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Using email templates

Wild Apricot provides a variety of professionally designed templates for your email blasts and automatic emails. You can use these templates as is, duplicate and modify them, or create your own templates from scratch.

Emails created using Wild Apricot's new generation of email templates are responsive – meaning that they will automatically adjust to fit smaller screens – and will appear the same on different email clients, subject to some variations.

What is an email template?

An email template is a sample email that can serve as the basis for your own custom emails. 

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After selecting a template, you replace the boilerplate text with your message, and replace or remove graphics. You can also add macros to insert member or event information.

Template types

There are two kinds of email templates in Wild Apricot: system templates and custom templates. System templates are templates provided by Wild Apricot. Custom templates are templates you create.

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System templates cannot be deleted or modified, but can be duplicated to create a custom template, which can be modified. Wild Apricot provides a number of templates, including basic templates in a variety of layouts, and themed templates in a variety of different colors. Simple template – consisting of a single cell layout with no headers or footers – is available for clients who want to send a plain message quickly. A Blank template – with a single content block and no layout or text formatting – is available for clients who wish to design their own email templates from the ground up.

Deprecated system templates – which are based on a previous version of the email editor – are provided for compatibility and should not be used for new emails since they do not provide the consistency and stability of the new generation of templates. 

Getting started

There are a number of ways you can initiate an email blast using a template.

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To start without selecting a template or any recipients, follow these steps:

  1. Click Email drafts under the Emails menu.
  2. Click the Compose email button.

To start by choosing the template you want to use, follow these steps:

  1. Click Email templates under the Emails menu.
  2. Click on the template you want to use.
  3. Click the Send email option.

To start by choosing the contacts or members you want to email, follow these steps:

  1. Click the List option under the Contacts or Members menu.
  2. Search and filter the contact or member list to display only the contacts or members you want to email. For instructions on searching and filtering, see Contact list.
  3. Click the Email contacts or Email members button.

You can also choose to email the registrants for a particular event by clicking the  Email registrants  button, or email contacts on an event waitlist by clicking the  Email waitlisted  button.

In either case, the email wizard appears to walk you through the steps involved in composing and sending your email blast. If you chose the template first, the email wizard will appear and take you to the  Design  tab, where you can begin customizing your email. If you selected the recipients first, you'll still be able to adjust the recipient list before sending the email blast.

You can move to the next step in the email wizard by clicking the > button, and to the previous step by clicking the < button. You can jump from one step to another at any time by clicking the tab name.

Saving and exiting

You can exit the email wizard at any time by clicking the X in the upper right corner. You will be asked whether you want to save your changes or exit without saving. 

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Step 1: Choosing a template

Unless you began by choosing a template, the first step in the email wizard is to select the template you want to use as the basis for the email. 

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You can choose from system templates provided by Wild Apricot or custom templates you created yourself, either from scratch or by duplicating and modifying a system template. Wild Apricot provides  basic system templates in a variety of layouts, and themed system templates in a variety of different colors. If you want to use a single-cell layout without any headers or footers, select   Simple . If you want to design your own template from the ground up, choose the  Blank  template, which consists of a single content block with no layout or text formatting.

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The deprecated system templates are provided for compatibility and should not be used for new emails since they do not provide the consistency and stability of the basic and themed templates.

To choose a template, just click on it. You will be automatically taken to the design step, where you can compose your message.

 

Step 2:  Customizing the email

With the template selected, you can now design the content for your email blast. This can involve adding, or replacing text, as well as adding or replacing graphics, links, and macros. You can also modify the layout of the message and change other aspects of its appearance.

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Wild Apricot email templates divide the message body into rows and columns. You can click individual cells to insert content and adjust cell settings.

A draft of your design will be automatically saved every 30 seconds. If you wish to exit without saving your changes, click the X button in the upper right corner and choose the Exit without saving option.

After you are finished designing your email content, click the Preview tab at the top of the email wizard to preview your message.

Adding and replacing text

Most templates use sample or boilerplate text to act as a placeholder to give you an idea of what the email could look like. You should review all text in the template and replace where necessary with text that applies to your organization and your announcement.

