Guide : Which solution to industrialize your email creation ?

Part 1: Introduction

Why this guide?

  • Because there are many ways to design an email. There are at least 4.
  • Because sometimes marketers rush headlong into one solution when another is certainly better suited to their needs and their organization.
  • Because today, the vast majority of marketers want to go fast in the design of their emails. They want to be 100% autonomous. The trend is towards INDUSTRIALIZATION. But when we think of industrialization, we think of a tool, an email builder. But which one? The one present in our routing tool? A stand-alone email builder?
  • And there is more to life than email builders!

This guide aims to help you determine the best way (for your organization) to industrialize your email creation by asking the right questions.

The 4 main ways to design an email

1. Directly in your routing tool

Now all (or almost all of them) routing tools offer an integrated "email builder" feature that allows you to design emails in drag and drop. When you dig a little (and this is our goal when we attend tool demonstrations to update our benchmark/white paper)Not all builders are equal. Far from it. And it's not because your tool has the best functionality that it necessarily has the best email builder.

These builders are generally based on raw components without formatting (text, image, button, column, etc.). It is up to the marketers to imagine the layout of their email.
- Some tools offer "ready to use" templates (i.e. with formatting) to help marketers in the design.
- Other tools will offer to save your logo by default, the font typeface, and some color references.
- Others will be very open and will allow you to integrate a master template with the colors of the company in total autonomy, cutting it into blocks that can be used in drag and drop.

See below (part 3) for our opinion on email builders integrated to routing tools

2. Via a stand alone email builder tool

These tools are only focused on the creation of emails in drag and drop. You are in charge of assembling the email and validating the proof. Some tools have connectors with routing tools. Otherwise, you will have to export the HTML kit and import it into your solution.

These builders are generally based on blocks rather than components. In general, a brainstorming session is conducted beforehand to determine your needs and the types of blocks you use most frequently. These blocks are then designed according to your company's graphic charter and are available by drag and drop in the email builder.

See below (part 3) for the list of stand alone email builders.

3. In-house or 4. By outsourcing to an agency or the Studio department of your router

It's either you (if you are a Swiss army knife marketer with HTML skills for email ;-)), or a third person who created the design and integrates email.

3 possibilities:

  • or we start from a blank sheet,
  • or we start from a previously created email and we change the images and texts,
  • either you start from a master template created beforehand (so you are already in an industrailization process!)

Here, the marketer creates a brief, sends it to the designer-integrator, validates the proof and imports the HTML kit into the routing solution.

Part 2: 18 questions to define your needs

Before rushing headlong into one solution rather than another, you must be clear about your needs and ask yourself a number of questions !

Here is a short list of questions to ask yourself.

How many campaigns do you send per month?

Are your campaigns duplicated on several segments or do you shoot full base? Do you have several sending typologies? Newsletter? Promotion? Service?

Are you a "last minute" type of person?

This question may seem strange but it is important!

For one reason or another, you need to modify a content a few minutes before sending your campaign? Or you suddenly have an idea and you wish you could set up your campaign in a few hours?

Do you have multi-brand needs?

Do you manage several brands? You certainly need to easily decline your content when you have common offers or need to easily switch from one brand to another.

Do you have multi-language needs?

Do you work in several markets at once? You probably need to easily and quickly develop messages for several countries and in several languages.

Are you organized in a network?

You work at the head office of a company that has a multitude of local sales outlets (regional agencies, stores, franchises...)? You need to ensure relevant local communication with your customers. Your goal is to develop well thought-out local marketing campaigns.

What type(s) of profiles do you have in your teams?

Do you have a studio or creative department within your company? So you have integrated designers. Do they know the best practices of HTML for email? Does the time between the brief and the delivery of the HTML kit suit your marketing teams?

What are your customization needs?

This is where you list all the types of emails you want to create: editorial newsletters, commercial emails, transactional emails, automated emails...

For these emails, you want to?

  • Customize simply on the profile fields? you use personal data that you have on your recipients such as last name, first name, date of last order, loyalty status ... nothing very complicated, you just need to insert the right nomenclature in your email template.
  • Modify portions of messages based on data in the recipient's profile? You want to personalize some parts of your emails (images + texts) according to criteria: his status (if he is a customer or not), his center of interest...or recommend products/services according to the purchase or browsing history of the recipient?
  • Customize your messages according to the best sales of the moment, the products to be liquidated, the products with higher margins? You want to get your data where it is (other information system): CRM, product catalog, stock, points of sale...).
  • Personalize your messages according to the reading context (live content)? Do you use tools like Reelevant, MovableInk, NiftyImages, Liveclicker or others? You want to get additional information that could impact, for example, their visit to a physical location (weather conditions, traffic, parking availability, 4G coverage...)

Who writes your emails?

Are your emails written by journalists or copywriters? You certainly need to give them access to editable content only and be able to lock down some of your email content.

You are several to write an email? During the creation phase, you want to be able to comment on an email?

Do you have a graphic charter?

Some companies don't have much of a graphic charter. Just a logo, a font and 2-3 colors. They don't have a web graphic charter as such. For other companies, the design is very supervised. Your emails must absolutely respect such width, such alignment, such margin, such rounding.... in short, we will quickly let you know if the email you sent does not correspond EXACTLY to the graphic charter of the company.

