The Best WordPress Newsletter Plugin and Email Marketing Service

WordPress newsletter pluginMany newsletter plugins for WordPress continue to be worked on and improved as you’re reading this. But with all due respect to developers and with sincere appreciation for all their work, there is only one newsletter plugin that dominates them all:

Tribulant Newsletter.

Below you’ll see how Tribulant Newsletter stacks up against other plugins. You’ll find out whether it is the right choice for you or whether you’d be better off using a service such as AWeber or MailChimp. The best solution depends on your specific needs.

Scroll down a little to see a comparison of the top newsletter plugins or go straight to:

Compare the Top WordPress Newsletter Plugins

This is a side-by-side feature comparison of the plugins. If one specific feature interests you, click on it and you’ll see more about how all the plugins perform with regard to that particular feature.

Recommended
Tribulant
Newsletter
WP
Autoresponder
Satollo
Newsletter
Download here Download here Download here
Installation ★★★☆☆ ★★★★☆ ★★★★★
Support & docs ★★★★☆ ★★★★☆ ★★★★☆
Subscribers & mailing lists ★★★★★ ★★★★☆ ★★★☆☆
Opt-in form features ★★★★★ ★★★★☆ ★★★☆☆
Follow-up autoresponders ★★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★☆☆
Content update notifications ★★★★★ ★★★★½ ★★★★½
HTML templates ★★★★★ ★★★★½ ★★★★½
Bounced emails handling Yes No No
Email analytics ★★★★★ No ★★★★☆
The money 1-site: $55
Unlimited: $275
Free, but requires opt-in Stripped-down free version
Pro 1-site: $20
Pro unlimited: $97
Download here Download here Download here

Summaries of all of WordPress newsletter plugins

Tribulant Newsletter ($55) has got everything you’d need in a newsletter solution. Its range of capabilities even rivals professional email marketing companies such as MailChimp. And it integrates well with WordPress. Download »»

WP Autoresponder (free, requires opt-in) is a hard-to-find gem of a plugin. It works reliably and it is easy to use. Download »»

Satollo’s Newsletter (free) is available from WordPress.org. But there’s also a more featured professional version for $20. Even though the documentation is hard to read some times, the plugin is solid.  Download »»

Wysija Newsletters (free) is the only plugin with a drag and drop visual editor. The authors made an effort to keep it simple. They also offer support and documentation. Download »»

EasyMail Newsletter (free) doesn’t have nearly as many features as some of the other plugins, but it’s very nice and it’s user friendly. It is best suited for small mailing lists. Download »»

MailPress (free) is a behemoth. It has more features than any other newsletter plugin, but it can be very difficult to setup and use. However, it is 100% free. Download »»

[GWA] Autoresponder (free) can be a great choice for internet marketers with focus on scheduled follow-up messages. Some people may find it difficult to use, though, ’cause its UI is nothing like a native WordPress UI. Download »»

WPMU DEV e-Newsletter ($39) is still under development. It barely covers the basics of a newsletter plugin. But it has nice HTML templates. If you’re an existing member of WPMU DEV, you may wanna try this one out. Download »»

MeeNews (free) is a bimbo. It’s a pretty looking plugin with a nice website, but unfortunately it doesn’t really do much. Download »»

So, those were all the plugins. Now let’s see if a plugin is really what you should use. Or if its better to use an email marketing service.

Newsletter Plugin Versus Email Marketing Service

Generally speaking, newsletter services such as MailChimp and AWeber are more capable than newsletter plugins. These services provide more themes and designs for newsletters and opt-in forms. Deliverability is not a concern when you use a service. That is, you won’t have to tell your readers “Check your spam box”! Services can handle massive mailing lists without a hitch, while a plugin could cause trouble in an underpowered server.

Having said all of that, with a WordPress newsletter plugin, you get complete freedom and a lower cost. Services such as MailChimp and AWeber impose usage restrictions. For example, you cannot use a MailChimp list primarily for sending affiliate offers. And with both AWeber and MailChimp you could face restrictions if you try to provide single opt-in experience to your readers.

