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Designing a Stand-Out Email

By: Dawn Audano on August 9, 2018

Here is your go-to guide when you are ready to design your first email in MailChimp.

Why MailChimp?

We love MailChimp. It’s a great application that allows for different email marketing possibilities. One of the main selling features is that it has so many design options.

Reasons you want to send email

Identifying the why for your email campaign will impact the design. Here are just a few reasons that you may be contacting customers.

Increase brand awareness

Emails have the ability to be forwarded and shared so you can reach people who aren’t on your email list.

Keep customers informed

Businesses are always evolving and changing! Email is the best way to reach out to all customers and let them know what is new with you.

Distribute promotions

Letting loyal customers know that you appreciate them through promotions and coupons is a pretty much what email marketing is all about.

Drive customers to your website

Your website has everything about your business and keeping traffic up will help new business to find your website.

Benefits of email marketing

It's inexpensive

MailChimp’s forever free plan is a great place to start!

Easily measured marketing metrics

With all account types you can review open and click rates to measure a campaign’s success.

How to design your first template

Since your email marketing campaign is an extension of your company making sure it reflects your brand’s image is essential. That’s where this tutorial will help you out.

Step 1:

Log in and select you will select “Build my first email.”

Step 2:

Type an identifying “Campaign Name”, this is not the subject line seen by recipients, and select “Begin.”

Step 3:

Select “Design Email,” and now it’s time to design.  

Design options:

MailChimp offers different options depending on how much you want to do yourself. The featured templates are for when you know the purpose of your email and have your content, but aren’t sure how to lay it all out.

The Basic option is if you have the content, purpose, and vision for what you want it to look like. By using the drag-and-drop components, to create your can create own template that best represents your brand.

We could all jump down the rabbit hole of what makes one design work and others flop, but that will have to be another day. For now, we are going to select a basic template and talk about the different pieces and how to edit those to reflect your brand.

Page Design tab breakdown:

The page design tab will allow you to format the primary features of your email.

The page section is where you can change the background coloring and stylize your headings.

This is the area that is above the header. You can change the background color and change link + type font and color.

The header is the most important design element of your email since it is the first thing that people see. Within this item, you can change the header color or replace it with an image. You can also change text + link colors and font type here.

This controls the background and the text before the columns section.

Columns refers to the space where you will place the drag and drop elements into the default columns layout. This default does not apply to boxed text or image cards.

Change your footer background + text styling in this tab. Be sure that if you change the background to a dark color, you also change the “Footer Link” color to be lighter so it will contrast well.

While all MailChimp email designs work in a mobile environment, sometimes you may want to optimize certain elements so that they can be viewed better on a mobile screen. The “Mobile Styles Design” allows you to tweak your default design so that elements respond in an optimal fashion.

With free accounts, MailChimp wants to be recognized. The MonkeyRewards tab gives you style options so you can select a MailChimp logo that blends seamlessly with your design.

You will be able to do the majority of your design edits just within this first tab. As you move to the different content boxes, you may want to make changes.

Within each content box, the second tab will also allow you to make design changes. Once that item is formatted the way you want, you can select “Apply to all existing” at the bottom and it will update your current template.


It’s easy to get lost in the weeds when you dive into creating an email template. Keeping the purpose of the email top of mind with all design decisions will help you to stay focused and allow you to communicate effectively to your customers.

Want help with your email marketing?

Beginning your first email campaign takes time and research, but we've been doing it for a while! Let us help you.

Written By:

Dawn Audano

They say nothing prepares you for kids, but Dawn has found her marketing + events background did a pretty good job. CCC gives her the time to work while being at home with two girls (and a demanding cat). She loves writing about work-life balance, time management, and creative problem solving.