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11 Tips for Building Stunning & Flexible Email Templates in Pardot

BY KIM CONNELL

If I hear someone complain that they don’t like the email and landing page editor in Pardot, my first thought is: “your implementation partner didn’t set your templates up well for your needs.”

Don’t get me wrong, there are absolutely things in the editor experience that could be improved.  But there are also a lot of things that can be built into the template to simplify the process for making updates, customizing, and minimizing the potential for error when the templates are being used.

Here are a few best practices to consider as you build out Pardot email templates:

1. Create flexible sections that can be moved around

There are some types of emails that you may want a purpose built template for — something with a standard format, that’s tried and true.  There may be other times where your content strategy is evolving and flexibility is key.  

That’s where Pardot’s custom HTML elements come in handy.  You can add attributes to the different sections of your emails to make them editable, repeatable, or removable.

When these are applied to a section in your template, you’ll see this when you click in the upper right hand corner:

Might need a green button? How about a hot pink one?  One column, two, three? Add them all and move/mix/match later! 

2. Lock down sections you don’t want changed

On the flipside, there may be sections of your email templates that you NEVER want changed, and may want to prevent marketing users from inadvertently deleting — things like a disclaimer in a footer, GDPR compliant subscription management verbiage, etc.  

By excluding the editable content element from your code, your users won’t be able to accidentally delete this using the WYSIWIG editor.

3. Use a simplified editing experience for images and things that are prone to breaking

In addition to the HTML elements that dictate how sections can be moved, removed, and edited, there are also Pardot HTML elements that create different types of editing experiences — full WYSIWG, text only, image only, and more.

The short answer: the more chance for changing up a particular section in a template, the more opportunities there are for it to inadvertently break on some browser or some device somewhere.  By introducing the ability to edit only what the user needs to be able to edit, we can protect the formatting of the overall template and minimize potential for error.  

4. Set up easy to edit, visually hidden preview text

Pardot’s default templates include pre-header text that looks like this:

This is a useful piece of real estate, because it shows up in the user’s inbox right after the subject line.  You can use this space to add content that will woo users to open your email and read further.

But it’s also…. Ugly.  There, I said it.  

It has become a common practice to hide preview text that is not visible in the email body to only serve as preview text.

Here’s a great example from Starbucks. Their preview text is “The cheery glow of 50 Bonus Stars”

image.png

Here’s the open email. As you can see, the preview text is not visible within the body of the email.  This is a better experience for users.

image.png

5. Make them mobile responsive 

It’s 2019.  If your templates don’t play nice on mobile, go home.

Okay well, don’t go home.  Just fix your templates though.  

We can help 🙂

6. Design with your users in mind

There are all kinds of edgy things email marketers are doing right now like embedding GIFs, animations, sound effects and more. 

But these new innovations only work in some browsers, devices, and mail clients — so before going too far down this road, take a look at what % of your users are using what.  Pardot generates a report on this for every sent email that breaks this down:

Outlook is notorious for taking the coolest things we can do with email, chewing them up, and spitting them out.  For many of our B2B customers though, it’s the mail client that continues to reign supreme, so we generally design with an eye for this user experience.

7. Don’t expect everything to look identical on every device

Your emails will likely look slightly different on various devices/email clients — and this is okay and expected behavior. 

There’s a number of reasons emails may render differently across different email devices and applications. In short, there’s a combination of things that happen when an email is sent, and depending on how it’s being viewed, the rendering will vary.

Support for HTML and CSS can vary across email clients, browsers, and devices, in addition to  the way the message is sent and received that will impact rendering.

A few examples of differences you might notice across different instances may include:

  • Slight variations in how spacing renders around different elements
  • Rounded corners displaying as square corners 
  • Fallback fonts displaying instead of your brand fonts
  • GIFs and interactive elements falling back to static images or elements

In general, we recommend using simple, streamlined designs to minimize variability and setting fallback behavior if a user is unable to access particular content (like backup fonts, or a clean first image in GIFs if a user can’t load it in their email client, etc.).  