If you want complete freedom and not have anyone dictate how you should run your subscribers list, then the most flexible option is using a plugin. And if you want a plugin with a set of features that is comparable to newsletter services, the choice is clear: Tribulant Newsletter plugin.

Another advantage of using a plugin is that it is more affordable. While MailChimp provides a free option for lists smaller than 500 and AWeber has a 30-day free trial, the costs of these services ranges from $10 to $240 and more. Tribulant Newsletter plugin, on the other hand, costs just a one time payment of $55, which allows for an unlimited number of subscribers and email dispatches.

So, in the end, it depends on the nature of your mailing list and intended uses. Will the restrictions imposed by 3rd party services impact you? If so, definitely get a plugin. If not, then you may find a service to be much easier to get started with. For services, I generally recommend MailChimp (or AWeber for email marketers).

27 comments. You can post one, too!

  1. Hello there! Do you know if they make any plugins to
    help with Search Engine Optimization? I’m trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I’m not seeing very good
    results. If you know of any please share. Appreciate it!

  2. What do you think about the Newsletter Plugin from WordPress.com which comes with Jetpack. I know it’s limited, but it’s free and it works pretty well.

  3. Thanks for the details…

  4. I’ve just activated wysija on our site www.insidewomanmag.com and it’s great. It’s easy to set up. Thanks

  5. Looks like you omitted Mailing List by Zingiri (http://www.zingiri.com/plugins-and-addons/mailing-list). It’s a web services based solution, able to manage large volumes.

  6. Ariel

    Hi, I’ve also tried using Wysija and it’s just beyond my expectation! It makes creating newsletter an absolutely fun thing to do. Moreover, managing subscribers and following up are a breeze!

    5 stars and up!
    Highly recommend!!

  7. May I suggest Wysija, our own newsletter plugin. It just launched this month:
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wysija-newsletters/

    We developed an editor for user to drag and drop their articles, images, etc. We’ve gone to great lengths to make the configuration as easy as possible. In fact, a newbie doesn’t need to configure the plugin altogether.

    Self promotion aside, your article sums up our own feelings. Tribulant has done a fantastic job, minus their hefty configuration.

    Delivery methods remain the biggest drawback. Most users aren’t aware of the complexity of this. To ease the pain, we’ve partnered with SendGrid in the hopes of easing this pain. Otherwise, we use offer a simple way to send with Gmail for small lists.

    • VBK

      @Kim,

      I have already checked out the plugin and looks excellent. Third party services like MailChimp,aWeber and CakeMail etc are too limited can be used for only small and medium blogs

      Plugins like WP Responder and Wysija Newsletters are much useful and feature rich plugins for advanced WordPress environment

      Thanks for the great plugin and would like to have a comparison charts comparing Wysija and Third Party services and other chart comparing Wysija , WP Responder and other ‘out of box or WordPress dependent’ plugins

      Thank you, Kim !

    • kim

      Great feedback. It’s always encouraging to know what people think. So far, we’ve had a dozen comments, and they’re all super positive. Keeps us going.

      If you find a bug, let us know, as we’re still in beta and hunting them down.

      So you want a comparison chart? Yes, we should do one to facilitate the choice for users. We don’t fit everybody’s need for sure, so I’ll add it to my to do list.

      For those on Tribulant who wish to try out our plugin, we have an automated importer to copy all your subscribers over.

      For MailChimp, etc, users our importer is quite nifty and fast: you paste the list or upload your CSV.

      Those of you still sending from Gmail, you’ll soon be able to paste your contacts straight into the importer.

    • M.K.

      Hi Kim, Thanks for this interesting plugin. I recently read an article on Yoast.com about sending email reliably from an in-house emailing solution. The article talks about a service called Postrank. Is that similar to SendGrid?

    • kim

      To answer your question: yes, Postmark is like SendGrid.

      I’ve never tried PostMark, but in this thread on ycombinator, you have Postmark’s own people arguing why they are more expensive then others.

