I am a huge fan of locally-hosted newsletter systems that use Amazon SES — and particularly when running a WooCommerce-based membership, affiliate tracking and newsletter system. The cost-savings start to kick-in big-time once you hit the limits of the “free” newsletter systems (i.e. Mailchimp will start charging you a healthy monthly fee beyond 2,000 subscribers, versus roughly $0.20/mth for Amazon SES) – PLUS the integration with WooCommerce is SO much easier with a locally-hosted newsletter system, particularly in the ability to add people to product-specific auto-responders (this is typically used for communicating with your membership levels).
I will now review the 3 common solutions for Amazon-SES enabled newsletter systems that integrate with WooCommerce.
Mailpoet 3 is a rather impressive “free” newsletter system for WordPress as it includes a sending service which is free for up to 1000 users. It has a simple, elegant and powerful newsletter designer too, with many beautiful templates included.
HOWEVER, it breaks down at multiple points beyond that.
- Pricing: beyond 1000 subscribers you have to purchase the yearly product subscription at $150/yr if you want to get Amazon SES integration. While this is not a lot of money compared to the cost of a newsletter subscription, it IS a lot when there are one-time license products (or even GPL products) available at 1/3 the price (Note: the yearly renewal for Mailpoet is enforced — if you lapse your license, it will stop sending newsletters)
- WooCommerce integration: If you use Mailpoet sending service, you will not be able to single-optin your customers to a product-specific list on purchase
Sendy costs $59 for a single-site (license verified) site, which is cheap enough. The integration with WooCommerce is done through WooCommerce Sendy ($15) which works great for adding your customers to your global list AND to product-specific autoresponders.
As a downside, the Sendy dashboard is going to be distinct from your WordPress dashboard, you will need to install the software and setup a cron job, and you will have to research and finagle your own html email templates (which can be a pain-in-the-ass — none are included by default).
Which brings us to my now-favorite solution, which is the WordPress plugin Mailster.
First, pricing: its only $59 (6 months support, perpetual updates). You can also get it for $15 from me (but without support). The Amazon SES interface is provided by a free plugin. The WooCommerce integration (both global newsletter signup and product-specific autoresponders) is also available with the free Mailster for WooCommerce. Eureka!
The free (GPL) software only includes 1 template, but the video below show you how to work with the default Mailster template. There are some great templates available for $15-20.
This article should be enough to get you started. As a reminder, we can install a newsletter-enabled WooCommerce membership site for you for as little as $200 (and pay nothing for software); and we have some very affordable consultations to help you decide what’s best for you.
Video: How to Use the Free Mailster Newsletter Templates — full-width header, images, and more
In this video I show you how to setup the free Mailster template for your own newsletter. You will learn how to configure your Mailster newsletter with a full-width header, use floating images, fixed images, multiple columns, social media icons in your email footer (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc), how to load and save templates, and more.
Mailster is commercial software, but is also GPL and therefore is available from plugin download services.
Marc Beneteau is an author, instructor and consultant, specializing in WordPress and learning management systems.
Marc has trained more than 40,000 students, and offers consulting and training to small and large businesses alike. You can reach Marc at Marc @ manifesting .net.