To add text to the email from the Design tab, simply click where you want the text to appear and start typing. To remove existing text, select it and press Delete on your keyboard to remove it or start typing to overwrite it.

You can format your text using the various toolbar options

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For consistent results throughout your email, you should format your text using text styles (e.g. H1, Normal, etc.) rather than individual font options (typeface, size, etc.).

To paste text copied from another source – such as Microsoft Word, Apple's Pages, or an email – click where you want the text to appear then click the Paste icon within the content editor. For more information, see Pasting text from other sources.

Adding and removing pictures

To add a picture to your template, click where you want the picture to appear then click the Image icon within the toolbar.

From the window that appears, you can choose a picture that is already in your account or upload new pictures from your computer or network. 

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When you insert a picture, you are really inserting a link to the picture stored on your account. If you move, rename, or delete the image from your account, the image will no longer appear in your template. Instead of uploading and inserting pictures, you can edit the HTML code directly to display an image file stored on another website.

To set or change the properties of the picture, position your mouse over the picture in the template, then click the Settings option. From the image settings toolbar that appears, you can change any of the image image's properties, including size, alignment, margin, and borders, and how adjoining text wraps around the image. 

 

You can also resize a picture by clicking on it then dragging on its selection handles.

To remove an existing picture, position your mouse over the picture and click the X icon in the top right corner of the picture.

You can also delete a picture by selecting it then pressing the  Delete  key on your keyboard.

 For more information, see Inserting pictures.

Using macros

Macros allow you to personalize the email to include specific information about the recipient (first name, for example). The templates you are using may already include macros such as {Organization_Name} and {Organization_Contact_Email}.

To insert a macro in your email, click within the message where you want the macro to appear, then click the Macro icon on the content editor toolbar.

From the list that appears, select the macro you want to use. For a complete list, see Available macros.

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If a link to the {Unsubscribe_Url} macro does not appear in your email, one will be automatically appended to the message.

Setting the message background

When you first begin editing your email or email template, a General settings panel appears on the left.

From here, you can change the settings that apply to the entire message,

including the overall background of the message. For the background, you can choose a background color or image.

To set a background image for the message, click the Select button beside Background image. You can now select an image to be used as the background. You can choose a picture to be inserted from the pictures already in your account, or upload one or more new pictures then choose one of them to be inserted. For best results on different devices, choose an image that is no bigger than 600 pixels wide.

After you have selected a background image, you can choose how the image is repeated – horizontally, vertically, both (tiled), or not at all – and set the horizontal and vertical alignment.

 

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Background images are not supported by some email clients (e.g. Outlook 2007, 2010, 2013). If you set a background image, be sure to also set an appropriate background color as a fallback.

To choose a background color for the message, click the Background color control. You can then  select a color from the drop-down palette or enter the hexadecimal code for the color (e.g.  #FF0000  for red). To look up the hexadecimal code for a color, go to  Name that color .

Choose the X option in the upper left corner if you don't want a background color.

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To display the General settings panel again, click the Appearance icon at the top.

Changing the font set

From the  General settings  panel, you can change the default typeface used in the message by choosing a font from the  Font set  list.

After selecting a default typeface, you can still change the font for selected text using the font and text style options appearing on the content editor toolbar. Selecting a different typeface from the font set list will not override any custom text formatting. To clear custom text formatting and revert to the default typeface you selected using the Font set list, select the text then click the Clear formatting icon within the content editor.

Setting cell properties

Wild Apricot templates divide the message body into rows and columns. You can click individual cells to insert content and adjust cell settings.

For each cell, you can set the following properties:

SettingDescription
Background colorThe background color of the cell. After clicking the Background color control, you can select a color from the drop-down palette or enter the hexadecimal code for the color (e.g. #FF0000 for red). To look up the hexadecimal code for a color, go to Name that color.
Background image

An image to be displayed as the background for the message. To set a background image for the message, click the  Select  button beside  Background image . You can now select an image to be used as the background. You can choose a picture to be inserted from the pictures already in your account, or upload one or more new pictures then choose one of them to be inserted. After you have selected a background image, you can choose how the image is repeated – horizontally, vertically, both (tiled), or not at all – and set the horizontal and vertical alignment.