As long as you’re following basic best practices your prospects should get your message loud and clear.  If you find that something looks slightly different in one type of viewing experience, ask yourself:

“Is the message here still coming through?” 

If the answer is no, back to the drawing board. If yes, move on to designing your next winning campaign.

8. Use “Add This” for email forwarding

It’s a pretty common thing for users to forward emails.  Unfortunately, it’s virtually impossible to control everything that takes place when a mail client digests your email code, formats it, and then forwards to another mail client that digests it and formats it for its readers.  

I’m picturing a cow chewing grass and digesting in multiple stomachs — gross, but not dissimilar to what’s happening to your emails when they get forwarded.

The folks at Litmus summarized this well:

There is a consensus in the email development world that very little can be done to completely avoid changes to your design when subscribers hit the forward button. Whether or not an email client alters your code simply isn’t something you can control.

TL;DRL Forwarding emails is death to formatted email designs. 

Fortunately though, Pardot gives us another option — the AddThis plug in.  You’ll see this in the email builder as a little orange plus icon:

When you click this, it adds buttons to your templates that allow your email recipients to forward a clean copy of your email with no code modifications via email or social media.

9. Remember that everyone’s needs are different

There’s not necessarily a “wrong” way to create templates… but what’s right for your team depends on how you plan to use your templates.  Things to consider include:

  • How technical is the team that is going to be using the template?
  • Does the team have access to email rendering preview in Pardot (a Plus and above feature), Litmus, or Email on Acid?
  • How quickly does the team turn around email sends?  Is it realistic for them to run tests on every email?
  • How consistent is the look and feel of emails?  Is a standard format feasible, or is each a custom design?
  • What devices and browsers do their audience most commonly use?

Depending on the answers to these questions, you may want to design the templates differently.

10. Always make a copy

If you have a master template to use across many emails and/or landing pages, be sure to clone it every time so you don’t modify the master for future use. 

Seriously, clone it.

Every.

Time.

Even if you’re just tweaking “one leeeettle thing.”  This will help guard against those inevitable “whoops did really I just delete that” moments. 

And consider saving a notepad file with the raw HTML somewhere else as a backup.

11. Always test!

If you’re on Plus or Advanced edition, take advantage of Pardot’s email rendering tests through Litmus to make sure your emails are rendering across email clients and devices and passing through spam filters.  

It takes a little extra time, but it’s really worth doing for every email. 

If you don’t have access to this, talk to your Account Executive about adding it, or consider purchasing an Email on Acid or Litmus subscription to use for internal testing.

What are your template best practices?

What are some creative ways you’ve customized templates to fit your team’s needs?   Any design pros/cons or tradeoffs you had to make along the way? 

Let us know in the comments! 

By |2019-09-11T14:40:25+00:00September 11th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

Sercante Partners with Spekit to Sponsor the Women in Tech Dreamforce Scholarship 2019

Sercante is a proud woman-owned business — and our team would love to see the number of women and minority-owned businesses grow.

We’ve joined forces with the girl bosses at Spekit, TaskRay, and CloudGiants to promote just that via the first annual Diversity at Dreamforce Scholarship.  We are so excited to help support this and give back to a community that has given us so much.

Read on to learn more about this unique opportunity and who’s eligible to apply.

Submission Deadline: Monday, September 23rd, 2019
Apply Now

But First, Why Women & Minority Businesses in the Ecosystem Matter

Diversity in the broader Salesforce ecosystem is incredibly important, because it ultimately leads to better customer outcomes.

This could be a blog post all its own — but a diverse population of founders means a greater diversity in ideas, solutions, and encourages a broader and more accessible pipeline for talent.

Salesforce has been an outstanding leader in encouraging diversity and equality among its employees, suppliers, customers and partners. But guess what?  There aren’t that many women-owned and minority Salesforce businesses… yet.

Some eye opening stats to consider:

About the Scholarship

We want to change those numbers — and to help with that effort, we’re are offering an opportunity to under-represented rockstar business owners to apply for the chance to accelerate their business with a fully sponsored booth at Dreamforce.

