So we’ve made it to day 18 of the Advent Calendar. Christmas is a week away. The decorations are up, the presents are wrapped, and the excitement for the big day is growing.
And I personally can’t believe I’ve kept going all the way to door 18!
Today I’m going to talk about mailing lists, newsletters, and sending updates to your users.
If you have an email list, you may be using one of the many excellent newsletter services that are available. They are generally reliable and efficient, though they can be expensive.
Sometimes you may just want to bring your emailing in house. It may be because you want to have more control of the process, or you may want to keep the costs under control, or you may have some requirement that the services don’t meet.
This is where today’s module, Simplenews, may help.
It provides all the main functions you need to maintain a mailing list and send out newsletter emails.
First, it allows users to sign-up to newsletters. Anonymous users can sign up by entering their email address in a form. I’d include a screenshot, except you can see the form in the sidebar of this page.
If you have user sign-up, you can let users register for newsletters when they sign up, and to manage their subscriptions on their profile.
It also has helpful import and export functions if you want to migrate your mailing list into your site, or, indeed, out of it.
The other half of Simplenews is about sending out newsletter emails. You can compose a new newsletter issue, just like you would compose a page on your site.
Once you have written your email, you can send it to a test address to make sure it looks okay in the email client. Always wise to do!
When you are happy with the email content, you can tell Simplenews to send to the full mailing list.
Simplenews has various settings, including how many messages to send at a time. It’s a good idea to put a sensible value here, otherwise you risk overloading the mail servers and possibly irritating your hosting provider.
Assuming your mailing list is too big to send the mails all at once, it will use the site’s cron process to send out mails gradually until they are all sent.
You can also use theming to put your site logo and branding on the emails, though that goes beyond the scope of this short introduction.
And that’s a brief summary of Simplenews.
I hope you’ll come back for the last six doors. I’ve been saving a few that I’m quite excited about!