Making The Right Choice for your Needs: Prebuilt Vs. Custom Templates In Mailchimp

Reading Time: 8 Minutes

Everyone has heard of Mailchimp—the most popular email marketing platform. But if you’ve found your way here, you’re probably looking to create engaging and effective email campaigns using this incredibly user-friendly tool.

One key feature that makes Mailchimp user-friendly is its extensive library of prebuilt and custom-coded email templates. 

Prebuilt email templates are pre-designed layouts that help you quickly launch professional-looking email marketing campaigns with minimal effort.

But what if you want your emails to stand out from the crowd? This is where Mailchimp’s custom email templates come in. 

Custom templates allow Mailchimp developers to create unique email designs from scratch that perfectly align with your brand’s personality and ethos. These custom templates deliver a distinctive experience for your audience, making your emails memorable and impactful.

In this blog, we’ll explore the world of Mailchimp templates, exploring both prebuilt and custom email template options. We’ll weigh the pros and cons of each, helping you decide which approach is best for your specific needs.

Prebuilt Templates in Mailchimp  

Crafting beautiful and engaging emails can be a real challenge, especially if you’re just starting with email marketing. But don’t worry—Mailchimp has your back with a fantastic array of prebuilt templates to get your email campaigns off the ground quickly and easily.

Mailchimp’s prebuilt templates are ready-made layouts designed to make your emails look professional and engaging without the hassle. With over 130 templates tailored to various needs—from sales promotions to newsletters—you’ll find something that fits your specific intent. Mailchimp people have teamed up with expert designers to bring you stunning templates for industries like e-commerce, holidays, sports, and events. Mailchimp’s custom email templates allow you to further personalize your emails to match your brand and unique requirements.

These pre-designed themes let you quickly choose a template, plug in your content, and voila! You’ve got a professional-looking email ready to go. They’re not just a quick fix—Mailchimp email builder can also serve as a springboard for your unique designs in the future.

User-Friendly Customization

Mailchimp’s interface makes it easy to personalize these prebuilt templates, and the best part? No coding skills are needed! The drag-and-drop editor lets you:

  • Swap Colors and Fonts: Easily match your brand’s colors and fonts using pre-defined palettes and font families, or choose your shades using the color-picking tool.
  • Add Your Logo: Boost brand recognition by effortlessly uploading and adjusting your logo.
  • Insert Images and Videos: Bring your emails to life with engaging visuals, whether product photos or event snapshots.
  • Edit Text Content: Tailor the template’s text to your message by replacing placeholder text with your own words.

Benefits of Using Prebuilt Templates

Mailchimp’s prebuilt templates are a game-changer for anyone looking to launch impactful email campaigns without the hassle of starting from scratch. 

Now, don’t get us wrong, prebuilt templates aren’t perfect for everyone (we’ll get to that in a sec). But for busy marketers and anyone new to the email game. Here’s why:

Easy to Use and Time-Saving

Creating professional emails doesn’t have to be a headache. Mailchimp’s prebuilt templates are super easy to use, even if you’re not a design pro. Just drag and drop to customize, and you’re ready to go. This means you can spend less time fussing over design and more time connecting with your audience.

Wide Variety of Designs

Mailchimp has a template no matter what type of email you’re sending—newsletters, promotions, or announcements. With so many options, you’re sure to find a design that fits your brand and purpose perfectly. 


Ever opened an email on your phone that looked terrible? Mailchimp’s templates are mobile-responsive, so your emails will look great on any device. Whether your audience is on a smartphone, tablet, or desktop, your emails will always look polished and professional.

Image Source: Mailchimp

No Coding Needed

Small brands often don’t have the luxury of hiring a full-time email template developer or designer. Mailchimp’s prebuilt templates eliminate the need for coding skills, making it easy for anyone on your team to create an air of professionalism in your email newsletters. This saves time, reduces costs, and empowers you to focus on growing your brand.

Perfect Starting Point for Customization

Mailchimp’s templates give you a solid foundation to tweak to match your brand easily. Change colors, swap fonts, add your logo, and insert images or videos. It’s all about making the template work for you without starting from scratch.

Drawbacks of Using Prebuilt Templates

Mailchimp’s prebuilt templates are awesome for a quick and easy email campaign launch. But, like anything in life, they come with some trade-offs. Here’s why a prebuilt template might not always be your BFF:

May Lack Brand Uniqueness

Prebuilt templates are popular for a reason – they’re easy to use! But that also means a lot of other businesses might be rocking the same design as you. If standing out from the crowd and maintaining a unique brand identity is a priority, a prebuilt template might not offer the unique look you crave.

Design Control Freak? You Might Get Frustrated

Prebuilt templates offer a set layout and structure. While you can customize colors, fonts, and content, you’re somewhat stuck with the overall design. This can be limiting for creative minds who want complete control over the look and feel of their emails.

Limited Functionality

Not all prebuilt templates are created equal. Some might be limited in their functionalities. Want to include a fancy interactive element or a specific signup form? A prebuilt template might not be flexible enough to accommodate your needs.

Custom Mailchimp Templates 

If you’re itching for more control over your email design than what our templates offer, diving into custom templates might just be the ticket. With custom templates, designers can tap into Mailchimp’s template language to whip up dynamic templates that can be imported as HTML.

