Having your own newsletter is one of the most effective and cheapest ways to stay in contact with your target group. But what options does WordPress offer for newsletters? Which plugins should you have on your radar? And what are the legal aspects of sending your own newsletter? We have the answers for you.
The word newsletter is unfortunately far too often associated with annoying email spam. Sure, there's more than enough of those being sent out every day. But a well-crafted newsletter is a true shining star in online marketing and conversion. We experience this again and again with our RAIDBOXES newsletter.
Benefits of newsletters
Whether you want to send your audience your latest blog articles, let them know about discount promotions, or show them the new features in your online store, creating a newsletter is one of the easiest ways to do just that.
Moreover, a newsletter is one of the cheapest channels in online marketing as it works without spending huge amounts of money on advertising. Although you can, of course, speed up the process with paid ads. At the end of the day, you are converting visitors who are already on your site, blog or shop to newsletter subscribers. So you're already passively building your newsletter list without having to put in too much effort.
Running a newsletter is not rocket science either. You need a system or plugin for your newsletter, a list of subscribers and, of course, a good idea or suitable topic that interests your target group. We show you which WordPress plugins you can use to put your own newsletter together. And how you can turn your visitors into subscribers with forms for the newsletter.
Newsletter systems for WordPress
First up, there's the question of which newsletter system you want to use. Here you have two options: build your own or use an existing system. If you don't have much experience with newsletters, WordPress and email marketing, I recommend using an existing system. Well-known providers include, for example, Mailchimp, SendInBlue or CleverReach.
The advantage with such providers is that the whole infrastructure is already built. You just need to import a list of your subscribers or add the forms to rebuild the list on your site. For example, this is how we approach it on our site:
After that, you can start sending your emails right away. Most newsletter providers are initially free to use. However, with larger lists or feature requirements, you should budget for something in the mid double-digit to low triple-digit range per month.
If you already have some experience with WordPress, you can also build your own newsletter system with plugins. There are several well-known plugins to help you with this and we'd like to introduce you to three of them.
The plugin Newsletter from Stefano Lissa & The Newsletter Team is actively used by over 300,000 WordPress installations. With 4.5 out of five possible stars and almost 1,000 ratings, it is one of the most used and most popular plugins for email marketing in the WordPress and WooCommerce plugin directories.
This plugin has no limits on the number subscribers or newsletters you send. There's a built-in spam check and a drag-and-drop editor for creating your newsletters. Furthermore, you can extend the functionality of the plugin with a range of free and paid extensions. The creators describe it as GDPR and SMTP ready - a few notes on data protection in a moment.
MailPoet - Emails and newsletters in WordPress
The plugin MailPoet 3 is a classic. It's currently used by over 100,000 active WordPress installations and scores 4.5 out of a possible five stars from just under 1,000 reviews.
MailPoet is better adapted to WordPress visually than Newsletter and therefore more comfortable for beginners to use. But the functionality is similar. MailPoet allows you to create forms and newsletters, have an integration for WooCommerce, generate statistics and get free ready-made templates.
You also have the option to use the MailPoet Sending Service. This way you don't have to send your emails via your own host. The sending service is free for up to 1,000 subscribers. If you have more subscribers, you'll need to pay for an upgrade or use your own host.
Email subscribers & newsletters
Icegram's plugin Email Subscribers & Newsletters has similarly impressive stats to MailPoet: Over 100,000 active installs and 4.5 out of five stars from nearly 1,000 reviews.
With this plugin, you can store unlimited contacts, send newsletters, create email templates and various lists. It comes with an integrated spam check, automatic mailings for new blog articles and a number of ready-designed forms.
The paid Pro version of the plugin activates additional functions including, for example, autoresponder sequences that automatically send emails according to a schedule you define. This allows you to create entire mailing sequences once and send them out to your new subscribers.
Of course, there are many more plugins for building a newsletter with WordPress out there. To find the right one, you can install a selection and test which best suits your needs. Simply search for "newsletter" in the WordPress plugin directory.
Pay attention to the active installations as well as the ratings of the individual plugins. You can find more tips on how to find the best plugins in our tutorial on choosing plugins.
Mailchimp, SendInBlue & others: Integrate newsletter forms
As mentioned above, you don't necessarily have to build your newsletter system yourself. You can also choose email marketing providers like Mailchimp, SendInBlue, CleverReach and Co. to do all the work for you.
Besides writing and sending the newsletter, you only have to do one thing yourself: collect the email addresses of your visitors.
Integrate forms in WordPress
You can collect the email addresses using forms integrated on your website. Examples of suitable placements are the sidebar, under each article, as a pop-up or on a separate newsletter page that you can link in the menu, header or footer.
Almost all major email marketing providers offer their own WordPress plugins for forms you can include on your website. Example: If you decide to use Mailchimp, just search for "Mailchimp form" in the plugin directory and pick one of the providers. Ideally, one with many active installations, good ratings and a version that is as up to date as possible.
The Mailchimp WordPress integration
Since there are countless different providers for email marketing and the plugins always work similarly at the core, we will only present the integration of such plugins using the example of Mailchimp. With over two million active installations, we chose the hugely popular plugin MC4WP: Mailchimp for WordPress.
Once installed and activated, you need to link the plugin with your newsletter provider. This is usually done via an API interface. The plugins will explain to you during the process exactly how this works and where you can find the necessary information from your provider.
Once that's done, you can create a form. You place it either by code or - a bit easier - by shortcode where you want it to be. Some form plugins also come with suitable widgets that you can integrate at the various widget locations within your WordPress site.
When your visitors want to subscribe, they only need to enter their data. The plugin transfers everything to your newsletter provider who handles the rest.
Double-Opt-In and GDPR
Important: A newsletter is a sensitive topic when it comes to data protection. You must observe certain basic legal rules if you want to operate a newsletter in compliance with the law.
It's important, for example, to use a so-called double opt-in system, i.e. to ask your users again by email after entering their address whether they actually want to receive the newsletter. This prevents a third party from unauthorizedly registering other people for newsletters.
All the plugins presented in this article give you the option to set up a GDPR-compliant newsletter. You should, however, find out more about this yourself and, if in doubt, also consult a law firm or data protection expert who will set up your newsletter with you in compliance with the law.
Conclusion: Creating newsletters is really easy with WordPress
As with pretty much everything you want to achieve with WordPress, there are plenty of plugins in WordPress plugin directory to help you create a newsletter. They all simplify the setup considerably. You simply have to decide for yourself whether you want to use your own system or a well-known newsletter provider. Then you can set up a newsletter with a few clicks or integrate with other providers via forms.
Cost is also not a big hurdle in setting up a newsletter. Most plugins offer free versions to start with and most providers also have a free limit up to which you can operate your newsletter free of charge. If your newsletter list then grows over time, you can continue to use the services for minimal costs. But by that point, your newsletter should already bring you a return in the form of recurring visits and, ultimately, customers. Ideally, you should measure which visitors come via the newsletter and then also convert or buy from you.
By the way, as long as you pay attention to GDPR, it's a good idea to collect email addresses even if you don't have a regular newsletter yet. A large email list can give your online marketing a good boost. With an existing list, you don't have to start from scratch with your future newsletter.