Email Templates - Are Low Code, No Code, or Custom Templates Right for You?
Mar 13, 2023
Originally published in
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More than ever, email represents an important channel for businesses to truly stand out and define who they are in today’s increasingly digitized landscape.
It’s a highly profitable channel too. For every $1 invested in email marketing, brands see $36 returned - higher than any other channel.
For companies or marketing teams that don’t have the resources or expertise to build custom emails, ‘Low code’ or ‘no code’ email marketing platforms can be a great option.
Low code and no code email marketing platforms empower users to create aesthetically polished email messages without ever touching a single line of code.
The problem with using the same ‘low code’ – or ‘drag and drop’ –templates as thousands of organizations around the world is that it becomes challenging to distinguish your brand.
From logos, layouts, and even the fonts you use, if your email marketing goal is to really stand out from your competitors, using ready-made templates one mail marketing platforms – like Acoustic, Constant Contact, or MailChimp – can present multiple roadblocks.
What Are No Code & Low Code Emails?
Sure, they both share much of the same ‘drag and drop’ functionality that empowers users to build and design aesthetically polished email messages. They also rhyme.
Yet, within the world of email marketing platforms, low code and no code have two different meanings.
No code email templates mean the tool or messaging platform will not allow you to modify any code whatsoever. Any customization must come from the functionality within the editing dashboard.
Similar to no code, low code means a user doesn’t need to know how to code in order to create emails within the marketing platform. The key difference with low code is that it gives users the option to modify some aspects of the code to achieve intended results.
The difference between no code and low code can be nuanced, but important to distinguish – especially when choosing the right email marketing platform for your company or brand.
For instance, email marketing platform Acoustic’s Message Composer might seem like a no code tool, but the platform features a usable HTML block, which enables users to create and paste their own unique code.
The Pros of Low Code Email Templates
Using an intuitive ‘drag and drop’ approach to content creation, low code email marketing platforms include a wide range of functions including personalization, link tracking and management, dynamic content, and relational table data.
Additionally, low code email builders enable users to quickly create blocks, layouts, and fully created templates, which can all be saved and re-used for future email campaigns.
This ease of use can be a real benefit – specifically in the world of email marketing.
More than 71% of email marketers consider their jobs to be stressful. So, low code email templates are a great tool – especially if you don’t have on-staff resources to build or code emails from scratch.
The Cons of Low Code Email Templates
Low code email builders provide marketers with time saving tools, combined with a low bar for entry in terms of HTML savvy.
However, there are still some cons involved with low code or no code layouts.
The most immediate drawback to low code email templates are the inherent branding limitations.
Despite the flexibility and many workarounds, drag and drop email templates can greatly limit your ability to design emails that look exactly how you want them to appear.
You’ve no doubt worked hard to build your business and establish its brand – and neither of these things should be limited by the design and layout options available within low code or no code email builders.
Here are other drawbacks to using low code or no code email templates:
For businesses that are very conscious of keeping a branded experience, there’s limited ability to customize blocks or layouts beyond what the tool offers. This is especially true for no code tools.
Loading and using web fonts, other than what the tools provided, is difficult or not possible.
Full color blocks to create call-outs or split up content are more difficult with multiple pieces of text.
Background images are much more difficult to achieve and limited to only one content type, for example, only having the ability to include text on top of an image.
Multi-column structures are often limited to two to three columns.
Mobile bugs rendered on phones and tablets have no readily available fixes on most low code or no code email marketing platforms.
What Is Possible With Low Code vs. Custom Coded Email Templates?
For companies and organizations who do not wish to be limited by low-code restrictions, the choice is clear. A custom coded template extends layout functionality, as well as the ability to quality control emails across various mobile and desktop platforms.
Unlike low code email templates, a custom coded email template is tailor-made and fully configured with all your brand requirements. Additionally, they can be re-used and modified for future campaigns.
We could write ad infinitum about the differing capabilities of low code and custom coded emails, but why not show them in action?
Example A – Branding:
For this exercise, we used Acoustic Message Composer to create the email on the right.
While the branding experience was mostly re-created with Message Composer, we still faced limitations.
For example, we couldn’t recreate the on-brand pink background around the text and columns or replicate the eyebrow and headline per our design. We were also forced to use a different font and needed to make some adjustments to individual modules.
Example B – Layouts:
When creating the same email in Message Composer, we were forced to either modify the layouts of the blocks or keep the current rendering view, which unexpectedly displayed content out of order. We were also unable to recreate the yellow quote block as seen on the left.
Example C – Mobile Rendering:
The most striking difference came from the mobile rendering of the two emails.
In the custom coded email template, we have full control to display the content in an optimal layout for mobile devices.
For example, the text and button displayed above the image (versus below), which was not our intent. This forced us to make a design change on layout of the module to fit the Composer tool’s capabilities.
Depending on your branding needs and business goals, you may be able to live with these modifications – and that’s great. A low code or no code tool may be a lifesaver to easily fuel your marketing practice.
If you’re like many businesses, though, a custom coded email template is a better representation of your brand and gives your email marketing team better control to optimize the email experience.
The power of custom coded email templates with WOW
When partnering with Whereoware, we build clients custom coded templates following the latest best practices to give your readers a superlative email experience.
Our custom coded email templates are built with a modular approach, giving Whereoware’s clients flexibility to mix and match “building blocks” and create different types of emails to suit promotional needs, without modifying the HTML code.
These email modules are fully customizable, pre-tested snippets of code stacked on top of each other like LEGO blocks that fit nicely together, transforming your messages from stock correspondences to an organic, reflective part of your digital customer journey. We also ensure a consistent branded experience, while adhering to current accessibility best practices and mobile optimizations to render near perfectly across all popular devices, email servers, and screen resolutions.
Here are some examples of custom coded email templates produced for one of our clients:
As you can see from the examples above, our custom coded email templates meet a variety of needs and specifications, while also matching color and font choices according to the brand guidelines of our client.
Other advantages to our custom e-mail templates include:
Durability – Our modular email designs are built to change on the fly whenever new inbox features or bugs are introduced. Our current modules are equipped with the latest, pre-tested enhancements to ensure your email looks great no matter how it’s opened.
Setup & Training – Not all clients are equipped with staff members who are comfortable modifying HTML code. Because of this, we conduct multiple training sessions to show the client how to use the template and modules to ensure they feel comfortable using them moving forward.
Inbox Rendering Consistency - Our modular approach to coded email templates ensures that they are built to last, empowering users to focus on email strategy, compelling copy, and eye-catching imagery, instead of the rendering and formatting issues caused by future changes.
Low Code? No Problem! – For those who currently use low code email marketing platforms, our templates can also be imported into their dashboards, giving users the best of both worlds.
If your goals are simple, no code or low code is a great solution for your email needs. That said, companies whose growth strategy relies on email marketing that is on-brand and mobile optimized, custom coded email templates are a better option.
Contact WOW to create the templates that will elevate your email marketing strategy and ensure your messaging is impactful in any context.