Designing and assessing your campaigns


The templating system in phpList is designed to create a workflow that keeps things simple for the campaign creator.

The Templating Workflow in phpList

There are two elements to the workflow:

  1. Creating and uploading a template; this is done very rarely
  2. Choosing and using the template; this is done for every campaign

Step one is the more complex and it is often done by a web designer or system administrator. We cover this in the creating a template chapter.  There is also a really easy templates chapter to help you if you do not have a designer.

The second part of the workflow is very simple. The person creating the campaign simply selects the template by name from a drop down menu after the campaign message has been written.

The template is then applied during sending, like a wrapper around the text, and the person sending the campaign does not come into contact with the template code at all.

The template is not applied to emails sent to subscribers who request a plain text email.


The very first step is to create your campaign and add content. Go to Campaigns > Send a campaign and add your content. The second step is to add a template for your campaign. You can choose between the default templates or choose one you have uploaded yourself. To do that click the Format button next to the Content button.


Send test

In order to be 100% sure that the final result of your campaign will look as you wish for your subscribes, it is recommended you send a test campaign to yourself. On the bottom of your page you will find the "Send test" field. You can send a test campaign to more than one email addresses.

Screenshot-from-2019-06-29-22-40-49.pngOn the email you will receive you will notice that your campaign is wrapped by the template. If you are happy with its look, you can proceed with sending the campaign.




Discuss this chapter here.


The footer

What is the footer?

In your template design you may have many elements which you think of as being "the footer." In the image below, for example, the blue and black colored areas and all the content within them would commonly be described as the "footer."

However, you may not wish to add all of this into your phpList footer. For example, in the image below only the "update your preferences" and "unsubscribe" elements are within the phpList footer system. The rest is in the template itself.


You may wish to choose which items go into the phpList footer carefully because:

Adding your footer

Everything that goes in the phpList footer is added separately from the rest of the template. To situate the a footer to your template use the [FOOTER] placeholder.


You should design your footer as a separate .html file





 As well as in your campaigns when you send them.


The Forward to Friend footerOn the Config > Settings page, there is a second footer called Footer used when a message has been forwarded.

If you use the [FORWARD] placeholder, and a subscriber forwards the email, this footer will replace the usual one. It contains the following text:

This message has been forwarded to you by [FORWARDEDBY].

You have not been automatically subscribed to this newsletter.

If you think this newsletter may interest you, you can [SUBSCRIBEURL] and you will receive our next newsletter directly to your inbox.

If you wish to use the forward to friend system you should edit this footer so that it has the correct appearance while maintaining the appropriate text. 


Discuss this chapter here.

Creating a template

Creating your template

There are lots of ways to create your template. You could

Here are some tips to help you set up your template for use with phpList.

If you don't understand the information in this chapter and you don't have anyone to help you with your template, then skip to the next chapter for a super simple template.

The Basics 

You should use inline styles, and unless you have configured phpList especially with a plugin, you must use a single column template.

If you choose a responsive template, your campaign editor should not use images with a width larger than a smartphone screen (max 320 by 480 pixels).

Logo: upload or remote link?

When you are designing or modifying your template, you need to decide if you will include your logo in the campaigns as an attachment or use a remote image. If you include your logo as an attachment it will always display to the recipient.

If you use a remote link, however, the image will only display when the subscriber gives permission (in most email and webmail clients).


If you decide you upload your image then leave the local link (or just a use a "broken link") and you will be prompted to upload the image when you are adding your template to phpList.

A mandatory placeholder in the body 

You must include some strings that phpList will replace during the sending stage.


The obligatory string is [CONTENT]. This will be replaced with the content of your message when you send your campaign.

Adding your template to phpList

To add a template to phpList, go to Campaigns > Manage campaign templates from the main menu.


You will then see a list of templates already in the system. By default there is one template, the System template (which styles things like the confirm subscription emails).


Click Add new template

Screenshot-from-2019-07-01-12-01-03.pngName your template

First, give your template a Title. This will display in the list of templates to choose from during the campaign composition stage, so it is important that the name makes sense to the person writing the campaigns.

In this case we called the template Simple responsive template, because it is the template we use when we announce a new version of phpList. We have different templates for community news and phpList hosted special offers, for example.


Upload your file 

To add your template you can paste the html into the editor, or upload it as a file. In this example we are uploading it.

Click the Browse button, locate the template file on your computer and click Open. The file name will then appear next to the Browse button (as shown in the image above).

Save your template 

Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save changes, using the checking tools if you wish.


Upload your logo? 

The next screen gives you an opportunity to upload your template images, if you have any. This will usually be a logo. In this case the logo is hosted remotely and so no image is listed to upload.


Click Save images.

Your template will now be added to your list of Existing templates.

If you wish to set this template as the default for all campaigns, you can check the button under CAMPAIGN DEFAULT


Defaults and settings

There are some default settings for templates and footers at Config > Settings under campaign settings. For example you can choose which template will be used by default by referring to its ID.


The ID of the template can be found by hovering your mouse on the template name. 

Using your template

During campaign composition, use headings and other formatting as normal. You do not need to apply any additional styling such as text colour, if those elements are dealt with in your template.


In the Format of the send campaign workflow, select your template from the Use template dropdown.