Newbie Question - I don't code, will I be able to use CM effectively??

Hi There,

I'm looking to sign up to use CM, it looks fantastic for what I want (the ability to send fairly small newsletter runs for a sailing regatta and my partners business) and I'm really impressed by the ability to really get a handle on how the newsletter is used, but I'm concerned that as I don't code I'm going to struggle to create something good looking. I'm familiar with design packages (i'm an urban designer by trade and use CS3 a lot) but I'm concerned I'll not be able to deal with the technical aspects of the service.

Anyone else use this despite being a none coder and manage okay.

Any advice much appreciated


BThies BThies, 8 years ago

Hi Jody,

Without knowing how to properly code these documents, you'll need to have someone do it for you.  There are so many issues to consider when coding the docs (HTML knowledge, spam filters, proper CSS, email client compatiblity, proper sizing, etc.), that the coding side is best left for the experienced.

My company, Thies Publishing, provides a translation service for designers who don't have the ability to code the documents themselves.  We can utilizie any document you provide us (Photoshop, Indesign, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Quark, Publisher, Etc.), and code the document into a format compatible with all email clients.

Also, I can work with you on either deploying the email campaigns for you, or show you exactly how to deploy them through your own account.

Please call or shoot me an email if you'd like to discuss further.

Thank you!

Brian Thies
Thies Publishing
(440) 623-5947

Brian Thies
Professional Email Developer
Thies Publishing
Jody, 8 years ago

Hmmmm....okay, well we are a voluntary organisation so unfortunately seeking professional help isn't an option, but we are willing to give new stuff a go, and my brother alledgedly knows how some of this stuff works and I figure It can't be rocket science, so I'm going to be brave and start learning about coding, and give it a go. We only want something basic and I'm more than happy to use templates.

If it doesn't work I'll have to either find someone who can code for free, or find someone to recommend me a design your own service that works more like power point. Our website is run from the dreded - I know its basic but works for us!!!

Any advice for the newbie coder / email newsletter manager / idiot who didn't say no quick enough would be much appreciated!!


BThies BThies, 8 years ago

1.) Keep it to a maximum width of 650px (I use 600px as a standard)
2.) Code all your CSS "inline" from the start.  Make sure you know which email clients support what, so that your CSS functions properly.
3.) Personalize the message (body & header) to maximize open rates
4.) Create an easy to use flow for the body.  If the eyes start wandering, you've probably lost the reader.
5.) Don't use all graphics - you'll hit "text to graphic" spam filters like crazy
6.) Use clear graphics that aren't pixelated/blurry
7.) Create in Photoshop style program, chop into puzzle pieces, and recreate in tables using your coding program (I use Dreamweaver).

Good luck!  :-)


Brian Thies
Professional Email Developer
Thies Publishing
Jody, 8 years ago

okay, so most of that still reads like swahili at the moment, but I have managed to export one of the templates out onto my own computer, and now I've managed to load it back onto CM and it still works so I atleast know how to get stuff back in.

I'm quite happy to use templates in virtually their entirety, I just need to put our header in and change the top and bottom, everything else can stay the same.

So predumably I need something like dreamweaver to be able to open up the .html file in code form to change the text, thats fine I can get hold of that.

But how do I get my jpeg header in - not a problem creating something the right size etc, and putting it in the zipped file, but for some reason its not showing up.

Anyone got any suggestions for a super newbie....


p.s - apologies if my stupidness is offensive, just trying my best here - if you have any super newbie questions about urban design you'd like to ask fire away!!!

jenjen, 8 years ago

Hi Jody, I am a newbie to this as well and found a really handy site to learn a bit about html, it is not as scary as it seems! I use notetab to do code changes in and i do it like this:  change one thing, save, then refresh in the browser to see if it worked, if not then undo quickly!  Works for our small business as the price is right.  Kompozer is another free piece of software which helps you see what you are doing, although it's not very good for writing or amending code.
With the header it is very tricky to get the image to show up.  Something about it has to be in the same folder as the html document, or something. I find a far easier way is to put the wsiwyg source into the template (<$imagesrc$>) and then add the actual image once you are customising the template to actually create a campaign.  At that stage it is WSIWYG, so you can just browse to the folder on your computer, find the image and save it.
Apologies to anyone reading this who actually knows how to code. It must sound like a beginner's violin lesson as I don't really know the terminology. All I can say is if you are interested, you can do it yourself!  Cheers, Jen

Jody, 8 years ago

thans for that jenjen, I appreciate the advice, and some of that makes sense and hopefully I'll get a handle on the other stuff soon.

I managed to get a copy of dreamweaver so I've made a start and hopefully I'll have that header nailed before the end of the week!!!

Can I drop you a line via the site if I get stuck on something really basic, I don't want to bored the clever people with my stupid questions!



Jayneylou, 8 years ago

When I was learning html (many many years ago - we won't go into how many many's there should be there) I often found until I got comfortable with the syntax and the directory structures being used; when reverse engineering or working with other peoples templates it was actually easiest to save over the image files already in existence to change them over.  Just make sure you make a copy of the entire folder you're working on before doing this so that when you make a mistake you have the originals intact.

Mathew Mathew, 8 years ago

For some general advice on designing emails see

We've also listed some basic HTML editors here:

Keep in mind Campaign Monitor is really targeted at web designers, so it might be a bit frustrating without some HTML experience.

Get in touch with us on Twitter:
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Jody, 8 years ago

Thanks everyone,

I've taken bits of everyones advice and am now the proud owner of a modified template (I did exactly as Janeylou suggested and made a copy of a template and replaced images to get the look I was going for and inspected the code version to get an idea of how the whole thing fitted together) which I shall be testing out tonight, and hopefully we will be sending our first campaign at the end of the week.

Its been really interesting, and I'm hoping to get some really interesting results from using CM for our event, which for those of you wondering what the numpty newbie is wanting to promote is the Women's Open Keelboat Championship 2009!

Many thanks and no doubt there will be more daft questions as I try to build our mailing list!!!

Thanks again, I really appreciate everyones help, the links were also really useful, you never know I might even learn to code soon!!!


jonniejensen, 8 years ago

Hi Jody,

If you dont have any coding experience then I would say dont fret. Campaign Monitor is a great tool and you can easily learn along the way. If you go for something more simple then, in my experience it can be frustrating as you develop your skills.

I recomend you pick a template from the free gallery and simply type your content over the top of it using an HTML editor (I use Dreamweaver). I have set clients up that have no experience, given them a basic lesson in HTML editing and set them lose. If you ask around your friends someone will know someone who has some experience in HTML. The basics are all you need. This is how I started.


Jonnie Jensen
Tmandi - online, email and mobile communication

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