Mailing a Forum Newsletter

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Pigoo, Aug 12, 2019.

  1. Pigoo

    Pigoo Enthusiast

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    Here's an example. You're starting up a new forum newsletter...you initially have approximately 1000 forum members that will receive the newsletter (this may grow)...and the plan is to mail a newsletter every 2 weeks.

    What options are available to handle the emailing of a forum newsletter (free is always appreciated)?

    I'm aware of various email marketing services that can handle this (like MailChimp for example)...some of these services have free entry level plans and then progress to pay/month plans.

    Or...if I wanted to do everything 100% on my own (if possible)...how does someone handle emailing 1000 newsletters every 2 weeks?

    Thanks
     
  2. CyberJoe

    CyberJoe Participant

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    You asking which system, or how to send? If the latter, Amazon SES without a doubt.
     
  3. Pigoo

    Pigoo Enthusiast

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    After reading your reply...I guess I'm confused.;)

    I think I was mainly asking "how to send" (what way makes the most sense if someone needed to send 1000 newsletter emails every 2 weeks). Basically asking which method makes the most sense from a cost perspective (free is better) and an ease of use perspective.

    When you say "which system"...what were you referring to?

    Thanks
     
  4. Pigoo

    Pigoo Enthusiast

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    I just spent about 20-30 minutes researching & reading about Amazon EC2, Amazon AWS, and Amazon SES...and it's all sort of confusing.

    Could you possibily explain how this works (especially the cost aspect)?

    Thanks
     
  5. CyberJoe

    CyberJoe Participant

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    Amazon SES will only be your SMTP server, you still need a system to compile the actual newsletter and handle the subscriptions. I will have to look at the pricing model again but it is dirt cheap to send.
     
  6. Pigoo

    Pigoo Enthusiast

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    Thanks for clarifying.:)

    If it helps...I've been reading various articles on how to compose & send newsletters. Here's one link to one article I've been reading "10 Best Email Marketing Services for Small Business". The service called "MailChimp" seems to be mentioned regularly as one of the top services (features and cost/month).

    https://hostingfacts.com/best-email-marketing-services/

    If I don't need to use a service like this (free & do everything myself)...that would be fine too.

    But yes...still need to decide on a system to compile the newsletter and handle the subscriptions. I think this is my main question...what would be a good system to compile the newsletter & handle the subscriptions? Again free is good (I do all the work)...if there's a professional way of doing it myself.

    Thanks
     
  7. CyberJoe

    CyberJoe Participant

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    You need to be very clear though, are you intending to send forum threads, or are you talking about a generic newsletter where you enter the content? If the latter and you want to self host the best answer is Sendy, coupled with Amazon SES for sending.

    If it is for a forum and threads you have very few choices.
     
  8. Pigoo

    Pigoo Enthusiast

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    I was thinking (or hoping) to have all options possible:

    - hot forum threads
    - interesting articles related to forum niche
    - current events for the forum niche
    - facts & figures relative to the forum niche
    - DIY items relative to the forum niche
    - inserted HTML deals from advertising partners
    - etc

    Are you saying if I wanted to include hot forum threads in the newsletter...that there are very few choices? If this is the case...what would those choices be?

    Thanks
     
  9. CyberJoe

    CyberJoe Participant

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    I do not think there is a system on the market (off the shelf) that will cater for this. I know for a fact Threadloom right now does not (although that might change or at least I hope it does.).

    What you want is very close to the system I am running, but I have only automated the hot threads inclusion, and insert other html manually, never got around to improving on it.

    - Hot forum threads, define hot and get somebody to write a page for you to output that in template format querying the DB direct.
    - Current events, if you mean from the forum calendar you can certainly pick this up in the db, otherwise input manually.

    So it is very possible to develop a system like this, but it will not come too cheap. If I had to have it developed I would do a system where you have a default template that auto inserts the hot threads as per definition at run time, then have a CMS system where you insert the content for facts and figures, DIY etc, and finally an area (pre-defined) where you can enter the HTML (I presume affiliate type content) for advertising partners. You then need a system to do the actual sending, so if the pages are compiled in HTML ready for sending the easiest option would be to run PHPList (which will then also maintain your unsubcribes and bounces), and finally you use Amazon SES deliver the actual emails.

    A wild guess, I would reckon this would probably cost you around the $1000-$1500 mark to be developed commercially.
     
  10. Pigoo

    Pigoo Enthusiast

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    Thanks for all the info. Don't think I need something that sophisticated (at least not yet).

