Your email is a great driver of traffic to your website. By including links in the template - not just in the content - readers who aren't interested in this months content have easy access to something on your website.
A custom template is built around your brand. Perfect logo positioning, matching colours and fonts will all tie in with your brand and website.
The number one rule of email marketing is that your images should support your message - not contain your message. Clear headings should shout your offer without the reader having to download images.
A legal requirement - your unsubscribe should be prefaced with nice text to tell people why they're on the list, why they benefit and how much you might miss them.
A two column design is a great way to engage readers with more than one story without having to scroll down through a lengthy mailshot. The second column is a great container for calls to action and your constant marketing messages.