Testing the email editor 2.0: Great features, a few glitches and the strong need for a v2.1

Hi all,

I and our team have had the opportunity to test the email editor for real for a coupLe of weeks now. Here is our non comprehensive (We obviously have not tested it completely, there are too many features!) feedback. Yet, in order to run this test, we tested about 80 different templates, including all the new templates provided by Marketo in the Starter kit and 150 emails. By far not enough to be sure we covered all the cases, but an interesting sample, though.

This post has 3 chapters:

  • This post details the test we have been running and the findings, including the issues we have encountered and how they were solved it ends with an evaluation of whether or not one should ugrade
  • Upgrading to the new email editor 2.0: a recommended migration path describes a migration path that will ensure that you do not end up with unexpected issues or emails that you could no longer edit
  • Email editor 2.0 is leaving room for a v2.1 details the features that still need to be completed or that are yet missing and points to the various ideas to be voted for.

Table of content

1-Tests and discovery

  1. Activating it is easy. Really. Nothing happens excepted that you have now a way to select your templates in the template chooser that is way more convenient and user friendly than what was possible before. Also, the complete library is now coming with it, but the admin can have it deactivated so that users do not start to wield too much of their creativity at the expense of the corporate branding guidelines
  2. Rolling back to v1: We also have tested disabling the new editor after a while. It worked fine. The major impacts are:
    • All v2 templates that we had created (or upgraded from v1) in between could no longer be selected for email creation, which seems normal.
    • The v2 Templates could no longer be edited neither, which seems also logical.
    • All emails that had been upgraded to v2 or created in v2 becomes impossible to edit, which also make sense.
  3. Opening v1 emails in the v2 editor without upgrading the template: Once the new editor is enabled, it remains possible to create or edit a draft on a v1 email event if it's templates has not been upgraded to v2. All the email drafts you create will be flagged as v2, even if the template is still v1 (a little weird). If you approve these drafts, the email is upgraded to v2 and the v1 is lost forever. This might have an impact if you want to preserve the capability to revert to v1 (see point 2 above).
    So, at least at the beginning and until you are fully comfortable, we strongly recommend that you clone them first. Once you are fully comfortable that all your v2 templates are fully operational, you will be able to edit the v1s.
    This is on this topic that we encountered the most significant issues in the whole test:
    1. The mktEditable editable sections could not be edited any longer. PM provided us with a workaround which is quite simple: click the "Edit Code", look for a mktEditable section and add a letter or a space, then save it. Finally, on the June 18th, the issue was fixed and all templates that we upgraded since then have not replicated the issue.
    2. The content had disappeared in most if not all mktEditable zones. Again, this was fixed on June 18th.
  4. Draft emails (never approved) or email drafts (edited after approval) created prior to the upgrade: We had a couple of v1 emails that had never been approved (and therefore never used). We tried to edit them after enabling the editor, and received a system error. But the workaround is simple here: just clone that email, and the clone will be the same email, upgraded in v2.
    We also had some v1 drafts pending. Once the upgrade was done, it became impossible to open/edit them again until we had upgraded their template and removed the v1 email drafts.
  5. Simple upgrade of templates: we have upgraded quite a few templates, just to make them appear in v2, but changing nothing in them. This is a key point as it we would expect this to be the first step after upgrading the editor. The findings here are mixed. We discovered that the previous version of the editor would let errors undetected and that these errors would become breakers with the new version, causing system error messages when someone tries to upgrade the templates with these errors. Amongst the things you need to cleanse thoroughly before upgrading are:
    1. Missing ID in mktEditable elements. These would throw a system error when trying to edit the email in the new editor. You could still edit the template in v2, though,  but then you are stuck with the email not opening. On June 18th, a fix has been provided: during the template upgrade, Marketo will insert IDs like "mkto_autogen_id_0" everywhere they are missing.
    2. Nested mktEditable elements. If v1, only the child mktEditable would really be editable. Then, on upgrade, trying to open the email or the template would throw a system error when trying to edit the email in the new editor. A fix has been provided so that nested mktEditable zones will no longer prevent the upgrade. But that fix is about separating the 2 mktEditable zones, one below the other, which impact is that it destructures the email. So you should  run a thorough review of your templates before upgrading to avoid this issue whatsoever.
    3. Here as well, we encountered the issue of lost content and uneditable mktEditable elements as in point 3 above, but this has been fixed and on june 18th, this very troublesome point was no longer replicable.
    4. The last issue that we encountered is that if an email would use images from another Marketo instance, these images would display on v1 and would not on v2 in the editor (They would show normally in V1 and v2 in our receiving mailbox). This is due to some network configuration and is apparently restricted to our pod (app-e.marketo.com), but be aware.
  6. Once done, most templates were working well for email creation and as if nothing had been changed. Unfortunately, not all template upgrade went that well. One of the template we upgraded drove all the 40 emails based on this template to be impossible to edit. We had that issue on a template with a quite large number of attached emails. The issue has since been fixed and this is now back to normal, all the depending email being editable now.
  7. After a while, we noticed one strange thing: the basic template from the Marketo library had been replaced by one of or own test templates.
  8. Once a template is upgraded, in v2, all emails using this template get a new v2 draft, as expected from the doc. Here also, we experienced the same 2 significant issue as in point 3 above, which have been fixed with the same consequences
  9. We have also started to modify the templates in order to take advantage of the new element types and of the variables. These provide really a huge value, although we have not tested all the possibility brought by these new features, and we are yet to discover all the possibilities offered now. First findings are:
    1. The capability to create image elements instead of rich text ones when you need an image. This feature enables the designer to control completely the layout of the image and reduce significantly the risk of errors linked to replacing an image in a rich text zone, formatting it, etc... Similarly, email variables also bring in a lot of additional security and ease fo use to the user BUT it is impossible to use these image variables or elements in conjunction with tokens (meaning using a token to set the URL of the image). The result of this is that, if you use these new elements, you can forget about fully tokenizing the email. In our opinion, this is an important limitation. The whole way images are supported really has to be improved with these ideas: ​, , .
    2. The possibility to create video elements is completely new in emails and is really cool. Works simply and efficiently. Again it would benefit to be compatible with tokens, similarly to image elements.
    3. We also tested the new variables, that work quite the same as they do in the guided landing page templates. Replacing editable text CTA with 2 variables (one for the text, one for the URL) completely reduces the risk of inline CSS errors for instance. The droplist variables are also really cool to better control what users would be allowed to do. But some strong limitations remains with the use of variables:
      • Variables will not work on the text version of the email and are in fact not supported there for the moment. This is an issue if you want to use them for titles or other short text elements in the email. PM is aware of the issue, filed as a future improvement (​)
      • Also, unfortunately, the variables do not work well in combinations with the module system (tested below), which is also a significant limitation of it: as a variable is present once in the template, for the whole template, if a variable is inserted in a module and this module is cloned, every clone will get the same variable value. See ​.
      • Variables are still not "segmentable" in dynamic content. Therefore, you will not be able to use them to create a different image or a different CTA for each segment.
    4. We also detected one bug related to the new functionalities: the mktoAddByDefault="false" in the module elements does not work The flag has no effect and worse, it prevents the child elements in the module to be edited by the user. PM knows about it and the bug is being fixed, but in the meantime, one should just not use the attribute. All in all, this is really not a reason for not upgrading.
  10. We discovered then that the editor would not allow to search the template code using the CTRL-F, so we had to use another, third party, HTML editor. This feedback has been provided to PM and is being considered as a future improvement (see ), although this is IMHO really not a reason for not upgrading.
  11. We have started to play with the new module system. IMHO, the Module functionality is probably where the strongest difference and value increase is made compared the v1. Modules are sections of your emails. They will contain elements. Modules can be added to the email, move, deleted, cloned, making your email template much more flexible and versatile, in other terms... ...modular . The only, yet significant, constraint is that your templates will have to be significantly reworked to benefit from this feature. This is also true if your templates have been provided by template generators from the Launchpoint. Also, depending on the technology one is using to structure the template blocks, it might not be easy/feasible: lmodules can only be made of <table> or <tr>, and the module container will have to be <table>, <tbody>, <thead>, <tfoot> or <td>. Unfortunately, <div> are excluded . PM is working on it to see if it would be possible to add support for <div> in the future ( ), but in between, we are investigating on our side the possibility to add <tr> or <tbody> elements in the templates.
  12. Finally, and this is key, we also have tested the templates shipped trough the new starter kit. They are great and very versatile, although the responsive behavior is not always perfect. Tests @June 18th:

