How to Send New Post Notifications with WordPress

Here’s the problem.

An email plugin is going to use your hosting to deliver emails. Why is this a problem?

Because your website’s server is setup for hosting your website, not for mass emailing. Don’t worry about the technical details, you just need to know that you’ll experience the following problems if you send emails with your site:

  • Your host will enforce an emails/hour limit that will delay your emails
  • Many of your emails will go straight to spam folders
  • Many of your emails won’t get delivered

These are pretty much the biggest problems you can have when sending email. So what do you do instead?

You use a service designed for sending emails.

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3 Types of Email Delivery Services

I’m going to present three ways to deliver new post notification emails.

Each one of these methods can be used to reliably send emails to a list of subscribers every time you publish a post, so pick whichever one you think will fit your needs best.

1. Email Marketing Software

You’ve probably heard of these popular email marketing and list management products. Some of the best and most popular options are:

Pros:

  • Can manage large lists of contacts
  • Segmentation, autoresponders, and other features
  • Will grow with your site
  • Reliable email delivery
  • No sending limits

Cons:

  • Learning curve
  • Limited number of free subscribers

How to Collect Emails

If you choose to use email marketing software, you will use a plugin to collect emails on your site.

For instance, the MailChimp for WordPress plugin makes it easy to add stylish forms to your site. Visitors who submit their email address will be added automatically to a list that you manage in the MailChimp dashboard.

How to Send New Post Notifications

You have forms to collect emails, and a growing list of subscribers. Now you just need a way to send them emails when a new post is published.

For this, you can use an RSS monitoring service that comes with your email marketing software. At Compete Themes, I use MailChimp’s RSS to Email functionality to do this. It checks for new posts at 10am every morning, and sends an email to my blog subscriber list if one is found.

If you received an email for this post, that’s where it came from!

2. Transactional Email Services

Transactional email services are used specifically for the delivery of emails. Keep reading and you’ll understand exactly how this works.

I use Mandrill, a transactional email service by MailChimp, here at Compete Themes.

Pros:

  • Fast & reliable email delivery
  • Easy setup

Cons:

  • Sending limits

How to Collect Emails

Since a service like Mandrill will only deliver the emails, you need a few other products. First, you need a plugin to collect emails on your site.

You can use any plugin you’d like for collecting email addresses, but I recommend using either MailPoet or the Email Subscribers plugin. Both of them make it easy to add a subscription form to your site

How to Send New Post Notifications

Once you have your form setup, you’ll need a way to configure and send an email every time a post is published. Either of the two plugins mentioned above can do this as well.

Now, as mentioned previously, sending emails from your site is problematic. That’s where Mandrill comes in. The official wpMandrill plugin takes a couple minutes to setup, and will fix this problem.

The Mandrill plugin automatically reroutes all your emails through their service. This will get your delivery speed down to a few seconds and hugely increase the reliability of your emails reaching inboxes instead of spam folders.

The one caveat with Mandrill is that there is still an hourly sending limit. This is why I prefer to use MailChimp for sending post notifications, and Mandrill to handle emails from contact forms and purchase receipts.

3. Jetpack Subscriptions

The last method for sending new post notifications is to use Jetpack.

The Subscriptions module in the Jetpack plugin can be used to collect emails, send notifications, and effectively acts as a transactional email service too.

Pros:

  • Fast & reliable email delivery
  • Easy setup (if you already have Jetpack)
  • Has it’s own signup form
  • Comment form checkbox to assist signups

Cons:

  • Annoying to setup (if you don’t already have Jetpack)
  • Limited control over email style/contents
  • Limited subscriber management

How to Collect Emails

Jetpack does this really well.

You can easily add a subscription widget to any of the widget areas on your site. There’s also a shortcode for the signup form making it easy to add it anywhere in a Post or Page.

On top of that, a checkbox will also be added below the comment form that will automatically subscribe commenters if checked. It’s a nice touch to prompt more visitors to signup for your mailing list.

How to Send New Post Notifications

With the Subscriptions module activated, Jetpack will automatically email your subscribers when you publish a new post. It couldn’t be easier to setup.

