As a longtime MailChimp user and a member of their developer program, I feel a little disloyal saying this — but a WordPress plugin called MailPoet looks like a better choice those of you looking to create an integrated digital marketing, recruiting, and member retention program for your Toastmasters club.
MailPoet makes it easy to assemble content from blog posts and web pages, plus any other text and images you’d like to add, into an email newsletter. They provide a nice drag-and-drop visual designer (which you can see in the video below), which is particularly good for pulling together content you already have on your website (no need to upload it again to a separate service).
In addition, I’ve been working on ways of integrating meeting and special event content. If you have people register online to attend your meetings, you can invite them to sign up for your email list at the same time. These features are available to both Toastmost users and independent website administrators.
The video below is a mashup of a speech I gave at Online Presenters, plus some supplementary material.
And here’s an example of the welcome email guests at Online Presenters now get when they sign up for our email list as part of the process of signing up to attend a meeting.
As distinct from a group email discussion list, which is another handy tool for a club to have at its disposal, an email newsletter is good for sending out more polished and designed marketing messages.
The MailPoet email newsletter distribution service is free for up to 1,000 subscribers, as long as you don’t mind an ad in the footer, and competitively priced beyond that level. If you should happen to hit the 1,000-subscriber mark with your Toastmasters club promotions — first of all, congratulations! — you can figure out whether paying for the service makes sense. But I suspect most clubs will happily use the free tier of service for a good long time.
Getting Started with MailPoet
After you initially install and activate MailPoet, you will have to go through a process of enrolling for the MailPoet email distribution service and getting approval for the email address you want to send from (which should happen within a day). You will be asked to respect their terms of service, which means getting permission from the people you will be emailing rather than blasting out spam.
You can import a list, but you should be able to vouch for it as a “clean list.” They provide free access to a service that can help you clean your list of bad email addresses.
MailPoet and Toastmost
Toastmost could be a good addition to the other email services offered:
- Discussion lists for members and officers (learn more)
- Forwarding addresses and the autoresponder for Find a Club / prospective new member messages (learn more)
When you register with MailPoet, I suggest registering with an email forwarding address that multiple club officers can monitor, for example firstname.lastname@example.org for demo.toastmost.org.
If you have a club website on Toastmost.org, MailPoet is one of the optional plugins you can search for and activate through the Plugins section of the administrators dashboard.
By default, MailPoet creates a list of all WordPress users as unconfirmed subscribers. That’s behavior I had to disable to make sure the list would be restricted to just the members of your club, not everyone with a Toastmost account. However, you can invite members to join the list by clicking the Update List button as shown below.
In keeping with MailPoet’s terms of service, members will first get an email asking them to confirm they want to be on your email list. You can manually mark members as confirmed, but be careful to ensure that they won’t consider your messages spam.
RSVPMaker Event Listing Integration with MailPoet
RSVPMaker is the events calendar and events registration software I offer, both as part of the WordPress for Toastmasters tools and independently. Eventually, I would love to make it as easy to add events content to MailPoet as it is to add blog posts. Meanwhile, what I have is a button that appears at the top of the MailPoet design tool that allows you to see little snippets of code (shortcodes) you can copy and paste into any text block of the MailPoet designer.
When you preview or send a newsletter, you will see those codes replaced by the event or listing of events you’ve chosen.