Adding a newsletter to your WordPress site is a great way to turn onetime visitors into on-going subscribers. While many people turn to premium external newsletter services like Aweber and Mailchimp, it is possible to setup a newsletter for your site, which can be managed from within your WordPress dashboard for free.
If you haven’t already setup a newsletter for your site, you are missing out on a great opportunity to build a loyal and attentive audience you can communicate with directly via email. Here is our roundup of the best free WordPress newsletter plugins to help you get started today:
This simply named free plugin allows you to “add a real newsletter to your blog in seconds”. It has a good rating from users on WordPress.org, with many downloads so far and is currently on version 3.3.0. This shows it’s a plugin that is well used and kept up to date by the author.
Installation was very simple and in line with the author’s claims, it was up and running in seconds. Once installed and activated, simply add the Newsletter widget to the sidebar of your blog and you can start building your list of subscribers via the basic sign up form. You can choose from single-opt in or double opt in for subscribers, although we recommend double opt in as it requires users to confirm their email address, therefore ensuring you don’t receive any dummy or mischievous signups.
Some of the Best Features of this Free Plugin Include:
- Create your own custom sign up forms (using CSS)
- Unlimited subscribers
- Send newsletters from within your WordPress site (choice of included newsletter templates or use HTML editor)
- Create a page on your site for your subscribers which displays newsletter archive
While this is a pretty basic looking plugin in terms of the admin menus, it has a lot of useful features and functionality. It might lack the slickness and ease of use of some of its rival products, especially the free versions of the premium newsletter plugins, but if you want something that works out of the box with little customisation, this could be the one for you.
You can find out more about this plugin at wordpress.org/plugins/newsletter/
ALO EasyMail Newsletter is another popular plugin that aims to provide a simple way to add newsletter functionality to your WordPress site. Installation is simple as with other free plugins available from wordpress.org. Once activated it’s simply a case of dragging the widget onto a sidebar, to allow users to begin signing up to your newsletter.
Creating a new newsletter email is just like creating a new post; so if you are familiar with WordPress you will take to ALO EasyMail very easily. The plugin comes included with lots of placeholders and shortcodes so you can add lots of personalised information to your newsletters such as the subscriber name, recent posts and image galleries to name but a few, allowing you to personalise your correspondence.
Standout Features of this Plugin Include:
- Send mail to subscribers, registered users and/or mailing lists
- Throttle mail out rate using a cron job, to avoid mass sending to all your subscribers at once
- Create multiple lists to segment your subscribers
- View statistics on how many recipients opened their newsletter message and clicked on links
- Import and export subscribers using a CSV file
- Easily display X number of recent posts in each newsletter
- Use Google Analytics to track newsletter links
The lack of a simple way to customise and create your own opt in sign up forms was a bit of a disappointment. However, overall this is a clean and easy to use free newsletter plugin for WordPress.
For more information on this plugin visit wordpress.org/plugins/alo-easymail/
Perhaps it is a little unfair to compare freemium (free versions of premium plugins) with totally free newsletter plugins, but they are free to use and are available to download from wordpress.org, and can be installed from directory inside your WordPress dashboard.
Wysija is one of these so called freemium plugins and once it has been installed and activated it is ready to go right out of the box. It comes with a default sign up form which can be inserted into posts or used as a sidebar widget but there is also a nice and easy to use form designer, allowing you to create your own forms. This is a great feature as the more control you have over the design, the more you can tweak and test your forms to improve signups. While some of the other free plugins allow you to create your own forms, the Wysija editor uses drag and drop functionality to make the whole process very simple indeed.
The free version also includes a basic autoresponder feature. Using this feature, the messages can be set to be delivered a certain number of days apart, drip feeding your subscribers with a sequence of messages. This has many practical applications and is ideal for welcoming new members to your list with a series of emails, or delivering a series of tips or an online course over a number of messages. While this feature doesn’t have the advanced functionality of services like Aweber and Mailchimp, it is free so is still worth taking a look at to see if it matches your sequencing needs.
