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How To Build Your First Email Template in Pardot’s Lightning Email Builder⚡️

If you are just getting started with Pardot’s Lightning Email Builder, you’ve come to the right place. This tool gives you the ability to drag and drop, empowering all Pardot users to design robust templates with less complexity. 

Why Pardot Lightning Email Builder 

As Lev’s Digital Marketing Manager, I found that there are pros and cons to Lightning Builder, but ultimately decided the pros out-weighed the cons when it came to redesigning our monthly newsletter, The PlusSide, using this tool. The ability to drag and drop to create multiple columns, the innate mobile responsiveness, the ‘undo’ function, and reusable templates are some of my favorite features. The lack of dynamic content options is the largest setback I have seen, but I anticipate more personalization will be possible in later releases. 

Follow along below to see the journey of how our newsletter got a revamp, along with tips for rebuilding your own email templates too. And, of course, shameless plug: I encourage you to subscribe to the PluSide here to see how our final template turned out. 

Get Ready

Before you can take advantage of this new email experience from Salesforce, there are a few things to know and tasks to complete. First, you must enable the builder and CMS. (Shout out to Lev’s own Raul Ventura for getting us on our way.) Next, review your folder structure. Please note: This is a rapidly evolving architecture with Salesforce adding features in every release. Make sure you monitor release notes and this blog for the latest information. 

Now, you’re ready to move forward.

Let’s Build 

First, you’ll fill out all the key information—like naming your template, setting your subject line,  and determining where to store it within your folder structure. Once you hit ‘Save,’ you will want to click ‘Edit in Builder.’  This is where the fun begins; it’s a whole new world when you discover how simple it is to customize. Building your template is the best time to establish the structure of your email and the static styling such as text size and styling, background colors, and padding. 

To start, you will want to drag and drop a column from ‘Layout’ on the left side. Under ‘Content,’ you can adjust how many columns you need. You can easily click ‘Distribute Columns and Reset Padding’ in order to get the columns all the same size. Next, you’ll want to drag over components to build out your rows. Let’s walk through what you can add to your rows. 


  1. Image. Click into the image block and go to ‘Content’ in order to upload your image. You’ll want to click ‘Add Image’ under ‘Image URL.’ From there, you can upload from Salesforce CMS or from external files. We recommend using CMS to store your images for the most secure content link. You can link the image, adjust the size by percentage, and edit the position (left, right, center).  The standard full email width is 600px, so be sure to design your images accordingly.

  2. Rich Text. Type your text into this block or paste your copy into the source. You can use rich text for your section headers and email body copy. While building your Lightning Email Template, you may want to build out your standard footer using the rich text functionality. When doing so, don’t forget to include your Preference Center and Unsubscribe links. You can link them through ‘Merge Fields’ → ‘Other’ or link your existing preference centers. 

  3. Buttons. Add your button, then click into it to edit the text, color, size, and position. The ability to move around and customize your buttons with just a few clicks is a game-changer. 

  4. HTML. Bring over a header or footer HTML that you really enjoy from an email you’ve used in the past. 

In order to give your recipients the option of viewing your emails as web pages, ensure you are adding the merge field {{{View_Online}}} to your template. We like to include this in the footer by hyperlinking ‘View As Webpage’ text to the merge field.

One of the wonderful things about this new tool is the ability to quickly toggle back and forth between desktop and mobile view, allowing you to make the necessary changes to ensure your template renders properly on both. 

As you are building, keep in mind that you can now easily undo and redo edits with the click of the back or forward arrow at the top left.

More Styling Tips 

Interested in adding a background color? After you drag and drop a row from the ‘Components’ area on the left, select, click ‘Style’ and from there you can add a color to ‘Background Color.’

If you want some of your images to span the entire width of the email, you’ll need to edit the entire Email Template Style to ensure there is no padding. Click the top of the template, or off to the gray space on the side, until you see the sidebar. You can edit the preheader here as well. Otherwise, all other padding will be completed within each individual row or component under ‘Style.’ 

Once you’ve finished building and styling your email template with all of your standard sections and styling, it’s time to hit ‘Save.’ Then, go back to the main page using the back arrow at the top left, and navigate to ‘Email Content.'

Steps to Sending 

Now let’s prepare an email for sending!

‘Email Content’ is where you will use your templates to build the final emails and send them out. Let’s walk through the final steps:

  1. First, click ‘New.’  Use your naming convention to name your email, and select your brand new template! 

  2. Click ‘Edit in Builder’ at the top left, which will take you to a similar interface to what you built the template in. When you built the template, you added styling for your standard sections, such as the header and footer, and set the layout for your content. Once you get to building the email out to send, this is where you'll customize the content for your send.
  3. Once you’re done customizing the email, hit ‘Save,’ then go back to the email using the back arrow at the top left.  Then, click ‘Edit’ at the top right, where you can sync from HTML to create your text-only version, edit your subject line, and test your email! 
  4. Testing is done within the ‘Email Content’ section once your email is saved. Navigate to the dropdown to the right of “Edit,” where you will find ‘Test.’ Make sure you have your testing lists ready to go! 
  5. Once again, hit 'Save,' then click the dropdown arrow at the top right, and click 'Send.' From here, you can assign your email to a campaign, and similar to Pardot's traditional email tools, you'll select your recipient list and suppression lists. Here is where you'll also set your Primary Sender and Reply-To User, and can set up any completion actions. Last, but not least, you can select 'Send Now' or 'Send Later' to schedule for a later time. Use your lists in Pardot to test and send right away or schedule. 



You can view reporting via the traditional Pardot routes, like going to Pardot Reports > Emails > List Emails, or by navigating to the email reports through Email Content, selecting the sent email that you'd like to view the engagement data for, and navigating down to 'Engagement Metrics’ at the bottom, or by clicking into the 'Related' tab at the top, and accessing the Pardot report that way.


What’s Next? 

Don’t forget to sign up for the PlusSide and see our new template in action. 😎