Pardot Lightning Email Builder—love it or loathe it

by | Last Updated: Apr 24, 2023 | Blog, Email marketing, Pardot | MC Account Engagement

There are two ways to create an email template and to send an email in Pardot: classic email for Pardot and Lightning email template builder. Classic email builder is ready and waiting for you as soon as you’ve successfully implemented Pardot. While its features and functionality are arguably as good as any top email application on the market, until now, its email editor is less intuitive and not as robust (think drag-and-drop) as competitive products. To help address these weaknesses Salesforce introduced its drag-and-drop email template builder. For Salesforce users, the email builder will be familiar as it is essentially their email template builder that’s been modified for use with Pardot.

Lightning email builder strengths

We’ll start with what we like about the new email template builder.

The drag and drop email builder is easy to use

Want to add a button or make an entire row green? The lightning email template builder may be what you’re after. You can quickly, and easily, divide rows and add new columns. You can also decide, on the fly, how you want your template to look. If you’d like to add a new row with four columns, doing so with the new email template builder is a synch.

Pardot Lightning email builder

The email templates can be used in Pardot and Salesforce email communications

Email templates created with the new email template builder can be used by Salesforce users for their communications. Users who are set up to send list emails will be able to select templates that marketing has created. This is especially handy for people who send lots of one-to-one emails from Salesforce. They can now use a template that’s been created, and vetted, by marketing to communicate with contacts and leads without having to focus on layout.

Send list emails lightning builder

Classic email builder strengths

The classic email builder still has more functionality compared to the new lightning builder, especially for users on packages higher than Growth. Here are the main items that make this our number one choice when building emails.

There are pre-designed layouts to choose from

Classic email gives you over 20 email template layouts to choose from, or you can create your own from scratch. This can save you loads of time if you’re not feeling super creative and would like to get some inspiration from pre-designed templates. If you’re creating a template from scratch you can easily pate the full source code in the HTML, which you cannot do with the lightning template builder. The lightning template builder lets you edit blocks of HTML, normally in rows, but you cannot paste an entire source code.

Classic email builder templates

Dynamic content and snippets can be used

The classic email builder allows you to use some of Pardot’s most powerful tools: dynamic content and snippets. As it stands now, the lightning builder cannot work with these. This is a big downside to the new builder, in our opinion. Pardot’s basic package, which is presently called Growth, does not come with dynamic content, so this advantage only applies to packages higher than Growth.

Preview email templates with Litmus

The ability to test and preview email templates across all major email clients and devices is very handy. It even allows you to see how your email would look in dark mode. Unfortunately, Litmus is not part of the lightning email builder. It only comes with the classic email builder and on packages above Growth.

More merge field options

Classic email comes with many more options for email merge fields, allowing you to customize your messaging that much more.

Classic email merge fields

Pardot merge fields as they currently stand on the Lightning email. The options are limited and there is no resubscribe or date fields, which are handy for email footer text.

Lightning email template builder merge fields

Classic email doesn’t require any additional set up and it doesn’t use Salesforce storage

Once Pardot is implemented, everyone who has access to Pardot can view emails and users with marketing level access or above can create and edit templates. To use the lightning email builder you’ll need to set up a CMS for image hosting and give users permission. Also, every image file you use on the lightning builder is stored on the CMS and counts towards your total Salesforce storage.


Classic email is still the way to go, especially if you’re on a package higher than Growth. It can be used for all types of emails, including completion actions, and allows you to use dynamic content.

Here’s a quick recap on some of the reasons why we love and loathe the lightning email builder.

Why we love it

Easier for adding features such as buttons, or if you want to work in sections

Very similar to Salesforce email builder. Users familiar with this will have a small, if any, learning curve

Templates can be used by salespeople for their outreach

Why we loathe it

Does not support dynamic content

EPC and unsubscribe merge fields need some TLC to function properly

It’s an extra step to set up

CMS needs to be set up for image storage and it counts towards total

No litmus. Wanna see how your email looks in dark mode? Tough luck.

You cannot copy and paste the full source code into the HTML


Do you have lightning email builder set up at your organization?

Are you on the Growth package and want to harness the drag-and-drop power of the lightning email builder? Maybe you just need help setting it up and giving the right people access. Whatever the reason, we can help. Reach out and let us know what email issues you’re trying to tackle.


References and related blog posts

Create and Edit Email Templates in Email Template Builder

Pardot Email Preference Center




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

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