Emma Tutorial

What's Emma?

Emma is the email marketing software that University Marketing has chosen to assist departments/offices with the creation and sending of email campaigns. It has a drag-and-drop interface similar to CMS 4, manages subscriber lists, and provides reports measuring the effectiveness of a campaign. While departments are free to use any email newsletter service they want, we only provide support for Emma. GVSU-branded email templates are available for university use and we can help with basic troubleshooting. Departments are responsible for content and recipient lists.

For brand consistency and maintenance reasons, we are unable to accommodate department requests for custom Emma templates. 

Please note the following:

  • Only one Emma account will be created per department/office.
  • University Marketing's contract with Emma is per contact (email address), not per email sent. Please clear your contacts as soon as possible, and do not store recipient lists in the system—they count against our contract quota even if they're not being used. 
  • Full access will be given to faculty and staff only; limited access (with no ability to send campaigns) can be given to student employees. 
  • Emma accounts with no activity in a 12-month span will be deleted. Also, be aware that Emma automatically deletes all campaign data 18 months after the send date. 

Want access?

Please fill out the Emma account request form. Set up will typically be completed within 1-2 weeks. 

To add administrators to an existing account, please have a current administrator contact Kelley Rogers.

Getting Started

After logging in, the first screen you'll see is the account summary. Click "Campaigns" in the top navigation bar.


If your account is new, click the blue "Create new campaign" button in the center of the screen. If you're starting a new email, the "Create new campaign" button is located on the right side of the screen. After clicking either button, you'll first be prompted to name your email campaign. 

If you want to edit an existing email, simply click the email's name. 

the Campaigns screen

To view your template options, click "Show templates" in the upper left corner of the editing screen. Template options are dependent on your office/department. To change your template, click any of the thumbnails.

To change your campaign's name, click the pencil icon in the upper left corner. 

An email open for editing

Adding and Editing Content

Content Types

The left column is where your content options are - images, text, text with images, buttons, social media icons, videos, etc. Any of these can be dragged and dropped onto your email.

Information about what each option can do.


When dragging a content block in, you'll see yellow "DROP HERE" bars, showing where your content can be placed. The yellow bar will change to green when hovering over an available location. 

Content drop indicators

Text formatting and adding links is done via the toolbar that appears after clicking on text.

Hint: The "paragraph" drop down includes options to make formatting headings and sub-headings easier! 

Text editing options

Clicking the yellow bar's gear icon will bring up any styles and settings for that content block. You can adjust things like image quantity and alignment, margin and padding around your image and/or text. 

You can also rearrange content blocks by clicking and dragging the 4-way arrow.  

Article settings/styles

To add an image, click any of the gray placeholder images. You'll have the option to upload an image from your computer, find one in your image library, use a shared image, or even add one from Facebook after linking your profile.

If you're creating your own header image, it will have to be 640 px wide to fit correctly. 

Adding images

Logo Usage

When placing a Grand Valley logo in emails, you must use the blue version of the logo. This ensures proper background contrast in both light and dark viewing modes. Zach has created a video showing which logo file to use, and why it matters

Full Width Image

To create a full width image, drag an "Image" chunk onto your email and either upload a new image or select one from your photo album. (Remember, images need to be at least 640 pixels wide!) Add your alt tag. 

Before hitting the "Save" button, click the "Style" tab. 

Emma's "Add Image" screen

By default, Emma includes a bit of padding (white space) on each side of your image. You'll want to drag the padding slider all the way to the left to remove it. Now the sides of your image should line up with the blue header bar. 

If you want to include some white space above and below the image, click the "Customize" button instead. The boxes go in this order: top, right, bottom left -- so if you want to remove white space from the right and left sides, the second and fourth boxes should have 0 in them.

Emma's image styles panel

Duplicating an Email

Once an email has been built, you may find it easiest to make a copy of it for future use. You can duplicate your email before or after it's been sent.

Before Sending:

From the "Emails" screen, click the down arrow button to the right of your email, Click "Duplicate".

After Sending: 

Click the "Sent" tab under the "Emails" page title. You'll see a list of all the emails you've sent. Click the down arrow button to the right of your email, then click "Duplicate". 


A useful feature in Emma is the ability to preview your email in desktop, mobile, and tablet views. Click the "Preview" button in the toolbar and you'll be able to toggle between desktop, mobile and tablet views.

While in mobile view, please quickly scroll through your entire email and ensure that everything is visible. In other words, that nothing overhangs into the margins on the left or right sides. 

Preview - mobile resolution


Contact lists are added by uploading an Excel spreadsheet or .csv file. To add recipients, click the "Audience" button in the top toolbar. 

