Jun 5, 2012

Introducing the Instapaper Merge Tag

A few months ago, the clever folks at The Do Lectures showed us how to add "Read Later" links to a newsletter. We loved the idea so much we couldn’t help but "just make it a button."

The Instapaper merge tag lets you add automatic "Read Later" buttons to your RSS-to-email and normal newsletters. It’s handy if you tend to write lengthy articles in your newsletters, or if a high percentage of your subscribers read email on a mobile device and may want to save your content for later (check out our mobile study for some research on that).

There are two ways to use the Instapaper merge tag: the first saves your entire newsletter to Instapaper, and the second saves content outside your newsletter. To create a Read Later button that saves your newsletter content, use the merge tag in its simplest form:


Just place that tag wherever you’d like the button in your template.

To create a Read Later button that saves content from a source link, instead of your newsletter (I’ll use our customer story on the Atlanta Humane Society as an example), you’ll need to include the $url variable, which specifies the URL you want to share:


You can also customize your Read Later buttons with titles and descriptions, which will be displayed in your subscriber’s Instapaper queue. Just fill in your title and description like this:

*|INSTAPAPER:[$title=MailChimp Customer Stories, $url=http://mailchimp.com/about/customer-stories/atlanta-humane-society/, $description=We visited The Atlanta Humane Society, a no-kill animal shelter in Atlanta's Midtown neighborhood.]|*

For more tips on using the Instapaper merge tag in your newsletters, check out our Social Merge Tag Cheat Sheet.