Similar to how Mandrill reroutes your emails, Jetpack makes use of the wordpress.com servers to send your emails. This means your emails will be sent quickly and reliably. It’s a great service to receive for free.

Start Sending Post Notifications

Hopefully that wasn’t too overwhelming! Preparing your site to send new post notifications takes some work and research.

With the methods above, you learned three different ways to:

  • Collect email addresses
  • Automate delivery of new post notification emails
  • Send your email notifications quickly and reliably

Now you can weight out the pros and cons for each, and pick the method that is best for your site. Once the setup is complete, you can enjoy your automated notification system without any further effort.

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24 Comments
  1. Thank you for a great article, your recommendations helped me a lot!

  2. Nancy Y Nancy Y

    Hello, I have a password protected blog using htaccess. Will any of the choices work with this setup? I am hoping to send notices o my subscribers when there are new posts. Thanks, Nancy

    • Hi Nancy,

      It depends on the edits to the htaccess, but this probably won’t affect WP’s ability to send mail.

  3. I use mailchimp but want to change. Thanks for advices.

  4. Hi,
    could you please explain how to force Jetpack to send e-mail notifications about custom post types, i.e. portfolio-type? Seems like WP treats portfolio posts as pages and does not send any mailings about a new publication. Which is a shame.
    Best,
    Mike

    • Hey Mike,

      It looks like Jetpack doesn’t support email notifications for custom post types, and it won’t anytime soon. I did some digging and found this Github issue where it’s been discussed in detail.

      I would recommend using MailChimp for sending new portfolio item notifications. Alternatively, a workaround would be to publish a new post about every portfolio item you add.

  5. Lyse Lyse

    Hi
    Thanks for the great article. I use MailChimp is I have setup the RSS fee and send timing. However it does not work as my subscribers are not being notified. Have you encountered this before? What would be a solution to my issue or an alternative way to notify my subscribers?
    Thanks
    Lyse

    • Hi Lyse,

      Thanks for reading! There are a number of things that could disrupt an RSS email campaign. MailChimp’s article on troubleshooting RSS campaigns is really comprehensive and I’m sure one of the options there will fix the delivery issue.

  6. Lyse Lyse

    Thank you Ben for being so prompt. I looked at the troubleshooting RSS campaigns article earlier, but I will review it again to see if I missed something.
    Lyse

    • Sure thing! Let us know if you find a solution 🙂

  7. Benjamin Benjamin

    Is there any plugin or email service which will notify when a custom post type has been revised or updated?

    • This can be done with an email service like MailChimp that monitors your RSS feed. WordPress actually creates many more RSS feeds than just the primary one. Check out this tutorial to see how you can get a feed for any post type.

  8. HI Ben,

    Great article; thanks.

    I need your advice. When I publish a new post, Jetpack sends out the entire post (ie headline, plus complete body with the images) to my subscriber list.

    1) I think that defeats the purpose of getting subscribers to visit my site, so,

    2) Wouldn’t it be better to have Jetpack send out only the headline and perahaps paragraphs 1 and 2 of the post? If you agree,

    3) How can I — if it is possible to — modify the settings in Jetpack to do this?

    Thanks for your time and attention.

    Best,

    Pavan

    • Hi Pavan,

      Thanks for reading, glad you like it!

      Jetpack uses the feed summary settings in the emails which is kind of weird, but easy to update. Visit the Reading settings menu (Settings > Reading), and switch the setting called “For each article in a feed, show” to “Summary.”

  9. Thanks for the post . I actually use method no. 1 but I want to switch to method no. 3 because I have 8K subs but dont want to spend much.

  10. Tks for the article. Very helpful!

    Sending new post alerts, I don’t want to send the entire post, only a headline and excerpt. Can MailChimp do this or do I have to use another service/plugin?

    Thanks for your help.

    • Yea MailChimp has RSS Merge Tags that help you include dynamic content in the emails. There are tags for both the title and the excerpt.

