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How a great WYSIWYG editor can improve your email builder

Katie Haupt

August 23rd, 2020

Written by

Katie Haupt
Katie Haupt

Category

Design & UX

Most email marketing software provides a poor editing experience, despite increasing adoption and an ever-growing market of software providers. And I say this as someone who uses a lot of email marketing platforms as a marketing automation specialist.

When you compare the editing experience to other apps and content creation platforms, email marketing software is clunky, tech-heavy, and unpredictable. So, there’s a real opportunity for email marketing providers to make some changes and improve their UX. Let’s take a closer look at why this matters and where some of the biggest opportunities to improve are.

Why email editing UX matters

Let’s step into the shoes of someone who uses email marketing software.

Email marketers are often short on staff, work to tight deadlines, and spend a huge chunk of time coordinating strategies and content across multiple departments and channels. Limited text editing, formatting, feedback, and collaboration options within their email service providers often means that:

  • Emails require techy-skills (beyond the abilities of your average marketer)
  • Content takes longer to edit and upload
  • Changes are harder to incorporate
  • Emails are more likely to have mistakes and formatting problems
  • Email marketers end up frustrated

To sum it up? Most email software makes it unnecessarily hard for marketers to edit and upload email content. 

But there’s a real opportunity for email marketing providers to solve these user problems, create a better UX, and streamline the process - in turn, improving retention and cementing themselves as one of the leading providers. 

6 email editing improvements

Let’s take a closer look at some of the email editing problems found in most email marketing software (and what providers can do to fix them).

1. Better copy-paste

Two clones of SpongeBob Squarepants.

Email marketers do a lot of copying and pasting. Usually, the email content itself is written in Google docs, Word, or Excel. Once it’s approved, they copy and paste the text into the email builder, and this is often where things can go wrong. 

Maybe some of the formatting hasn’t been carried through (tables and images are especially problematic). Or maybe there are extra spaces, images have disappeared, or some of the text looks like gibberish. As a result, many email marketers end up pasting their content in as plain text, and then have to completely format it from scratch in the email builder. Or they do a lot of manual editing to make sure the audience will be able to read it.

Better copy-paste functions could save email marketers time, minimize disruptions to their workflow, and improve the readability and appearance of email campaigns.

TinyMCE’s PowerPaste plugin enables more accurate copy-paste (especially when pasting from Word/Excel into a browser-based tool), with clean code that won’t break your email template. And the Format Painter plugin makes it easy to update content styles to match the rest of your template. Email builders with the TinyMCE advanced WYSIWYG editor and plugins can avoid hours of wasted time and frustration, with no need to fiddle with the underlying source code to make emails readable.

2. Built-in collaboration and feedback tools

Many email marketers work with up to 20 people throughout the email campaign creation process. Somewhere between the campaign brief and the final draft, they’ll often collaborate with a whole range of people from copywriters and graphic designers to product managers, strategists, and even the CEO. Most of this collaboration and feedback is done via emailed Word documents or Google docs access. Putting the content into the email builder is usually the last step. 

But this can lead to a few problems:

  • They may end up with content and feedback in multiple locations, from multiple people
  • They’re often switching between multiple documents and the email marketing software
  • Feedback takes a lot of time to work through and it can be weeks before an email is approved
  • Deadlines get pushed out and perfectly scheduled email campaigns get off track

So, what can email marketing software providers do to streamline this process?

  1. Create a better email editing experience with a reliable WYSIWYG editor like TinyMCE so that email marketers feel more comfortable writing and editing content inside the platform
  2. Enable stakeholders to provide feedback within the platform (like TinyMCE’s Comments feature)

If email builders offered a better user experience that enabled collaboration and feedback, more marketers would create their content directly inside the builder instead of Word or Google docs. These changes could speed up workflows and avoid duplicating the content (and edits) across multiple locations. It might make those last minute email campaigns more realistic, too.

3. Automated brand control

Producing an email campaign is a complex process - there are a number of places where things can go wrong, especially with branding.

It’s great when email builders provide marketers with lots of options to edit and format their email campaigns. But this can lead to some marketers getting a little too creative with things like fonts and colors. 

Plus, many email marketers work across multiple brands and entities, each with their own style guide. Suddenly, you have marketers using the wrong blue, or red buttons when the brand style requires orange buttons. Even for experienced marketers, brand guidelines are finicky and often hard to follow. It can take time to check that each email campaign ticks all the boxes…

  • Colors
  • Fonts
  • Shapes/lines
  • Sizes
  • Padding
  • Logos

Email marketing providers can reduce the time, effort, and uncertainty involved in brand management by automating brand quality control measures. With TinyMCE’s editor, email platforms can allow designated brand administrators to customize the toolbar and limit toolbar options to ensure content creators don’t get too creative with the brand style. That way, they can automatically hide or disable options like HTML editing, font formatting, and font sizes to prevent users from straying from default styles in the email builder.