Yes, you heard that right.  The lucky winner will receive:

Dreamforce Trailhead Booth

Valued at $30,000

  • Turnkey Booth Kiosk
  • Lead Retrieval Device
  • 2 Full Conference Passes
  • 2 Booth Staff Passes
  • Exposure to 170,000+ Attendees

Not only are we offering this incredible opportunity to have booth of your very own but we are also offering a potentially even more valuable resource: real-life advice from other women who have been there in the trenches already.

In addition to the booth, the co-sponsors are offering:

One-On-One Advisory Sessions

Valued at $25,000

  • Product Strategy
  • Demand Gen & Pipeline
  • Customer Journey Analytics
  • Launching at Dreamforce
  • Building a Strong Culture

Why the Focus on Dreamforce?

Dreamforce is the biggest tech event of the year and offers an opportunity unlike any other for smart start-ups to set themselves up for success by launching their business into the ecosystem.

Our friends over at Spekit know this first hand, as they themselves were propelled into a rapidly growing success track by launching at Dreamforce last year.

How to Apply

Applying for this amazing opportunity to skyrocket your business couldn’t be easier. You can qualify for consideration for the scholarship in 3 easy steps:

  1. Check out the scholarship website and make sure your business meets the qualification guidelines
  2. Fill out the quick and easy 7-step application
  3. Record your pitch about why you should win and share your story with us

Submission Deadline

Monday, September 23, 2019
Apply Now

We can’t wait to hear from all of you about the cool things that you’re working on!  Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or comments, and be sure to share this great opportunity with anyone else who you feel is who may need a boost to get their company kicked-off the right way.

Learn more

By |2019-09-10T01:16:00+00:00September 9th, 2019|Categories: News, Salesforce|

Sercante Announces Hiring of 4 New Pardot Pros

Phew—things have been developing at a break-neck speed here at Sercante over the past few months! We’ve been super busy on our mission to help marketers crush it on the Salesforce/Pardot platform and continue to grow our team of “Dragons” in order to keep up with the demand. We’ve just hit an exciting milestone for the Sercante crew, with the addition of four more full time employees. (For those of you keeping track, that’s a growth rate of over 500% in just the past year!) And let me tell you, these Pardot Pros are taking badass to a whole new level. We’re thrilled to finally be able to share with the world the announcement of our four newest members of the Sercante fam: Marcos Duran, Jacqueline Fassett, Chloe Wilde, and Skyler Nakashima!

Photo of Marcos

Marcos is a proud Texas native and UT-Austin graduate, with a background predominantly in the marketing and operations departments of agencies, startups, non-profits and small to medium sized businesses. His experience includes event production, graphic design, marketing automation, social media management, and project management. A true Martech nerd (in the best possible way), he loves learning about the latest news and innovations in the field and is an active contributor in the Trailblazer community. Outside of work, he volunteers as marketing consultant and business mentor to several NPO’s and student organizations in the area.
Photo of Jacqueline

Jacqueline, who will head up Sercante’s team supporting non-profit clients, lives in Portland, OR. She is well known within the Salesforce.org ecosystem for her expertise helping nonprofits use Pardot. Though she has volunteered and worked with nonprofits since 2009, Jacqueline discovered her true passion for helping nonprofits use Pardot in 2016. In her free time she volunteers (surprise, surprise) with the Junior League of Portland, runs several Salesforce-related user groups, and gets outside to enjoy the cold, wet Pacific Northwest.
Photo of Chloe

Chloe is based in sleepy rural England, marking the third Sercante Dragon in the UK! Chloe fell into the world of marketing automation when she migrated her marketing team at the time from HubSpot to Pardot, and promptly fell in love with the Salesforce ecosystem. That was four years ago and she’s still a big CRM and marketing automation geek. Other geeky interests include playing video games competitively, collecting rare sci-fi books, astronomy, and trying desperately to balance out the desk time with plenty of hiking, mountain biking, and general exploring (with plenty of getting lost!)

