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.

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Pierce Ujjainwalla

Pierce Ujjainwalla

Pierce is a career marketer with client-side experience at company's like Cognos & IBM. He founded Revenue Pulse, a Marketo consultancy, and then founded Knak after making hundreds of customized Marketo templates for Revenue Pulse clients.

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