  11. Ross Ross

    Hi There I have my site running on wordpress.org and I have tried jetpack but it ask’s me to sign in to wordpress.com is there a way to use wordpress.org or should I try MailChimp ( which I tried and it was proper confusing! )

    • I’m afraid there’s no way around that. You don’t actually have to use wordpress.com or setup a site there, you just need an account. If you’re okay with that, it just takes a minute to create an account (although I agree it’s a pain ;).

  12. Hi Ben,
    I’m a little late to this party, but your OP is very interesting.
    I’ve been using Jetpack for my two blogs, but what is happening is that any embedded images in a post come out as little boxes, and no image, in the notification emails. The reason is that the site domain, already in the image coding once, is added a second time in the notification and this causes the image to fail.
    Have you seen this issue before, and do you have any fixes for it? I’ve been trying to deal with the problem with Jetpack Support (sic) for more than a month and it’s the most unsatisfactory customer support I’ve had in a very long time, and still no one there can offer any solution. It’s like starting over again every time one contacts them. Alternatively, if this can’t be fixed, are there any email sign-up and notification systems like Jetpack you can suggest?
    Thanks very much for looking at this and any input you can make.

    • Hey Frank,

      I’ve not heard of this issue before, but I have one idea for you to try out. If the images are being embedded from an external source, try uploading them to the Media Library first and then inserting them that way. I can’t guarantee that will help, but I suspect it will add the image code in a way Jetpack is more familiar with handling.

      Otherwise, I think you’ll want to consider a full email marketing solution like MailChimp. It will take a little while to learn, but you’ll have way more control and great deliverability. Aweber and CampaignMonitor are also very popular, and MailChimp has an extremely pared-down alternative called TinyLetter that I’ve heard great things about.

      • Hi Ben,

        Thanks very much for your reply.

        I do upload the images to the Media Library before linking to them in the posts. I also disabled the EWWW Image Optimizer plug-in, since someone at Jetpack thought that was causing the problem (it wasn’t).

        The latest theory, which I’ve suspected myself, is that it is the HTTPS / HTTP Remover plug-in. I had to implement this since I was getting weird results for some pages due to some sort of conflict between https and http coding (this with two entirely different themes), and this was the only thing that solved that problem. I don’t know what to do if that is the source of the problem, since I can’t have pages appearing weird again, as they did when I first set up the sites.

        Other WP and Jetpack users have reporting having the same problem I am having, BTW, and not sure how they resolved it.

        I’ve thought of using one of the mailing services you suggest, but at this point my numbers are still so low it’s hard to justify going to them. Also, I find that the major mailers send under coded URLs and not one’s own domain (or even their own), and a very high percentage of what they send out winds up in the spam box, and there is no way of whitelisting them. Not a very satisfactory solution, I don’t think.

        Any other ideas are most welcomed.

        Thanks again for your assistance.

        • There are other newsletter plugins you can use instead of Jetpack. Most of them will give you a form for email collection, a way to write/edit emails, and basic user management. Some examples are Newsletter and MailPoet.

          When using an email service, I think you’d find that deliverability improves and fewer emails end up as spam. Here’s an overview of what MailChimp does to improve email deliverability. I’m using them as an example, but all the services implement technology like this.

          • Hi Ben,

            Thanks very much for your latest.

            I’ll look into those other notification options. I wish they’d show what their notifications look like. I initially started out using Iceberg and Email Subscribers, which does include both embedded and feature images, but the messages were in HTML and looked kind of clunky compared with the Jetpack ones. i’m also thinking of changing from full-post notifications to summaries and get people to go directly to the site, and thus sidestep the whole problem.

            I’m not sure how Mailchimp or the other mailer services compile their delivery statistics, but they sure vary widely from my experience. I use Reflexion as an external spam blocker, and every night I’m faced with liberating numerous newsletters from these mailers from my quarantine. And Reflexion offers no way of whitelisting a given newsletter, despite my and others’ numerous requests that they do so.

            Anyway, I’m continuing my explorations and hopefully will come up with an effective solution before this drives me to distraction (more than it has already).

            Thanks once more for all the guidance.

            Frank

Comments are closed.