Attachments and embeds with Mailchimp

By Tim Priebe on May 4, 2022

By Tim Priebe on May 4, 2022

I love Mailchimp. I have more Freddie figurines than I can count. It’s not that I have hundreds of them; I just have them scattered over multiple locations, including a storage unit. But it’s definitely more than three, which means I have more Freddies than I have children.

When it comes to sending emails, Mailchimp is awesome. It’s simple to use, super affordable, and versatile enough to handle most email campaigns. But there’s a question I’ve heard repeatedly over the years: “Tim, how do I include attachments and embeds in my emails in Mailchimp?”

As is the case with many questions in life, the answer is not as simple as the people asking it assume.

Let’s look at what we can and can’t do with attachments and embeds in Mailchimp and some workarounds to get you what you really want.

Can you include attachments in Mailchimp?

The short answer? No. The slightly longer answer? Sort of.

As you may have figured out, if you’ve used Mailchimp for any time, their email system doesn’t work like Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, or any other email platform you would use for normal, day-to-day emailing. You know, like sending your friend a snarky GIF, asking your uncle if you can borrow $100, or letting your boss know you’ll be in late because you went to the midnight showing of the latest Marvel movie.

Oh, you use texting for all that?

Well, the point is that Mailchimp’s emails work differently than normal emails. They don’t allow attachments as that can negatively impact your deliverability rates. As a result, you can’t just drag a file in and attach it. But there may be hope!

What is a workaround for attaching files in Mailchimp?

Start by asking yourself, “Self, why do I want to include an attachment in the first place?”

Some people want to attach PDFs, like an ebook they wrote on great sales tips, a menu for the delicious food they cater, or a sign-up sheet to volunteer for a fundraiser. Others want to attach images, like headshots for a staff page on their website or photos for social media. And still others just want to be able to send normal attachments, like that snarky GIF I mentioned earlier.

The point is that you don’t really want to attach a file to an email. What you’re actually wanting is the people you email to be able to download a file.

If you want people to download a file, you have to start by uploading it. There are plenty of places you can upload a file in such a way that other people can access it:

  • Your website
  • Google Drive
  • Dropbox
  • My Files section of Mailchimp’s Content Studio

That last one will likely be the best bet, although there are limitations to what they’ll let you upload. You can only upload certain file types (although there are currently plenty of types allowed) and a max of 1 MB for image files and 10 MB for other file types.

So if you want to send a high-resolution photo of that model of the starship Enterprise to sell it to your email list, you’ll have to go with another option.

Once you have the file uploaded somewhere, all you need to do is include a link to it in your Mailchimp email. That way, when people click on the link, they’ll download the file.

Want step-by-step instructions on “attaching” files in Mailchimp? Fortunately, Mailchimp’s official documentation has you covered!

Can you embed files in Mailchimp?

You can’t embed a file in Mailchimp. Well, you technically can—sort of. Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

Believe it or not, embedding a file is totally different than attaching a file. There are a few things you can embed in your Mailchimp campaign:

  • Images
  • YouTube video (sort of)
  • Vimeo video (sort of)

That’s it! In reality, all three of those end up as images. When you embed a YouTube video or a Vimeo video, Mailchimp actually grabs the thumbnail of the video and embeds it in your email as an image. Then it simply links the image to the video’s web page.

Despite Mailchimp clearly claiming you can insert a video into your email, you’re really just inserting images in all three cases.

So can you actually embed files in Mailchimp? Well, an image is a file, so technically, the answer is yes. But in a much more real sense, the answer is no.

What about a code block?

If you’re particularly nerdy, you might wonder if you can just grab some embed code from your favorite embed code provider (Who has a favorite embed code provider, anyway?), plop it into one of Mailchimp’s code blocks, and be good to go.

Well, as a particularly nerdy person myself, I can tell you that email’s HTML abilities stink. The ability of customized HTML code to work across most email clients is abysmal. It’s not the code’s fault; it’s the email clients’ fault. Most of them choke on HTML that’s more recent than the pilot episode of Friends.

Some email clients may display your custom HTML embed code just fine, but I wouldn’t count on it.

This is why Mailchimp’s blocks exist in the first place. They’ve tested their HTML code extensively and know it will display correctly in the majority of email clients, or at least fail gracefully.

What is a workaround for embedding files in Mailchimp?

Again, you have to ask yourself, “Self, why do I want to embed a file in the first place?”

Probably, the answer is that you want someone to be able to see the file immediately when opening the email and then access the file.

The workaround? Upload an image preview of the file, then just link it like the workaround for attaching a file!

Let’s say you want to embed a PDF of amazing sales tips. You could upload a preview image of the first page (or even just the cover) and then link it to the PDF. That way, people can see what they’re getting right away, instead of a boring download button.

That’s much more enticing, right? And now someone will be that much more likely to actually download the file, getting you some of those sweet, sweet clicks.

What are you waiting for? Start including files to your Mailchimp campaigns today! Not sure how? Contact us for help. We’re experts in Mailchimp (and file attachments?), and we can get you up and running! We would be happy to talk and see if we’re a good fit for you (and vice versa).

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