How do you stay in touch with past website visitors and keep them informed ?
If you run a club website how do you contact your members easily and quickly?
The answer is to use Email ?
Collecting email addresses and staying in touch using email is cheap,easy and powerful.
Offering an “email newsletter” is a good way of staying in touch with your website visitors.
Although I use the term newsletter the types of emails you send can vary considerably.
If you want to start a newsletter for your site then you have two options available :
- Use a WordPress newsletter plugin
- Use an External Autoresponder service.
Use a WordPress Newsletter Plugin
There are many newsletter plugins available for WordPress like Mailpoet, and they are usually relatively easy to setup and manage.
- Usually free
- Relatively Easy to setup and configure
- They are configured and managed using the standard WordPress control panel.
- They don’t provide the features of commercial auto responder services.
- Use Mail capability of you hosting service which is not suitable for large mailing lists.
- You need to install and maintain the software- not difficult
- Don’t normally enforce Spam compliance.
- Don’t provide detailed analytics.
- Difficult to outsource for external management as they would need admin access to your website.
- Quality varies considerably between plugins.
Email Mailing List/ Autoresponder Services
If you don’t want to install and maintain your own mailing list software you can opt for an online mailing list service.
Here the software is hosted on a third party server, and you just need to manage the lists themselves, and not the software.
This tends to be the more expensive option although free, usually ad supported, options do exist, but aren’t recommended.
It is however easier to implement if you are non- technical and your website host doesn’t need to support scripting or databases as this is all handled externally.
- No software to install/maintain on your server or client.
- Offer very rich services and usually newsletter templates,sign up forms etc
- Lists are backed up by the service provider.
- You Can send email sequences
- You Can send time delayed emails.
- They Integrate into popular website platforms like WordPress.
- Generally ensure legal compliance.
- Have high delivery rates
- More costly as they have monthly fee (varies considerably)
- Can be tricky to setup initially.
- Lists need to be exported to an external source in case you move providers.
- Some Limits exist usually on number of emails/lists, but are overcome by changing plan.
- Importing Email addresses although simple usually results in the list members needing to re-subscribe.
Although there are many companies offering Autoresponder services, the three listed below are well established, and offer comprehensive features:
If you are just getting started or you have a modest size mailing list (less than 500 subscribers) and don’t need sophisticated tracking and analytics then WordPress plugins like Mailpoet are ideal.
If you require sophisticated tracking and reporting and envisage a large list (>500 subscribers) then commercial mailing list services are probably the better choice.
I prefer Mailchimp because it offers a generous 2000 subscriber free option which should be sufficient for most small businesses.
Personally I would start with the plugin option, get familiar with the process and determine if it fits with your needs, and then move onto a commercial solution at a later date.
Related Tutorials and Resources: