In our previous post, we covered the basics of preparing an email template for use in a Campaign Monitor campaign. But how about if you want to do more than simply changing the look and feel? In this post, we’ll discuss using content tags to embed some of Campaign Monitor’s automated features, such as unsubscribe links, links to a web-based version of your email, personalization of copy and more.

Lets get started…

Adding content tags to your email templates is a little bit trickier than visually tweaking an email template (as we did previously), but thankfully, not that tricky. That said, you won’t be able to see the results until your completed email has added to a campaign. In this example, we will be editing code and adding a variety of Campaign Monitor-specific content tags which should not look that unfamiliar if you have some experience with HTML.

We’re going to start where we left off, by re-visiting our earlier template for ABC Widgets:

{title}

In this example, we’re going to make the following changes to the template:

  • Personalize the email with the subscriber’s name
  • Add a web-version link to the top of the email
  • Add an unsubscribe link to the email
  • Add a ‘forward-to-a-friend’ link to your email
  • Add a link to a preference center

Personalizing an email with a subscriber’s name

Say we’d like to add a personal touch to our email campaigns – greeting our subscribers in the email copy by adding a first name. If your existing subscriber list already contains subscriber names, then we can add a greeting like, “Hi Jerry”. If a name doesn’t exist for your subscriber, then you can set a fallback greeting – “Hi customer”, “Hi widget fan” – or the like.

The good news is, that we can achieve this with one simple tag:

[firstname,fallback=widget fan]

Once this is inserted into our template’s HTML code, it will look something like this:

Hi [firstname,fallback=widget fan]! Welcome to this month's ABC Widgets newsletter...

When you send your campaign, it will look something like this:

{title}

Pretty nifty, eh? Find out more about personalizing your emails.

Once you get the hang of this, then adding other content tags is pretty self-explanatory, however, we’ll run through their applications, too.

Add a web-version link to the top of the email

How your email campaigns render in your subscribers’ email clients can be highly variable, especially if you consider the countless email clients and platforms that exist out there (eg. Hotmail, Outlook, Blackberry…). For this reason, it’s best-practice to provide a link to a web-hosted version of your email campaign, just in case it doesn’t display quite right.

Campaign Monitor automatically creates a web-version of your email campaign. You can link to it by simply adding the <webversion> content tag to your template. Here is an example:

Having trouble viewing this email? <webversion>View it in your browser.</webversion>.

Add an unsubscribe link to your email

Providing an instant one-click unsubscribe link is mandatory in all campaigns. It’s pretty easy to include as well. Using the <unsubscribe> tag, you can add an unsubscribe link in this manner:

<unsubscribe>Unsubscribe instantly from our newsletter</unsubscribe>.

Add a ‘forward-to-a-friend’ link to your email

Adding a forward-to-a-friend link is a great way to allow your subscribers to share your email, without hitting the ‘Forward’ button and potentially having it render in unpredictable (and often, broken) ways. The best part is, you can track who is forwarding your campaign and how many people they are forwarding to from your campaign reports. As you can now guess, this content tag is very much like the others – <forwardtoafriend>. You can even customize your ‘forward-to-a-friend’ page, too! Here’s the code:

<forwardtoafriend>Forward this email to a friend</forwardtoafriend>.

Add a link to your preference center

Earlier in our blog, we touched on the importance of having a preference center to better manage and target subscribers, as well as reduce unsubscribes. If you have already included custom fields in a subscriber list, providing a link in your email to your preference center is a great way to start collecting information on your subscribers’ interests, desired email frequency or even location. All you need to include is the <preferences> tag. Here’s an example:

Want to change your <preferences>subscription preferences</preferences>?

Putting it all together

Now we’ve added all these content tags, here’s what our email looks like after we’ve added it to a campaign:

{title}

Take a look at the web-version for this sample campaign. You will be able to see the forward-to-a-friend, preferences and unsubscribe pages in action. No comment on the geeky copy…

This is our second post in a series on getting started with Campaign Monitor’s templates. Next, we’ll look at creating templates for use in our WYSIWYG editor. Hang in there!

Looking to get your hands into more serious coding? This post covers the basics of using content tags in your email campaigns. For more detailed information, check out our glossary of content tags, or ask a question in the forums.

  • Stumpy

    Can’t get enough of them Gewgaws!

  • Ros Hodgekiss

    Faraday cages, for the win, Stumpy! ;)

  • tom

    Is there a post on here some where that covers how to creatie templates for use in your WYSIWYG editor?

    we’re hanging in there…. but just barely

  • Ros Hodgekiss

    Hi Tom, we have a quick guide to the template tags – for the rest, you will need a pretty solid knowledge of HTML. Happy to walk through any of the processes behind adding a template to your account (once it’s built) – do let us know if there’s anything else we can provide.

  • tom forsythe

    Hi,
    I am still struggling to create a Template that can be edited using your WSIWYG editor. I am not trying to create the template totally from scratch. I would like to start with one of your templates and just change the header, text font and color and maybe the background color of the page. I would like to be able to upload this slightly altered version of your template so that my wife who is a writer and is not able to use dreamweaver can add content (text and maybe photos) for our newsletter.

    I have been searching for a step by step tutorial on this and have found this one not really specific enough. And the one before this seems to just discuss changing the template and adding content in dreamweaver.

    So I just tried opening the file from your template folder named “template with editor tags.html”. I changed the header image and created a new template and reuploaded it without changing anything else and that seemed work. SO long story short… is this an OK way to achieve this? Or is their a better way? It seems like this is would be a pretty common need for most of your users. Why don’t you have a basic tutorial that covers this?

  • tom forsythe

    It worked to just customize the template with editor tags file. I just created a header in Photoshop and tweaked the CSS in the template, leaving the tags as is and it worked fine.

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