Shopify HTML Email Templates: A Beginner’s Guide

By Cesar Beltran
SHOPIFY HTML EMAIL TEMPLATES: A BEGINNER’S GUIDE created by Shopify website developers

Shopify rocks, but it doesn’t have a sexy interface for setting up HTML Emails (like MailChimp or AWeber).  To get good-looking email notifications set up in your store, they say you need to know how to code in HTML….  Or do you?

This article covers the basics of setting up HTML Emails in Shopify.

Psst… Before we start: Want to save hours researching, coding and tweaking your Shopify Email Templates?

First Up: Why Bother Using HTML Email Templates In Shopify?

Because, rather than plain old’ text emails, your customers will see your branding, background colors, logo, and whatever else you choose:

text-based-vs-html-email-templates

Plain text Email: Shopify’s Default          

HTML Email Templates: Sexier

How Do I Enable HTML Email Templates?

1.  Create your colorful template in MailChimp, AWeber or another editor.

Unless you want to code your HTML Email Template from scratch, I’d suggest using another service to help you.  Here are several good ones:

2.  Convert your HTML to inline styles

Once you have your HTML Email template, you can’t just paste it straight into Shopify.  Why?  Because web services like Gmail and Hotmail use inline HTML, not CSS, to render their emails.  The tools you used (above) will have cleverly incorporated CSS into your template, to govern all the styles in your emails.

In a nutshell:  If you use normal CSS rules to set the styles in your email, Gmail and Hotmail will delete your styles and show a plain-text email again.

To get around this, you need to use inline styles.  Copy your HTML code (the one you created above, for example, using MailChimp), and paste it into this website: https://inlinestyler.torchboxapps.com/

That will give you inline HTML code.  Booyah.

3.  Enable HTML in your Shopify Store

Go to your Shopify Admin Panel > Emails and Notifications.  Choose the email you want to customize, and then hit “Enable HTML Template”:

enable-html-email

4.  Add your content

From there, you need to play around with what content you want to show.  If you have a heading, use “ctrl+F” on the Shopify page to find your heading and edit it if needed.  Same goes for your email’s content (“Thanks for your order” etc.) and footer (phone number/email).

5.  Add the Shopify code into your HTML Template

This is really important.  It’s no good having a good-looking email template if your Shopify code doesn’t get put in there to tell the customer what they ordered.  To do this, you need to copy the text-based email content from the box above, and paste it into the right place in your HTML email template, thusly:

shopify-code-into-html

6.  Preview, test, and edit until it’s finished

From here, you can preview the email, send yourself a test version, and keep tweaking until you’re happy with it.

preview1

You can then repeat for all the emails you want to customize (for example, Shopify provides emails for Order Notification, Shipping Confirmation, New Order, etc.).

Don’t forget: If you’d like a done-for-you set of templates you can set up in under 10 minutes, you can download our template by clicking the button below.

Final notes
  • To be honest, this isn’t easy.  It does take some time, but it’s worth it when you have great-looking emails going out to your customers.
  • Be careful – there’s no ‘undo’:  Save versions of your HTML template regularly as you update them. Then back them up again.  Shopify’s HTML Email template system is just a text box – there’s no MS Word-Like autosave feature or an undo button.

Good luck and happy emailing!

***

Thank you again for following our Shopify Insider Blog @ BlackbeltCommerce,  we have many other valuable posts that are informative.  Here are our top recommendations; Shortcodes For Shopify and 4 Days In. We can also help you with many other services.  Also, you can learn all about who are the Shopify Experts at Blackbelt Commerce.

Questions? Let us know in the comments below.

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Comments 15

    1. Hey Christina! Glad you’re making good progress. To style your links, you’d need to enclose them within the relevant HTML tags. For example:

      To make a link bold, use : Your Link Text Goes Here
      To make a link italic, use : Your Link Text Goes Here

      Others you could use:

  1. Hi Tristan

    Thank you for the great post. I am REALLY new too all of this and am trying to use an aweber email template as my shopify order confirmation email. I have created the email using the email template but now do not seem to be able to view it as HTML. Can you tell me where I am going wrong?

    Many thanks 🙂

    1. Hey Laura! Glad you liked the post. It could be a bit tricky to integrate it with an AWeber Template, as I think they use their own formatting styles & stylesheets. What exactly isn’t working properly? For example, do you see nothing, or does it just look out of line?

      To view it as HTML, click on “HTML Preview” or you could also try sending a test email.
      Cheers — Tristan.

  2. Hi Tristan,

    Thanks for the article. I didn’t want to have to use Shopify’s plain email format.

    I am having difficulty with the text-based email content for shipping, etc.
    It is placing above a sentence, and I would like it below that sentence. And, it shows as a paragraph, and I would like each item to have it’s own line. Price, Item, etc.

    Would I be able to send you the HTML in a word document and could you suggest the area where I should paste the info?

    Thanks,

    Jonathan

    1. Hey Chris,
      Shopify gives you 7 email templates to work with. You can’t have multiple variations of each one – you can only have one, because they’re sent at specific times.

      For example: When someone orders on your store, they’ll get an email from the notification template called “Order Notification”. Here are the 7 templates that come with Shopify – https://docs.shopify.com/manual/settings/notifications

      So – you can only overwrite an existing email template. You *can* have a text version and a HTML version, but you can’t have multiple versions of the HTML template.

      I hope that helps to clarify!
      Tristan.

  3. Hi Tristan,

    Thanks so much for this article. Really helpful.

    I just wanted to know, would I be using mailchimp (or similar) just to create the html code, without needing a paid mailchimp account? Or would I be sending ‘mailchimp’ emails somehow, and ultimately need to have a paid mailchimp account when my email reaches a certain volume?

    I hope what I’m asking makes sense. Please excuse my ignorance.

    Thank you.

    1. Hey Nic!

      Sure, that makes sense. You can use a free MailChimp account. You’re basically using MailChimp to create the template, then pasting that into Shopify and adjusting. So you don’t need a MailChimp paid account – just a free one. I believe MailChimp is free for up to 2,000 subscribers per month. (Best to check their site for the details) – you should be fine with a free account.

      Graphic River is also good – you can pick up good-looking email templates for around $15.

      Hope that helps!

  4. Hi there – nice article. I see no mention of the (annoying) fact that Shopify doesn’t send html emails when you manually trigger them from admin (eg to send account invites or order updates).

    Do you know any way around this?

    By the way Klaviyo seems good (after a day or so use) and they have a couple of pre-set templates for Shopify with the Shopify liquid code (for dynamically inserting customer name, order# etc) already in there. About as easy to use as mailchimp.

    Cheers,

    Rory

    1. Hey Rory,

      Thanks for reading and glad you liked the guide. I’ve heard some good things about Klayvio, nice one.

      For the HTML emails when sending a test — if you flip to “HTML Email” screen in Shopify when you’re doing the testing, then hit “Send Test Email”, it will indeed send you the HTML version.

      To clarify, if you go to Admin > Settings > Notifications > Order Confirmation, then flip to the “HTML Email” tab and hit Send Test Email, it should send you the HTML version in the test email. Hope that helps!

  5. Hi Tristan,

    Thanks so much for the article- it is great! My only problem is, I may be being really stupid, but how do i find the html once I’ve designed my Mailchimp template- I can’t seem to access it anywhere- do I have to start again and create a new mailchimp template using html?

    Thanks so much for your help!

    Catriona

    1. Hi Catriona,
      There should be a little icon like this: [<>] that will take you to the HTML view in MailChimp. You could also try looking under “My Templates”. Best to contact Mailchimp if you’re not sure though. Hope that helps! 🙂
      Tristan.

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