MailChimp sends out over 10 billion emails a month created by everyone from huge corporations to individuals. MailChimp sends everything from personal musings to multi-million dollar product announcements to curated marketing newsletters.
Every one of those emails shares one thing in common – they all had some sort of template or design.
So here’s the (quite possibly) million dollar question: what’s the best MailChimp template for your campaign? Here’s what I’ve learned digging deep into MailChimp’s treasure trove of data on how to choose & use their email templates effectively.
Disclosure – this website receives customer referral fees from companies and products mentioned on this website. All data & opinions are based on ShivarWeb staff’s independent research and professional judgement.
Choosing The Best Email Template
Creating an effective email campaign is a lot more than choosing a fancy theme and using an awesome header image. Here are some things to consider:
Decide on the purpose of your campaign.
If it’s Readership, you’ll want to focus on good copy and a strong hook at the beginning. You’ll want a theme that will allow you to utilize Typography – size & font family – rather than being really image-heavy.
If it’s Purchasing/Conversion, you’ll need interesting visuals that have descriptive image summaries, plus clickable links.
If it’s Subscribing/Leads, you’ll need a template that lends to clear, prominent event details & a very clear call to action.
Responsive is jargon that means that your template automatically adjusts font, layout & elements depending on the device.
If you’re creating your own, use media inquiries, or make your campaign mobile-friendly with a fixed width of 320px, larger fonts that can be read on a small screen, and finger size buttons that are tappable. According to MarketingLand, more than 41% of emails are opened on phones. Your email template has to factor that in.
Single vs Multi-Column
If you’re campaign is focused on one topic or you’re pushing a call to action, you want a Single Column template. It’s a much more pleasurable experience.
If you’ve got variety in your content or a product-based campaign, Multi-Column is your best bet. It also allows you to put any non-crucial content in the sidebars.
The One Principle
MailChimp recommends that your email campaign should be easy to read with one eyeball at one arm’s length away, and scrollable/tappable with one thumb. That means using a minimum of 16 font size, avoiding link clusters, & building your call to action button at 46 px squared.
Clear Headings & Call to Action
What do you want your reader to do? Make this as obvious as possible. If you think it’s big enough, make it bigger. When you squint at your computer, can you tell what’s important? If you can’t, make the adjustments accordingly.
Fancy designs look nice when you’re creating the template, but remember you’re emailing across various platforms with various security settings/preferences. The simpler your campaign is, the more accessible and shareable it is!
Test Your Campaign
Read this guide for email testing ideas & tips. Use tools like MailChimp’s Inbox Previewer or Litmus to preview how emails will render in different inboxes.
Free MailChimp Email Templates
MailChimp has a huge range for free, customizable email templates. Here’s where to look for the best ones.
If you already have your own brand and time to customize it – I would stick with any of the “Basic” Themes. They allow the most versatility.
If you want a fairly basic template with a ton of control – Search for Simple Newsletter or PostCard.
If you envision a fancier design – I love the look of Golden Fields or Modernist, but honestly anything that suits your taste in the Themes section will work pretty well.
If you’re promoting an event – Search for Event. My 2 favorites are designed by Jon Hicks and Matthew Smith.
If you’ve got a date-specific campaign that isn’t an event per se – I would recommend you go for a template in the Birthday or Reminders Category. Beauty Reminder and Birthday Gift 2 are both great starts.
If you’re selling products – Choose a template like Something Old 1A or Monochromatic. You can also find some other great ideas under the eCommerce category.
If you’re targeting a mobile audience – Choose anything under the Basic Tab. It’s easier to start with any old “drag and drop” template than try to configure a more detailed design.
If you’re sending out a flyer- I love the PostCard template. Stick with anything simple.
If you’re aiming for simple text your logo & some links – Stationery 3 is a great start.
Premium MailChimp Email Templates
You don’t have to limit yourself to MailChimp’s selection though – they can often be a bit bare bones and fiddly to edit. There are plenty of designers and companies that offer email template that work on MailChimp.
They either have a customizable template – or include features like a drag and drop editor. To use them, you’ll usually take their code and upload it to MailChimp’s “Code Your Own” option on the template screen.
Here’s my favorites from various premium marketplaces.
Market has a very clean look. It’s responsive & optimized for MailChimp. It also has 24 different color variations and 8 prebuilt layouts.
ProductMail is for the minimalist – but you can get really creative with this template. It boasts unlimited templates and color schemes. And it’s responsive/mobile-friendly.
Campaigner is another great option. It’s responsive & ready for MailChimp. It’s incredibly versatile & will allow you to create a solid business campaign.
Metro has a unique, fun feel to it & the bold design will definitely catch attention. It’s responsive and has well-documented code. It comes with pre-packaged layouts that are easy to customize, plus it has 33 different elements you can utilize in your design.
Other MailChimp Template Resources
If you want to build or customize your template from scratch – check out MailChimp’s Template Language.
MailChimp is an incredibly useful tool to network, increase sales or awareness, and really any marketing tactic you could think up. I’ve used them for personal and business-related projects for years, and the best part is – you can create an account for free here.