5 Tips to Make Over Your Pardot Email Templates


New year, new… email marketing game?

This article covers a few quick tips and tools to level up your email marketing game with Pardot.

1. Use Custom Fonts

Custom fonts are — as the name implies — fonts that do not come out the box with Pardot.

The default fonts available in Pardot include:

  • Arial
  • Comic Sans MS (a crowd pleaser, for sure)
  • Courier New
  • Georgia
  • Lucida Sans Unicode
  • Tahoma
  • Times New Roman
  • Trebuchet MS
  • Verdana

These are default fonts because considered they are considered “safe” fonts for email marketing. They are most likely to consistently render in a wide variety of devices and email clients.

Custom fonts, however, can seriously elevate the design aesthetic of your emails and help you stand out in the inbox.

If you decide to use a custom font (you can find instructions on how to set those up here) in your emails and/or landing pages, you need to make sure you set up a backup font, otherwise people with *cough* Outlook *cough* will see Arial as the default font. This may not be a big deal for you (if it isn’t, skip to the next paragraph) but it is something to keep in mind especially when you want branding to be consistent.

Pro Tip:

One huge caveat about custom fonts in regards to reporting — if this font is not setup properly, your email report will see an artificially high click through rate from the way some email clients load fonts.

2. Upgrade Your Email Preference Centres

Email preference centres (EPC) are pages that include options for prospects to opt in or out of individual public lists — for example, newsletters, white papers, events, etc.

If you’re using an unbranded preference centre — or heaven forbid, just an unsubscribe page — move this to the top of your to do list. Using an EPC link helps you avoid getting false unsubscribe link clicks due to spam filter activity.

Every account comes with 1 default email preference centre that includes all public lists across the account. You can also create different preference centres for different audiences or for regions like APAC, AMER, EMEA. If you only operate in the United States and Canada, perhaps a French/English option is more practical. This way, the options your prospects will see are tailored to their language or region.

If you have multiple EPCs, be sure to update the link in the footer of different templates so that each prospect always gets the correct regional email preference centre.

Alternatively, the email preference centre options could include frequency based options instead, as this is consistently a top reason for why people unsubscribe. Giving prospects the ability to reduce the # of emails you send out may encourage them to stick around. If you use this option, you need to prioritize which customer communications are important for example Tier 1 = Customer Communications, Tier 2 = Quarterly Updates and Tier 3 = New White Paper Update.

Pro Tip:

Public list options are categorized by alphabetical order. You can use numbers or other prefixes to get them to show in a specific order.

3. Try Dynamic Content

Dynamic Content is one of the best ways to simplify template bulds and standardize your email sections across emails. In the previous example of having multiple EPCs, you could create a template for APAC, one for AMER, and one for EMEA. But what if you could use one template across EVERYTHING!

Use dynamic content to update headers (for regional personalization) and footers (for updating the links for EPC, office address, and additional legalese). This way you can update in one place and it will always be up-to-date.

Pro Tip:

To execute the above, you have to make sure the COUNTRY field is up to date with the right information. Very important.

4. Personalize with Variable Tags or Handlebars Merge Language

In this day and age, you should be collecting at a minimum an email (required for Pardot) and a first name. With just these two data points, you can start personalizing your emails.

For example, you can include these in the subject line to personalize the experience a little more. Another low hanging fruit is using variable tags in signature to pull the lead/contact owner. This can be simplified especially by setting up User Sync.

In the TESTING tab of the email building process you can use the preview options when using variable tags. You can also use yourself and your team’s individual prospect profiles to see if the options are working.

Pro Tip:

Ensure that you don’t have an awkward white space by editing default merge value at the field level.

5. Experiment with Solid Backgrounds & Optimize for Dark Mode

The ability to set this up is a fairly recent development by Gmail. The use of dark mode helps readers draw better contrast for readership and saves energy on your phone. Ultimately, it makes some traditionally white backgrounds in email to black. This can alter designs quite a bit.                  
If you don’t set up your images correctly you could end up with files that have an obvious white background. These operate just fine on a white background. But in dark mode, you would see the white block (view below) and it would look off.

So how do you design for dark mode?

  • Enable solid color tables/sections so the background is consistent
  • Use PNGs for logos with transparent backgrounds — this way the background color doesn’t matter
  • Ensure links read well in black/white backgrounds

Pro Tip:

When in doubt about how something will display, TEST IT!

Bonus Round: Other Tips from Around the Blog

Last, but not least — here is a roundup of my personal favorite email enhancements we’ve blogged on recently:

Email marketing can be daunting (and very exciting), and knowing your options with Pardot can allow you to make simple changes that will go a long way with your prospects.

Want to Build Better Templates Using Pardot?

Looking for more ways to take your emails to the next level? Sign up for our Code School for Pardot Admins, beginning February 20th.

This 6-week course is built specifically to give you the skills to create the perfect emails in Pardot. Whether you’re pretty new to HTML & CSS or self-taught and looking to level up, we’ve got you covered.

Questions? Best practices to share? New experiments? Let’s hear ’em in the comments!

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Andrea is a 12X certified Salesforce MVP and the founder of Sercante. When she's not Pardot-ing, she can be found playing with her German Shepherd Murphy, making homemade gin, or traveling with her hubby Buck.

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