Curated Email Setup Best Practices

Here are the recommended steps and order we recommend when setting an HTML email up for use as a FeedOtter's Curated Newsletter.

This article assumes a strong knowledge of the FeedOtter product.


Before working on the HTML, there are important steps to follow. Doing these will save time later. It's best not to skip them.

Gather Requirements and Data Sources

To set up email:

  • Learn how the email will be used and find out about the RSS feeds or content sources.

  • Get all RSS feed links.

  • Prepare content sources.

  • Make sure custom data is ready to test.

Base HTML Code is Compatible

The worst thing you can do is spend time setting up a FeedOtter template only to find the original HTML suffered from compatibility issues.

Always test the original HTML code in a tool such as Litmus before starting your work.

Identify the Content Sections

Look over the HTML code in a browser window or a design tool such as Litmus or Dreamweaver. Identify which rows and blocks will contain content that comes from an RSS feed or Content Source. This is content that will be added via FeedOtter's drag and drop interface.

A typical email newsletter may have sections such as:

  • Featured Article

  • Latest News

  • From the Blog

  • Upcoming Events

Other Considerations:

  • Will there be a limit to the number of posts in each section? Typically no.

  • Are there columns? Columns can be a bit trickier to setup but very common.

  • Sections should be setup to show/hide based on whether they contain content or not.

  • The email setup team is responsible for determining and naming each section In rare cases the end-user may specify sections.

Provide Additional Editability

In addition to drag and drop content it is possible to make other singular elements editable. Use of this feature should be kept to a minimum for usability sake.

Look over the remaining areas of your email template. Ask yourself, are there other images, lines of text, or rich text that the user would like to change often?

Option 1: Section + Empty Block

If an email block contains multiple properties e.g. an image, title, rich text or image and link... Use a section and an Empty Block. This works the same as regular content sections instead of dragging and dropping articles the user will click the Empty Block button and manually type in the data.

Option 2: Custom Field

If there is a single value; headline text, greeting rich text, image that needs to be changed use a custom field.

Examples of custom field uses:

  • Banner Ads - Very common. 2 custom fields for each banner ad providing for an image SRC and link URL.

  • Newsletter Greeting - A rich-text block that the end-user modifies to give their newsletter a timely personal feel.

  • Headlines - We recommend hard-coding all headlines at first. If you know the headline will change often or this has been requested upfront by the end-user. A custom field is the best solution.

At the end of the day there are no hard-set rules on whether to use empty blocks or custom fields. We recommend you err on the less-is-more approach. Give the end-user the least amount of flexibility to start. If they ask for addl. features make those decisions based on what is best for the end-user.

Code The Email

We won't cover the details here but in this step you will add Loops, If Statements, and Tokens to make an email compatible with the FeedOtter newsletter builder.

Refer to the following guides for more information on the email coding process:

As your near code completion you will want to copy the code into FeedOtter and test that it is working as expected. It is typical to debug syntax issues and tokens during this step.

pageCreating a basic email template

Testing with Your ESP

Test every section and custom field in FeedOtter.

  • Ensure sections hide and show as expected

  • Ensure custom fields hide and show as expected

  • Ensure images have alt tags

  • Ensure there is a preheader

When everything is looking correct in FeedOtter test the email with a tool such as Litmus again.

As a final test publish your sample newsletter to the desired ESP target to ensure full compatibility.

Marketo Templates - If you are working with a source template from Marketo. Some additional steps need to be performed to make it work with Marketo. This should be done as the very last step before test publishing the email. FeedOtter has built an internal tool to help with this process.

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