Here’s a demo of the email newsletter tool built into Toastmost websites and the WordPress for Toastmasters software. I used it to send out the Future of Online Toastmasters workshop follow-up message shown in the demo and again to send out this announcement.
You compose messages in the same editor you use for blog posts (with the post title becoming the subject line), preview them in a template that shows what recipients will see in their inbox, and send them out to club members or to a larger list, such as a district’s email list.
A few details not shown in this demo:
- Visit the RSVPMaker Email List screen to add people to your list or import your list from another service, such as Mailchimp. Options for setting up an email list signup page are shown there, along with a link to the relevant settings screen.
- Toastmost website owners will be able to email their club members using this tool, but sending to a larger list requires an upgrade from the basic subscription. Behind the scenes, Toastmost is buying email sending services from a company called Postmark and needs to cover that expense.
- The club basic subscription includes 500 emails / month — plenty for sending a newsletter to members. Upgrade if you start building a bigger list of guests and prospective members.
- Club gold subscription ($100 per year) includes 2,500 emails per month, with further upgrades available in 2,500-email increments.
- District website subscription ($250 per year) includes 10,000 emails per month, with further upgrades available.
- Pricing is by total number of messages sent (including miscellaneous ones like RSVP confirmations and meeting reminders) — but for example the district plan would allow you to send a weekly newsletter to more than 2,000 recipients.
- The Postmark Email Log screen allows you to track messages sent as well as who opened them or clicked on a link. Within minutes of sending the survey message shown in my demo, I could see that 141 recipients had opened it and 40 had clicked on one of the links (to complete the survey or to watch the related video on YouTube).
- Users of the open source version who run independent websites can add Postmark credentials to the RSVPMaker settings screen.
- Alternatively, you can use an integration with Mailchimp to compose messages in WordPress but send them through the Mailchimp service. Not as tightly integrated but works fine.
- Messages can include dynamic content such as listings of upcoming events, recent blog posts, and YouTube videos.
- Automated newsletters can be sent out on a schedule or in response to events such as signing up for the newsletter (a welcome message) or the publication of a new blog post.
- Outside of Toastmasters, this email capability is available as part of the RSVPMaker plugin for WordPress and used, for example, to distribute bulletins from an investigative news website. So this is another example of a tool you can learn in Toastmasters and apply to other business and nonprofit ventures.