For more tips, check out this blog on how you can build branding into your product design with a WYSIWYG HTML editor.

4. Automated quality control

Every email marketer has experienced the anxiety of the “send” button… Have I caught all the spelling errors? Do all my links work? Is my email going to be readable on ALL the different browsers, devices, and email providers?

Fortunately, with an advanced text editor like TinyMCE, there are ways you can automate quality control to reduce anxiety and increase the likelihood of an error-free email.

Tiny’s plugins can help catch and correct errors during the writing and editing process, with:

  • Link Checker - Check for broken URLs before emails go out to thousands or millions of customers
  • Accessibility Checker - Check that content is accessible and complies with WCAG standards (for example, each image should have an alt attribute)
  • Spell Checker -  Check for spelling mistakes (in up to 13 languages simultaneously)

With these features built directly into your email builder, checking for errors is quick, easy, and streamlined.

5. Make it work without code

Frustrated lego character taps on laptop keyboard before throwing the laptop.

Repeat after me: email marketers are not developers. 

Many email builders advertise a WYSIWYG experience, but they don’t deliver on it. What you see is not what you get. Not even close. When you actually go to send the email, it doesn’t look anything like what you’d expect. 

The problem with this is that email marketers often need to switch to the code view just so they can create clean, accurately formatted email campaigns. This is something we’ve had to create an entire workaround process for here at Tiny, which has made our email marketing setup incredibly inefficient. 

In some email builders, I’ve had to work in the code view exclusively (with limited HTML knowledge, mind you) because it’s so hard to use the visual editor. I ended up creating a cheat sheet on HTML and CSS files for newbies just so that I could get by with one popular tool. Not to mention all the time wasted trying to find the right DIV… which DIV is it inside of? Where do I have to put the style to make links not underlined? 

Although I’ve been able to find workarounds and many marketers like myself do the same, we’re not developers. A lot of marketers are generalists, and email marketing is only a small part of their day. There are people like me who are in there all day, but there are also plenty of small businesses that wear even more hats - they don’t have time to figure out what code they need to edit to make sure their email is readable.

Email builders should be designed for everyday, non-tech users who can complete the entire process of creating and editing a campaign using the built-in WYSIWYG email editor. A visual WYSIWYG editor like TinyMCE can allow your users to click anywhere within their email content and type, move content around, change fonts, colors, sizes... and see all the edits as they build the email campaign out.

6. Improve consistency

Consistency is a key principle of good UX design. It means that users don’t have to figure out new ways to do things or solve problems just so they can use your email marketing software. You want content creators to jump straight in and confidently use your software without thinking. And the best way to do that is to ensure the editing interface looks exactly how they’d expect. Ideally, as close as possible to the other tools they already use, like Google docs, Word, and popular content management systems.

Consistency is a problem for most email marketing software. We recently surveyed 30 email marketing tools, and there was a lot of variation. While some offered a better experience than others, each tool had areas they could improve.

Recurring themes and issues included:

  • Limited visual customization and personalization
  • Unusual toolbar placement
  • Very limited formatting options and basic text editing
  • Different locations for text editing
  • Dated, bland, or ugly user interface
  • Overly complex editor
  • Poor performance that slows the browser

Overall, we found that each email builder does text editing a bit differently. And they could all benefit from using a more advanced WYSIWYG editor like TinyMCE that offers more options for a more consistent UX, including tables, images, characters, fonts, styles, capitalization, and more. This would help make the content creation and editing process faster, more accurate, and more user-friendly. 

Improve your email builder UX with a WYSIWYG editor

Screenshot of TOPTOL.io email builder

At the end of the day, if your product doesn’t live up to expectations or provides a frustrating experience to users, they’ll look for alternatives. Improving your UX could help retain users for longer, increase the value of your product, and stay competitive.

TinyMCE’s WYSIWYG editor is perfect for improving your email builder UX for content creators and marketers. It’s already providing better content creation experiences to millions of content creators around the world, across thousands of apps, including email tools like Knak, TOPOL.io, and Postcards.

Try TinyMCE

Start with a 14-day free trial of our Cloud Professional plan - including advanced features like PowerPaste, Spell Checker Pro, and Link Checker. Or see if one of our other plans works for your situation.

We’ve also recently put together some more information and top tips on how to get started with TinyMCE in your email marketing software.

Contact us to find out more about how TinyMCE can enhance your product and email marketing user experience. And for more tips on UX, product development, and design, make sure you follow us on Twitter at @joinTiny and subscribe to get Tiny’s weekly blog updates.

Email MarketingInline Editing
Katie Haupt
byKatie Haupt

Marketing Automation Specialist at Tiny, making sure our customers are getting access to the right people and information to succeed with content creation in their products. Loves taking time out to walk her dog and go mountain biking.

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