A weekly newsletter populated by multiple CMS blog posts

Hi! I’m loving the supportive community here.

I want to use the Webflow site I’m building as a hub for my organisation’s news and reflections (created as CMS blog posts) to be sent out in weekly email newsletters (as well as FB posts, but that’s not as important right now).

The newsletters need to be:
• Populated by 2-4 of the latest blog posts (name, body, summary, image, link to read more on the website), filtered by a ‘featured’ function
• Stylable - so I can choose how they appear (fonts, formatting, image size and dimensions, etc.)
• Somewhat automated, like a template that draws from the Webflow CMS that I don’t need to recreate every week - but I would like to check it before it goes out

I’m primarily a graphic designer but learning the ins and outs of web development (very very new to coding). Happy to learn how I can create a sort of template like this, but not sure if there are any integrations that suit, or where to go to teach myself to make my own solution!

Any suggestions? Thanks very much!

Hi Petra,

Most modern email newsletter solution like Mailchimp and MailerLite offer RSS integration.
It can usually be found in one ( or both ) of these ways;

  • As an RSS_driven campaign, which sends out an email every time a new item appears on the RSS feed. I use this most frequently so that news goes out immediately, and you can show e.g. the next most recent few articles as well.
  • As an RSS Element within a scheduled campaign. Setup a weekly campaign, and in it, it includes the N most recent RSS items, whether or not there’s anything new since the prev newsletter.
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Hey Michael,

Thanks so much for your suggestions! I’ll look more into how RSS works. I think a colleague of mine tried to set it up that way through Mailchimp but found he couldn’t do much formatting or styling. Haven’t heard of MailerLite - would you recommend one particular platform over another for something like this?

Styling wise, you’re only restricted to what your email newsletter provider gives you in the designer. You won’t get Webflow-level design capabilities in part because email readers are FAR more inconsistent and picky than browsers are.

Email HTML is sort of a weird mongoloid cousin of normal HTML.

Note that Webflow does not emit rich text in the RSS, so you can’t deliver the full article content anyway- you’d link back to your site from the email.

Personally Mailchimp has lost favor with me, because of their UI changes and pricing changes, and because I’ve had serious issues migrating customers there with existing customer lists.

Mailerlite is tiny and simple but it’s a great tool. What I like is it’s cheap, and it offers web-integrated popups as well, which my clients like the ability to manage.

I like it enough that I signed up for their affiliate program, because I use it for all of my clients. I’ve just added it to my notes page here-

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Really appreciate your comments, Michael. Everything is making both more and less sense to me at the same time, haha! Just because it is so complex.

I’ve been experimenting with MailerLite and I think it might work for what we need. Now that I’ve found out how to use RSS, I’m a little disappointed with how limited the Webflow feed is (I can’t include custom fields like ‘author’ or ‘category’), but it seems like any workarounds might be quite complicated. That said, this is better than what I had before and I’ll continue experimenting!

Yes, on both counts.

Webflow’s built-in RSS support is limited but actually so is the RSS spec. There are extensions like mRSS ( for media, e.g. photo and video feeds ), but Webflow would have to decide which ones it’s supporting and build some rather extensive publishing tools to create those configuration options.

For now, I think you can place your author and category as plain text within the item description to get them into the RSS. It doesn’t give you formatting options in the email but it works.

If you wanted to get fancier, you might be able to parse your RSS feed and generate a new one with that data properly tagged. Feedburner used to support some transforms like that, I’m not sure who the current players are.

You could also have your RSS watched by Zapier / Make and then on a new item, parse it and use it to launch your newsletter.

But of course these approaches get geeky fast.

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Thanks Michael,

It works to add more fields under the Item Description! I tried also writing some HTML in there too, but it seems to get lost along the way (or I did it wrong).

How it appears in MailerLite’s HTML view:

How it appears in the MailerLite preview:

But it might be good enough to just use a colon so it just appears as ‘Author: Blurb…

I was looking at Zapier too, but it looked like I could only make RSS to go TO Webflow, not FROM - unless I missed something!

Yes, unfortunately, HTML is encoded, it works a bit differently than the custom code embed does.