Do you have a web graphic charter? Perhaps you have a design system email ?

What are your opening environments?

We are not talking about the distribution by domain name of your base. We are talking about the media with which your contacts open your emails.

It's all about knowing your dependency on Outlook (which is the bête noire for all email integrators)to Apple Mail and Gmail (which are the excitement of all marketers who can use dynamic blocks: videos, sliders...).

Do your targets open more on mobile than desktop? If so, you will certainly need to go one step further than simple responsive by creating emails with desktop and mobile specific content.

Some routers deliver these statistics in their reports (but really not all). If not, you can know them by adding a tracking tag from tools like Emailonacid or Litmus. If you want an analysis on your opening environments like this onecall us ;)

Do you need to have "innovative" blocks?

Knowing your dependencies to certain opening environments will allow you to know if it is wise to include blocks such as carousel, rollover, audio block, video block, text scrolling, slider, etc. Sometimes you have to give up!

Do you want your emails to be eco-designed?

It shouldn't even be a question! It's obvious, ALL emails should be eco-designed. Eco-design starts from the design phase to the HTML integration, the choice of the email builder and even beyond. An eco-designed email is an email whose code is as light as possible but not only. In short, the question deserves to be asked (because sometimes you are not aware of it). The eco-design deserves to be mentioned in black and white in your specifications and you will see that some agencies or service providers are far away from all that.

Need help?

Reading a guide can not make everything perfect. Maybe the best thing to do is to ask us. No ?

Do you know your targets?

Is your target group elderly? Does she have a disability? If so, you'll need to make sure that your design and your code take into account accessibilityIn fact, it shouldn't even be a question (again), your code must take accessibility into account, period (one point is you).

Any special needs in tracking?

You need to track all the links in your emails? You have several different web analytics solutions? You wish to avoid sources of errors and industrialize the filling of parameters?

Do you need a thorough quality control?

All tools and integrators will guarantee you the best quality. In general, they do rendering tests on all ISPs and webmails in the world.

But maybe you need to go one step further by checking for example that all buttons have a link? An alert if the email weight exceeds 102kb? An alert if there is missing alternative text behind an image? etc.

What is your image hosting solution?

Directly in your router? Via an asset manager (DAM, Digital Asset Management)? On an sFTP server? Is it complicated because you have to change the URLs manually in the HTML? You don't know, it's magic and it works?

Would you like to host an email builder solution on your own servers?

You do not want to depend on anyone? You have strong security rules? You have a very specific infrastructure? You want to host an email builder solution on your servers? Do you have open source needs?

Are you looking for a solution socially, socially and environmentally committed?

IT SHOULDN'T BE A QUESTION! (again again). Taking into account the social and environmental impact of the tools you choose or the service providers you work with should be one of your priorities more than ever. Does your internal policy require you to work with committed service providers? You should then challenge service providers on these issues by asking them for proof of their commitments: CSR charter, carbon footprint, climate contract, list of commitments for a low carbon policy, etc.

Based on the answers to these questions, you will have a list of criteria to evaluate to determine if the email builder of your routing tool is suitable, if you need a standalone email editor, if you prefer to handle an HTML master template or if you prefer to delegate the email production to a third party. If you want to delegate us to write the specificationsdon't hesitate!

Part 3: Mapping of industrialization solutions

Solution 1: Design System Email

A Design System email includes:

  • The design of your Mega Master Template which generally includes between 30 and 50 blocks and meets all your needs: X brands, X countries, X types of campaigns.
  • Examples of email designs From this master template, this is what a newsletter, a promo email, a transactional email, etc. should look like.
  • The commented HTML code to clearly delineate the blocks.
  • Training in the use of the system of the said master template.
  • A complete documentation to know how to use all this.
    Example of a design system documentation:

The design systems are scalable, which means that you can always integrate additional modules according to your needs.

This industrialization solution is possible if and only if you have people on your team who can handle tools like Figma and are comfortable with HTML code for email.

The designer-integrator tools used are multiple: FireworksPhotoshopAdobe XDinVisionSketchFigmaThe latter is our favorite at Badsender.

If you would like help with the design of your Design System EmailPlease visit this page or contact us at contact us directly so that we can discuss it in person!

Solution 2: Email builders integrated into routers

Thanks to our dear customers, we regularly handle and test email builders integrated to routing tools. Here is a summary of what the Badsender team thinks with all its subjectivity.

In alphabetical order:

Actito The email builder allows you to create rather simple designs. If you want more creativity or customization, you have to go through the Actito design team. The customization of blocks on the data of all tables is possible and easily implemented. Actito has connectors with standalone email builders like Dartagnan and LePatron.

Adobe Campaign Standard The tool is oriented to design blocks via the WYSIWYG interface directly. Nevertheless, the possibility to create personalized HTML blocks exists. Adobe Campaign will detect all the elements that seem editable (texts, images, ... ) and open the possibility to modify them directly in WYSIWYG. It can be complicated to edit some properties, like background images, for a user who doesn't put his hands in the code. The interface is quite complete and well put together.

