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Quick Look: HubSpot's New Drag-and-Drop Email Builder

HubSpot recently launched a new email builder that can greatly reduce the effort it takes to have a nicely-designed custom email that looks good in all inboxes. The feature is currently in beta and is only available to users for the Marketing Hub Starter package. We've got access and kicked the tires a bit. Let's dive in and see what it's all about.

First Impressions

According to HubSpot:

The drag and drop email editor provides an intuitive interface to create and scale your email marketing efforts for your business. Each email created in the editor will render a clean and responsive design on any email client and device type.

In our experience, that seems to be the case. Getting up and running is super simple. When you create a new email from inside the Email Dashboard, you'll be given the option of using the new drag-and-drop editor or the classic editor. Choose 'Drag and Drop' and bask in the power of having almost complete control over your email without ever touching code. Seriously though, in the bit I've gotten to play around with it, the tool is phenomenal. It actually resembles a tool I love and use as the base for the custom emails I build called TOPOL.io. But, since it's integrated, there's no need to muck around with the source to use within HubSpot.

Module panel showing multiple modules that can be used in an email


Right off the bat, there are all of the essential modules you'll need. And, developers have the ability (using the new Design Tools) to create new modules specifically for use in these templates. So, if you really need something like a product listing module, you can just make one and it will have all the power the new Custom Modules have. That's not to say the built-in ones aren't powerful; pretty much all of the default modules have some knobs to turn and sliders to slide. The text module is a full WYSIWYG editor and the button module seamlessly integrates with your CTAs as well as providing a wealth of customization.


The design settings panel for the new Drag and Drop Email tools


Customization seems to be the theme throughout. Switching over to the Design tab provides a myriad of options to fine-tune the overall look of the email. You've got global fonts (including a few webfonts), text sizes, colors, links, backgrounds, and default settings for buttons.

All of this would be for nothing if the email didn't render well. To test this we created an email with a pretty complicated layout and ran it through HubSpot's Litmus powered email testing tool targeting some of the biggest problem mailboxes (like Outlook). We were pleasantly surprised by how good the email looked in all of them. Even using this tool, it would still be worthwhile to test all your emails before they go out anyways.


A Few Caveats

First and foremost, this feature is only available to users of Marketing Hub Starter. I can only speculate as to why they would limit it like this, but I think it's likely this tool will eventually roll out to the higher tiers as well. Second, it is still in beta, so while we didn't come across any bugs, your mileage may vary.

Further, if you're hoping to run an A/B test with a drag-and-drop email, you're out of luck as the A/B testing is not currently supported. Again, just speculation, but I imagine this is just due to it being in beta and by the time the tool is ready for prime time A/B testing should be available.

Also, there's currently no way for a developer to make a starter template; you're limited to the 5 included ones and nothing more. You could easily work around this by drafting a new email exactly how you want it, then cloning that email every time you want to send a new one–effectively using the draft as a template. Lastly, it's not going to replace a coded template for sheer power/customization when building complex emails.

Final Thoughts

We're pretty hyped for this around here--marketers and developers alike. We can't wait until this is available for more of our clients so we can really dig in and streamline our email process. If you'd like some more information on the tool you can check HubSpot's Knowledgebase on it. If you're a user of Marketing Hub Started and have had a chance to use the Drag and Drop Emails, let us know what you think in the comments below.

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Steven Kielbasa

Steven Kielbasa

Visual communicator, dad, gamer, fixed-gear cyclist, re-poster, random commenter, Art Institute grad, and all around nerd.