Virtuous provides multiple ways to send emails to your supporters, via Automation or in bulk. But to take advantage of all that Virtuous Marketing has to offer, you'll need to start by creating a compelling email. Here's a handy guide to working with the email editing tools in Virtuous.
To create a new Email, navigate to the Email page by hovering over the left sidebar, then selecting Marketing. Under Marketing, select Email.
On the email page, you have two options for creating a new email:
- You can create a brand new email from scratch
- You can create an email from an existing template
You can learn more about working with templates here. In this article, we'll focus on creating a brand-new email. Look for the Actions button in the upper-right, click, and then select "Create an Email" from the drop-down.
This will launch the new email wizard, which walks through five steps to creating a new email. These steps are visible along the bottom of the screen as you move through the process.
On the setup tab, you'll be able to choose whether you want to use our visual builder or advanced builder. Select the visual builder option (unless you want to build the email template entirely in HTML).
Then, you can enter in the details for your new email. Required fields are all marked with an asterisk (*).
- Name: Provide a clear, unique name for your new email.
- Email List: Select an Email List to associate with your email. This will be used to send your email to a group of email subscribers.
- Segment: Each email should be set up as a Campaign Communication for your organization, and then Segments are used to specify a version sent to a particular audience. You have the option of selecting that Segment here, to make the email accessible from the Campaign in Virtuous CRM.
- Subject: Each email must have a subject line. Be sure to create one that will engage your supporters and compel them to open your email!
- To insert a merge tag in the subject line, click on the tag icon to pull up a list of merge tags to use, then select the merge tag of your choice.
- From Name: Each organization has a default sender set up in their email settings. By entering a value for the From Name, you can customize the sender for a specific email. Use this to personalize emails "from" a specific team member.
- From Email: Similar to the From Name, a custom email address can be entered to personalize any email.
- Email Group: Categorizing the email template to belong to an established Email Group.
Once you have entered all the details for your email, click "Next" in the lower right of the screen to move on to the Build step.
On the build step, you'll see the email editor. When starting on a new email, you should see that you have a blank slate to start, with a message prompting you to add content:
Before adding content, though, it's a good idea to start by setting up your design first. On the right, you'll see a panel with three tabs at the top: Content, Rows, and Settings.
When designing a new email, work on each tab from right to left, so that you begin with designing your email, and then filling in the content. Let's start by looking at the Settings tab.
Use the features on this tab to configure the basics for your email, including the content width, background colors, and the default look for your fonts. These settings may be changed as needed at any point during the build process, but configuring them now will help with adding additional design elements. Once you have made your selections, move on to the Rows tab.
This tab is where you can determine how your content will be arranged in your email. Content will be added in blocks, and those blocks will be arranged into rows, almost like laying bricks or tiles. The default layout is a single column, which is the first-row option. If you intend to use nothing but a single column, you do not need to customize your rows at all, though your email may not look as exciting as you like.
To display content side-by-side, you'll need to click on any of the other row options and then drag them onto the editor screen.
For example, if you'd like to have a row that is split, where a small piece of content takes up one-quarter of the email width, and additional content occupies three-quarters of the width, click on the second-row option and then drag it onto the editor.
Once you have configured the rows for your email, it's time to move on to adding content.
As with adding Rows, just click on any of the Content options to drag it to the editor and drop it in one of the spaces created when you added Rows. There are six types of Content that you can add.
Adding a text block will allow for typing out the body of your email, as well as adding any unique header or footer text. Click anywhere in the text block to bring up the text editing toolbar.
The toolbar will allow for additional customizations of fonts and styles for your text. Use the Special Links option to add one of three unsubscribe options anywhere in your email.
If you do not choose an unsubscribe link, then the Global Unsubscribe link will be automatically inserted into the footer of your email. You can learn more about managing subscription preferences and email lists in this support article.
Click on Merge tags to personalize your email content by inserting the recipient's First name or other data, including Contact or Individual custom fields.
Adding an image block will allow you to drop an image file into your email. Drag to any of the content areas in the editor, and you'll be able to drag and drop an image file directly into your email or click to browse the image files already stored for your organization.
You can learn more about managing and working with images in this support article.
Add a button for clear calls to action, like "Donate" or "Learn More." When adding or editing a button, you'll see that the right side of the screen displays options for customizing the design of your button.
Use the Action section at the top to specify where button clicks should take recipients. For example, if you are inserting a "Donate" button, insert the URL of the web page where you have your donation form embedded.
