Email newsletters are a staple of online marketing and are a handy tool for capturing email addresses and staying in touch with potential customers and clients. WordPress site builders have access to a long list of free and premium plugins for creating newsletters and sharing them with subscribers. Although WordPress plugins make it easy to create and manage newsletter subscriptions, they may not be as efficient or secure as dedicated commercial email marketing services. So, should you use a WordPress newsletter plugin to share your content with subscribers? Here’s a look at the pros and cons.
Why Send a Newsletter?
For years, internet marketing experts have told clients that business success begins with building an email subscription mailing list. A key component of many list building strategies is the newsletter, a regular compilation of content from the website, mixed with new information and offers that casual site visitors can’t get unless they sign up with their email address. Newsletters can help businesses stay in touch with interested users, build brand awareness, and promote products and services in a highly targeted way.
Because newsletters have traditionally been a key component of content marketing strategies for businesses and services of all kinds, a wide range of tools and services are available to help site owners create and distribute them efficiently. This is a process that involves not only designing the newsletter but also managing email lists and getting the finished product past spam filters and firewalls into the inbox of a subscriber.
WordPress website owners can opt to turn over most aspects of that process to third-party email marketing services. Third parties can provide list management, newsletter templates, and secure mailing protocols, or handle these tasks right from the website with one of the many email newsletter plugins available for WordPress sites.
Using a WordPress Newsletter Plugin
Plugins are a core component of WordPress functionality, and users have the choice of many plugins for managing all aspects of newsletter production, created by designers from around the world. Many WordPress newsletter plugins are free, or free with a premium version for added features or larger email lists. Functions include managing content forms and email lists, options for editable newsletter templates, and more.
The best WordPress newsletter plugins are easy to install, secure and scalable to accommodate the needs of a growing website. Here’s a sampling of five popular, richly functional plugins that offer a broad range of newsletter creation and mailing options for sites of all kinds.
The Newsletter Plugin
As its entirely functional name implies, the Newsletter Plugin allows users to create and send newsletters and content to email subscribers, nothing more, nothing less. With a premium option, this free plugin allows users to send unlimited emails to unlimited subscribers and includes features such as sending automated notifications of new site content and a statistics board that tracks email open rates, delivery rates, and other statistics.
SendinBlue is a WordPress newsletter plugin that’s free for the first 600 emails. After that, its tiered plans include packages for incrementally larger email lists. SendinBlue includes handy features such as customized signup forms, detailed reports, and integration with Google Analytics to track and manage email campaigns.
The SendPress plugin features tools for editing both newsletter content and appearance and allows for importing posts into emails. The basic version of SendPress is free, but premium packs for both personal and business use unlock a variety of other features, including Google Analytics, campaign tracking, and custom templates.
OptinMonster includes a full featured form designer with animations, as well as a range of customizable features and functions, including A/B split testing and exit intent technology. OptinMonster is available by subscription for $9 USD per month.
SumoMe isn’t really a dedicated newsletter plugin. It’s more of a full-featured content marketing solution, but it has robust newsletter features including a form customizer, numerous opt-in choices, and a variety of templates. SumoMe has both a free version and a premium subscription that unlocks more features for $10 USD per month.
The Pros and Cons of Plugins
WordPress newsletter plugins are convenient, easy to use and often free. But email marketing experts warn that using a plugin rather than a dedicated email management service may harm, rather than help, your newsletter campaign. Low delivery and open rates, as well as spam blocking filters, can limit the effectiveness of newsletters that originate from a WordPress plugin.
Newsletter plugins typically rely on standard PHP and WordPress email functions to deliver the email newsletters created with the plugin. But that could trigger leading email providers such as Gmail and Yahoo mail to mark these emails as spam, so they might end up in a recipient’s spam folder, rather than the desired inbox.
Delivery of an email via a WordPress plugin for a newsletter subscription could also be derailed by its IP address. Many WordPress sites use shared web hosting – the most economical option offered by most providers. That means that all sites on a shared server also share an IP address – and any abuses by one site originating from that address can trigger spam filters and security features for other sites on the server, as well.
Dedicated email marketing managers such as the popular AWeber and Constant Content aren’t free, but they are highly specialized and dedicated to observing strict rules on spam and security issues related to email campaigns. Newsletters and other mailings originate from an IP established by these secure providers so that emails are more likely to end up in the intended place – the recipient’s inbox.
Services such as statistics and analytics are offered by some plugins, but not all, and usually as part of a premium plan. Though third-party marketing services aren’t free, just about all plans include basic analytics and other features for tracking a campaign’s performance. These services typically offer a full range of tools and templates for managing multiple email lists and campaigns, with unrestricted emailing to unrestricted numbers of subscribers.
Newsletters can boost a brand’s visibility and support relationships with existing customers and potential new ones. To create a newsletter and build an email list, owners of WordPress sites can choose from a long list of WordPress plugins to put newsletter functionality right on the site itself – but a third party marketing manager may be a better choice for getting those emails into the right inboxes.