A large portion of the success of your email marketing strategy hinges on the design of your emails. Many email marketers choose to take the creative liberty of selecting ready-to-use designs like ones provided in ESP libraries (Marketo email templates, Salesforce email templates, etc.) and having them customized. On the other hand, few email marketers prefer to create an email template from scratch, i.e., create a custom email template. If you’re unsure whether to go for a ready-to-use email template or have a bespoke email template designed and coded following your branding guidelines, this article will assist you in making a decision. Let’s begin:
Custom Email Design Versus Ready-to-use Email Templates
On the surface, ready-made templates appear to be highly feasible options. But, both solutions are incredibly different in terms of reaching your marketing objectives. Let’s compare them side by side to see when you should use a pre-built template and when you should design it ground up:
The Capabilities Of Your ESP
Your email service provider (ESP) heavily influences your choice between a custom email design and a standard template is heavily influenced by your ESP. First and foremost, your ESP may provide you with basic email templates. Most subscription plans include pre-built templates, but they may not quite fit the style and functionality you have in mind for your emails.
The functionalities supported by your ESP influences your decision about whether to use custom templates or not. This can be a point of concern since each ESP specializes in a slightly different set of features. Thus, ready-to-use templates designed exclusively for your ESP can be a better option if your email developers aren’t well versed with the tool.
Brand Recognition And Personalization
Personalization and brand recognition capabilities get restricted in some basic email layouts. The ability to personalize standard templates is determined by the ESP’s capabilities and the template’s features. Colors and fonts are simple to alter, but not the entire layout or particular design aspects.
Custom email designs, on the other hand, naturally never have those limitations. You get complete control over how the brand elements will be set, the color contrast with other template elements, visual hierarchy, and the overall design language. Generic templates can be a better choice to serve general-purpose messages like newsletters, while the custom ones can be better off when delivering your brand’s voice.
Email Marketing Experience
Ready-to-use email templates are hassle-free ways of reaching out to your subscribers frequently. They reduce the time required, costs incurred, and the resources needed to execute the process as everything is taken care of. This also includes QA and design best practices, making your email marketing experience a smooth one.
Custom templates require you to put in a lot of effort right from the design phase to final QA checks, which is undoubtedly more expensive and time-consuming. However, you will have complete control over everything, from choosing the fallback font to making special provisions for a particular mailbox provider. These features can make the email marketing experience very satisfying, even though it requires you to put in a lot more.
You can create custom Marketo email templates, SFMC templates, etc., and they can be an excellent choice for businesses.
A/B testing is certainly doable in both cases, but with ready-to-use designs, the scope of understanding the impact of variations can be pretty limited. The only freedom you would have is to change things like font sizes or element colors. Any significant changes like restructuring the layout, addition/removal of certain elements, replacing the rich multimedia with an entirely different element aren’t possible.
Custom templates allow you to make such changes proactively since you have the resources and tools to make such alterations. You get full freedom to test and experiment with different email template appearances when you go with custom designs. This makes A/B testing far more relevant and fruitful for your email campaigns.
For many firms, template reusability is a top priority. This is crucial when deciding between a template from your ESP’s library and an exclusively, fancy design. Also, when you’re working with a limited budget or time, reusability is an important consideration.
Reusability cannot be completely ignored, and the email templates you build on a custom basis must be able to fulfill various requirements with a few tweaks. This is an important part of their economic viability, while the ready-to-use templates can provide you with the much-needed cushioning when you are running large-scale outreach campaigns.
The budget is one of the most important elements deciding the outcome of the “custom email design versus ready-to-use template” debate. Using pre-built standard templates doesn’t hurt your pocket, while your ESP’s subscription plan comes with a library of such designs that you can start using right away.
This also lowers your risks of making an email design blunder. Still, when it comes to building your brand value and providing functionalities such as API integration for in-email features, custom templates have the upper hand with a premium price tag attached. The offset between the two should align with your returns so that your budget isn’t utilized in unproductive pursuits.
Email templates are similar to suits in a way. You may purchase a ready-to-wear suit from a local thrift store or have one custom-made; both will serve the purpose, but the latter will have more elegance. It’s not difficult to choose between a custom email template design and a pre-built template for your next email campaign if you know what to expect out of it.
Author: Kevin George is the head of marketing at Email Uplers, that specializes in crafting Professional Email Templates, PSD to Email conversion, and Mailchimp Templates. Kevin loves gadgets, bikes & jazz, and he breathes email marketing. He enjoys sharing his insights and thoughts on email marketing best practices on email marketing blog.