Skyler lives in a small suburb north of Seattle, Washington with his wife and two daughters under the age of 3! He spent time as a recruiter before becoming a client facing consultant. Most recently, he focused on Marketing Technology at a full service consulting firm, where he managed their Pardot instance and delved deeper into the marketing automation and operations space. Outside of work, you can find him cheering on his favorite Seattle sports teams as well as his beloved college football team – Go Cougs! He’s also honing his skills in woodworking and all things DIY.
We’re thrilled to have these four marketing automation experts join our ever-expanding team of Pardot Pros around the globe, but we’re not done yet! We’re on a mission to grow and that requires more awesome people to join the team! So, if you’re a passionate Pardashian who’s looking for a career at one of the coolest (if we do say so ourselves) companies in the ecosystem, please reach out and tell us about yourself!

Open roles include:

CRM & Marketing Automation Strategist
Salesforce Technical Lead

By |2019-09-10T01:24:47+00:00September 5th, 2019|Categories: News|Tags: , |

Using Preview & Preheader Text in Pardot to Encourage Opens: Questions & Answers

BY KIM CONNELL

It’s an increasingly competitive environment to try to catch anyone’s attention — your prospects, your customers, even that dude on Tinder (okay, kidding on that last one).  But seriously — our span of attention just keeps getting smaller, and our inboxes keep getting fuller.  

So how’s an email marketer to stand out in this environment? 

and we have a few levers to play with:

  1. The subject line
  2. The sender
  3. The preview text

Let’s dig into #3 and our options to stand out. 

But wait, what is preview text? 

Preview text is the text that is displayed along with the subject line, sender, and date in the main view of your email inbox.

Preview text is not displayed by all email clients, but most of the major email clients will typically display the first 35-140 characters of your email.

Show me an example…

It has become a common practice to hide preview text that is not visible in the email body to only serve as preview text.

Here’s a great example from Starbucks. Their preview text is “The cheery glow of 50 Bonus Stars.”

Here’s the open email. As you can see, the preview text is not visible within the body of the email.

Can I use preview text in Pardot templates? 

Yes!  Preheader text is visible text that appears at the top of an open email.  This gets pulled in as preview text in email clients that support it. 

The default Pardot templates include this:

But it’s…. how do you say…. kind of ugly. 

Sorry.

It is.  

How can I style my email to make this look great for users?

You can use HTML and CSS to make your preheader text look a bit more subtle and fit your overall design aesthetic.

Here’s an example from ComiXology. Their preview text is “Last Day to save up to 75%…

In this case, the text is actually visible in the body of the email as small text directly at the top of the design:

Preheader text is easy to implement if you have a design that allows for it because it is visible and easy to edit in your email templates.

What if I want to totally hide my preview text?

If you don’t want to use a visible preheader, but you still want to populate the preview text, you can also hide this in the HTML of your email. 

The following code can be added directly below the opening <body> in the HTML of your email:

<div style="display: none; font-size: 1px; color: #333333; line-height: 1px; max-height: 0px; max-width: 0px; opacity: 0; overflow: hidden; ">
      Add your own preview text here
</div>

A word of caution: It can be easy to forget to update since it is not visible in the email layout, so it’s a great idea to add it to a pre-send checklist or QA process if you have one. As an additional precautionary measure, you may want to remove the “Add your own preview text here” text entirely, or replace it with a generic default that would work for any email you send.

Any other tips or hacks for preview text?

Glad you asked. Yes.

Pushing body content OUT of the preview text

As I mentioned earlier, most of the major email clients will typically display the first 35-140 characters of your email. That’s a pretty big range, though.

Email clients will start by grabbing the preheader text, and then if there’s still “room,” will grab from the next text it finds in your email. This can yield some unexpected results.

You might want to include the Preview Text Hack, which is a hidden string of non-breaking spaces and zero-width non-joiners inside of a hidden div directly below your preview text div.

Because the preview text character limit varies vastly between different email clients, it’s a good idea to test your preview text, and add more non-breaking spaces and zero-width non-joiners if needed.

Why would you want to do this? It looks cleaner, and can actually make your email stand out. Take this Uniqlo email, for example:

Even in this small image, the Uniqlo email stands out because it’s the only one that isn’t being drown by words in the preview text pane.

