Category - Templates

From Templates to Modules: Why We Made the Switch

Templates to Modules - Why We Made the Switch

Recently, Knak made the decision to sunset our template library. It was a tough call, one that took more than two years to make. These templates were our signature product. The thing that marketers used to build great emails without knowing how to code. The reason referrals came looking for us.

They were at one time one of our main sources of revenue.

But.

As time went on, we realized that our templates were creating as many issues as they solved:

  • Creativity was restricted because even small changes required time-consuming design updates.
  • Templates didn’t provide granular user controls for different team members.
  • Tracking parameters weren’t added automatically to the links in the emails.

The list goes on.

It would have been simple to just keep adjusting the templates to solve each individual problem, but in listening to our customers, we realized the main problem wasn’t a template problem at all. It was a creation problem, and it couldn’t be solved with templates.

To address this, we developed two new products – Builder and Enterprise – that take a modular approach to building emails.

Modules are highly customizable and speed up time-to-market by taking the guesswork out of email creation. Anyone (really anyone) can build a beautiful, on-brand email using Knak, but what we like most is that these tools put the creativity back in the hands of marketers.

No more restrictive templates; no more waiting for a developer to change the template to fit your campaign.

With Builder, emails are built start to finish using a drag-and-drop approach. Modules and layouts can be edited easily, and emails are automatically synced to a marketing automation platform for deployment.

Enterprise is built for larger teams. Custom workflows make it easy to collaborate, and the precision branding controls allow for creativity while still protecting brand identity.

These two new products solved the problems and made it much easier to get emails out the door. Our clients were happy, email bliss was reinstated, and all frustrations evaporated forever.

Except.

Because our customers were so comfortable with the templates, they were … ahem … resistant to change. They were willing to continue using a less efficient, more restrictive process simply because they already knew how to do it.

And we get it! We’re marketers too, so we know the time constraints most marketers are under. Everything needs to be done five minutes ago, and when a new technology is introduced, no matter how incredible it looks, it’s way simpler to stick with the devil we know than it is to devote time and resources to training our team on something new.

So, we broke it down slowly. We worked with our clients a few at a time to introduce them to the new products. We made sure they had the support they needed to use the new products successfully. We even developed a buddy system to help clients train their team to use the new products.

Over time, those clients became champions for Builder and Enterprise at their businesses. And eventually, templates were no longer our major source of revenue.

Change is difficult. That’s why it took a while for our new products to catch on and why it took two years for us to decide to ditch the templates.

But the truth of the matter is, you can tweak things, develop workarounds, and re-code until you’re blue in the face. Sometimes, you just need to look for a better way.

We’d love to show you how we’re redefining email creation. Request a demo today, and see how Knak gives you the freedom to create amazing emails and the tools you need to do it quickly.

What We Learned Making 21,032+ Email + Landing Page Templates

Three and a half years ago I started Knak because we were making hundreds of custom Marketo templates for Revenue Pulse customers and it felt like we were doing a lot of the same things over and over again.

I thought it would be amazing to enable Marketers to create their own templates without even needing to know how to spell HTML.

Turns out – lots of people enjoyed our Template product. We have thousands of users who have collectively made over 20,000 templates saving them decades of time.

So – what have we learned in that time? A lot.

Here are the top 8 things we’ve learned through building over twenty-thousand templates for Marketo and Eloqua customers:

Most people do not know (or care to know) HTML
Whether companies are big or small, they generally don’t have the HTML skillsets on their team or if they do, they don’t want to spend time using those resources to make emails or landing pages.

Responsive is now tablestakes
Three years ago everyone was making a shift to responsive design, now this is pretty much assumed that everything will be responsive. If someone is still not using responsive design they recognize they are way behind and need to update their stuff immediately.

Brand is in a constant state of change
We seem to meet people in 2 different phases. Either they just did a brand overhaul and now have to redesign everything, or, they hate their branding and need to desperately redo it to make it look good.

Companies (especially big ones) want guardrails
There is this constant struggle with Marketers where they want to enable their teams to make their own assets, but at the same time need to control the branding. No one wants Sally from field marketing adding a bright pink background to her event email because it looked cute. But, at the same time Marketers want to enable Sally to be self-sufficient and drive registrations to her event like a boss.

Marketing Automation platforms are not focused on asset creation
There has not been a ton of innovation or development in the areas of asset creation over the past 3.5 years. A couple new editors here and there but that are not addressing the root problems that exist. They are focusing instead on other new features like ABM and AI.

Marketers want flexibility and control
No matter how great the template is, there will always be a desire for some kind of adjustment that requires coding. When you’re coding templates for editors with limited editing capabilities, this is inevitably going to happen once you have pushed them as far as they can possibly go. Designers want granular controls to be able to make things look pixel-perfect and design-led organizations oftentimes push back on conforming to a template.

It’s a collaborative process and Marketing Automation is not really built to be collaborative
For whatever reason Marketing Automation platforms are not designed with collaboration in mind. Collaboration is an afterthought at best (see: Chatter for Salesforce). Even at small companies there are many people who have to come together to get an email or landing page out the door – and they need somewhere to work together to control versions and approvals. This is only magnified by many times over for enterprise organizations.

Change takes courage
For people who are serious about improving asset creation, often times this requires a shift from template-based creation to an email creation platform. This means internal change-management, training, and getting people to do something new, a different way than they are used to. In every industry there are early adopters and laggards, and right now early adopters are seeing that email creation platforms can provide many benefits simply not possible with templates and Marketing Automation platforms.

That’s it everyone. There are a million other things we have learned on this journey so far, and we’ve had a lot of fun doing it. We’ve only been able to learn this much by working alongside all of our amazing Marketo and Eloqua customers, so thank you for that. If you want to know how we’re using these learnings to improve email creation, checkout Knak Builder and Knak Enterprise.

Thanks for coming along for the ride… we’ve only just begun.