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SendinBlue Plugin Review – Email and Marketing Automation Made Easy
Email is important.
Whether it’s building a list or sending transactional emails, you need a good tool to handle everything.
SendinBlue aims to simplify this process for WordPress users with the release of the newest version of their Subscribe Form and WP SMTP plugin.
The plugin integrates your WordPress site with SendinBlue so that you can easily create subscription forms and implement in-depth marketing automation (seriously – the marketing automation implementation is pretty awesome!). You’ll also have access to all SendinBlue’s tools for creating campaigns and managing contact lists right fro your dashboard.
Here are some of the main features of SendinBlue and the plugin:
- Easily create multiple email subscription forms in WordPress
- Create and send email campaigns from your dashboard
- Drag-and-drop email builder, as well as other options like templates and a rich text editor
- Preview how emails look on different devices
- Style forms with CSS and preview them directly in the plugin
- Manage and organize your subscriber lists
- Send transactional emails via SMTP or API
- Build templates for transactional emails
- Implement marketing automation tracking to trigger emails based on behavior like page visits, product purchases, email opens, and more.
Let’s dig into the plugin.
Installing SendinBlue for WordPress
Once you’ve activated the plugin, you’ll be greeted with this screen:
You need to create a SendinBlue account to utilize the plugin:
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Once you create your account, you’ll get access to the API key which you need to activate the plugin:
After entering the API key, you’ll see the full SendinBlue dashboard. You can get all this info at the SendinBlue website, but it’s also all contained within your WordPress dashboard. I like that you don’t necessarily have to leave your WordPress site to do most things.
Creating a subscription form
One of the major benefits of the plugin is how easy it makes creating subscription forms. If you’ve ever used Contact Forms 7 or something similar, you’ll have absolutely no problem creating a SendinBlue form:
When creating a form, you have three main areas to deal with. First, you need to set up the data you want to collect and the styling of the form:
You can easily add new fields to collect SMS information or other details. Remember, you’ll usually want to keep forms as short as possible to maximize your opt-in rate. The default is just Name + Email Address, but I added the SMS field to show you how it works.
Note that you can preview your form in real time.
For styling, you can choose to have SendinBlue take the styling from your active theme, or you can use custom CSS styling. If you’re a beginner, pulling from your current theme is probably the best idea. But for people who want the flexibility, the custom CSS option is nice to have.
In the next steps, you can choose which list you want subscribers to be added to. You can choose multiple lists or just use one.
You also should set up the opt-in settings. You can choose whether or not to send a confirmation email for your list.
You can also add a double opt-in, which means users have to confirm they want to be on your list. This will probably lower your subscribe rate, but it ensures that everyone who you email actually wants to be on your list.
Finally, you can choose whether or not to redirect users to a specific URL after they subscribe. I imagine you would use this for a custom “thank you” page in most cases.
In the final box, you can customize the various confirmation messages associated with your form.
Once you’re happy with all the details, you can click any one of the “Save” buttons and your form is complete. You can then add the form to your site via a simple shortcode.
You can always edit or duplicate your form at a later date if you want to, and you can add as many forms as you’d like.
Like I said, it’s a pretty simple process that I don’t imagine anyone will have difficulty with.
Creating a contact list
Lists are groups of emails that you can use to send campaigns to. They’re also a lifelong resource, so it’s definitely something you want to nurture and hold on to.
Creating lists is easy in SendinBlue:
Just click “Add a new list” to create a newly named list. If you already have subscribers, you can import them by CSV, manually, or copy and pasting. If it’s a totally new list, you just need to give it a name, and then you can link it up with one of your subscription forms to start growing it.
Once you have a list, it’s easy to manage subscribers:
You can also choose exactly which columns to display and create your own custom filters that you can quickly apply as needed.
If you want to dig into your list, you can use the Advanced Search & Segmentation button to filter by as many AND and OR conditions as needed:
Creating a Campaign
SendinBlue also lets you create an email campaign directly from your WordPress dashboard. As far as I can tell, it’s the exact same interface as their website, just inside your dashboard. It’s convenient to be able to do this without leaving the dashboard.
When you add a new campaign, the first thing that you’ll do is configure basic details like campaign name and subject line.
