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) – 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 known solutions of Amazon-SES enabled newsletter systems that integrate with WooCommerce.
Note: if all this is over your head, or you just want to save time (and maybe money), just purchase our $150 eCommerce Site Makeover.
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 (and particularly in terms of WooCommerce integration).
- Pricing: beyond 1000 subscribers you have to purchase the yearly product subscription at $150/yr if you want to get Amazone 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 available at 1/3 the price (let alone the yearly renewal, which is enforced — if you lapse your license, it will stop sending newsletters)
- WooCommerce integration: Mailpoet appears to be missing the product-specific autoresponder feature (i.e. subscribe people to a list on purchasing a specific product). I may be wrong here, but point #1 pretty well kills it, from my perspective, so I am not motivated to do more research
Sendy costs $59 for a perpetual 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 for a perpetual (updatable) license. You can also get it for $10 from me (but without the templates). The Amazon SES interface is provided by a free plugin. The WooCommerce integration (both global newsletter signup and product-specific autoresponders) is available out-of-the-box. Eureka!
Secondly, there are great templates available, although only with a paid license. The free (GPL) software only includes 1 template, but I was able to html-edit that template to give me what I want (way to go, Mailster team).
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 $150 (and pay nothing for software); and we have some very affordable consultations to help you decide what’s best for you.