  • To create a new audience group, click "Groups" (indicated by a green arrow, in the Manage section) then click the "Create a new group" button on the page that appears. 
  • If your audience group already exists, click "Imports" (indicated by a pink arrow, in the Grow section), then the "Import contacts" button on the next screen.
    • First, you'll import your list via selecting the file on your computer. 
    • Now you'll be prompted to map your fields. If there are any fields you do not need to import data for, choose "Ignore" in the Contact Fields column. If your file has a header row, check "Skip" next to the Row 1 column heading.
    • Next, you'll choose what group the contacts should be added to. 
    • Finally, you'll see a summary screen. If everything looks correct, click "IMPORT". The import process typically takes a few minutes to complete. 
Importing contacts

Only need to add a few recipients to a group? You don't need to create and upload a file. From the Contacts screen, click the blue "Add contact" button on the right side of the screen.

In the email field, enter one email address. Before clicking the relevant save option ("Save and close", "Save and add another"), you may want to select what group(s) the email address should be included in; those can be found on the right side of the screen. 

Add a single contact


Before sending your email, it's never a bad idea to test it. This can be done by clicking "SEND TEST" and specifying the recipients. A test email can be sent to as many as 10 addresses at once. 

Tip: Send all test emails directly from Emma! All email clients tend to display emails differently, and forwarding an email can negatively affect email display/rendering. 

Sending your email

Once you're ready to send the email, click "REVIEW & SEND". From there, specify your recipient list(s) and subject line, and confirm your sender information. Hint: Click the button with the silhouetted person behind the "choose recipients" box (indicated by the green arrow) to easily select your recipient list(s). 

Send your email immediately by clicking the "SEND NOW" button at the bottom, or choose to send your email at a later time by clicking the "Schedule for later" link. 

Test your campaign

Campaign Results

After your email is sent, you'll begin to see reports on the Response section of your account. Click the name of the campaign to view its reports. 

Basic statistics are shown on the first screen: open rate, click-to-open rate (how many links were clicked by those who opened your email), etc. 

To see more detailed response reports, click one of the tabs near the top of the screen (in the pink block).

Campaign response summary screen

Cleaning Up Recipients

Emma handles recipients differently than you may expect. Instead of keeping separate lists for each group of email addresses, Emma has one list of all email addresses and knows which groups each email address is a member of. (If you're familiar with Gmail, it's the same concept; instead of putting email in folders, you put labels on them - and one email can have multiple labels.)

As a result, you can't simply delete unneeded groups. You need to delete the recipients first. 

NOTE: These instructions assume that you a) upload a new recipient list every time you send an email, and b) that you do not need to save any existing contacts. 

From the Audience section, click "Contacts" on the left. In the "ACTIONS" drop down, select "Archive all".

Archive All

An alert window will appear, confirming that all active contacts will be removed. Click the "ARCHIVE" button.

Don't worry! "You will no longer be able to send email to these subscribers" just means that until you upload a new list, you will not be able to contact your recipients. Archiving contacts does not permanently unsubscribe them from your emails, and archived contacts can be included in groups in the future.

Emma alert message - "Are you sure you want to archive ALL active contacts?"

After cleaning up your active contacts list, you'll probably want to follow the same steps for your Error contacts. According to Emma, contacts with a status of Error or Opt-Out do not count toward your audience total for billing purposes. However, email addresses are typically in this category because they have incorrect formatting (missing the @, have a misspelling, etc.) or they "hard bounced". (A hard bounce indicates a permanent reason an email cannot be delivered — the email address or domain no longer exists, the mail server has blocked delivery, etc.)

You can find this list under the "ERROR" sub-navigation. 

Location of the "ERRORS" menu in Emma

Now that you've archived your contacts, you probably have at least one group that can be removed.

To remove the empty group:

Click "GROUPS" in the left column. Put a check in the box that appears to the left of the group's name, and click the "ARCHIVE" button that appears above the column of check boxes. 

Archiving a group

Exporting Recipient Lists

Emma now allows users to export recipient lists. This is especially handy when you have multiple groups of recipients stored and only need to keep one group. (You can export the group you need to keep, archive all your recipients, then re-upload the list.)

This permission has to be granted individually so if you'd like access, contact Kelley Rogers ([email protected]).

From the GROUPS page, click the name of the group you'd like to export.

You'll be taken to a screen that shows all of the contacts in the group you selected. Click the "EXPORT" button on the right side of the screen. 

A small window will appear with four options:

  • All contacts
  • Active contacts
  • Error contacts
  • Opt-out contacts

You can choose "All contacts" if you wish, but the only list you probably need to export is the "Active contacts" list. (Remember, Emma maintains records about who opted-out, and error contacts are typically invalid or misformatted email addresses.) Click the "EXPORT" button. A second window will appear, confirming that your export is running.

To download your file, click the "View the exports page" link.

Location of the Export option on an Emma group page

The Exports page will show you a list of everything you've exported recently. To download a file, click the down arrow on the right side of the screen, then click "Download this export". (Files are available to download for 7 days; if it's been longer, just follow the export steps again to generate a new file.) The file will be saved to your computer. 

the Export screen in Emma

Page last modified October 18, 2023