One of the companies, where I'm doing a part time job, as an IT Consultant, System Administrator and Web developer, a e-marketing specialist and business consultant (the list goes on ;)) … planned to integrate a Newsletter support in their WordPress based websites.
As this fits my "job description" ,I took the task and implemented a simple but functional Newsletter support to their 4 WP based sites. In this article I will in short describe, my experience with placing the Newsletter subscription.:
Earlier I've done something similar as, I've added a subscipriotion (form) box to WordPress to use Google Feedburner RSS . What I needed this time, however was a bit different. The company required the newsletter to be a separate one and don't relay on Google Feedburner (RSS) to deal with the subscriptions .
It took me a while until I came with a working version of a Newsletter and I actually tested all in all 4 newsletter wordpress plugins before, I had a well working one. Here in short, In this article I will shortly take a look at the 4 WP newsletter plugins:
1. A wordpress plugin called simply Newsletter
As of time of writting this is the most popular wordpress plugin, when I looked through:
Wordpress Newsletter plugin can be obtained via http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/newsletter/
Its really Advanced, probably the best free newsletter for WP available as of time of writting. The plugin supports email subscriber user confirmation (double opt-in), as well as can be accustomized to work with single opt-in.
For all those who don't know Double Opt-In is the technical term for a once requested user email (single opt-in), for subscription which is later confirmed by following an email box sent link pointing to confirmation URL.
Double Opt-In is almost a standard and "must" as otherwise, many spam bots will fill in randomly email addresses and your subscribers list will be mostly containing spammer email addresses.
1. Install WordPress Newsletter Plugin To install Newsletter plugin;
a) download and put into wp-content/plugins/ and unzip
server:~# cd /var/www/blog/wp-content/plugins
server:/var/www/blog/wp-content/plugins# wget -q http://downloads.wordpress.org/plugin/newsletter.zip
server:/var/www/blog/wp-content/plugins# unzip newsletter.zip
b) Enable in Plugins:
Plugins -> Newsletter (Activate)
c) Configure Newsletter
A new menu will appear in the left WP control panel, like you see in below screenshot:
Newsletter plugin is very configurable but it takes a bit of longer time until it is confingured to work well. So be patient with it.
d) Make Newsletter field appear on a wordpress home page.
In order to enable just configure Newsletter plugin (text and subscription form) to appear on the wordpress pages, you need to add the plugin as a widget. To do so go to:
Appearance -> Widgets
Drag and drop the Newsletter plugin widget to the widget right pane. Put it on the exact place you would like it to appear.
Once the widget is placed, you will see it appear to the respective location on WP pages, you should have something like:
If while you enable the plugin and put the Newsletter widget doesn't appear on WordPress, this is probably due to some Cache left from some enabled WP caching pugin like W3 Total Cache
In any case if Newsletter form subscription, is not appearing on your pages, delete the cache/ directory:
# rm -rf /var/www/wordpress-site/wp-content/cache/
I've experienced, this caching problems and it was quite a riddle, until I found out that the Newsletter plugin is not appearing on the WP pages because of the old cache. I've checked bacicly everything (error.log , apache php_error.log) etc.. Therein, there was no error or anything, so after a long 1 hour or so poundering I figured out this kind of caching done by W3 Cache.
My guess is, the same newsletter "not working" issue is probably observable also on WP installs with other caching plugins like WP Hyper Cache or WP Db Cache
2. ALO EasyMail Newsletter WordPress plugin
I don't know, why but this plugin didn't work properly on the wordpress install, I've tested it. Its true the wordpress version where I give it a try was not running, the latest stable wordpress so I assume this might be the reason for the empty pages returned when I enabled the plugin.
According to wordpress's plugin – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/alo-easymail/, the plugin is marked as Works, however in my case it didn't.
3. Adding WordPress Newsletter through Email newsletter
This plugin was a real piece of cake, compared to all of the rest, tested this one was the easiest one to install and configure on WordPress.
Just like with Newsletter and ALO EasyMail Newsletter once the user is subscribed, from the admin there is possibility to sent crafted messages to all subscribers.
The plugin is a great, choice for anyone who is looking for quick install of Newsletter on WordPress without extra "config" complications.
Below is a quote describing email newsletter, taken from the plugin author webpage;
Advantage of this plugin
- Simple no coding required.
- Easy installation .
- Using this plug-in we can send email to all registered folks.
- Using this plug-in we can send email to all comment posted folks.
- Email subscribe box for front end
- Check box option available to select/unselect emails from the send mail list.
- Integrated the email newsletter plugin & simple contact form plugin
– Enabling the plugin is done via admin menus:
Plugins -> Inactive -> Email Newsletter (enable)
Afterwards, the plugin requires a quick configuration from wp-admin:
Email Newsletter -> Subscriber form setting
You see in the screenshot, the config where to place the plugin is trivial.
To make Email Newsletter appear on the pages, you will have to add the Email Newsletter widget from:
Appearance -> Widgets
The widget looks like the one in below screenshot:
Drag and drop the widget to the widgets pane. Onwards on the wordpress pages, should appear an email subsciption box:
Though Email Newsletter is great, it has one serious drawback, as it doesn't support Double Opt-In. Therefore people subscribing through it are not mailed with a request to confirm their email subscription request.
As a result, its very likely many spam-bots submit fake emails in the newsletter subscribe form and in 1 year time your newsletter email list might get full with tens of thousands unexistent emails. If you end up with this bad scenario, once newsletter emails are sent to (regular) exitent subscribers, many of the bulk emails in the list will never reach their senders, but will just fill-up the mail server queue and take up server resources for nothing for one week or so (depending on the email configuration keep undelivered mail setting).
Anyways, since the basis of this plugin works fine, I'm sure if the author modifies it to include a simple Captcha instead of double-opt functionality, the plugin can become top plugin.