Case Study – Email Newsletters Plugin Development
Using a blog to generate an Email Newsletter

 

 

I
am often asked when developing websites, can I have visitors sign-up to a newsletter list and can the content for this newsletter be generated by the website/blog.

In this article, I will highlight the case of one client, and how I have developed a custom application for two of their different sites.

Email marketing via a regular newsletter is a valuable way to increase traffic to your site and also provide your subscribers with useful information. It can also be an effective way of generating revenue. If your newsletter list contains a few thousand subscribers and your blog is about Backpacking Around Europe, then you could get a travel insurance company or Lonely Planet to pay you a few dollars to include a link to them in your latest newsletter.

Before you embark on an Email Newsletter Marketing scheme, there are a few things to consider:

Get Permission: A user must sign-up to your list either via the website or at a trade show. Without permission you not only risk losing customer goodwill and inviting CAN-SPAM penalties, you could end up blacklisted by ISPs that refuse all mail coming from your domain if spamming complaints have been lodged against you.

Open Rates: A good email campaign has an open rate of only 30%. Although email marketing is effective, do not be surprised if only a third of your audience reads your mail!

Unsubscribe: Provide an unsubscribe link so people can opt out of future mailings.

Tease Your Audience: Provide a very short summary (just a few lines) of your article, a teaser, to tempt your reader to click on a link to read the rest of the article and visit your site.

3rd Party Host: Consider using a 3rd party to send your emails, like Campaign Monitor, Mail Chimp or Constant Contact. Not only will they provide tracking for you, it is likely that your web host has limits (such as only 200 out going emails per hour).

 

Case Study: Just The Facts

My client is a group of professional journalists who write articles about parenting information gathered from top experts across North America with topics ranging from fitness and nutrition to mom and baby health. We designed two websites, Just the Facts, Baby and Just the Facts, Kid. Both sites feature a custom Email Marketing application from which they send a weekly newsletter to subscribers containing new articles from the site, competitions and advertising.

Just the Facts, Baby is a site aimed at mothers with babies aged 0-2 years. The site was designed in 2007 (pre-WordPress!) so it features a custom CMS designed in PHP and MySQL. The custom Newsletter Application allows the user build the newsletter to a predefined template, so they can pick a Featured Article, Featured Cool Product and also a Featured Q/A. There is also a WYSIWYG editor where they can freely change the content of the newsletter. The email can be previewed, sent to predefined groups (natal or post natal), selected geographic locations (to subscribers of a particular province) or the entire list.

  • Features over 18,000 Subscribers
  • There is a 7k spike in visitors to the website when sending the newsletter
  • Custom CMS (PHP/MySQL)
  • Tracking is provided via Atomic Email Tracker
  • Pick from latest articles
  • Option to send to targeted groups
  • WYSIWYG Editor
  • Sign-up to newsletter via the website


Just the Facts, Kid is a site aimed at parents with kids aged 3-12 years. The site was designed in 2010 and is a WordPress site. This site features a plugin to provide the Newsletter functionality. I took an existing WordPress Plugin (Newsletter) and modified it to provide some custom functionality that my client required. Again, this application allows the user to build the newsletter to a template (they can pick from several themes). Users choose a maximum of five articles that have been posted on the site, or they can change the content via the WYSIWYG editor. Again, the email can be previewed, sent to predefined groups, selected geographic locations or the entire list.

  • Custom WordPress Plugin
  • Pick up to 5 latest articles
  • Choose different themes (templates)
  • Statistic Tracking built in
  • Simplified Admin Panel
  • Option to send to targeted groups
  • WYSIWYG Editor
  • Can see and manage subscriber list
  • Sign-up to the newsletter via the website

 

Skills

  • PHP
  • WordPress
  • MySQL

  • Ajax
  • XHTML
  • Javascript

  • CSS
  • Plugins
  • API

One Comment


  1. Dec 12, 2011
    4:03 pm

    Steve Anson

    Nice work Alex. I found this post very helpful in terms of understanding your skills around email plugin dev. And I agree that the key to email marketing performance is “permission” and “relevance”… just like what Seth Godin talks about in his book: Permission Marketing. ~Steve

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