This post has been updated to reflect new information. 

Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s Content Builder tool allows users to use a new drag-and-drop interface to create emails. While Content Builder is a powerful, new tool that is expected to only get better in future releases, there are some significant differences between the new feature and the previous way of building emails, now called “Classic Content.”

Users can switch between the two tools, and emails built in Classic Content can be migrated to Content Builder, if desired.

Read part 1 of our Content Builder series: Six ways to tell if Content Builder is right for you.

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Last week, we covered some questions to consider when deciding whether to move from Classic Content to Content Builder. This blog post will feature key differences between Content Builder and Classic Content, and check next week for a review of our favorite updates to the Content Builder WYSIWIG.

Location of Assets

In Classic Content, images and media are imported into Portfolio; templates are created within My Templates; content areas can be saved in My Contents; and emails, of course, can be saved under My Emails.

Content Builder offers more flexibility when saving assets, allowing campaign assets to be saved in one folder.

Content Builder offers more flexibility when saving assets. For example, all assets — images, content areas, templates, and emails —  for a single campaign can be saved within the same folder under Content Builder. Content Builder was created with cross-channel communication in mind, so users can create their own folder structure from the beginning.

Search and Filter Functions 

Remember those times you import an image, but you can’t find the folder? If you know even part of the name of the file, you can use Content Builder’s search function. The search function allows you to search All Content or a specific folder. This is an incredibly helpful feature when it comes to finding content within the platform.

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Since Content Builder allows a flexible folder structure, the filter function can allow a user to find a specific type of content: source files, content blocks, templates, or emails. The filter feature even allows users to drill down into these sections further to find specific types of content, such as a saved free form content area.

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Another major difference is hosted URLs for images imported into Content Builder. In Content Builder, content is now “stored and published by a third-party content delivery network.” After content is published, a public URL is created for the content. The hosted URL now has an alpha-numeric file name after the base portfolio, rather than the name of the imported file.

Therefore, if multiple images have the same file name — header.jpg, for example — each can be imported and assigned unique hosted URLs. In Classic Content, imported files with the same name would have caused the image to be overwritten.

If an image in Content Builder needs to be overwritten or replaced, there is now a “replace” function where a new image can be imported and hosted at the given image URL.

Out-of-the-box templates and content blocks

Content Builder comes with 20 basic templates and six empty templates. There’s also a library of content blocks and layouts that can be used within emails. Therefore, the out-of-the-box template and layout options in Content Builder far outweigh the number of options users had within Classic Content.

Content Builder features 20 basic templates, six empty templates, and a library of content blocks and layouts.

However, as a head’s up, we have discovered that the code isn’t always optimized for rendering on both desktop and mobile. For example, we’ve seen that content sometimes stacks in Outlook because the additional conditional statements aren’t part of the out-of-the-box code. However, we’ve seen some of these rendering issues get fixed after SFMC releases. So, that behind-the-scenes code seems to be morphing, but these are some things to keep in mind when using the out-of-the-box options.

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One of the coolest new out-of-the-box content blocks in Content Builder is the button block. Within the button content block, users can select the HTML text font, size, and color. Additionally, users can set the background color and border color of the button, as well as the corner radius. However, not all email clients support border radius, so the buttons show with hard corners in some clients like Outlook.

The caveat with the button block, along with the other out-of-the-box content blocks, is that if you need a more customizable version (for example, a button that uses a font not listed in the default 12 fonts), you would likely have to create a free-form content area and update using the WYSIWIG instead.

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Paste HTML Templates

In Classic Content, the go-to code to inform SFMC that a template should have an editable content area looked like this:


<td align=”left” valign=”top”>

<custom type=”content” name=”contentarea_1″>



In Content Builder, those <custom> tags are actually converted into <div> tags. The section for an editable content area within a Content Builder template now looks like this:


<td align=”left” valign=”top”>

<div data-type=”slot” data-key=”contentarea_1″ data-allowed-blocks=”” data-max-blocks=”” data-label=””></div>



In our testing, the <div> tags are only needed for the drag-and-drop interface to function. In looking at the source code post-send, the <div> tags are not included. A few other important things to note include that the editable content areas don’t have visible names within the interface anymore. Additionally, multiple content blocks can be within a given editable content section. Therefore, you could conceivably have a template with a single editable content area and put multiple content blocks inside of it.

Drag-and-drop content areas

Content Builder’s drag-and-drop interface also means users can drag and drop content areas within an actual email build if they need to be rearranged. In Classic Content, if a content area needed to be added between two pre-existing content areas, users had two options: Manually copy and paste the HTML into a content area below and repeat until there’s a free content area for your new section, or use the “rearrange” function when changing or applying template changes within the build.

Content Builder’s interface includes the welcome change of allowing users to rearrange content with an email much more easily. Entire content blocks can be rearranged simply by dragging and dropping into the desired area of the email.


As far as we know, most AMPscript functions that worked within Classic Content also work within Content Builder. However, we’ve discovered that the ContentAreaByName, isn’t compatible. As of the June 2017 release, a function called ContentBlockByName was added and it works similarly to ContentAreaByName. The following functions should be used within Content Builder instead:

ContentBlockByName ()

The “ByKey” functions would use the Content Area’s external key and the ByID functions would use the Data Asset ID. The Customer Key is modifiable, but the Data Asset ID is not.

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Testing Functionality

Testing emails out of Content Builder is much simpler than within Classic Content.

Testing emails out of Content Builder is much simpler than within Classic Content. In Classic Content, there are options including test send, simple send, send preview, and even testing via guided send. Content Builder’s testing functionality has been rolled into a feature called preview and test. Similar to test send, you can enter up to five email addresses per test send. Users have the ability to select sender profiles and delivery profiles for each test send, as well as add testing prefixes, as needed.

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For a complete list of differences between Classic Content and Content Builder, refer to the Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s FAQ, considerations list, and upcoming feature additions and considerations deep dive.

As mentioned earlier, check back next week to learn more about our favorite updates to the Content Builder WYSIWIG.

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  • Giovanni M

    Giovanni M

    4 years
    It's easier for people who don't know anything about HTML Email Development, this is the saddest upgrade for salesforce ever. I hope my clients realize how salesforce is loosing it's value against other marketing automation platforms and leave it die as deserves. Of course is great for marketers they just give orders and don't have a clue about how a free way of codding speed up process and improove deliverability. Having flexibility on coding in a world where there are no standards is a must.
  • KH


    4 years
    Hello, If I rename items in content builder or classic content will that break any links when changing environments? Thanks K
  • Carlito


    3 years
    We are migrating to CB. This article answered all my major concerns before the transition. I agree with Giovanni - everyone is marketing this change that it helps build emails without knowing HTML. I am just wondering where is the fine line between knowing HTML/knowing Photoshop/content strategy/information architecture/responsive design/usability...etc. and being able to get a digital or email marketing job done...well. Thanks for the wrap up article.