MailChimp Featured Image Not Working in RSS Newsletter

MailChimp Featured Image Not Working in RSS Newsletter: There is a featured image problem with MailChimp RSS Newsletter.  In short, their RSS Image Merge tag *|RSSITEM:IMAGE|* does not pull in the required featured image from the blog posts.

mailchimp-show featured image

How to Make the MailChimp Featured Image appear

When you are customising an RSS block for your newsletter in MailChimp, the *|RSSITEM:IMAGE|* should pull in the blog’s featured image.  But MailChimp does nothing.

mailchimp rss merge tags

What we want should look something like this:

mailchimp featured image - missing

So what can we do?

I have searched quite a bit for solutions. It seems to be quite a prevalent problem. I put aside those solutions that involved adding code, changing the functions.php file etc.  Go for the easiest working solution I say!

I found my solution.


Solution: How to Make MailChimp Featured Image appear in RSS Newsletter/Email

My Solution: Send Images to RSS plugin.

FYI: My specs – I have a self-hosted WordPress, built on the Genesis framework.  And utilising a child theme (Swank).

plugin-send images to rss

Plugin: Send Images to RSS

Find and install the plugin.  Activate it.


Set WordPress Reading Settings for Feed to Summary

This, I think is optional. But I am going to set the WordPress feed output to summary only anyway.

wordpress-set feed to summary

WordPress – Set feed to summary

WP dashboard >> Settings >> Reading >> For each article in a feed, show = Summary

Note: your new plugin, Send Images to RSS, is clever enough to be able to detect whether you choose to show your feed in  full or summary only.  As you will see when you go to the plugin’s setting.

Plugin: Send Images to RSS Settings

I leave the tweaking of the settings up to you.  But here is a snapshot of mine.  I only changed the size of the featured image.

plugin send images to rss settings


Check at MailChimp

Now we go back to our MailChimp and check on one of our campaigns that is set up for RSS newsletter and which also uses the *|RSSITEM:IMAGE|* merge tag.

mailchimp rss merge tags

Tip: You may want to wait for a few minutes before checking your campaign RSS newsletter at MailChimp.  It does not seem to immediately pickup the featured images after the plugin activation. In fact, I waited for over an hour for the featured images to show up!

Here is what it looks like in the MailChimp preview:

sample-rss newsletter preview1

Preview of MailChimp RSS newsletter with Featured Images



A Note on Another Plugin: Features Images for RSS w/ Size and Position

In my earlier search for solutions to the MailChimp Feature Image for RSS email issue, I read How to Add the WordPress Featured Image to Your MailChimp RSS Emails. His solution was via the plugin: Featured Images in RSS w/ Size and Position.

I tried that. But it didn’t work. I now think that is because that plugin is (now?) not a free plugin. When you install and activate it, it will ask you to opt-in to their paid premium version.

plugin - featured images in rss

Plugin: Featured Images in RSS (opt in to the premium version)

You can skip this but then you won’t get the needed features, especially the support for Media and image tags!

plugin - featured images in rss premium

The cost of the premium version (as at April 2017) is:

plugin - featured images in rss cost

Cost of Featured Images in RSS plugin


Conclusion: so for me, the free pluginSend Images to RSS is definitely preferable. And it works!








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  1. I was getting so frustrated by this! I also tried the Featured Images in RSS w/ Size and Position Plugin first and nothing was working! SO glad you wrote this post and mentioned that you need to wait a bit before it works.. Thanks!

  2. One problem we’re still having is that if one of your posts doesn’t have a featured image, but a larger image embedded into the post, it will blow out the layout in your newsletter, as it will get pulled in full size as part of the summary/excerpt. Any workarounds for that?

    • Deby Coles says:

      Yes that’s my problem too. I can’t control the size of the image in the email and it’s far too big! I’m on too so I can’t even try a plugin.

  3. Thanks for that. Will try tomorrow morning first thing 🙂

    One questions, though: do you know how to do the same thing with YouTube? I just canNOT get an image to appear when I send out my YouTube RSS email.

    I have asked the mailchimp guys and have been told that I need to display an image inside the tag.
    However at the moment the xml code for the feed shows that the media:content tag has a url and not an image file.
    My videos have a thumbnail and apart from that I wouldn’t know what else to change.

    Not sure I am making sense, but hopefully you will know what I am talking about.

    Thanks 😉

  4. Hi, I tried all your steps including installing the additional plug-in. But the image doesn’t show up. I am using Word Press ( on GoDaddy using Divi theme. Any ideas? Thanks.

  5. Great article! It was right on time, I was about to get frustrated!

  6. Thank you for this tutorial; It helped me a lot to setup this feature…

  7. I spent the better part of the day trying to get the feature image in my campaign email. When I added code to the theme function php, I lost my c-panel dashboard and could not get back to it. My website shut down. Had to go into GoDaddy panel and restore with backup. I tried plugins to no avail. Finally I rewrote my question in Google and got the answer I was looking for in your article.

    “You have to wait about an hour for MailChimp to respond to plugin”. Since it had already been six hours since I had installed the “send images to rss” plugin, I logged into MailChimp and there was my image. Yeah!!!

    Thank you a million times!!!

    • Helena Asmus Lim says:

      Hi there Jonathan! Hey that really makes me happy! Thanks for letting me know. It is so wonderful to know that the solutions one finds and writes about can help out another. Thanks for putting a smile on my dial!

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