RSVPMaker 4.0 Adds Integrated Mailer with MailChimp Support

You can now use RSVPMaker to send email invitations to events, as well as other messages relevant to the community you have built around your website. If you want to send messages to a large list, you can use RSVPMaker’s integration with the MailChimp broadcast email service. Independently, RSVPMaker will allow you to send messages to members of your website (for community-based sites that provide user accounts to members), to people who have signed up for an event, or to past attendees at events.

send-invitations
Send Invitation option on menu

In addition to sending single messages, you can schedule a newsletter such as a roundup of upcoming events and recent blog posts to be sent out on a daily or weekly basis.

The new options appear on the RSVP Mailer menu, immediately below RSVP Events. By default, the ability to create and send messages is restricted to the administrator only, although you can grant permission other user types on the settings screen.

RSVPMaker has actually included features designed to work with MailChimp for years, such as encoding on the RSVP Now! button that is replaced with the recipient’s email address when a message is sent. Previously, I provided support for sending MailChimp emails through a separate plugin, ChimpBlast, which I made great use of but few others seemed to appreciate. The RSVP Mailer feature of RSVPMaker is a new, improved version of that functionality. It’s also been updated for version 3.0 of the MailChimp API (with the help of a PHP class wrapper by Drew McLellan – thank you!), whereas ChimpBlast was several versions behind.

While ChimpBlast was lagging, RSVPMaker itself had added several email-related features related to confirmation messages and reminders. I have also been hearing from more people who run membership websites who would like to be able to email the members of their organization without necessarily relying on a service such as MailChimp. So adding a more full-fledged mailer only made sense.

You can create an event invitation from the RSVP Events screen by selecting “Send Invitation” from the menu that appears when you hover your event over the title. Alternatively, you can pick an event from the “Content for Email” screen. Imported content will be loaded into the editor, with a placeholder for an introductory message you can add.

send-invitations-edit
Editing the draft of an email event invitation

Other options include importing the headline and excerpt / content from a recent blog post to serve as the basis for an email broadcast. Or you can import a listing of recent posts.

Editing an email roundup of recent blog posts.
Editing an email roundup of recent blog posts.

Once you have edited your email draft to your liking, you can preview it on the website and send it to a MailChimp list, user list, or attendee list. The controls for sending messages only appear when this page is viewed by a user authorized to send messages.

send-email-ui
Previewing and approving messages on the website.

To create an email newsletter that works with the RSVP Mailer, I would use a series of shortcodes. Of these, rsvpmaker_upcoming is the familiar tag used to display a calendar and events listing on your website, and you can use the popup editor to modify the settings. Two additions are rsvpmaker_recent_blog_posts, which will display blog posts from the past week (if there are any) and rsvpmaker_looking_ahead, which displays linked headlines of events beyond the period covered in the full events listing.

[rsvpmaker_recent_blog_posts]

[rsvpmaker_upcoming calendar=”0″ posts_per_page=”10″ type=”” one=”0″ hideauthor=”0″ past=”0″ no_events=”No events currently listed” nav=”bottom”]

[rsvpmaker_looking_ahead title=”Looking Ahead”]

The options for setting a schedule for distribution of a newsletter or other scheduled broadcast are at the bottom of the RSVP Mailer editing screen. Once you have turned on this feature and specified which list you want to send to, you will also be given the opportunity to add an Editor’s Note for a specific edition of the newsletter. This is a good way to call attention to a specific event, or a specific blog post, or to add a personal message.

Options for scheduling email.
Options for scheduling email.

The resulting newsletter looks like this:

A sample newsletter driven by RSVPMaker.
A sample newsletter driven by RSVPMaker.

The Email Template screen is where you can set options such as the background color to be used with your emails and CSS parameters for HTML tags and classes. These will be added inline to your HTML content when the message is generated, since email clients don’t otherwise reliably process stylesheets in the head of a document.

  • Pankaj Bhootra

    Hello sir. We have set up Chimpblast and customized it for proper use on our website. We would like to continue using that plugin as we already have it customized and set up. We want to confirm if that will cause our system any problems in the future and if so, should we switch to RSVP Mailer?

    • ChimpBlast uses an old version of the MailChimp API and I am not planning to update it. I have also seen some issues with compatibility with new WordPress releases. The Mailer in RSVPMaker is similar except that there are a few new options on the settings and email template screens. There is no rush, but I would recommend that you switch.

      • MailChimp is planning to retire the API version used by Chimpblast at the end of the year, so you will want to switch if you haven’t already.

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  • Warren

    I am having one issue so far. When I click on the View in browser link, the shortcodes at the bottom of the email, such as *|LIST:DESCRIPTION|*, are not populating. Any suggestions?

    • Those substitutions are made when the message is sent. If you send through MailChimp, they are made based on values supplied by that service. If you’re sending to a list of website members, or sending a preview message to yourself, they’re based on values you specify on the RSVPMaker settings screen.

  • Bree

    Can I use this plugin in conjunction with the “myEventOn” plugin for WordPress? or would RSVPMaker replace it?

    • Most likely, you will want choose one or the other. You could use the email tool for other purposes, but primary use is sending out invites or event listings

  • Dan M.

    Is there a way to ensure that people who sign up for an RSVPMaker event will automatically be added to a Mailchimp list? Thanks.

    • You can have an “add me to your mailing list” checkbox on the form, which is checked by default. That triggers mailchimp to send an email requesting that the person confirm their subscription

      • Dan M.

        Thanks. I do have that feature in place. Perhaps I neglected to add some connection/linkage/permissioning from Mailchimp to my website or RSVPMaker?