This feature is a dream come true for web designers working with clients. It allows them to craft sections that are editable, repeatable, or even hideable, giving them the power to create personalized and flexible email designs that perfectly match their client’s unique needs and preferences.

Image Source: Mailchimp

When crafting custom Mailchimp templates, prepare for a ball game that is different from the user-friendly drag-and-drop editing you’re used to with prebuilt options. Here’s the lowdown on what to expect:

Coding Know-How Required

Creating custom templates means rolling up your sleeves and diving into some code. You’ll be working with Mailchimp’s template language, which means having a solid grasp of HTML and CSS is key. If coding isn’t your forte, teaming up with a developer with these skills can be a game-changer.

Rigorous Testing is a Must

Building your email from scratch means there’s no room for shortcuts in testing. It’s essential to test your custom template across various devices and email clients. This ensures that your email renders flawlessly and all functionalities work as intended.

Who Should Use Mailchimp’s Custom Templates?

Custom templates are a perfect fit for:

Established Businesses with Strong Branding

Companies with a well-defined brand identity and a dedicated marketing team can leverage custom templates to create highly personalized email campaigns that perfectly embody their brand.

Marketing Agencies Catering to Diverse Clients

Agencies managing email marketing for multiple clients can benefit from the flexibility of custom templates, which allow them to create campaigns that cater to each client’s specific brand requirements.

Developers with HTML & CSS Expertise

Developers with experience in coding languages like HTML and CSS can leverage their skills to create custom templates that meet the unique needs of their projects.

Benefits of Using Custom Mailchimp Templates

Custom Mailchimp templates offer some serious perks that can up your email marketing game:

Complete Design Control for a Unique Brand Identity

With custom Mailchimp templates, you’re not just another fish in the sea. You can shape every aspect of your email design, from colors and fonts to layout and imagery. Basically, your emails become an extension of your brand, building recognition and trust with every send.

Tailored to Specific Campaign Goals and Branding Elements

Every campaign is different, and custom Mailchimp templates let you tailor your emails to fit like a glove. Whether launching a new product, promoting a killer deal, or just saying “Hey,” you can customize your template to match your vibe perfectly. 

Personalization That Packs a Punch

People love feeling special, and custom Mailchimp templates make it easy to give them that warm fuzzy feeling. From personalized greetings to content that speaks directly to their interests, you can create emails that feel like they were made just for them. And when your audience feels seen and heard, they’re more likely to engage—which means better results for you.

Image Source: Litmus

Drawbacks of Using Custom Mailchimp Templates

Like any powerful tool, Mailchimp custom templates come with their own set of challenges:

Require Design Skills or Investment in Design Services

Building a custom template requires some design know-how. You’ll need to be familiar with HTML and CSS or be prepared to invest in a designer who is. While Mailchimp offers resources to help you get started, it’s not quite as drag-and-drop friendly as prebuilt templates.

Can Be Time-Consuming to Create and Maintain

Building a custom Mailchimp template from scratch isn’t something you can knock out in an afternoon. It takes time to get it right, from initial design to testing and tweaking. Once your template is up and running, you’ll need to stay on top of maintenance to ensure it continues to perform optimally over time.

Testing and Optimizing

Even the most beautifully crafted custom Mailchimp template won’t do you much good if it doesn’t perform well. That’s why rigorous testing and optimization are essential. You’ll need to test your template across different devices and email clients to ensure it renders correctly, and you may need to tweak elements to improve deliverability and engagement rates. It’s a bit of extra work, but trust me, the results are worth it.

Choosing the Right Option: Prebuilt vs. Custom Mailchimp Templates

When it comes to deciding between prebuilt and custom Mailchimp templates, here are a few key factors to consider:

Design Skills and Resources

If you’re design-savvy or can access design resources, use custom templates. But, if time or design expertise is limited, prebuilt templates are a quick fix.

Brand Consistency and Uniqueness

Custom templates are a no-brainer for businesses that place a high value on brand consistency and uniqueness. 

Complexity of Email Content and Desired Functionalities

Prebuilt templates work for simple content, but custom templates offer flexibility for complex needs. Custom templates are the way to go if you require specific functionalities or complex designs.

Potential Future Needs and Scalability

Finally, consider your future needs and scalability. Will your email marketing efforts grow over time? If so, custom templates may offer more scalability and flexibility to adapt to your evolving needs.

Ultimately, the right choice depends on your circumstances and goals. By weighing these factors carefully, you can make an informed decision that sets you up for email marketing success.


Choosing between prebuilt and custom templates in Mailchimp ultimately depends on your unique needs and goals. Prebuilt templates offer convenience, ease of use, and quick turnaround times, making them ideal for those new to email marketing or those needing to launch campaigns swiftly. They provide a solid foundation with professional designs, ensuring your emails look polished and engaging without requiring design skills.

On the other hand, custom templates offer unparalleled flexibility and control, allowing you to create highly personalized and branded email campaigns. While they require more time, effort, and potential investment in design services, the payoff is a distinctive and memorable email experience that aligns perfectly with your brand identity.

Evaluate your resources, design expertise, and the complexity of your email content to determine which option best suits your needs. Whether you choose prebuilt or custom templates, Mailchimp provides powerful tools to help you create impactful email campaigns that resonate with your audience. You can enhance your email marketing efforts and achieve your business goals by making the right choice.

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

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