You also avoid the “view in browser” dilemma. If you think of preview text like a second subject line, you don’t want to forfeit this valuable real estate for text like “view in browser”:

Making Preview Text Invisible – the Easy Way

Another great hack is to make preheader text “invisible” by setting the text color to match the background color behind it. This way you can make it visible to edit the text, then make it invisible prior to testing and sending!

Making Hidden Preview Text Editable in the Pardot Editor

If you want your users to be able to edit hidden preview text without going into the full HTML, here’s a little trick:

<div pardot-region="hidden-preview-text" pardot-region-type="simple" style="padding: 5px; ">
    <div style="display: none; font-family: 'Open Sans', Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 1px; line-height: 1px; max-height: 0px; max-width: 0px; opacity: 0; overflow: hidden; mso-hide: all;">
    </div>
</div>

Breakdown:

  • Use a wrapper div that includes pardot-region and pardot-region-type="simple"
  • Add a little bit of padding to the wrapper, otherwise the person editing the template will not be able to edit the region
  • Create a child div inside of the wrapper with all of the required styles to make the preview text hidden across all email clients: style="display: none; font-family: 'Open Sans', Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 1px; line-height: 1px; max-height: 0px; max-width: 0px; opacity: 0; overflow: hidden; mso-hide: all;"
    • This code WILL appear in the simple editor and cannot be removed in order for this to work. If someone else will be editing the preview text, you’ll need to educate them on only editing the text inside of the div and how to access this region
    • The hidden preview text will need to be placed in between the child div tags. Here’s a full example:
      <div pardot-region="hidden-preview-text" pardot-region-type="simple" style="padding: 5px; ">
      <div style="display: none; font-family: 'Open Sans', Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 1px; line-height: 1px; max-height: 0px; max-width: 0px; opacity: 0; overflow: hidden; mso-hide: all;">
      THIS IS THE HIDDEN PREVIEW TEXT :)
      </div>
      </div>
  • Add the “Pushing body content OUT of the preview text” div below this code snippet if you’d like to use that hack in addition to this

You should now see a small editable region appear at the top of the editor. It will be the height specified in the padding, so 5px high in this case. Clicking on this region will open the Simple Editor:

What other questions do you have about preview and preheader text?

Any creative solutions you’ve come up with for using preview and preheader text to entice opens? Any productivity hacks, lessons learned, or tips for success?

Let’s hear it in the comments!

By |2019-08-19T11:00:39+00:00August 19th, 2019|Categories: Design, Email Marketing|

Using Preview & Preheader Text in Pardot to Encourage Opens: Questions & Answers

BY KIM CONNELL

It’s an increasingly competitive environment to try to catch anyone’s attention — your prospects, your customers, even that dude on Tinder (okay, kidding on that last one).  But seriously — our span of attention just keeps getting smaller, and our inboxes keep getting fuller.  

So how’s an email marketer to stand out in this environment? 

and we have a few levers to play with:

  1. The subject line
  2. The sender
  3. The preview text

Let’s dig into #3 and our options to stand out. 

But wait, what is preview text? 

Preview text is the text that is displayed along with the subject line, sender, and date in the main view of your email inbox.

Preview text is not displayed by all email clients, but most of the major email clients will typically display the first 35-140 characters of your email.

Show me an example…

It has become a common practice to hide preview text that is not visible in the email body to only serve as preview text.

Here’s a great example from Starbucks. Their preview text is “The cheery glow of 50 Bonus Stars.”

Here’s the open email. As you can see, the preview text is not visible within the body of the email.

Can I use preview text in Pardot templates? 

Yes!  Preheader text is visible text that appears at the top of an open email.  This gets pulled in as preview text in email clients that support it. 

The default Pardot templates include this:

But it’s…. how do you say…. kind of ugly. 

Sorry.

It is.  

How can I style my email to make this look great for users?

You can use HTML and CSS to make your preheader text look a bit more subtle and fit your overall design aesthetic.

Here’s an example from ComiXology. Their preview text is “Last Day to save up to 75%…

In this case, the text is actually visible in the body of the email as small text directly at the top of the design:

Preheader text is easy to implement if you have a design that allows for it because it is visible and easy to edit in your email templates.

