Need A Newsletter
Generally when we hear content marketers talk about autoresponders and newsletters – we are talking about a third party service…
And for good reason! Because these services often have better deliverability and less headaches than self hosting can provide.
However, that’s not to say that you can’t self-host an email newsletter and autoresponder!
And in the last year, the available alternatives for doing so, particularly using WordPress as an application base, have really grown up.
Keep in mind that unless you have a dedicated server, you’re going to need/want to use an external SMTP mail server to route the email out of (such as Amazon SES or SendGrid) but those are VERY affordable.
My Basic Requirements:
- Runs on WordPress
- Works with external SMTP servers
- Tracks opens, clicks, bounces, etc
- Offers html based optin forms (so integrates with most plugins)
- Offers both newsletter/broadcast and autoresponder (scheduled content based on signup date) features
Here’s a really brief overview of three that I’ve been experimenting with lately and a few notes that may help you decide between them. This is not intended to be a detailed tutorial of how to use them or of how to get good deliverability from self hosting, which are both topics we can discuss later. This is mostly just to make you aware that these things exist and are quite affordable!
Newsletter & AutoResponder Plugins For WordPress:
MailPoet (formerly known as WYSIJA)
License type: GPL
License pricing: ~ $120/year/site for pro. Also a free light version.
The easiest/quickest “start to send” of the bunch. Less marketer focused and more blogger focused. A lot of lovely themes included in pro. Long standing history of being stable and well supported in the WordPress world. Bonus points for being GPL. Developer was responsive to my pro support ticket. Pricing model should keep this plugin in development and well supported long term.
Note: Does NOT offer html web forms but DOES have shortcode forms and widgets too. They do have a php work around for technical users though.
Note: Free version is useful for testing but does not support bounce management so is bad for the health of your IP address. Can not recommend using the free version for regular use beyond testing.
Check it out at: http://www.mailpoet.com/
License type: non-GPL, requires IonCube supported hosting (most but not all web hosting plans)
License pricing: $67 one-time for up to 3 sites you own
The most “marketer ready” option available today. Supports not only newsletters and autoresponders but also paid newsletter subscriptions. Does not handle “signup by email” (which Aweber & ARPreach do). Developer responded in a timely fashion but was not open to new feature ideas. I’m a little concerned that the pricing structure is not strong enough to keep this plugin in development long term but at the moment it’s very feature rich. The included overview video training is a smidge out of date but very useful, comprehensive, and maybe a tad overwhelming but only because it covers important topics like deliverability that others skip. Includes several themes and they can be edited in Kompozer if necessary.
Check it out at: http://just-ask-kim.com/recommends/rapidmailer (aff)
MyMail Newsletter Plugin
License type: split-GPL/non-GPL
License pricing: $39 one-time for a single site + about $20 newsletter theme
Does not handle “signup by email” (which Aweber & ARPreach do) but author says he may add it. Developer responsive. Pricing structure is supported by many premium themes and a few premium add-ons, and is very healthy. Plugin is not currently as feature rich as RapidMailer but it has some add-on features RM does not.
Note: Does NOT offer html web forms but DOES have shortcode forms and widgets too.
Check it out at: http://just-ask-kim.com/recommends/mymail (aff)
I’m really thrilled with this list as it is so much more complete than what we had available to us a year ago. Things have come a long way as WordPress moves into being more of an application platform over time (well beyond “just a blog” and even beyond a CMS).
There are a lot of factors that go into deciding which autoresponder service, provider, or plugin is right for you and this certainly is not intended to rush you in one direction or the other.
Instead, let it help you get your creativity flowing and understand that you have LOTS of alternatives available even if finances are tight or you’re a “do it myself” sort of person.
~ Kim ~
Simple Tech Tips For Marketing
PS: Before you ask why Subscribe2 is not listed here, it’s rather simple. First, that plugin does not do autoresponders. Second, it’s not easily CAN-SPAM compliant. And third, in it’s latest versions it’s not been behaving well. We’ve used it a lot in the past but these days I hesitate to mention it until they get it stable again.