account Engagement (Pardot) Consultant, and also as a HubSpot Expert.

Since I've worked with a lot of clients in various industries I've seen several of the same struggles that are common to almost all organizations (as outlined in this article). With each organization and project that I'm involved with I work hard to solve many of those typical problems, plus identifying and solving sometimes unique and complex issues which often involve cleaning up technical debt from legacy systems and helping organizations set up effective lead management systems using best practices and proven methodologies.

I also love dogs :0)

Optimal Business Consulting (OBC) helps organizations to implement, optimize, and maintain their existing or new Pardot (Account Engagement), Salesforce, HubSpot, or WordPress platform. OBC is proud to be a Salesforce Partner. -->More about Jeff & OBC

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