1. Web Design
  2. Email
  3. Email Templates

Getting Started With MailChimp's Email Designer

Scroll to top
Read Time: 5 min

MailChimp is an email marketing tool that helps you design email newsletters, distribute them through managed lists, share them on social networks, integrate them with third-party services, and track email performance.

Say hello to Freddie

Assuming you are familiar with the basic steps to create and set up a campaign on MailChimp, this tutorial will show you the steps for using the MailChimp Email Designer tool specifically in order to help you build clean and mobile-friendly newsletters. 

If you need more info on the basic steps, take a look at Mailchimp's How can I create a campaign using the Campaign Builder? for further instructions.

Get Started

Either from your Dashboard or Campaigns tab, click the Create Campaign drop-down menu in the upper-right hand corner of your screen and select Regular Ol' Campaign.

Building a campaign consists of five steps, but to move on with this tutorial we are going to skip the first two (Recipients and Setup) focusing solely on the Design step.

Click Start Designing to build a custom email layout with the Email Designer.

Use the Email Designer

Step 1: Template/Layout Tab

As this is the first time you are creating a campaign with the Email Designer, the only option available to you will be Basic Templates. But for future campaigns, your saved templates will be accessible from My Campaigns, and you will be able to reuse them in order to save some time.

You will be presented with a list of template layouts:

  • 1 Column
  • 1 Column - Banded
  • 1:2 Column
  • 1:2 Column - Banded
  • 1:3 Column
  • 1:3 Column - Banded
  • 2 Column
  • 2 Column - Banded
  • 2:1 Column 
  • 2:1 Column - Banded
  • Left Sidebar 
  • Right Sidebar 

As an example, we've chosen 1:3 Column - Banded in which the top part has a single column and bottom part is divided into three columns. 

Banded means that the template has a "band" of color which stretches across the page from left to right at the footer level. The Smartphone icon indicates that this template is mobile-optimized, which is actually true of every template available via the Email Designer.

Before you select a template, you can examine a quick preview by clicking on the Preview button. This will show you both desktop and mobile versions in portrait and landscape mode (from Rotate option).

Once you have found the layout you wish to use, click on Select.

Step 2: Content Tab

The content editor allows you to rearrange, edit, duplicate, and delete content blocks on the run.

You can combine different content blocks to create a unique look for your email:

  • Text
  • Boxed Text
  • Divider
  • Image
  • Image Group
  • Image Card
  • Bottom Caption
  • Left Caption
  • Right Caption
  • Social Share
  • Social Follow
  • Button
  • Footer

Start by dragging and dropping content blocks from the right hand side of your screen into your email layout on the left. After a content block is inserted, you can still drag it up, down or sideways. To do so, just hover your mouse over the content block and click the Arrows icon in the upper left corner.

Once you are done moving content blocks around, hover your mouse over the content block that you wish to edit and click on the Pencil icon. An editor will appear on the right hand-side of your screen. 

The Content tab allows you to enter texts, create hypertext links, upload images, etc. 

Most of the content blocks have Style and Settings tabs that provide additional options for content styling, spacing, and alignment. 

Heads up: If you are copying and pasting texts from an external source like a web page or word processing software, there may be some hidden embedded conflicting styles in your content. To get rid of those, highlight your content and click on the Eraser icon in the editor toolbar.

Did you know that MailChimp allows you to personalize your content with Merge tags? Merge tags allow you to populate your email with all kinds of dynamic data relating to you, the campaign, the recipient and so on. For instance, you can paste the following code into the content editor: "Dear *|FNAME|* *|LNAME|*". This way, when your campaign is sent out, MailChimp will automatically replace the Merge tags with each recipient's first and last name. E.g. "Dear John Doe".

Note: Your subscriber's first and last names should be populated in your email list. 

To learn more about Merge Tags, of which there are many, check out All The Merge Tags in the MailChimp docs.

Step 4: Design Tab

Now that your content is finally in place, save and navigate to the Design tab on the right-hand side of your screen. This is where you style the email with border and background colors, text and link styles, and other details. 

You will be presented with a list of template sections. Click on one of them to control its appearance:

  • Page
  • Preheader
  • Header
  • Body
  • Columns 
  • Footer
  • Mobile Styles
  • Monkey Rewards

Step 4: Comments Tab (Optional)

Here you can post comments viewable by the team working with you on this campaign. They can reply, subscribe to notifications and mark comments as read.

Test Your Email

The preview mode is great to get a quick overview of your email. Simply click on Preview & Test in the upper-right corner of your screen and select Enter Preview Mode

However, the best way to make sure your email looks great on every major email client is to send test emails to your test email accounts (Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, etc.) by clicking on Send a Test Email, and viewing them from your computer and smartphone. 

Alternatively, you can run an inbox inspection by clicking on Run Inbox Inspection. To learn more about the Inbox Inspector, take a look at the documentation.


That's all you need to know in order to get going. Now it's your turn to use the Email Designer to create a beautiful newsletter. Have fun! 

If you have any questions on anything mentioned in this tutorial, please feel free to ask.

Did you find this post useful?
Want a weekly email summary?
Subscribe below and we’ll send you a weekly email summary of all new Web Design tutorials. Never miss out on learning about the next big thing.
Looking for something to help kick start your next project?
Envato Market has a range of items for sale to help get you started.