2-Should you activate the new editor?

  • This is a legitimate question since the change is significant. Furthermore, here and there, some warnings were raised on the importance of the change and the attached risks.
  • The mere fact that activating the feature and touching nothing else enables to benefit from the new template chooser, the new email editor and the new email previewer, each of them being easier to use and providing a more complete feature set, make it worth the upgrade. And this is true whether you are using home grown templates, templates derived from the good old templates.marketo.com or templates created with a Template generation tool from the launchpoint. Ask your template vendors for more details.
  • Furthermore, the conclusion of our tests is that working on v2 emails created from v2 templates (created in v2 or upgraded from v1) works fine. As stated earlier, once upgraded to v2, old v1 templates continue to work in order to create new emails and, since the mktEditable classes continue to work as previously, you could even continue to develop templates without changing your development technique. This means you can benefit from new features such as the new template selector with a very low investment.
  • And of course, if you are ready to invest into the adaptation of your templates in order to benefit from the new features, then this new editor brings a lot of value. Safeharbor: Just be cautious yet and clone before editing, since we CAN guarantee that we have NOT tested all the new functionalities
  • But, as described above, upgrading production v1 templates (editing them and approving them in v2) and consequently upgrading v1 emails attached to these templates has been causing loss of content and editable zone problems in the upgraded emails. It all has been resolved now, but I would still encourage you to be cautious and use the migration protocol described here to make sure you will not hit the same problems.
  • Therefore, if you decide to activate v2, it would be preferable that you to adopt a policy by which you will not try to upgrade to exiting templates, but create new, V2 ones and retire the v1. Doing this, your v1 emails will continue to be sent normally after you have activated the new editor.
  • If separating V2 templates from v1 is not possible, or if you want to go one step further, and you absolutely have to upgrade your production v1 templates, we recommend that you run a few checks before upgrading (see Upgrading to the new email editor 2.0: a recommended migration path), correct the glitches if necessary and be ready to step back on this or wait until the bugs are fixed.
  • Finally, our tests also shown that the new editor could be further enhanced. We have listed some areas for progress here: Email editor 2.0 is leaving room for a v2.1

We will continue testing in the next few days, and keep you posted of findings. Pls do not hesitate to share yours as soon as you are ready to test.

This is to be continued here:

Email editor 2.0 is leaving room for a v2.1

Upgrading to the new email editor 2.0: a recommended migration path