Using Illustrator or InDesign for email marketing

CSS screen

Photo: Andy Melton (CC)

We asked people to send in their questions about digital marketing. This week, a technical question about preparing custom email templates …

Q: My company uses a CRM which is not really mainstream. It is designed for our industry, but it’s not Salesforce, so it’s not going to integrate with MailChimp, Constant Contact and the like.

It has a drag-and-drop email creator that is awful.

I can paste code into this system. So, I could hand-code an email, and I’ve found that I can run it through Zurb’s Foundation for Emails to inline the styling and get it in great shape for all the email clients. The problem is, I’m learning, I can’t code yet. We are a young company and can’t hire someone to take my Adobe Illustrator or InDesign file and code it.

My possible solution is to try to have it done through Unless I hear an alternate solution from you, that’s where I’m headed!

Thanks for any input!

Lallie Houston
TailWinds Technologies

A: I’ve typically modified the provided templates that come with email services. Coding isn’t my thing, but I’m happy to provide a few more options.

First, I think is a terrific idea. Clearly, many vendors there offer this service, so it’s up to you to vet them and find a capable pro.

Second, I found an open source solution, ai2html, a script that converts Illustrator files to HTML. Archie Tse, deputy graphics editor at The New York Times, created the script and the site that provides complete information on how to use it. Lots of journalists around the world have found it useful.

Sandi SolowThird, Atlanta consultant Sandi Solow of I Send Your Email advises: “A plug for EmailMonks, an overseas service that does all sorts of coding for email. Fiverr is an option, but I trust the monks.”

By the way, Sandi is available to help companies with email marketing. Contact her on her site at

Fourth, I found a Creative Cloud plugin, Export Kit, that converts Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop files to HTML, CSS and other formats. It has a 5-week free trial and may provide the most options to keep it all in house.

Let us know what solution works best.

If you have experience working with Illustrator and InDesign for preparing email templates, please add your suggestion in the comments.

And if you have a question on digital marketing, let us know so we can provide answers and experts.

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