MailChimp Template Layout for Newsletter

MailChimp Template Layout for Newsletter – How to use template to create and design your newsletter.

We will be walking through an example by using one of MailChimp’s template to design and create a layout for a newsletter.  Specifically, designing a layout for an automated RSS newsletter.  That notwithstanding, just working through this example will quickly help you familiarise with the basics of working with MailChimp templates.

mailchimp tut - design newsletter

MailChimp – How to Use Template to Create & Design Newsletter

Note: this article follows directly from MailChimp Tutorial #2 – Create a Campaign.  I recommend reviewing that article for a sense of continuity.

MailChimp Template Layout

Note: I am going to just do one template layout example in detail.  You can just work along and get used to some of the features.  Note that you can always delete any campaign (newsletter).  So don’t worry. Nothing is etched in stone.

Choose a layout/template for your newsletter.

FYI: Just log into your account >> Campaigns >> select a campaign.

And if you don’t have a campaign, you can select “create campaign” to start a new one.

For our illustration, I am choosing a Basic 1-column layout for our RSS newsletter.

Just click your chosen template and it will take you to the design area.


mailchimp template layout

MailChimp: example of choosing template layout


Here is a side-by-side peek at what the default design layout looks like vs. our example of a modified layout (for an automated RSS newsletter).

Basic Functionalities

First let us take a quick look at the basic functionalities available in the design layout.

  1. on the LHS (left hand side), as you hover over each block of contents, you will see that it will display a surrounding box whereby you can choose to edit or delete that particular block.
  2. on the RHS (right hand side), there are a range of different types of contents you can drag into your design
mailchimp template functionalities

MailChimp basic design functionalities

Now, let us walk through (top to bottom) how to modify a default template layout to create our Modified version.  Remember we are creating a newsletter layout for RSS feed.

Modifying Template to create RSS Newsletter

There is some default text in the top content block.  We want to delete the text on the LHS (left hand side).  Just hover your mouse over the block and click on the Edit icon when the utility box appears.

mailchimp template modifying

MailChimp: modifying template

When you click on the edit box, the right side of your screen will change.  It will look something like as below.

mailchimp template edit content block

MailChimp – edit content block

Just delete or edit the default. Then save and close.

Next, do the same with the next content block down: the default image.  You can upload your own image. When done, click “save and close” button.

Remember that this is for an RSS Newsletter.  (You should already have set up your RSS feed as per steps in MailChimp #2 – Create a Campaign/Newsletter.)  So we want some way to get the RSS content block into the newsletter.

We first get rid of the large default text.  Just hover over block >> click “delete” icon.

mailchimp template delete content block

MailChimp – delete content block

When you have deleted that content block, you will see a space where you can drop in content blocks of your choice.

mailchimp template drop blocks

As noted above, on the right of your screen, there is a grid of content blocks that you can use.  Here, we want the RSS Header & RSS Items.

mailchimp template content blocks

MailChimp – RSS content blocks

Drag the RSS Header onto your layout, followed by the RSS Items below that.

Note that you have more options with these content blocks that you can play around with. For example, with the RSS Items block, I chose the “Custom” style from the drop down selection list. The “Custom” style is the only one that will allow you to modify the code and hence the contents of that RSS block.

mailchimp template block styles

MailChimp – choosing different options from drop-down box

At this stage, we end up with the Modified layout look I showed you earlier.

mailchimp template layout modified

Modified layout


My Further Modifications

In the above, you can see that the full content RSS merge tag: *|RSSITEM:CONTENT_FULL|*

This will pull the entire blog into your newsletter.  Not what I want.  I only want an excerpt or summary of the blog to be put into our campaign newsletter.  So change that merge tag to *|RSSITEM:CONTENT|*

Next, I want the blog’s featured image to show in the summary. So use the tag *|RSSITEM:IMAGE|* and insert that above the content tag.

(Reference: all of MailChimp’s RSS Merge Tags)

So after my modifications, the merge tags should look like this:


And the preview should look like this:


However this is not necessarily the case.  Right now, MailChimp seems to have a problem with their *|RSSITEM:IMAGE|* image tag:  it does not pull in any featured image.

To solve this problem, find the solution for MailChimp Featured Image Not Working in RSS Newsletter.

Social Follow Connections

This is important!  It may not be very obvious that anything needs changing here.  But it does.

You will see by default that MailChimp has included the social media follow icons in a content block for you.  Hover over that block and click the edit icon.

mailchimp template social follow icons

On the right hand panel, you will see the following panel. Fill in the fields with your correct URLs.  Save & Close.

mailchimp template social follow details

Preview Newsletter Layout

You can always check how your newsletter design is looking, at any point in your design.

Preview and  Test >> Enter preview mode
mailchimp template preview

MailChimp: Test & Preview


Send a Test Email

You can see from the image above that you can also send a test email.  You just specify the email address you want the test newsletter to be sent to.  From there, when you pick up that email, you can check how your newsletter looks.

Save as Template

If this layout is one that you will re-use for other campaigns /newsletters, you can chose to “Save as Template” (top right) and give it a descriptive name so you can recognise the template later.

Save and Exit

Just click “Save and Exit” (top right) and select where you want to go after your design has been saved.  This gives you the option to save all your work at any time and continue later.

But if you wish to continue, click “Next” (bottom right).  The next page will show you that either your newsletter is ready to send (i.e. that you can start your campaign and send out newsletters to your subscribers) or, if there are any errors in your newsletter, you will receive handy notifications here.

That’s pretty much it.  We have now covered the basics of creating and design a layout newsletter for your campaign.  And at this stage, you should be feeling pretty pleased and a bit more familiar with MailChimp’s templates and newsletter layout.

Happy Chimping!



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