In the course of my work for Colgate University, I set about to find a WordPress plugin that could be used to easily compile blog posts into a stylized e-mail newsletter. The idea was to streamline the processes behind an old newsletter that gets sent around each month as a PDF developed in Publisher.
The benefits to moving the old newsletter into a blog are numerous. Rather than endeavoring each month to write content to fill pages, the office in question can simply write as much content and as many blog posts as they need. Also, rather than waiting until the end of each month to communicate with campus, they can publish content when it is most relevant.
They did not, however, want to lose the ability to send campus push notifications about all their great content. After some conversation, it was determined that a monthly newsletter digest of their content was still necessary.
That’s where MailPoet (Wysija) comes in. Perhaps reviewing it at this point is a bit premature, as I’ve only done some preliminary testing via Jasonbk.com, but so far I’m very impressed! At its core, it is a drag and drop tool that allows even the least technical of users to quickly and easily create an attractive newsletter.
MailPoet allows the user to write custom text where desired, but also allows for the easy dragging and dropping of existing posts. When a post is added to a newsletter, it pulls in the post’s title, excerpt, and image as teasers, with link a link to the full post. Pretty easily, the images can be moved around the text, or additional images and arbitrary text can be added.
I haven’t had a whole lot of time to play around with subscriber lists, but it seems pretty straightforward to build multiple lists into MailPoet. The free version even includes basic e-mail analytics, including opens, clicks, and unread information for the messages you send. Features like the ability to send preview messages, to view web-based versions of e-mails, and for your recipients to unsubscribe indicate that the product has really been thought through from beginning to end.
What’s really great for small businesses and the less technically inclined is that you don’t need any sort of dedicated mail server to make MailPoet work for you. If you’re going to be sending to a relatively small subscriber group, you can actually sync a Gmail account from which all your messages will be sent.
There are both free and premium versions of MailPoet available. Again, for most small businesses, freelancers, etc., the free version is likely sufficient. It allows up to 2,000 subscribers and gives you about as much in analytics as you’ll have time to process. Moving up to premium seems like a good move for larger businesses.
My only real complaint so far is that I don’t seem to be able to turn off the unsubscribe feature, which puts an unsubscribe link at the bottom of every e-mail. While that behavior makes perfect sense in most cases, it doesn’t really work for my original goals. For Colgate work, we have a situation where recipients are all “in-house” and need to receive the newsletters (whether they like it or not!). In that case the unsubscribe function is actually an obstacle that may prevent the adoption of this tool, unless we’re able to find a solution.
Regardless of this potential obstacle, I’ll likely keep this feature on Jasonbk.com where the unsubscribe feature is just fine. It’s really nice to have a tool that looks good, performs well, and in some ways is actually quite fun to use!
Check out the MailPoet promotional video below: