Incorporate Recent RSS Entries into MailChimp as a Bulleted List

MailChimp's RSS-to-email feature provides a special tag for automatically linking to the recent articles of a blog. However, the tag doesn't add bullets before each article title, making it difficult to distinguish which article is which. I've tried a number of things to add the bullets, some suggested by MailChimp support, with no luck. It turns out that there is a way—just not using the standard tag.

Background

For those unfamiliar, MailChimp is an email marketing tool. It provides features for managing email lists, sending out and tracking email campaigns, and more. Their RSS-to-email feature is what drew me to MailChimp.

The feature is designed to automatically send messages as posts are made to a blog. The blog's RSS feed just needs to be incorporated into an email campaign using MailChimp's merge tags.

The Problem

The tag that I've struggled with is *|RSS:RECENT|*. The tag generates links for the five most recent RSS entries. The problem is that the links don't appear as a bulleted list. It's just a series of links. Without the bullets it's difficult to tell where one title ends and another begins—especially if any of the titles are long enough to wrap.

I'm not sure why MailChimp has designed the merge tag this way. After all, they have a similar tag called *|MC:TOC|* that adds bullets. Luckily there's an alternative which isn't grouped with the RSS-driven campaign tags.

The Solution

Within the documentation for merge tags, there is another series of feed-related options. One of them, *|FEEDBLOCK:URL|*, allows you to loop through individual RSS entries. To display the 5 most recent articles from the CyberScorpion Bytes blog, for example, add the following code to a MailChimp campaign:

*|FEEDBLOCK:http://www.cyberscorpion.com/feed/|*
*|FEEDITEMS:[$count=5]|*
*|FEEDITEM:TITLE|*
*|END:FEEDBLOCK|*

To make the titles clickable links

  1. Highlight the *|FEEDITEM:TITLE|* tag
  2. Click the insert link icon (see Figure 1)
  3. In the Web Address (URL) field, enter *|FEEDITEM:URL|*
  4. Click Insert
MailChimp screenshot showing the insert link option
Figure 1. Insert Link Option

With *|FEEDITEM:TITLE|* still highlighted, click the bulleted list option to add bullets (see Figure 2). The new code should look like Figure 3.

MailChimp screenshot showing the bulleted list option
Figure 2. Bulleted List Option
MailChimp screenshot showing the updated code
Figure 3. Updated Code

If everything is set up correctly, the preview mode should display the list as expected.

Conclusion

Now, the alternate way of getting the recent entries from an RSS feed requires some extra coding. But until MailChimp fixes the other merge tag; we at least have a way to display the entries as a bulleted list. Plus, the alternative may even work better for those wanting more control over what's used from the RSS feed. For example, you could bring in the date associated with the entries…or a quick summary. It's up to you.

4 Comments

  • #1 Tevya on 07.15.15 at 7:21 pm

    Thank you! Very helpful. I've wondered how to do this a long time.

  • #2 MariĆ«lle on 12.06.15 at 9:51 am

    Hi,
    This sounds almost like the solution I'm looking for.
    The MC:TOC tag is limited to display only 10 items. I want to display every item since the last time I send the campaign.
    I couldn't find where to change that max # so this sounded like something I could use to add the extra links underneath the listed items, but then I would like to start at item 11 and from then on would like to show $count10
    Is that possible?

  • #3 Patrick Nichols on 12.06.15 at 7:38 pm

    @MariĆ«lle – I'm sorry to say that I don't know. Looking through the documentation (Feedblock RSS Merge Tags), I didn't see anything for setting an offset.

  • #4 Wayan on 03.22.18 at 3:28 am

    I've been looking for this solution for years – thank you!

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