NOTE: In order for your button to work properly, you must ensure that your URL is a complete URL. It should begin with either http:// OR https://
Use the Button Options section to customize the look and feel of your button, including the color, spacing, and padding (how much space is between design elements).
Add a divider to insert a line between rows and help create definitions between separate sections in your email. As with the Button option, the right menu will provide options for customizing the look and feel of the design.
Use the Social content option to add social media buttons to your email header or footer.
The right menu will provide additional options for customizing the social buttons. Use the icon collection drop-down to select a design style for all of the buttons included. For all of the selected icons, you'll see the option to customize the URL so recipients can click and be taken directly to your social accounts.
Click the stripes to the left of any icon to drag and re-order the icons however you'd like. Click on the "add new icon" option to add additional social media profiles to your email.
Users may choose to add an HTML block to insert custom HTML code into an email. This is recommended ONLY for advanced users, as customizing HTML can affect how emails are rendered.
Embedding videos directly in emails is not a recommended practice, but inserting image files and then linking them to your video content elsewhere can be time-consuming, to say the least. Just drag this new content block to any spot in your email, and then paste it into a YouTube or Vimeo link instead. The video thumbnail will automatically be inserted into your email, with a link to view the video. You can even customize the look and feel of the "play" icon! This should save a lot of time when working on emails with plenty of video content.
Undo and Change History
Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. But that doesn't mean you have to live with them. Once you have made any changes in the email editor. you'll see a small undo widget in the lower left corner of the screen.
Use the left arrow to undo your most recent change. Toggling between the left and right arrows will allow you to move back and forth between changes if needed.
The history icon on the left will open a timeline of all the changes made during your current editing session. Each change listed will include the content type or element changed, a brief description of the change, and the date and time when the change was made.
Select any set in the timeline to revert and undo all changes made after that step. When a step is selected, the content is changed in that step will also be automatically highlighted.
While working on your email, you may periodically see an autosave warning at the top of the screen:
The autosave will temporarily cause the page to display a spinning icon instead, but should not last more than a few seconds. It is recommended that users do not cancel this process to avoid losing any progress in editing their email.
You can manually save your progress at any time by clicking on the Actions button in the upper right. There, users can choose to save and continue working, or save and return to the main email screen.
Use the Preview option to see what your email will look like, on a desktop screen or on a mobile device. Send a test email to see your email in your inbox and make sure it renders correctly. Note: Merge Fields and custom senders will not be populated for a test email.
Once you have finished putting your email together, you must publish it before sending. Click here to learn more about publishing emails. Once your email is ready to use, click Next in the lower right to continue through the wizard and send your email.
The Target step provides options for determining the recipients of your email.
When creating a new email, you were required to specify an Email List. This list will be used as the default for sending the email, which would be sent to the primary email address of each Individual on the list. But this is just one of three options:
Selecting the Send to List option will allow you the option of including or excluding specific records based on a Contact or Individual query, allowing for greater flexibility when sending an email - just click the "Show Advanced Options" link.
When sending an email via a list, your email list must be created a minimum of 15 minutes prior to sending your email. It is recommended that you create your email list before creating your email, to allow time for the list to be generated.
Choosing to send to a Contact query will allow users to select one or more Contact queries, and then specify which Individuals within the included Contacts should receive the email:
- Primary: Only the primary email address for the Primary Individual will be used.
- Primary and Secondary: If there are email addresses for both the Primary and Secondary Individuals on any records, both the primary email address for the Primary Individual and the primary email address for the Secondary Individual will be used.
- All: The primary email address for each Individual listed under a Contact record will be used.
Sending an email using a Contact query will add all of the Individuals receiving the email to the Email List specified on the email, making it easier to manage future sends.
Choosing to send to an Individual Query will allow users to select one or more Individual queries. The primary email address for each Individual from a Query should receive the email. Sending an email using an Individual Query will also add those Individuals receiving the email to the Email List specified on the email.
Once you have made your selections, click Next again to continue.
The "Specify" step is where you will determine when your email is sent. If your email is ready to right away, click on the "Send it Right Now" button on the left.
For future delivery, use the calendar option on the right to select a day up to one year in the future for sending your email. Once a day is selected, click on the clock to specify a time of day as well. Double-check the time zone to make sure you are choosing the correct delivery time.
Once you have chosen a delivery date and time, click on "Send Later" to confirm.
Clicking on either the "Send it Right Now" option or the "Send Later" option will advance you to the "Send" step, where you will confirm your selections.
Once an email has been scheduled to send, you will need to cancel the send from the Sent Email screen and then re-schedule a new send if there are any changes to be made.
Now you are all set to craft emails with ease!