For a long time, I’ve been looking for a better email newsletter and event invitation solution for website managers than either Mailchimp or MailPoet. By piggybacking on the Postmark service for high-volume email, I’ve finally created a solution I’m happy with, and I’d like you to help test it.
Update: The essential code for enabling Postmark is now part of the free core RSVPMaker plugin. The part I’m holding back to be offered as a premium plugin, or as part of consulting services, is related to (a) managing forwarders and email discussion lists from the WordPress dashboard and (b) a bundle of features for monetizing the service on a subscription basis if you host websites on a WordPress multisite install. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The Postmark service, which starts at $10 for 10,000 email sends per month. That would likely represent a cost savings for most of you, although it depends on the size of your list and how often you send to it. Even if you won’t save money, you will send time by managing your website and your email list within the same dashboard, creating content with the same editor.
TBD. As a beta tester, you can get it for free.
Beyond newsletters and other broadcasts, Postmark helps you deliver transactional messages such as RSVP confirmations and password resets more reliably. What it doesn’t offer is a slick authoring environment — which is the gap I fill with RSVPMaker.
The RSVP Mailer utility included with RSVPMaker has been in the software for a long time but has become more powerful with the addition of block-based email templates.
- RSVP Mailer: Embedding YouTube Video and Blog Posts
- Adding Logos, Background Colors, and Background Images to Email Templates
With the RSVPMaker Mailer, you compose newsletters and event invitations in the block editor, then preview and send them in a special front end template that includes the controls for sending messages.
Although RSVPMaker provides some tools for managing email using the native email sending capabilities of WordPress, you’re much more likely to run afoul of issues with spam blacklists and your web host’s email sending policies if push that too far. For years, I’ve recommended RSVPMaker’s integration with Mailchimp as a solution to that issue, but this new Postmark integration is a further improvement.
A Better Mailer for Me (and Maybe You, Too)
Having invested time in learning to use the WordPress editor efficiently, I would rather compose content for emails, blog posts, events, and pages all within the same editor. RSVP Mailer also allows me to incorporate event listings, latest post listings, individual blog posts, and other content that are all hosted on the same platform.
Here’s why I’m ready to move on from two other services I’ve used.
- MailPoet, which was acquired by Automattic, also runs within the WordPress dashboard and lets you incorporate some content such as blog posts and WooCommerce content. Ironically, it does not use the standard block editor but an entirely different WYSIWYG editor. They also haven’t gotten around to making it work properly with a multisite setup, which is important for some of my applications.
- Mailchimp is a great product, but I’ve never really made full use of it except through the API. RSVPMaker has offered API integration with Mailchimp for years, and I have often composed messages on my website and sent them through Mailchimp. In other words, I take advantage of Mailchimp’s server infrastructure but not the design tools that are its main selling point.
Both services also offer reporting on how many recipients opened your messages and clicked on links within them — services I can replicate through integration with Postmark.
How it Works
To use the Postmark service with RSVPMaker, you’ll need to sign up for an account at postmarkapp.com. You can get a free account for testing. You have the option of creating multiple Postmark “servers” (really just logical groupings of related services), where each server includes multiple message streams – Broadcast, Outbound (transactional), and Inbound.
You can define multiple servers, for example to correspond with different websites. But for starters, you can stick to one. You’ll also need to follow their process for validating your right to send email on behalf of your web domain, which requires some futzing with DNS settings — but the instructions are very clear.
You will copy and paste an API key for the Postmark server into the RSVPMaker Mailer for Postmark options screen (part of the beta test plugin). To enable the Inbound stream, which is optional, you enter an webhook url from the RSVPMaker options screen into the Inbound stream settings for Postmark.
The Inbound stream allows you to have RSVPMaker manage email forwarding and email lists. That’s something I’ve used with community website applications, but if it’s not relevant to you, you can skip it.
Once all this is configured, Postmark will be ready to send messages on your behalf at the rate of 500 at a time. When sending to more than 500 recipients, RSVPMaker breaks your list up into batches of 500 each and keeps sending until all messages have been sent.
In other words, it might take four to five minutes to send to a 2,000 member list.
Why I need your help
The Postmark integration is working well in my testing and in some preliminary production deployments, but I’m very much still fine tuning it. I want you to let me know how you find the authoring and design experience, as well as how well the user interface for sending messages works for you. I’m also looking for talented designers to show me what they can do with RSVPMaker’s block editor system for email templates.
The screen for adding emails or importing lists from sources such as Mailchimp has been redesigned but still needs work. Access to reports on link tracking are on my todo list — in fact, I’ll probably use tracking of links on this post as a test.
Fill out the form if you would like to participate, and I’ll email you a zip file with the code needed to add the Postmark integration.