Mailpoet newsletters plugin review and configuration
I run several websites where my post updates and new post notifications have to be delivered to my extensive subscribers list. Due to lack of proper guidance for bloggers on choosing the right WordPress newsletter tool, I have decided to post an in-depth review of Wysija newsletter plugin for WordPress platforms. It has changed its name to Mailpoet Newsletters plugin, but the functionality and developers behind it are the same.
My newsletter needs
The problem that I had been facing for too long was my post updates notification. As soon as I updated my blog post or published a new one, I needed my subscribers to get the info as quickly as possible. I needed some sort of automatic post update (new post) notification which then had to be sent via smtp mail or PHP mail function to my subscribers’ list. There was a problem with fast delivery to my subscribers’ email list (more than 800 subscribers); another problem was a visual newsletter layout: it had to look professional and not just a text excerpt with a dull “click here for more” link. Finally, I was looking for a free solution or something as cheap as 5 – 10 dollars per month.
After a short consideration I decided to use the free Wysija or Mailpoet newsletter plugin and oh boy, that was a wise decision.
Free Mailpoet newsletters plugin features
- Newsletter editor with a handy drag and drop tool
- Autoresponders function
- Easy subscription form design which can be customized to your needs
- Automatic latest post notification (very handy)
- Subscribers import function from other newsletter plugins
- Single or double opt-in feature
- Concise newsletter delivery statistics
- Ability to send emails using PHP mail function, with a third party web mail (Gmail, Yahoo, Aol) or SMTP mail delivery service provider (you can use Elasticemail, Sendgrid, Mandrill, etc.)
- Newsletters look the same in any email account (Gmail, hotmail, Yahoo, etc)
- Free version available
- Subscribers management options
- Free version is limited to 2000 subscribers
- Only Elasticemail and Sendgrid available as third party SMTP providers on GoDaddy hosting account
- Premium account costs 99 $ per year which is a bit costly
As you can see the features list is impressive and I definitely recommend it as one of the best free newsletter plugins which I have been using for almost a year. Free version of up to 2000 subscribers is more than enough for my website, and I will most probably pay them if my subscribers’ list exceeds this number.
As always installation can be carried out either via WordPress dashboard or by using the ftp client connection program. I used the WP dashboard, because it’s quicker and you don’t have to use any other third party software.
So, open your WordPress website administrator dashboard, scroll down to Plugins and click Add new.
Type the Mailpoet Newsletters in the plugins search box and hit enter. Choose the Mailpoet newsletters plugin and click install now.
After the installation click Activate Plugin.
You will find your Mailpoet plugin in the left dashboard bar. It has 4 options:
Let’s take a look at every option, starting with Newsletters.
In the Newsletters section you will most probably see the Welcome to Mailpoet page where you will also find the 6 minute introduction to Mailpoet video. I suggest watching it to get a grasp of what Mailpoet is. Or you can scroll down the page and click Thanks! Now take me to Mailpoet. button.
You can create your own or duplicate the “5 minute user guide” newsletter design. Let’s choose the 5 minute user guide draft. Click the 5 minute user guide draft.
In the First step: main details window you can choose between standard and automatic newsletter. I prefer automatic, since it involves less work when publishing new posts. I always choose newsletter sending option immediately When there’s new content.
You should also add the [newsletter:post_title] code in the subject line in order to activate the latest post title in your newsletter.
The subscribers’ list below will be configured later, so just choose My first list and press the button Next step.
In the next page you will see the default Wysija newsletter editable template. The editing is carried out by clicking on every section of the newsletter and either changing the text, images and styles or removing them completely. You can add titles, text, dividers, bookmarks, images, new styles and even new Mailpoet newsletters themes for free.
Refer to the widgets box in the upper right corner.
There’s an Automatic latest content field which can be dragged to any newsletter content part. It will display your latest post with an image which can be configured in a visual and functional way. By functional I mean you can even choose the category of your latest post. This way you can clone your newsletters’ drafts and customize them according to your categories.
After 10 minutes of editing I changed the default Wysija template from this…
After the editing, click the Save changes and Next step buttons.