      Transactional VS Bulk

      Yoast talks about how to setup “transactional emails”, typically what WordPress or plugins send as notifications emails (new comment, subscribe to comment notifications, etc.). Most people simply rely on WordPress’ configuration, which is to use PHPmail via their host’s smtp server. Typical “transactional” providers are Amazon SES, etc. They offer very little marketing tools.

      Newsletter themselves fall in the “bulk emails” category. For that, Yoast simply uses MailChimp. Postmark and SendGrid, smtp.com, etc. are typical providers of that. And they are highly recommended because of speed and deliverability. In other words, send your emails super fast from white listed server trusted by spam filters.

      Lowdown on transactional emails (ie, notifications)

      In reality, what Yoast is doing for his transactional emails (notification emails and not newsletters) remains geeky and technically challenging. I would recommend doing it only for large websites with technically able folks around.

      Related info: WordPress 3.4 intends to switch to HTML notification emails. See this trac issue for more details. Currently, they’re sent as text. What’s the difference? They’ll be a lot prettier, and everybody will want to restyle them.

      I have my own plugin for newsletters. What should I do?

      If your list is above 2000 subscribers, you need to get yourself a professional SMTP provider. Pay for it, it’s worth it and not really that expensive. Why? First, more emails will find their way into your subscribers inbox. Second, you’ll send a lot faster.

      As makers of the Wysija Newsletter plugin, we offer 3 possibilities: PHPmail, Gmail or SMTP. Depending, on the number of subscribers and the configuration of the server, we’ll recommend differently.

    • M.K.

      Wow, thanks a lot for the informative comment, Kim! Yeah, I overlooked the fact that transactional email delivery isn’t the same as bulk email delivery, but in the end, both types require good delivery. And from what you said, I understand that Postmark, Sendgrid, SMTP.com, etc do both and Wysija Newsletter specifically chooses Sendgrid.

      It’s exciting that WordPress 3.4 will begin sending styled HTML emails. I didn’t know about that!

    • kim

      Why we chose SendGrid? Because they are easy to setup, have a good service, and they offer 1 month off to our clients on any of their plans. And we’re their first partners in their new affiliate program. :-)

      But don’t take my word for it. I’m curious to know what other people think of other SMTP services. The truth is that no onw has ever done a real comparison. It’s too time consumming!

    • kim

      Correction: Postmark only does transactional emails!

    • Eric

      Kim,

      Just installed your plugin, playing around with it, and really like it so far. I have a big list so I’ll have to buy the premium before sending. So far very good.

      Thanks
      Eric

    • kim

      Thanks Eric. Wysija is gonna get better in time. We’re working hard on upcoming features as we speak. Make sure you find us on support.wysija.com if you need any help!

  8. If you are looking at Mailchimp or Aweber, I suggest looking at SimplyCast.com. Much more for your buck and they have a bunch of free services as well. WP plugins are great but if you have large lists of clients, best to go with an email marketing expert.

  9. WPR plugin is in the WordPress.org repository. Users can download without opting-in also.

  10. VBK

    BTW, how about Pommo for wordpress(plugin) ?

    Thank you!

    • M.K.

      poMMo looks like an interesting newsletter plugin. I didn’t see it when I was researching for “newsletter” and “mailing list” plugins, but I’ll make sure to include it later on. Thanks again for your suggestions! ;)

  11. VBK

    I have de-activated Mailpress because of it’s wight . Can you tell me if it doesn’t affect any server load than other Newsletter plugins on Multi-Site installation?

    • M.K.

      It’s kind of difficult to test the plugins efficiency with server resources. MailPress does seem like a heavyweight, but I think it requires resources only at the time of sending, and that’s the case with most newsletter plugins–especially if you’re sending to a big list. Luckily, most plugins have the ability to accommodate under-powered servers by throttling the number of emails that are sent at any hour.

    • VBK

      Thank you ! I worry about ‘Too Much ‘ mess with MailPress on multisites. So I prefer Pommo :)

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