Chapvision (NP6) The email builder allows you to create very simple designs. If you want more creativity, you have to go through the studio teams. The customization of blocks is possible only from the data of the main table. Big evolutions are planned in the next months.

Emarsys The functionality is very well done, practical and aesthetic. The documentation is very complete. Creation of templates, blocks, setting up styles, style variables, attributes to use... Everything is detailed, and it's a real pleasure! More info :

Iterable A simple but effective editor with its drag and drop mode that allows you to do many things without HTML technical knowledge and the possibility to use snippets in order to industrialize elements to a certain extent.

Klaviyo The email builder is easy to use. It is possible to include background images on the blocks in total autonomy (which is not a given with other routers). It is possible to save blocks. There are sometimes some style bugs. It is very very easily possible to include blocks of product recommendations according to the profile of the customers or according to the top sale of the moment.

Mailjet Email Builder : Email Builder unique on the market. It allows you to manage the construction of a campaign in a collaborative mode, to leave comments, to allow a parallel work of the marketer and the developer.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud: The "Content Builder" of Salesforce Marketing Cloud allows you to assemble emails by first creating a structure (header, double column, triple column, ...) in which it is then possible to insert content elements (image, title, paragraph, button, custom html content, ...). The created emails can then be saved as templates to be used for other needs later. This is also the case for the content blocks that you can save to make them available in a block library.

Selligent It is possible to integrate custom blocks in total autonomy but it is necessary to go through a textual interface in which to enter technical information (CSS properties) but not all of them seem to be accepted, which makes the editing method ineffective. The builder allows very advanced block customization from the data of all the tables in the database. The builder even includes a validation process with the possibility to include a comment field. Selligent has a connector with Dartagnan.

Sendinblue : Very easy to handle. The settings are quite easy to understand and to handle. They are sufficient. There are not tons of them, but you can do it when you have a not too complex design. The good thing is that you can save and reuse blocks as long as they are in single column.

Splio Splio offers here a well built builder. What is really nice is the number of different blocks offered. And if you want to go even faster, you can use the template library.

This guide is updated as often as possible to reflect the evolution of each of the actors. If you wish to be listed, please contact us by sending an email to

Need our advice to know if your email builder is right for you? Do not hesitate to contact us !

Solution 3: Stand-alone email builders

We also listed the standalone email builders (independent use of a CRM or routing tool). Badsender, editing a standalone email builder (the well named, we keep an active and permanent watch on these tools.

Below is a table listing the standalone email builders we have identified and some selection criteria to differentiate them.

Bee freehttps://beefree.ioBookstoreWhite mark; ESPLicense / users & emailsUnited States
Chamaileonhttps://chamaileon.ioImport code ; BlankWhite mark; API; ESPPlan
Code perfecthttps://www.codeperfect.comVirginNCNCUnited States
Dartagnan code; Custom madeESPNCFrance
Dolist Welkim editor; VirginAPIPlanFrance
Dyspatch / users & emailsCanada
EDM designerhttps://edmdesigner.comBookstore; VirginAPINC
Email builderhttps://emailbuilder.topVirginNCPlanFrance
ThePatron; ESPPlanFrance
Mail Styler 2https://www.newslettercreator.comVirginNCLicense / users & emailsUnited States
Post cards / users & emailsUnited States
Stripohttps://stripo.emailBookstore; Custom-madeWhite mark; API; ESPLicense / users & emailsUnited States
Cab for email; VirginESPNCUnited States
Topolhttps://topol.ioBookstore; VirginWhite markLicense / users & emails
Unlayerhttps://unlayer.comBookstoreWhite mark; ESPPlanUnited States
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  • Help in reading this table:
    • Column Template:
      • Import code = ability to import HTML code independently
      • Library = example of pre-designed templates available
      • Blank = possibility to start from a blank page
      • Made to measure =
    • Integration column:
      • ESP = has connectors with some routing tools
      • API = has API documentation
    • Pricing column
      • License/users & emails : cost per user and/or email produced
      • Plan = fixed price depending on the level of functionality
    • Location column = important for the support, and location of the data center

Solution 4 : Framework for dev'

If you have in-house teams of developers, you can look at the solutions below to industrialize your email production.

Bootstrap SourceFree
Foundation SourceFree
Maizzle (framework that we have tested!) SourceFree
Mjml SourceFree
Unlayer SourceFree
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Part 4: Economic models

The business model can vary from one provider to another. But here's a general idea of what you can expect:

PhasesMaster template HTMLEmail builder integrated into the routerEmail builder stand alone
Workshop / ReflectionBilledOptional or NoneBilled
DesignBilledOptional or NoneBilled
HTML integrationBilledOptional or NoneBilled
Access to the platformNot ApplicableIncluded in the cost of accessLicense (volume users and/or emails) or Plan (hosting & plugins)
Set-up : account and template settingsNot ApplicableOptional or NoneBilled
SupportNot ApplicableIncluded in the cost of accessOptional or None
TrainingOptionalIncluded in the cost of accessOptional or None
Documentation design systemOptionalOptional or NoneOptional or None
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