For plaintext, I usually write it as, e.g.

Author | Description

The vertical pipe breaks it visually in a nice way.
You might be able to use

Author | Blog Category
Description

… if line breaks carry through? I have not tested that.

Also yes if you wanted to get much more complex, Zapier can create an entirely new feed and there is definitely a way to include your full Blog content if you want.

I’ve done a video here if you want to see how it can all be connected.

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That video was really helpful, Michael! I feel pretty confident I can apply those steps, and I’m going to look into whether we can get a paid Zapier plan. It would be helpful to have the post body in some of the emails, and a bonus if it takes out that Javascript code step.

I have 10 days of paid capabilities on Zapier so I’m looking at what that makes it possible to do. At the end of the video, you said you can set the trigger to be when a new CMS collection is added, and Zapier makes the RSS feed from that? I can only find these three Webflow triggers:

Where might I find the trigger you’re speaking of?

Hey Petra, yow, I forgot Zapier’s Webflow triggers were that limited.

Normally you would just use a webhook instead, but looking at the API details, I’ve realized there’s another big gap in this integration. Webhook has Item Created and Item Updated webhooks but nothing related to publishing- and that complicates things badly.

The problem is that to construct Zapier’s RSS feed, you will generally only want to add items that are published and only the first time they are published. Updates should not be re-added.

So to make this work correctly, you’d need an intermediate tracking table… it would store a list of all CMS items that have come in, but it would only perform the add to RSS function the first time an item an item is marked as published. That’s a fair bit of overhead for this, so I’d only bother with that path if this is really important to you.

Another approach would have been to trigger off of Webflow’s RSS updates- since that will only add newly published items at the top. And then you’d use that to look up the Webflow CMS item to retrieve the rich text and author data. But… Webflow also doesn’t have an action for finding a CMS item from the slug, so, another wall.

Upshot is, you’d need to basically build your own RSS feed generator.

I can’t help you much more on investigating the automation approach, because Webflow and Zapier are just too loosely-coupled. But if you’re seriously in need of building this, and want to hire a dev to build it, feel free to PM me.

Hi @Petra :wave:

Here’s how I’ve tackled this problem in the past. It may or may not work for your specific needs, but more options to noodle on :laughing:

For this approach you just need 2 services… Webflow + ConvertKit (email)

RSS Feed

Publish a Webflow RSS feed. Fairly straightforward.

ConvertKit

Use a free ConvertKit account and have them handle the messy details for you!

They’ll monitor your RSS feed, and do something you tell them to do with it when they find a new blog post.

Here are some examples…

  • Send new blog posts to your readers automatically
  • Select whether you want your RSS feed to be in ‘Single’ or ‘Digest’ mode
  • Choose which day of the week and the best time to send it
  • Select whether you want your RSS feed to send automatically or review it manually then send it.
  • Select your email template (like all services you get what you get with their template editors, this is no worse than some of the best I’ve used in the past)
  • Select the subscribers you’d like to receive your RSS feed emails (segment your list)

…and the list of options just go on and on :rofl:

ConvertKit is a rock solid email service provider, and a great place to start.

Webflow + ConvertKit will be all that you need to get going.

Their free tier does A LOT.

But when you want to get more advanced, their $9/mo tier does far more than any other I’ve used before (and I’ve used a bunch over the years).

They have really advanced stuff when you need it, but keep it simple when you don’t.

P.S.

The founder, Nathan is also a really good guy. His company is bootstrapped, he’s in it for the long haul, contributes back to the community, treats his employees respectfully, and has a bunch of wonderful resources to help you grow your own audience if that’s an interest to you.

Hi Chris,

Thanks so much for your suggestions. I’m looking into ConvertKit. It seems to have similar capabilities to MailerLite and Mailchimp from what I’m seeing, with a few cool automation features. It’s also great that their founder/staff are so onto it.

The problem I’m having now is with Webflow’s very limited RSS feed itself, but it’s looking like any potential solutions are far too complicated for me!

For now, we’ll probably work with something like MailerLite or ConvertKit and keep an eye out for any other good integrations.

Thanks!