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Background images are not supported by some email clients (e.g. Outlook 2007, 2010, 2013). If you set a background image, be sure to also set an appropriate background color as a fallback.

PaddingThe distance (in pixels) between the cell content and the cell border.
MarginsThe amount of space – in pixels – that appears outside the cell. You can set the top, bottom, left, and right margins separately.
BorderThe width of the cell border (in pixels).  You can set the top, bottom, left, and right border separately, and choose a border style and border color in each case.

Changing the layout

You cannot add or remove individual columns and rows while modifying an email or email template, but you can switch to a different layout with a different combination of columns and rows. When you switch layouts, your content with be automatically repositioned without any loss of content or formatting.

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If you want to send a message that consists solely of a picture or image, you have to switch to the 1 cell, no headers/footers layout.

To change the layout for your email or email template, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Layouts icon towards the top.
  2. Click the layout you want to switch to. Most layouts include preheader, header, and footer areas. The exceptions are the 1 cell, no headers/footers option – a single-cell layout with no headers or footers – and the No layout option – a single block without any layout or text styles.

  3. Click the Apply button.

     

If the new layout has fewer cells that the previous one, the content in the final cell will be appended to the last cell in the new layout.

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If you choose the No layout option, all email content is combined into a single content block with no text styles.

After switching to a different layout, you can undo the layout change by clicking the Undo layout change button within the layout panel.

Any changes that you have made since the layout change will also be reversed.

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If you don't want a particular layout cell to appear in your email, leave the cell empty, then click the HTML icon on the content editor toolbar and delete all the HTML code.

Accessing the HTML code

You cannot access the HTML code for the entire message, but you can access the HTML for individual cells by clicking the HTML icon within the content editor toolbar.

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Exception: If you're using the  Blank  template, clicking the  HTML  icon will display the HTML code for the entire message since it consists of a single cell without any layout.

Step 3: Previewing the email

Once you are finished designing your message, you can preview your email blast. You can preview it as it would appear on mobile and desktop platforms with different screen widths.

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A preview of the email appears while you are editing it, but for a more realistic preview, click the Preview tab at the top of the email wizard.

Click the preview options – Desktop and Mobile – to preview the email at different screen widths.

From here, you can send a test message to yourself by clicking the Send a test button.

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Test emails use fake data in place of macros, not the actual data from your database. So, don't be alarmed if you see some unfamiliar content in the test message.

When you are finishing previewing your email blast, click the Recipients tab at the top of the email wizard to finalize the list of recipients. 

Step 4: Choosing recipients and other delivery options

With the content of the email blast complete, you can now select your recipients or finalize the recipient list (depending on whether you started the process by selecting recipients). You can also specify the email subject, the reply-to recipient, and enable email tracking.

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The maximum number of email recipients you can choose depends on your billing plan.

Finalizing the recipient list

To add recipients to the list, click + Contact to add individual contacts or + Contact list to add lists of contacts, including results from previously saved searches

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If you add recipients using a saved search, the search will be performed when the email is sent.

For instructions on using saved searches to assemble a mailing list, see Assembling mailing lists (below).

To remove a recipient or a group of recipients, click the red X over the recipient or group.

To remove all recipients, click Clear all recipients.

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Only one email will be sent to each unique email address even if you add a recipient multiple times (directly or through groups and searches). Recipients will not see the names or email addresses of other recipients. 

Specifying the email subject

You are required to specify a subject for your email. The subject can be a mix of characters and macros, allowing you to personalize your message with information like the recipient's name. To insert a macro, follow these steps:

  1. Click within the subject line where you want the macro to appear.
  2. Type { within the Subject field or click the  { } at the end of the Subject field. A list of available macros appears.

     

    Sample data is displayed beside each macro, using your own contact information.
     
  3. Click the macro you want to insert.  The macro will now appear within the subject line.

At delivery time, the macro will be replaced with the corresponding information about the contact.

