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Using WordPress to build (MailChimp) newsletters

June 25, 2014 - Rachel

Prompted by a discussion on the Museums Computer Group list, I thought I’d throw together a quick post to show how we build newsletter-authoring functionality into WordPress, and why.

So: the problem as we perceive it is:

> MailChimp is much better for sending newsletters, and anyone who tries to convince you to do bulk sending from your WordPress installation is almost definitely nuts

but:

> WordPress is a nicer authoring environment (even with the recent MailChimp editor upgrade, which – although it has definitely improved things – is still a bit sucky in parts)
> If you are doing nice, visual newsletters then you’ve got images in them which you’ve probably already got on your site – and you’ve then got a whole duplicating / finding / uploading / resizing thing you need to do on MailChimp
> There are lots of places where you need the dynamic-ness of WordPress to save you time and energy filling in things like permalinks back to the original article and so on

Our solution is a kind of hybrid: you author your newsletter in your WordPress site using a bespoke template, publish the page, and then give MailChimp the URL of this page to import into their system ready for sending.

The advantages of this:

> People only have to learn one interface: WordPress
> You still get to use the bulk-sending / tracking / etc power of MailChimp
> You don’t have to repurpose assets – you upload them to WordPress which does all the resizing for you (or the media already exists!) and author away
> You by default create a page on your site for every newsletter you build – which is good for the “see on the web” option
> You can hijack various fields (both in MailChimp tag terms and in WordPress) and auto-populate them

Here’s a screengrab of the American Museum newsletter editor, just to give you a flavour of how it looks (click for bigger):

 

American Museum newsletter builder

 

 

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