The Best Features of the free Wysija Newsletters plugin Include:
- Create and edit your own multiple sign up forms
- Insert sign up forms using iframe, PHP, HTML or a Shortcode
- Send to up to 2,000 subscribers
- Send using your website, Gmail or a third party SMTP server
- Create timed autoresponders
- Choose from over 30 free newsletter theme templates
- Create and manage an unlimited number of separate lists for your site
- Stats for the open, delete and links clicked rates of your emails
The free version of Wysija can be downloaded from wordpress.org/plugins/wysija-newsletters/
Features of Wysija Premium:
While the free version of Wysija Newsletters comes with a great selection of features, for those looking for more power from their newsletter tool, the premium features might be of interest. These include:
- Send to more than 2,000 subscribers
- Detailed stats for each subscriber including number of emails unopened, opened and deleted
- Use Google Analytics to track your subscribers actions on your site after opening a newsletter
- Track total clicks for each link you use in your newsletters
Should your list of subscribers ever grow beyond 2,000 then you will have to upgrade to the premium version of this plugin, however doing so gives you access to some extra functionality that allows you to better understand how your subscribers interact with the emails you send them.
For the full feature list and latest pricing information for the premium version visit the Wysija Premium site today.
This is another freemium plugin which can be upgraded to WPNewsman Pro for access to the extra features. However, like the free version of Wysija, the lite version of WPNewsman comes with everything you need to get started.
You can grow your list of subscribers to 2,000 members using the lite version, which should be enough for most new bloggers. There is a nice form builder which lets you easily change the layout as well as what is included in your sign up forms, which can all be done using a drag and drop interface. Forms can then either be displayed on your WordPress site using the sidebar widgets or inserted into posts and pages using a simple shortcode. You can have more than one form, which can help you test conversion rates, as well as use different layouts and wording for different positions on your site.
One nice feature with WPNewsman is that you can easily display your opt in forms horizontally, simply by adding an extra string to the shortcode. This is great as you can easily insert a form midway through your post, in content, to gently remind users to sign up as they are reading.
You can also put forms on external sites and still have the subscribers added to your lists. These forms can be inserted using an iframe which means you still have control over them after they have been published elsewhere.
When it comes to creating your emails, the familiar post editor of WordPress is used and you can also download from a large library of free newsletter templates right from within your WordPress dashboard. Having access to this many templates really allows you to save time and still send out something that looks professional despite it costing you nothing.
Features of WPNewsman Lite Include:
- Send HTML newsletters to up to 2,000 subscribers
- Customisable action pages for confirmation, unsubscriptions, etc.
- Easy to use drag and drop form builder and use of multiple forms
- Create multiple lists and manage users within WordPress
- Access to a library of free newsletter templates
- Use delivering throttling to limit the number of emails that are sent out each day
- Choose between using PHP mail, *nix Sendmail or a custom SMTP server (recommended) for sending messages
While WPNewsman Lite has everything you need to get going, right from the first install, the Pro version does have some extra features that may be of interest to those with more popular blogs.
Features of WPNewsman Pro:
- Send newsletters to an unlimited number of subscribers
- Bounce handler to remove non-reachable email addresses
- Google Analytics and Piwik tracking of the content of your newsletters and how your users interact with them
- Access to premium customer support
As you can see there is more than enough for all but the most demanding of bloggers. Once your list grows, your site should hopefully be making enough money where upgrading to the premium Pro version is an easy decision to make.
If you are interested in either versions of this plugin visit the WPNewsman website today.
Something some of the above plugins lack is the ability to set up scheduled autoresponder sequences for your mailing lists. Thankfully this free plugin features this ability and a whole lot more.
Top Features of WP Autoresponder and Newsletter Plugin:
- Create an unlimited number of mailing lists for your site
- Schedule a sequences of messages to be delivered a set number of days after a subscriber joins the list
- Create your own subscription forms using the editor
- Use widgets to display the opt in forms on your sidebars
- Allow visitors to subscribe to only certain categories of your site
- Import subscribers from other email services
- Automatically remove subscribers from one list if they join another of your lists, should you choose to
While the autoresponder is the main feature that sets this free plugin apart from some of the others available, there is some question as to how reliable it is. As the autoresponder requires the use of a cron job in order to set the intervals for the schedule, there have been reports of it not working under some conditions. This could cause scheduled message to fail to deliver as intended, giving the appearance that the plugin does not work as stated. However, there are many reports attesting to the reliability of this plugin.
If you don’t want to take the chance on your ability to configure the plugin correctly, Aweber and Mailchimp offer much more fool proof sequencing and mail scheduling functionality.
To find out more about this plugin visit the WP Autoresponder and Newsletter Plugin page at wordpress.org/plugins/wp-responder-email-autoresponder-and-newsletter-plugin/
- If you found this post useful, you may be interested in a previous review of the MyMail newsletter plugin for WordPress which is a highly acclaimed premium newsletter plugin.
Hopefully you now know everything you need to in order to add a newsletter to your WordPress site without spending a penny.