I have been using MailChimp to handle my email lists for a long time now, exclusively for WPLift since I started the blog and they have been great. The problem with MailChimp is that once you have a list which goes over a certain size, it starts costing you more and more money as you add more subscribers. The costs go up $5 per month for every 200 subscribers you add to your list at certain subscriber numbers.

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I am in the process of moving over to SendinBlue which allows you to have an unlimited number of subscribers on their paid plans, and instead they charge you differing amounts based on how many emails you send per month.

At Mailchimp I’m currently paying $150 per month which allows me up to 25,000 subscribers, but once I move over to SendinBlue, the cost per month will be $66 which includes 120,000 emails sent per month which will be enough for me, that’s quite a significant saving.

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As I also run several eCommerce sites based on WooCommerce, I looked into how I could integrate SendinBlue and found that they have recently launched their own free WordPress plugin which integrates with WooCommerce to take over all aspects of email handling from transactional emails to newsletter delivery. Another great feature is you can use the plugin and SendinBlue to send SMS messages, so you could send order placed, order sent text messages along with one-off messages, for example if you are running sale.

I’m going to be looking more in-depth at this plugin and how it integrates with WooCommerce in this post.

Download The Plugin »

Plugin Features

Let’s take a look at the full run-down of features included with this plugin first:

  • Automatically sync your WooCommerce customers with your SendinBlue contacts.
  • Allow customers to subscribe to your newsletters and marketing emails.
  • Send transactional emails (order confirmations, shipment notifications, etc.) and marketing emails (newsletters, sale alerts, etc.) with optimized deliverability.
  • Segment contacts based on their purchase behaviors by integrating your WooCommerce transaction data with your SendinBlue contacts.
  • Use SendinBlue’s powerful, intuitive design tools to create emails that are beautiful, effective and mobile-friendly.
  • Send transactional and marketing text messages (SMS) directly from your WooCommerce dashboard.
  • Monitor the most important email metrics: delivery, open and click rates within your WooCommerce dashboard.
  • Send confirmation emails with optimized deliverability
  • Monitor the most important email metrics: delivery, open and click rates
  • Enable and manage customer subscriptions: opt-out, opt-in or double opt-in after order creation or completion
  • Order tracking: transactional data (order ID, price, etc.) is saved in SendinBlue to enable powerful segmentation
  • Create and send confirmation text messages after key events, such as a new order or order shipment
  • Send text messages campaigns to all customers or subscribers

Using The Plugin

To get started with the plugin, upload and activate it on your WordPress site, the site should have WooCommerce also installed and activated. Once activated you are taken to the WooCommerce Settings page, where a new tab has been added named “SendinBlue” with a box to enter your API key. You can follow the link here to the SendinBlue site where you can grab the API key.

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Once the API is entered you are then shown your plan details, as you can see here my account is on the free plan currently which includes 300 credits which means I can send 300 emails per day ( 9000 per month ) before needing to upgrade.

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SMS credit are priced differently to the email plans, so you should look at their site and purchase credits for this also if you plan to use this feature. You require 4 credits per SMS message so to send 100 within the UK I would need 400 credits which costs $5.37.

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The next tab along in the plugin settings details how you customers should be added to your main mailing list, you can choose to add them when the order is created or completed, which list they should be added to, whether to require a double opt-in or not ( customer has to click a link in a welcome email to confirm subscription) or you can give them the choice to join the list or not at checkout by presenting an opt-in check box.

Obviously it will be better for your list if you automatically add them to the list on creation of an order, but you run the risk of annoying a customer if they start receiving email newsletters and don’t remember actually signing up for your list. I think the best way to handle this is to use the double opt-in option, that way they can choose whether to confirm subscription to your list – you will find that people who double opt-in are more responsive to your emails, improving open and CTR rates for your mailings. Of course you could improve this even further by offering them an incentive to opt-in such as a coupon code for their next order.

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Transactional Emails

The other option the plugin gives you is to handle the transactional emails which are generated by WooCommerce, typically for things like :

  • New Orders
  • Processing Orders
  • Cancelled Orders
  • Completed Orders

In the “Email Options” tab you can enable SendinBlue to takeover the sending of these emails and choose which specific ones you would like the service to send for you. You also have the choice of using the default WooCommerce templates, or using Templates which you have defined in SendinBlue. WooCommerce doesn’t offer you the choice of customizing these easily in the plugin so this is a good way of tailoring those emails.

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SMS Sending

The final option offered by this plugin is the ability to send SMS messages, found under the “SMS Options” tab, you can turn on this feature and enable SendinBlue to send your customer a text message once their order is confirmed or their order is shipped.

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If you tick the box to enable it, a form will appear which allows you to enter a message and sender name. You can customize the message with the following variables :

– For first name use {first_name}
– For last name use {last_name}
– For order price use {order_price}
– For order date use {order_date}

Finally, you are also able to use the plugin to send out an SMS campaign – you can choose to send to a single contact, All of your WordPress customers or just your subscribed customers. Again, you can enter the Sender name, a message and customize it.

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Reporting

Of course once your site is setup with SendinBlue you will get access to the reporting tools on the main site where you can view Statistics for your transactional emails :

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And also the SMS, email reporting where you can view the usual reports such as opens, clicks, unsubscribes and so on.

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Pricing

As I mentioned in my introduction, pricing is one of the areas which really shines for SendinBlue – I find their method of pricing based on how many actual emails you send to be fairer than pricing it based on how many subscribers you have on your list. You may have a large list of customers but only wish to email them once per month, in which case they work out a lot cheaper than Mailchimp.

You can test out the service for free with 9000 emails per month, the first pricing plan is $7.37 per month for 40,000 emails with no daily sending limits. Their top listed plan is just $66 per month for 120,000 emails and if you need to send more than that, there are enterprise plans available on request catering for up to 15million emails per month.

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Conclusion

SendinBlue is a polished service and I believe a great alternative to MailChimp for handling your newsletter subscriptions – it has all of the features you would expect from such a service so the choice to move over to them for me was quite easy seeing as I will be saving close to $100 per month for the same service. Of course you should do the maths yourself and compare plans to see if you will be making a saving.

The plugin integrates nicely with WooCommerce allowing you to off load your site’s emails completely to SendinBlue. Being able to track your transactional emails will be helpful to eCommerce site owners + the option to also send SMS messages to site customers is a nice touch. Personally I wouldnt use the SMS broadcasting feature as I know this annoys me as a consumer when I receive them, marketing emails feel fine and to be expected – SMS feels more intrusive.

I would like the plugin to be expanded upon and offer extra email marketing features such as being able to send emails to abandoned cart users, this is a really useful feature for eCommerce sites which can improve your conversion rates by offering incentives such as coupons for completing the order etc.

Check out the plugin for free if you run a WooCommerce site and see if it can help you grow your list.

Download The Plugin »


Author:

Oliver Dale is the founder of Kooc Media, An Internet Company based in Manchester, UK. I founded WPLift and ThemeFurnace, find out more on my Personal Blog. Thanks!

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