What if I want to totally hide my preview text?

If you don’t want to use a visible preheader, but you still want to populate the preview text, you can also hide this in the HTML of your email. 

The following code can be added directly below the opening <body> in the HTML of your email:

<div style="display: none; font-size: 1px; color: #333333; line-height: 1px; max-height: 0px; max-width: 0px; opacity: 0; overflow: hidden; ">
      Add your own preview text here
</div>

A word of caution: It can be easy to forget to update since it is not visible in the email layout, so it’s a great idea to add it to a pre-send checklist or QA process if you have one. As an additional precautionary measure, you may want to remove the “Add your own preview text here” text entirely, or replace it with a generic default that would work for any email you send.

Any other tips or hacks for preview text?

Glad you asked. Yes.

Pushing body content OUT of the preview text

As I mentioned earlier, most of the major email clients will typically display the first 35-140 characters of your email. That’s a pretty big range, though.

Email clients will start by grabbing the preheader text, and then if there’s still “room,” will grab from the next text it finds in your email. This can yield some unexpected results.

You might want to include the Preview Text Hack, which is a hidden string of non-breaking spaces and zero-width non-joiners inside of a hidden div directly below your preview text div.

Because the preview text character limit varies vastly between different email clients, it’s a good idea to test your preview text, and add more non-breaking spaces and zero-width non-joiners if needed.

Why would you want to do this? It looks cleaner, and can actually make your email stand out. Take this Uniqlo email, for example:

Even in this small image, the Uniqlo email stands out because it’s the only one that isn’t being drown by words in the preview text pane.

You also avoid the “view in browser” dilemma. If you think of preview text like a second subject line, you don’t want to forfeit this valuable real estate for text like “view in browser”:

Making Preview Text Invisible – the Easy Way

Another great hack is to make preheader text “invisible” by setting the text color to match the background color behind it. This way you can make it visible to edit the text, then make it invisible prior to testing and sending!

Making Hidden Preview Text Editable in the Pardot Editor

If you want your users to be able to edit hidden preview text without going into the full HTML, here’s a little trick:

<div pardot-region="hidden-preview-text" pardot-region-type="simple" style="padding: 5px; ">
    <div style="display: none; font-family: 'Open Sans', Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 1px; line-height: 1px; max-height: 0px; max-width: 0px; opacity: 0; overflow: hidden; mso-hide: all;">
    </div>
</div>

Breakdown:

  • Use a wrapper div that includes pardot-region and pardot-region-type="simple"
  • Add a little bit of padding to the wrapper, otherwise the person editing the template will not be able to edit the region
  • Create a child div inside of the wrapper with all of the required styles to make the preview text hidden across all email clients: style="display: none; font-family: 'Open Sans', Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 1px; line-height: 1px; max-height: 0px; max-width: 0px; opacity: 0; overflow: hidden; mso-hide: all;"
    • This code WILL appear in the simple editor and cannot be removed in order for this to work. If someone else will be editing the preview text, you’ll need to educate them on only editing the text inside of the div and how to access this region
    • The hidden preview text will need to be placed in between the child div tags. Here’s a full example:
      <div pardot-region="hidden-preview-text" pardot-region-type="simple" style="padding: 5px; ">
      <div style="display: none; font-family: 'Open Sans', Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 1px; line-height: 1px; max-height: 0px; max-width: 0px; opacity: 0; overflow: hidden; mso-hide: all;">
      THIS IS THE HIDDEN PREVIEW TEXT :)
      </div>
      </div>
  • Add the “Pushing body content OUT of the preview text” div below this code snippet if you’d like to use that hack in addition to this

You should now see a small editable region appear at the top of the editor. It will be the height specified in the padding, so 5px high in this case. Clicking on this region will open the Simple Editor:

What other questions do you have about preview and preheader text?

Any creative solutions you’ve come up with for using preview and preheader text to entice opens? Any productivity hacks, lessons learned, or tips for success?

Let’s hear it in the comments!

By |2019-08-19T11:00:39+00:00August 19th, 2019|Categories: Design, Email Marketing|