You can also use that A/B Test tab to test different subject lines, which is a really convenient way to optimize your campaigns:
Once you’re happy with the basic settings, you’ll be able to set up the design of your email. You have several options here. First, you can build your own email design using one of three tools:
- Drag-and-drop editor
- Rich text editor (think kind of like Word)
- Paste your own code
Beyond that, you can also choose to:
- Copy a recent message
- Choose from the SendinBlue template library
- Use one of your own saved templates
Here’s what the template library looks like. The templates are a really convenient way to import a design that already looks great:
I’ll use the drag-and-drop builder for the following example, though.
If you’re familiar with any of WordPress page builders, you should have zero problems using this feature. You can use the design elements on the left to build your email design on the live preview on the right:
You can also use the responsive design controls to see how your email will look on different devices, which is important since most people open email on mobile devices nowadays.
Recipients And Split Rules
Next, you can choose who will receive your email. You can either use an entire list or use filters to target specific segments:
If you’re using A/B testing, you’ll then be able to choose how to split your different subject lines. The default is 50/50, but you could change it to any other ratio:
Once you’ve completed everything else, you’re ready to send your email. You can send it right away or schedule it for some time in the future. Or, if you’re not running an A/B test, you can also use this neat Send it at the best time feature which uses real data to send your email at the most optimal time to get more opens/clicks:
Implementing Marketing Automation
One of the biggest new features is easy-to-implement marketing automation. If enabled, the plugin will automatically set up tracking on your WordPress site. You can then easily send triggered emails to users who fulfill certain criteria. It’s really helpful that the tracking is implemented automatically. This feature makes detailed marketing automation incredibly easy to set up.
Here are some of the pre-configured types of emails you can send:
As you can see, the functionality is pretty detailed – and remember, all this tracking is handled automatically. When you click on a specific workflow, you can further customize it using a wizard to get the exact functionality you want. Among other details, you can specify if you want emails to send immediately when triggered, or on a delay.
In my opinion, this feature is one of the biggest reasons to go with this plugin. The fact that I could set up detailed marketing automation in about 30 seconds is pretty incredible. Setting up tracking just takes one click, and creating a workflow is easy thanks to their wizard. Definitely worth checking out, especially if you run any kind of membership site.
Sending Transactional Emails
Beyond automation, you can also use SendinBlue to send your site’s transactional emails. These are the emails sent by WordPress itself. For example, welcome emails, password reset emails, new comment notifications, etc.
In addition to just generally getting better deliverability for those emails by using SendinBlue instead of php_mail, you can also use the same SendinBlue builder tool to create custom templates for all those emails.
For example, you can use the drag-and-drop builder to create a custom welcome email, rather than using the default WordPress welcome email.
This is a new feature and very convenient for creating a more custom experience for you and your site’s users.
The final tab allows you to view your statistics. Because I’m running on a test site without a real list, there’s not a lot here for me. But here’s what you can expect to see:
Again, this info is easily accessible inside your WordPress dashboard.
The plugin itself is free. But sending emails is not necessarily free. The free SendinBlue plan lets you store unlimited contacts, but you can only send 300 emails maximum per day (so ~9,000 per month). When you’re just getting started, that’s more than enough.
However, once your list gets big, you’ll likely need to pay.
How much money you’ll pay will depend on the number of emails you send. Unlike Mailchimp, you don’t pay for subscribers. You can have unlimited subscribers – you’re only charged based on the actual number of emails sent. Personally, I like this approach.
There are also some feature limits between the different plans that you should consider. For example, you only get send time optimization on the Premium plan and above
The feature that most excited me was the easy marketing automation emails. I think marketing automation is going to be incredibly important to the future of digital marketing, so the ease of implementation is pretty awesome.
I also loved that most everything can be done without leaving your WordPress dashboard. It wouldn’t be a huge dealbreaker to have to go to an external site, but the added convenience is certainly nice.
Beyond that, the new addition of the transactional email feature, as well as the drag-and-drop builder for your transaction emails, is really convenient.
All in all, SendinBlue is definitely worth checking out if you run any kind of email campaigns, or if you’ve been looking to get into marketing automation.