    I'm willing to do as much manual composing of the newsletter as I can...and will incorporate as much as I can before it gets more complicated (such as the hot threads inclusion).

    Assuming:

    - I do a simple newsletter that I compose on my own.
    - It goes out 1000 members.
    - Need to incorporate some HTML from advertising partners.
    - Want the newsletter to also include an unsubscribe link.

    What's the most straight-forward way of taking that simple newsletter + the 1000 member email list...and getting it mailed to the 1000 email address list (hopefully free/low cost as well)?

    Thanks:)
     
  11. CyberJoe

    CyberJoe Participant

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    Two ways comes to mind.

    1) Sendy

    You install and host Sendy yourself on a VPS, the $5 Linode will do.
    You use their editor to compile the newsletter, connect Sendy to Amazon SES and send from there. 1000 a week will cost you a few cents.

    The biggest problem maintaining the list, I need to check if the Sendy unsubscribe/blacklist works globally across all lists. If it does then you could just generate the list of email addresses in VB4 and paste it in, but that is "dirty" solution, a better solution would be (assuming you know a bit of SQL), to write a page to find all the new email addresses since the last send, and amend an existing list in Sendy to maintain the unsubs etc. Sendy does have an API so with a bit of development you could automate the newsletter subscriber maintenance, but I would not do that, if you prepared to go that far rather use the bottom solution.

    You install and host PHPList
    The only reason I recommend a second option, right now Sendy does not have the option to generate an email from an HTML page, and in your scenario, it might be easier to work with an HTML page as your master, it also allows for better growth.

    The process would be similar, except where in Sendy you did the newsletter compilation using their editor, with PHPList you can do a normal HTML page with your content, and then you paste that URL in as the sending content and PHPList will add the unsub buttons etc.

    You can then also maintain a master list, and on a weekly basis retrieve all the new emails from VB and add them to the list.
    This option is probably the cheapest and allows for growth that if you later want to incorporate hot threads via HTML template you can without losing previous development on it, based on views and replies, to write an addon to incorporate only hot threads, and you maintain the rest of the HTML will not be that expensive.

    I am sure there are more ways, but these are the systems I work with and is familiar with, my PHPList solution has been working like this for 6 years now, sending (currently) 75000 emails weekly.
     
  12. Pigoo

    Pigoo Enthusiast

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    Super super awesome...I really appreciate hearing newsletter solutions from someone who's dealing with large newsletter numbers like 75,000/week.:)

    1. When you say " install and host Sendy yourself on a VPS"...can I assume installing Sendy on the same server as my website will work?

    2. I'm still a bit confused how Amazon SES works. On the Amazon SES information page...it says this:

    "COST-EFFECTIVE

    Pay as you go, and pay only for what you use. There are no upfront fees, no time-consuming pricing negotiations, no fixed expenses, and no minimum charges. And, if you send from an application hosted in Amazon EC2, the first 62,000 emails you send every month are free.
    "

    The part about..."if you send from an application hosted in Amazon EC2, the first 62,000 emails you send every month are free."

    It gets confusing with all the Amazon terminology (Amazon SES, Amazon EC2, etc.). I guess I'm trying to figure out how much is it going to cost to use Amazon SES?

    3. What do you think about this Newsletter product from Dragonbyte Technology?:

    https://www.dragonbyte-tech.com/store/dragonbyte-newsletter.327/

    Thanks once more.:)
     
  13. CyberJoe

    CyberJoe Participant

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    Amazon SES:
    "$0.1 for every 1,000 emails you send." according to their pricelist.
    So if you had to send 75000 per week, $7.50 per week.

    https://calculator.s3.amazonaws.com/index.html (Click SES on the left)
    $30.60 per month for 300,000 emails including 5gig of attachments.

    Re the Dragonbyte product, I had a brief look some time ago, but my system was already running so did not really consider it. If that works for you it would be first prize probably. I do not know your real volumes, but my host for example only allows a certain mail volume per hour, so we had to incorporate manual sending with PHPList, only sending a certain number at a time, and using Cron to trigger it once per hour, if you are going to use SES it will avoid that, and your newsletter will be delivered to all recipients very quickly.
     
  14. Pigoo

    Pigoo Enthusiast

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    I'll have to check to see what the email volume limits are with my host...and come up with a strategy for getting it done if I need to send more than the limits allow. Of course as you said...using Amazon SES will elimnate that issue...and Amazon SES does seem pretty cost effective.:)

    I will have to dig into all this info...and see what strategy works best.

    Thank you very much Cyberjoe!!!:)
     
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