We’ve always installed a set of key plugins when we’re setting up WordPress for clients, and one of our favourites has always been G-Lock Double Opt-in Manager. The company which created this plug-in has unfortunately decided to retire it, but they’ve also released a great replacement: WP Newsman. The new version has some terrific new options, as well as a paid version so you can get even more out of it.
Essentially, this plug-in allows you to add a subscribe form to your website, so visitors can sign up for automatic updates. Even if you’re not planning on producing a newsletter right now (though why wouldn’t you – it’s so easy!), we’d recommend adding this to your site right away, so you can start collecting personal information from visitors who want to hear more from you.
The very first thing you’ll want to do is review all the settings and pre-set emails which are set up when the plug-in is installed. You can do this by going to “Email Templates” and “Action Pages.” These templates will let you customize the emails visitors get when they subscribe, confirm and unsubscribe. When you edit the templates, you’ll be able to use a formatting toolbar to add images, style your text, and much more. The “Action Pages” will let you update the pages visitors see on your website when they subscribe. Review each template and page to ensure that all the details are updated to highlight what you’ll be offering to subscribers. You should also check under “Settings” and be sure all those details are correct (social media spaces, from email address, etc.).
Customize your subscribe form. You can do this under “Lists and Forms.” For now, just worry about the “default” form – the main one used for visitors. Ensure the text above and below the subscribe form is clear and concise, and ensure you’ve got all the fields you’ll want to use when sending information. We suggest First Name, Last Name and Email (which is the default), but you may want to collect phone numbers, birthdays, etc.
Add the subscriber widget to your website. You can add this to any of your widget bars. We like to add this to the bottom of the page, because if visitors have read down to the bottom, chances are they are interested and will want to hear more.
When visitors subscribe, they’ll get an email back, asking them to confirm their subscription. This is the ‘double opt-in’ part, and it is required for all mailing lists to ensure you have permission to market to them. This means that your visitors have said “yes,” and it prevents malicious users from adding people to your list without their consent.
Once you’ve got some subscribers, go ahead and start sending them some information. We’re using this tool to send out our best blog posts, received by our subscribers weekly (if you’re not signed up yet, you can do so using the form at the bottom of this page).
Under “Mailbox,” you can choose to send a quick message (which is basically a text-area you can fill in as you wish, using all the same editor tools as the templates), or you can select from a template you’ve created which is pre-formatted for the type of content you’d like to send.
The pre-formatted templates are very similar to the way MailChimp structures it’s newsletter tools, and will give you a lot of control over the exact lay-out of your email. That being said, there is a bit of a learning curve, so please contact AWEBthatWORKS if you’d like us to get that first template set up for you, and you can build from there.
|Much better lay-out control and options||Allows you to better brand your communication to suit your image||Tools have become more complicated to accommodate for more options|
|Ability to throttle email speeds||The previous incarnation of this plug-in blasts out every email to every subscriber at the same time. This can be an issue for servers trying to deliver a large volume of mail.||Limiting the sending of emails, especially for large mailing lists tends to improve delivery. We’d suggest sending no more than 15 emails or so per minute.|
|Limitations on number of subscribers||Seemingly none, but better than the previous version as it had issues sending to many email addresses at once.||The new version only allows 2000 subscriptions with the free version. Any more will require a paid account.|
|Addition of multiple lists||Allows you to create more than one subscribe list so you can communicate differently. Great for anyone offering two very different products, as they can have two completely separate lists.||Might make more work if you have to send out twice as much communication, but targetting this will make it much more effective.|
You mentioned a paid version. What does that get me?
The subscription is only $79/year, which when compared to a tool like MailChimp or Constant Contact is an excellent value. From their website:
- Send to unlimited number of subscribers (vs. 2000 subscribers in the Lite version).
- Keep your mailing lists verified and clean — the bounce handler is included into the Pro version.
- Use remote tracking such as Google Analytics and Piwik in links and track your subscriber’s actions upon your messages and website.
- Embed forms on external sites.
- Get the top priority customer support. We provide great documentation and support for everybody but the users of WPNewsman Pro jump the queue and get priority help.