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Why LePatron and how to improve your HTML email production

Industrializing the various stages of email creation with a solution like LePatron is a vast subject. As a follow-up to the Live on the backstage of PatronHere is the long version of the interview with the questions that could not be answered. All without the very unpleasant crackling of the microphone during the Live (sorry).

All about the application dedicated to the creation of emails: LePatron

How would you define LePatron?

It is a HTML email creation tool without having to write code.

An online wysiwyg editor, or a SaaS nocode app, that allows you to create an HTML email without writing a single line of code.

What is its vocation? Its positioning?

As for its vocation, it is part of a chain of production during the conception (design and integration) of emails.

  • Either, individually, we have cross-cutting skills in design and integration and we make handcrafting everything by hand. In total autonomy with on one side Photoshop (for example) and on the other side its code editor to create its HTML emails.
  • Either, as a team, we segment our production by specialization This is the beginning of industrialization with all that this entails: process, validation, objectives and deadlines that may differ.
  • Either, we resort to subcontracting with a agency specialized in email creation or a free.

In any case, the question of production cost will come up at some point. Here it is a question of lightening and fluidifying the workload on the design and integration part of your HTML emails.

Now for its positioning, it distinguishes itself from other similar tools by a willingness to adapt and creation of customized templates made by our experts. Hence the name and reference to the Patron sewing machine.

With the LePatron email builder, Badsender offers a tool that adds an email builder's hat to your campaign managers. They can focus on their core business. Have a guarantee of consistency on the identity and quality of emails they will produce.

What are the big features for 2021 and the next ones for 2022?

In the 2021 roadmap there were not only features, but from this point of view without hesitation for me it is the connection with ESP. It is the point of friction in a process of industrialization of its email production.

After all, I am not a "standard" user and my view is biased. I have a weakness for what has been done on the administration part, user rights management, batch processing...

But clearly we have great feedback on the custom color swatches which are another step towards a coherent design system. Or the test lists that allow you to send proofs to groups of people.

This is quality control and it's a lever that we really want to focus on in 2022. Having a pre validation of the design before an HTML export to make sure that nothing has been forgotten (background image, non-valued link, lorem ipsum...)

How do you choose these features? How do you prioritize?

Money money money... Of course a little, because we have a lot of ideas at Badsender, but we are not a unicorn and I don't think we want to be one.

So that's the business part or the commercial opportunity.

Then there is the strategic positioningand as we have seen LePatron is custom made. Templates designed by hand for guarantee a design system email adapted to your identity. There are others, the opensource in particular.

Finally, the spontaneous or solicited user feedback. At the beginning of this year we take the time to review with our users. There are of course topics on the templates themselves because they can of course evolve.

For my part, I focus on the feedback on the app and it's nice to see an alignment between the business, the strategic vision and the users' expectations. And above all, it allows you to avoid spreading yourself too thinly on unnecessary subjects.

Of course, there will be surprises. New opportunities, so as not to be locked into a limited vision of the market.

If a customer asks you for a specific feature that is not part of Patron, you say no?

No.

We exchange and I try to understand the need as well as possible. See if it's that specific or if it could be applied to a larger number of uses and users.

If it is really very specific and essential for the collaboration, then it is not part of the main roadmap. We validate a development budget that will be carried by the client and we do it yes. Once again, it's all about adaptation and customization. The fact that we made the project open source is a step in that direction.

What types of emails can be industrialized?

Email is not my area of specialization, but I don't see a limit. When it comes to generating HTML output then it corresponds to.

Email marketing or transactional (newsletter, acquisition, promotion, loyalty), but also all triggers based on automation scenarios (welcome, cart abandonment...)

Okay. I would say that what takes the most time is what is dependent on a seasonal event. Designs that necessarily require time spent on visual creation (Christmas, Halloween...).

Et creativity, fun? The desire to be advised by a designer? Don't we risk being too restricted by industrializing everything?

What's the big deal? I'm not sure I understand.

I could have started with that but I have to specify, I come from design. Since when are constraints a hindrance to creativity? I think it's even the opposite. Knowing how to respond to a problem by providing a solution that takes into consideration the framework and constraints is indeed creativity..

We have designers who use LePatron to produce emails directly. They manage to hijack some of the functionality and it's just great to watch.

What do you think is the best organization, the best process to create emails today?

It all depends on the context and the scale at which you are situated.

If we talk about my needs, they are limited. On the other hand, writing HTML for email is not my passion. Opening photoshop to project myself on a model and validate contents, we will both waste time.

So, if you propose to me to take my graphic chart and my needs by email typology. To get out of it a design system email which will then be integrated into a master template which will cover all cases of use. And if you give me back this master template available in an editor with block options and settings well bounded (otherwise there's no point in having a design system), so go ! I tell you banco and I focus on my content and therefore my production.

The only thing I will have to do is to create the assets (images). But now I have a photoshop or a figma under the elbow so it's good for me.

Why do you believe in Patron? Why industrialization at all costs?

Industrialization, the word can be scary. I would say rationalization of its production costs. OK it's still scary but it's reality and it's scary.

Are we talking about email marketing? Knowing you, it may shock you, but we do perishable. Disposable (Cuckoo ZeroCarbonEmail). And in quantity! It is important to have quality control and such a tool allows it. But it is also important not to burn your budget in a production that would have an exploding cost of over-quality.

