Part 8 – Your Template

There’s just one more step before you can start seeing the impact of your prayer letters. You need to tell MailChimp what your emails should look like. That’s what your template does, and that’s what we’ll set up in this session.

If you’re just joining us, welcome! I do assume that you already have an account at MailChimp and that you already understand what an email manager can do for you as a missionary. If you don’t have an account, check out Part 2 of this series to set one up.

To set up your email template, log on to your MailChimp account.

Choose Templates from the main menu, and you’ll see the following page:

mailchimptemplates
Click “Create Template”

This is where your Templates live. You don’t have any templates yet, and you need to create one. Click the Create Template button at the top of the page.

MailChimp gives you a choice of many templates for your emails. If you’re like me, you could spend hours wading through all the choices, overwhelmed by the elaborate options. But there’s one thing about missionary prayer letter emails that MailChimp doesn’t seem to understand.

Many churches like to print missionary e-mails. MailChimp’s provided templates can look beautiful on computer and smartphone screens, but they don’t print well.

The narrow column of text that works so well on a mobile device wastes a lot of paper when printed. So, rather than browsing through MailChimp’s gallery of print-hostile templates, you can download a very simple template that Edify Hub has customized specifically for missionary letters. It prints well, but it also fits both computer and smartphone screens quite nicely. You can download that template below, and we’ll add it to your MailChimp account later in this article.

Download Email Template

Right-click Me and Save As

Right-click and save Edify Hub’s simple MailChimp template to your computer.

Import Email Template To MailChimp

OK – Back in MailChimp. It’s asking you to select a starting point for your template.

It offers three categories of options across the top:

  • Basic
  • Themes
  • Code your own

Surprisingly, we’ll actually choose the last tab.  Click Code your own.

Don’t worry – you’re not really going to have to code your own. That’s why you downloaded Edify Hub’s email template. We already coded it for you.

From the Code your own tab, click the Select button for Import HTML.

Import from the "Code your own" tab
Import from the “Code your own” tab

The import screen that MailChimp presents next is where you’ll tell MailChimp about Edify Hub’s simple template.

Name your template and import it
Name your template and import it

Give the template a name that you’ll remember. Click the Browse button, and find the Edify-Hub-Ministry-Email-Template-For-MailChimp.html file that you downloaded earlier, and click Upload to send the template file to MailChimp.

Next, you’ll see this.

Click "Edit Design"
Click “Edit Design”

“Now, wait a minute, Steve. What is this? I thought you said I wouldn’t have to edit code.”

No, you’re right. That’s what I said.

Click Edit Design at the bottom of the window to personalize it a bit.

Customize Your Template

MailChimp Template Design Editor
MailChimp Template Design Editor

The goal of this Edify Hub template is to get you up and running with MailChimp quickly, so there aren’t a lot of fancy graphics and layout decisions to make here. There are really only one or two things you may need to change. Let’s get those set up now.

If you’d like, you can experiment with styling the page, header, body, etc. using the controls at the top of the editor. There’s no need to do that now, though.

1. Configure Social Media Links

In the last article, we walked through setting up your Twitter and Facebook accounts so that the icons in your email template would work correctly. Your template also has a placeholder for a YouTube link and an Instagram link, but we aren’t able to pre-populate those. You’ll need to either teach the template about your YouTube and Instagram accounts, or you’ll need to remove those links.

To start configuring social media, move your mouse over the section with the social media icons until you see an Edit link:

Social Media Icons

Click on that area, and the editor will appear on the right-hand side of the design editor:

mailchimpsocialmediaeditableregion

You’ll see the following collection of icons in the editor:

  • Twitter Icon Twitter: If you have a Twitter account that you configured in our previous session, then you can leave this alone. If you do not have a Twitter account, then click on this icon and press the delete key to remove it from your template.
  •  Facebook: If you have a Facebook account that you configured in our previous session, then you can leave this alone. If you do not have a Facebook account, then click on this icon and press the delete key to remove it from your template.
  •  YouTube: If you have a YouTube channel that you want to share, then 1) Click this icon to select it, 2) Click the link (screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-3-16-00-pm) icon in the toolbar to open up the link editor, 3) Enter the web address of your YouTube channel, and 4) Click Insert.
    If you do not have a YouTube channel, then click on this icon and press the delete key to remove it from your template.
  •  Instagram: If you have an Instagram account that you want to share, then 1) Click this icon to select it, 2) Click the link (screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-3-16-00-pm) icon in the toolbar to open up the link editor, 3) Enter the web address of your Instagram account, and 4) Click Insert.
    If you do not have an Instagram account that you want to share, then click on this icon and press the delete key to remove it from your template.
  •  Website: If you have a website address that you configured when you set up your account, then you can leave this alone. If you have a website but you did not configure it when you set up your account, or if it has changed since you set up your account, then 1) Click this icon to select it, 2) Click the link (screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-3-16-00-pm) icon in the toolbar to open up the link editor, 3) Delete *|LIST:URL|* from the Web Address field and replace it with your current web address, and 4) Click Insert. If you do not have a website, then click on this icon and press the delete key to remove it from your template.
  •  Forward To Friend: This button needs no configuration. It simply allows your readers to forward this email to one of their friends in a way that lets you keep track of who actually opened your email. You can leave this icon alone.

When you’re done configuring your social media icons, click Save & Close at the bottom of the right-hand side of the editor.

2. Edit Your Letterhead

At the top of the template is a placeholder graphic that says insert your image here. Move your mouse over that image, and three buttons will appear in the top, right corner:

mailchimpreplaceimage
Click Replace to change your header image
  • Edit
  • Remove
  • Use Text

If you do not want any letterhead at all, click the Remove button to get rid of it. If you want a simple text letterhead with your newsletter name, click the Use Text button, and enter the name of your newsletter. If you have a letterhead image that you’d like to use, make sure you have your header image in PNG, JPG, or GIF format. Ideally, this image should be at least 600px wide, and roughly six times wider than it is tall. This image will shrink quite small when your email is viewed on a smartphone, so use large text for the main words in your letterhead.

To use your custom letterhead image, click the Edit button that appears when you move your mouse over the insert your image here placeholder. The Image settings panel will appear on the right-hand side of the editor. Click the Replace link.

Click Upload to upload your header image.
Click Upload to upload your header image.

When MailChimp asks for your image, click Upload, find your custom letterhead image, and upload it.

When you’re all done, click the Save & Close button at the bottom of the Image panel, then click Save and Exit > all the way in the bottom right of your browser.

Back in your Templates list, you’ll see this template updated to show your latest design.

MailChimp Template List
MailChimp Template List
Sometimes MailChimp doesn’t update the thumbnail image for your template right away. I’m not sure why that happens, but the template should still work anyway. If you really want to see it updated, click Edit again, then Save & Exit again without making any changes. Eventually, the thumbnail will show the right thumbnail.

Take Action

  1. Download the Edify Hub Simple Email Template
  2. Upload it to MailChimp
  3. Configure your Social Media icons
  4. Customize your letterhead

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