Look through your final step page and if everything is correct, you can save it as draft and close or activate the newsletter. After your custom made Mailpoet newsletter activation, your future notifications will be sent to your subscribers as per your configuration.
Subscribers will appear on your dashboard as soon as someone subscribes to your website. If you don’t have any subscribers, we can make one as an example to play with.
You can also import your subscribers from other newsletter plugins by uploading a CSV file or simply by copy pasting your list in a text box.
To manually add a subscriber (your friend, for example, who wishes to receive your newsletter), click add subscriber. In the next page fill in the subscriber name, email, his subscriber status and newsletter list, which you will be able to edit.
Then click add subscriber and you’re done! All your future newsletters will be sent to the subscribers on your list.
Different subscriber lists are handy when you are sending standard newsletters (not automatic). If you are sending automatic newsletters which are being delivered as soon as there is new content, it’s better to have just one subscriber list, unless you are planning to send standard newsletters to other lists.
You can also import your subscribers from other mail sending plugins and add ons.
That’s the most important part, where we will set up the subscription forms, signup confirmation, sending options and advanced functions.
In the Basics page you have to fill in your information. One thing I have to stress is writing your home or company address to avoid spam filters. You should also fill in your name and email address in email and sender notifications fields.
This is where you will create and customize your subscription form which will be visible on your website. In the Forms page press the Create a new form.
In the Edit New Form window you will be able to insert dividers, first and last name, lists and even random text in your form.
Click Save button when you’re done and your subscription form will be created. Go to your admin dashboard widgets section and you will see your Mailpoet subscription form in the Available Widgets section. Drag it to your sidebar and write the title.
This is how it looks on my website:
I recommend enabling the signup confirmation, as it prevents fake signups and helps you keeping a clean list of your subscribers who are really interested in your content. Otherwise you could be sending your newsletters to a bunch of people who may not be genuinely interested in your website. Bear in mind that you can use the free Mailpoets plugin with up to 2000 subscribers. It’s better if they are real people with real interest in your content.
You will have three newsletter sending options:
1. Sending from your own website
3. Third party
Sending newsletters from your own website is OK if you have small subscriber lists, and your web hosting provider allows PHP mail sending.
However, this option is the most dangerous regarding the mail and server blacklisting, spam filters and deliverability rate. You could easily be identified as a spammer and even blacklisted. Some hosting providers have their servers blacklisted already (GoDaddy for instance) which means that your newsletters might not reach your readers.
Gmail sending option is OK if your web host allows it. As you can see your sending limitation is 500 emails per day and 70 emails per hour (don’t exceed your recommended hourly limit). However, a number of popular web hosts block SMTP ports except their own and sending with Gmail or Yahoo won’t work with GoDaddy, for example. You can click the Send a test mail button to see if it’s available with your web hosting provider.
Third party would be the best choice for big lists and bulk emails. Sending with third party SMTP providers will safeguard your domain from blacklisting and improve your newsletter deliverability rate overtime. I am using Elasticemail SMTP provider, as it works with my GoDaddy host. It turns out, GoDaddy is the most restrictive host when it comes to newsletter sending and only Elasticemail and Sendgrid work with Mailpoets in GoDaddy . If you’re using another web host, I suggest setting up Mandrill as your SMTP provider. They give 12000 emails per month for free!
Fill in Reply – to name and email and Bounce email in the advanced options. Check the Subscribers can edit their profile option and click Save settings. I usually leave other default parameters untouched, but if you’re itchy, you can play with Geeky options at the bottom of the page.
I am using only Optin Revolution add on with my newsletters. There is quite a number of plugins one can use with Mailpoets.
Premium Mailpoet account costs 99 USD per year. If your subscriber list goes over 2000, you will have to pay. You can also pay for your premium account if you are under 2000. It has a bunch of options that are not available for free users:
advanced stats dashboard
automated bounce handling
DKIM signature option
onsite help, etc.
So, basically this is it. After 1751 words, I have finally nothing else to add on this cool plugin. If you still want more advice or help, just write me using the contact form. You can also visit the plugin page on WordPress.org or directly on mailpoet.com website.