Using RSVP Mailer

RSVP Mailer is the part of RSVPMaker that’s in charge of formatting, sending, and tracking email, including event invitations and email newsletters as well as transactional messages like RSVP notifications and confirmations. You compose messages in the same WordPress block editor you use for pages, blog posts, and RSVPMaker events, and you can easily embed event listings and recent blog post listings in your messages.

For sending to large lists, consider the RSVP Mailer for Postmark add-on. RSVP Mailer also integrates with Mailchimp, which works well but is not as tightly integrated. For example the Postmark implementation allows you to message just the list members who have or have not registered for an event you’re promoting.

The standard email template includes two wrap-around blocks that define the background color (or, optionally, background image) and the main content area where you will place your headlines, text, images and so on. See Adding Logos, Background Colors, and Background Images to Email Templates for formatting techniques.

Nesting of the Body Wrapper, Content Wrapper, and message content

You can embed YouTube videos, and they will be represented in email as the still YouTube preview image combined with a link to the video itself.

An email newsletter with an embedded video.

Here is where you find the key functions.

  • RSVP Mailer – listing of existing message posts.
  • Add New – create a new message post.
  • Content for Email – Create message posts based on existing blog posts or events.
  • RSVPMaker Email List – Add and delete contact emails, add them to segments. Import a list from Mailchimp or another source.
  • Unsubscribed list – see who has been unsubscribed or had their email blocked for technical issues.
  • Email Design Templates – define your standard message template and any alternate templates you may use for different purposes. There are also some CSS customizations you can apply, although the email templates use inline CSS rather than standard CSS in an external file or the header of a page.
  • Notification Templates – define what information should be included in confirmation messages etc.
  • Scheduled Email – set up and manage recurring email broadcasts.
  • Email Discussion List and Email Forwarding will be shown here if the Postmark integration is active. (In the Toastmasters version, they show up on a different menu).
  • Member Email Check – shows any problems with sending to user accounts.
  • Postmark Email Log – If the Postmark integration is active, this screen lets you see a log of outgoing messages as well as tracking of opens and links.

Sending Messages

Once you have composed and edited a message, you publish it just as you would any blog post or web page. However, when you go to view it, you will see it in a special template that simulates how the message will look in a recipient’s email inbox. The controls for sending messages and to what list are at the top of that screen.

Options include:

  • Send to a Mailchimp list (if that integration is active)
  • Send a single preview message to myself or a collaborator
  • Send to Website Members – the email addresses associated with all user accounts for a standalone site or, in a multisite configuration, all accounts associated with that specific site.
  • Send to RSVP Mail Email List (or a segment of it) – the built in email list.
  • Check Show More Options to see variations like sending to just the people who have registered for a specific event.
  • When you’re ready to send your message, you can set to either send Now, schedule it to go out at a future time you specify, or set more advanced options like a recurring schedule.
    • The advanced scheduling options are useful for sending out messages that include dynamic content like a listing of upcoming events or recent blog posts, so that for example each weekly calendar roundup email includes different content because new listings are generated each time the calendar is sent out.

Email List Signup Form

The RSVP Email Guest List Signup block is available for you to add to any page or sidebar / footer widget where you would like an email signup form to be displayed. Those who register will be shown a message telling them to check their email for a message with a link they can click on to confirm their subscription. This helps prevent bots from registering fraudulent addresses and helps you avoid spam complaints.

You can also add a checkbox to your RSVP form prompting people to sign up for your email list at the same time.

Both of these can be added automatically from the RSVPMaker Email List screen.

Importing a Mailchimp List

If you export an email list from Mailchimp, they will provide you with a zip file that actually includes three files — a list of all contacts, including those who may have unsubscribed, a list of emails that have been “cleaned” because of unsubscribes or other issues, and a list of current list subscribers.

I recommend importing only the list of subscribers. Go to the RSVPMaker Email List screen and follow the instructions to upload the subscriber .CSV file. In addition to a Mailchimp export, any file that has email, first name, and last name as the first three columns should be able to be imported using this method.

Optionally, you might add a segment name like Mailchimp List if you would ever want to email those people separately.

Content and Formatting Limitations

For the most part, you will be able to apply the same content composition and formatting techniques to an email message that you would to a blog post. Most of the exceptions are related to WordPress blocks that depend on external JavaScript or CSS, which are not allowed in an email context.

For example, you can use the standard Columns block, but you won’t get quite the same flexibility WordPress offers for responsive content on the web. In email, your columns will be displayed as two 2 evenly sized columns (even if you see three or more displayed within the editor). In some cases, the “what you see is what you get” promise of the visual editor may be broken when it comes to email. For best results, send yourself a copy of a message first to ensure it displays properly before sending it out to a bigger list.