Marketo Broke My Email – Now What?

Your email was looking just great, until you made one minor change in Marketo and now it’s totally broken!

Don’t worry, this is a common scenario and it’s not always Marketo’s fault.

In this article we help you diagnose the culprit and suggest remedial steps to fix your email.

Firstly Some Background

The first thing to understand is that HTML for emails is very different to HTML for websites.

There are all kinds of nasty hacks that are necessary in email HTML (to make them compatible with the plethora of email clients) that website designers would never dream of using.


Is Marketo the Culprit?

Marketo recently (Jul 2015) rolled out a new update to its email editor which caused a lot of issues for its users. This is mainly because the editor tries to enforce website HTML standards in emails.

If you are experiencing these issues, then it could be the Marketo editor playing up:

Issue 1: An Image goes missing

The Marketo editor often removes background tags (e.g. background = "background_image.png"), which could result in an image disappearing. There is no easy work around for this.

Issue 2: Extra spacing appears

The Marketo editor often adds spacing/padding between buttons and images after you edit a section. To fix the spacing issue you will have to go into the HTML code and remove &nbps; from the styling.

Alternate Fix: Legacy Email Editor

One way to fix both of these issues is to roll back to the legacy email editor.

Go to Marketo and navigate to: Admin -> Email -> Edit Editor Settings -> Text editor version -> Legacy

Is Your Training the Culprit?

Most often, it is lack of familiarity in using the Marketo email editor which causes issues.

The 2 most frequent problems we see are:

Issue 1: Text font changes

This is usually occurs when you try to replace a whole block of text by typing over it. The trick is to simply insert the text you want, and then delete the original text; this will preserve the correct font.

Issue 2: Spacing issues

Are you seeing too much/too little space between paragraphs, buttons, and images?

You need to learn how to add/remove rows to a table to fix this.

Most email HTML is built on tables and the easiest way to add/remove spacing is often to add/remove rows or columns.

The easiest way to do this is to enable the legacy email editor (see above), and then use these buttons:

The second, harder way, is to learn to edit some basic HTML and edit the raw HTML. By adding/removing <br>, &nbps; and <p></p> tags you can add/remove spacing.

You can find a free course to learn basic HTML at Code Academy. You don’t need to learn everything, just learn how the above tags work, so you can recognize and edit them.

Alternate Fix: Replace the section from the template

Sometimes a particular section is just totally broken and it’s faster to replace it from the original template and re-edit it.

To do this quickly:

  • Create a new email from the template you are using
  • Find the section that’s causing the problem, in this new email
  • Copy all the HTML of that section to the clipboard
  • Go to your problem email
  • Replace all the HTML of the problem section with the HTML you copied to clipboard

Is Your Template the Culprit?

Sometimes, no matter what you try, the email will break. If this happens, it’s likely that your underlying email template is the problem.

If the underlying template has errors, no amount of fixing a particular section will stop it from breaking when you edit it.

Issue 1: The template was not tested properly

To check if the base template has issues, create a new email from the template and then test it with Litmus. Litmus will allow you to preview the email on various email clients and this will usually reveal errors.

If your template does have errors, you will need to send it back the coder who created it to fix it. Make sure they test it thoroughly in Litmus before sending it back to you.

Issue 2: The template is not Marketo OPTIMIZED

Just because a email template is Marketo compatible doesn't mean it's Marketooptimized.

A novice coder can easily modify email HTML to make it Marketo editable.

But, it's not Marketo optimized; it has not been coded in a specialized way to ensure it is easy to edit without breaking in Marketo. Only an expert coder familiar in Marketo can produce such a template.

Alternate Fix: Use a template builder

There are template builders on Marketo Launchpoint which can produce optimized Marketo templates. One of them, the Email Template Builder, will even allow you to edit the email content in the tool, rather than Marketo, and thus avoid most of the issues covered in this article.

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of how to troubleshoot email issues you have in the Marketo. You’ll find that this sequence of step should diagnose 90% of the email issues you run into.

Do you have any tips on fixing emails? Share them and we'll update this article with them.