In short, let's focus our efforts where they are worthwhile. Let's not mobilize a team of designers or integrators, or even dev front, to produce emails. They have better things to do and so do you!

Sometimes you want to start from a blank page with components and build your own email. That can't be done with LePatron, there are many limits.

Indeed. LePatron is custom-made. As said before we take your current production, depending on your identity, and we make a master template. The whole is usable in the form of blocks having a predefined rendering and guaranteeing your branding.

If you want to be able to lose consistency on your communication supports. Doing anything and everything with your graphic design. So no, this is not our state of mind. However, there are plenty of other solutions that allow this.

And then wanting to start from a blank page with components is already contradictory. Your components necessarily have a content structure that is anticipated and therefore constraining, thus a draft design system.

Why open source? Do you really think that some brands will bother to install LePatron in their IS? Why would it matter to them? And why is it important for us?

Open Source is above all about values. Transparency, you can go and see the code and the different outcomes, releases. But also the share. Already because part of the builder is based on an open source project. Why not make the additional bricks we have developed available to the community?

Why integrate this into your IS? For independence, security, self-hosting, interoperability with a really specific infra...

Do you have numbers? How long does it take our customers to create an email?

No, becausewe don't track anything on the builder. No analytics and behavioral data that would go into the valley at Evil corp.

And then we have very different users with very different templates. Some can produce an email in less than 10 minutes (really) and others will spend more time there.

What is sure is that it takes less time than making a brief for a design department, which will produce a proof for validation that will then go to integration. There we realize that the design can not be integrated pixel perfect, so back and forth for validation. Then proofreading of the proof, typos, we come back to integration... never ending story.

Like, is it really profitable? Even in the first year with the set up cost?

We have a different pricing from many of our competitors and from what is done in many SaaS applications. No limit of users and no limit of email creation per month. So you can easily imagine that if you have a lot of campaign managers, that you produce several tens of emails per month (or that you have an internationalized or multi-brand market) then the calculation is quite easy.

You know the trade and the price of Patron better than I do. Yes, the setup of the master template represents a significant cost at the beginning. But clearly I would take the subject in the other direction. Tell me how much you spend per month, I'll tell you how much you can save and after how long 😉

The latest release is about the graphic redesign, why was it important?

Because we work in a field where appearances are important.

Seriously, the cobblers all that... we talk about graphic charter, design system, consistency and we do not apply these principles to our app!

Many of our users call the builder "the Badsender tool". It was important for us to differentiate the agency part and the services it offers, of the application.

And then honestly. Even if we are on modern technical stacks (JS framework), the frontend was a bit dated and not up to the level of what such a solution can do.

And to say that it's only a graphical redesign would be a bit light. We really worked on the performance. We had requests that were not really optimized and therefore loading times that were exploding. I think that's what I'm most happy about personally.

Then there were some UI changes that necessarily affect the UX. I'm thinking of the directory management, as well as the search and filter tool in the email listings. And finally the addition of an entry point to support and the creation of a FAQ, it was about time, wasn't it?

Your questions and problems of industrialization and HTML email creation

Claire : Possibility to create email templates by type of use (transactional, triggers, marketing...)

Yes, as long as you need to have an HTML export. The only question, which is more organizational, is: do I produce a single master template to manage all types of emails? Or do I segment my production into several templates?

Martina: we use customization variables to display or not blocks depending on the customer segment, possible with LePatron?

Yes, the builder and templates are able to integrate the syntax specific to all routers of the market. Until proven otherwise, and we would adapt if we were to encounter a counter example.

As far as custom display scenarios are concerned. We already do it on loyalty or replenishment blocks. It can be transposed very well to other needs.

The complexity will come from accessing the data and documentation (test environment) of the router.

Seifer: As an HTML integrator, is it possible to import my own code into the tool? And to define the editable fields in LePatron?

No. Well, it depends.

If it is to change the structure of the blocks and thus the design system validated previously, then no. No because it is our guarantee of quality and support for rendering on different clients and webmails.

If it is to insert semantic content in an editing area then yes. There is a "source code" mode for all blocks. You will have more control over the content hierarchy.

Now the alternative would be to take the OpenSource project and fork it. Then everyone is free to create their own templates with their own code. What is really needed?

Jean-Serge: How do you integrate external modules (countdown type) or others in your blocks?

So there are two aspects to this question.

The dynamic content blocks such as countdowns, carousels, video... we are able to native processing, including asset hosting in the annual license.

Now for external content, it's a safe bet, so yes we do. It will necessarily be on a case-by-case basis and according to the need. It is quite possible tointegrate dynamic customization blocks from third party services (like movableInk or Reelevant).

Claire: In financial terms, what is the budget?

Yes, of course. Once again we adapt to the needs and specificities, so personalized quote.

There are two aspects to consider for the budget. In the first year, you have to bear the cost of creating the template master as well as the setup of the application. All tailored to your teams and organizational needs. Then, there is the annual renewable license.

To make it simple, the first year with the setup, if you produce 5 emails per week you win. The following years, there is only the license and therefore 5 emails per month is enough!

LePatron is made to measure

So if you haven't found the answers to your questions...

or if a point has not been addressed. Feel free to ask your questions directly in comments. We will try to update the article quickly.

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