Learn how to use message templates for email and SMS campaigns.

Eric Range avatar
Written by Eric Range
Updated over a week ago

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Overview of Email Templates

Templates are structured layouts that you can fully customize to create designs for your emails. They help you have a consistent look and feel across individual campaigns, as well as reinforce your brand across multiple campaigns.

In this article you'll learn:

  • What templates are and how to use them

  • How to create and customize a new template

  • How to edit and manage existing templates

Templates also help you save time. For example, if you are planning a student search series, you can create a template for the campaign. Then, when you go to build the individual emails for the series, you would simply select the template you created and modify the email's text, images, and call-to-action buttons, depending on the message's requirements.

Templates are fully editable, both when you are creating them and after you have loaded the template for an individual email.

Creating Templates

To create a new design template, navigate to your Templates Library from Engagement > Campaigns > Templates.

You can select either a "default template" or a "custom template."

Default Templates
These give you a head start by organizing content areas by columns and rows where you’ll add text, images, and other elements. You’ll also be able to adjust the background and other colors. Keep in mind that templates do not lock you into their original format. For example, if you pick a 1 column template, you can add another column and rows below it later.

Custom Templates
These are templates that a team member has already created. They’re a great base to start from if you want to refresh a previous campaign.

Adjust and Manage Content Elements

To customize, duplicate, or delete an element, click the element and the relevant icon that appears in the top right corner of the content row.

To preview your template, click on the "Preview" tab in the top right of the content editor. You have the option to preview in mobile, tablet, and desktop versions.

Email Components and Settings


Click the gear icon to access Settings for the email.

Here, you can select a background image for the email or a background color. You can also choose up to two fonts that you would like to use in the email.

Email Components

Our campaign builder has several email components with pre-built blocks to choose from for your templates.

Use the list of blocks to select the template content.

Click on the blocks you want to add. The blocks can be moved by dragging them to a different location in the template.


Your template is broken into rows and columns. Rows contain a set number of columns, which can contain multiple elements. Elements are things like text, images, and buttons. You can think of elements as columns in a row. For example, if you choose a three-column row, you would have three element boxes side by side.


Use this communication element to create space and separate parts of your message. After adding the ruler, double-click it to customize the following features:

  • Color

  • Width

  • Margins

Add a Row or Pre-Built Block

Click the plus "+" button in the top left and select to add a row, separator, or one of Element451's pre-built content blocks. If you are adding a row, select the number of columns and think of each column as an element of content. For one text box and a button, choose two columns, one for the text and one for the button.

Column Components Within a Row


This is a text area that you can leave blank for the person entering content into the email, or double-click to enter actual or placeholder text.

The text editor contains basic formatting options, including fonts (select two in the template settings first). You can also use tokens to personalize messages with a recipient’s first name, for example. Learn more about tokens in Create an Email or SMS.


When you add an image element, you will be able to select an image that has already been uploaded to the media manager or upload a new image.

To adjust the settings of the image (e.g. make it clickable or change alignment) click on the image and then on the gear icon (Settings) that appears in the top right. The Image Settings menu (pictured above) will appear. Here you can make your adjustments. You can also change an image by putting your cursor over the image and clicking "Remove File." The image will be removed and you can then click "Select File" to choose a new one.


When you add a button, a default version will first appear. Click on the button and then the gear icon (Settings) in the top right to further edit.

You can change the text, add the URL that the button should link to, adjust the shape and size, and make other adjustments from this sidebar.

Note: “Fit” refers to how the text fits in relationship to the button, and the button to the element container it’s in.

  • Regular fits the button to the length of the text.

  • Expanded fits the button to the size of the element.

Edit a Row

Click outside the row's elements, but still in the row. The row will be highlighted in purple and several options with appear. You can duplicate or delete the block using the icons in the top right of the block, or click settings to edit it further. Some of these setting options are described in greater detail below.

  • Wrap in centered container? - This setting allows you to have a container around the row of elements that you can adjust. If set to Yes, you will be able to edit the container further under the "Advanced Settings" dropdown menu.

  • Layout - change the number and layout of elements in the row

  • Padding - sets the padding inside the row or container element

  • Margins (Row Only) - sets the margins around the row

  • File - select a background image for the row itself. Alignment, repeat, and size options are the same as when adjusting a background image in the full template

  • Transparent - To choose a color to fill in where the image does not, uncheck this box

To save your template, click the "save" button.

💡 Pro Tips:

  • Your changes will be automatically saved, but you also have the option to click the "Save" button at any time.

  • There are many options to help you create designs that match your vision. It may seem like a lot at first, but each of the elements described below are customized in a similar way. You’ll soon become familiar with how things work.

  • The best way to learn how to use templates is by creating a few, using this guide if you have questions.

Managing Templates

All your saved templates can be found in Engagement > Campaigns > Templates.

Each template includes information about when it was created and last edited. In addition, click on the three dots to the right of the template to preview, duplicate, add to a One-Off Communication, or delete the template.

Now you've built a template to your specifications, learn how to use it in an email or SMS message.

Email Templates in the Packs Library

The Packs Library contains email templates built for a wide variety of use cases. You can view these by navigating to Data + Automations > Packs > Library.

Select "Templates and Design" in the category filter to narrow the list of available Packs to just email templates.

See Also

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