Setting the Reply to address

By default, the Reply to address is the address entered in the Contact email field on the your Organization details screen. You can, however, change the Reply to address, as well as the name of the sender, by clicking the Change reply to button.

  

Enabling email tracking

To enable email tracking, so you can see how many of your emails were opened and clicked after your email blast is sent, click the Enable link and open email tracking checkbox.

You can then select a different contact from your contact database.

To specify a reply-to recipient who is not in your contact database, you can enter the name and email address directly in the fields provided. 

Step 5: Reviewing and sending your email blast

After you've finalized the list of recipients, you can review and send your email blast. 

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If there any issues with your email that would prevent it from being sent – e.g. no recipients or subject – an alert will appear at the top of the screen and the issues will be highlighted in red.

Until these issues are corrected, the Send button will be disabled. To correct an issue, click the link beside the error message.

If there are no issues that would prevent your email from being sent, you can review your message and click the Send button when you are ready to send your email blast.

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Once you send your email blast, it is added to the email queue, and may take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours to be actually delivered.

Using templates with automatic emails

When you're customizing automatic emails – like event reminders, renewal reminders, and donation confirmations – you can use email templates or previously sent emails as the basis for the automatic email.

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After choosing the template or previous email you want to use, you can customize the text, graphics, and layout as you wish. You can also personalize the message by using macros to insert specific information such as the recipient's first name or organization.

To choose a previous email or an email template as the basis for your automatic email, click the Copy from button.

From the screen that appears, choose the source to use as the basis for the automatic email.

You can choose to:

 

Option

Next step

Use a template

New

Select a template

Use a draft email

Draft

Select the draft message

Use a previously sent message as the
basis for a new one

Sent

Select the sent message

After choosing the template or previously sent email, click Next.

You can now customize the email. 

Creating and modifying custom email templates

You can create your own custom email templates, either from scratch or by duplicating and modifying existing templates.

Creating a new template

To create a brand new email template, follow these steps:

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  1. Hover over the Emails menu and select the Email templates option.
  2. Click Create new template.
  3. Add the subject, message, pictures, and macros you want to appear on the template. You can also  modify the HTML  and choose a preview thumbnail (see below) .
  4. Click Save.
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Changes to email templates are not autosaved like changes to emails.

Duplicating an email template

To create a new template by duplicating an existing template, follow these steps:

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  1. Hover over the Emails menu and select the Email templates option.
  2. Click the template you want to duplicate.
  3. Click Duplicate.
  4. Add the subject, message, pictures, and macros you want to appear on the template. You can also  modify the HTML  and choose a preview thumbnail (see below) .
  5. Click Save. 

Creating an email template from a previously sent message

To use a previously sent email message as the basis for a new email template, follow these steps:

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  1. Open the previously sent email message within your email log.
  2. Click the Save as template button at the top.

     
     
  3. Make whatever changes you want to the contents of the new email template.
  4. Click Save. 

Modifying an email template

You can only modify custom templates – templates you have created. To modify a system template – a template supplied by Wild Apricot – duplicate the system template to create a custom template then modify the custom template.

To modify a custom email template, follow these steps:

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  1. Hover over the Emails menu and select the Email templates option.
  2. Click the template you want to modify.
  3. Click Edit template.
  4. Make changes to the subject, message, pictures, and macros that appear on the template.  You can also modify the HTML and choose a preview thumbnail (see below).
  5. Click Save. 

Choosing a preview thumbnail

You can also choose a thumbnail graphic to provide a preview of the template. To assign a preview thumbnail to the template, click Thumbnail while modifying the template then choose the picture you want to use as the thumbnail.

The thumbnail you choose will appear in the template list. 

Deleting an email template

You cannot delete system templates – templates supplied by Wild Apricot.

To delete a custom email template, follow these steps:

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  1. Hover over the Emails menu and select the Email templates option.
  2. Click the template you want to delete.
  3. Click Delete.
  4. You will be prompted to confirm the deletion. Click OK to proceed with the deletion.

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