Today we are looking at the premium WPNewsman Pro plugin for WordPress by G-Lock Software, a development company with headquarters based in Minsk. This plugin claims to give you the ability to start building your mailing list and newsletter right out of the box; allowing you to begin effectively converting your site visitors into email list subscribers and then sending them emails right from within WordPress.
As this is something most site owners should be striving for, this could be a very valuable tool to add to your inventory. In this WPNewsman review we will see if this tool lives up to its claims and how this premium plugin rates as an all-in-one email newsletter solution.
Features and Usage
Here are a quick rundown of the key features that make up the premium version of WPNewsman Pro:
- Create and send rich newsletters from inside your WordPress site
- Customizable double optin subscription forms
- Easy placement of forms as widgets and in posts and pages
- Manage and import your lists from other service providers
Once you’ve installed the WPNewsman Pro plugin, it can be used as is, right out of the box. The tool can accessed from a new menu which is added to the dashboard menu inside your WordPress admin area. There are email newsletter templates, and optin forms for your website that are ready to go and pre-configured, allowing you to use this WordPress newsletter tool straightaway. Of course, these items can be customized or replaced completely depending on your needs, giving this plugin a great deal of scope for customization.
Sign Up Forms
Perhaps the most difficult part of building an email list is actually collecting your site visitors email addresses, getting them to enter their details. Thankfully WPNewsman comes with a sign up form builder. This builder allows you to design and create sign up forms in a style matching your site, which you can tailor to improve conversions.
These sign up forms can be displayed on your site as either sidebar widgets, or inserted directly into posts and pages using a simple shortcode. These forms are all double-optin so you can ensure the members of your list as all verified and legitimate signups.
One features I really like about the form editor was that you can easily make your forms display horizontally by adding a word to the shortcode: [newsman-form id=’1′ horizontal]. This is ideal for inserting your sign up forms into your post content where your visitors are much more likely to see them and interact with them.
While the form builder serves it purpose, the inclusion of an HTML editor would’ve been a welcome addition, giving you even more control over how your forms look. However, Mailpoet, another popular tool that provides a similar service only comes with a very basic form designer and without delving into the CSS code for your site, you can’t do much to change their appearance.
Multiple Mailing Lists
You can also create multiple mailing lists for your site from one installation of WPNewsman Pro, by using separate sign up forms for each list. This is great for building a list for a specific event such as a new product launch that is separate from your regular newsletter.
Another impressive feature of this WordPress newsletter plugin is that you can display the signup forms on other sites and still sign users up to your mailing list. This could be used when creating a mini site to promote a specific event or product, or if you were to produce content for another blog or online publication, such as a guest post, yet still offer readers the chance to join your newsletter. External forms are displayed using an iframe.
Welcome Email and Page Templates
As one of the key selling points of this plugin is that you can use it right away to start building your email list, with little configuration or input, it is no surprise that WPNewsman comes with a fully functioning welcome email and an assortment of page templates to be displayed to those signing up to your list.
While these are enough to get started, they can all be easily customized to meet your needs from within your WordPress site. For example you could add another call to action to your thank you page such as offering the opportunity for your subscribers to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, or adding a download link to a file such as a free eBook or guide, to your welcome email,.
Manage Your Email List
As this is an all-in-one solution for building and managing an email list, you can manage the signups on your list right from in the WPNewsman plugin. From within your WordPress blog you can import your subscribers from other services, export them from WPNewsman and change their status or remove subscribers from your list.
This is a really nice feature in WPNewsman which allows you to edit the custom templates in part or in whole to get the look you want that is appropriate for your website and newsletter. There is also a mobile template for your subscribers that are on the go, and viewing your correspondence on their smartphones: this too can be edited and customized.
Alternatively you can import your own custom built HTML layout right into the WPNewsman editor to create your own totally personalized newsletter templates in keeping with your brand and other promotional materials such you website and social media pages, not to mention offline marketing materials.
There are also templates for sending out new blog post notifications and periodic digest notifications of the latest updates from your site.
As WPNewsman Pro aims to be a fully-fledged newsletter and emailing list solution, it comes with all the features you would expect in terms of sending messages. These include:
- Send to an unlimited number of subscribers
- Use throttling to limit the number of emails sent per day
- Add tracking to your links with Google Analytics or Piwik
- Insert subscriber information such as their name into the emails
- Insert your site name, URL, Facebook or Twitter links into the emails
- Customize the from email address, and choose the delivery mode including your server SMTP or that of Gmail or Amazon SES
- Schedule the sending of the newsletter to any date in the future
- Subscribers cannot see the name or details or other members of the list at any point, including when they receive an email or reply to it
The use of shortcodes makes it very easy to personalize your mail outs, as you can insert a one-time code that will display the name of the subscriber in the message. This is perfect for setting a friendly tone as soon as your message is opened by the recipient.
However, unlike its main competitor Wysija, WPNewsman does not offer out of the box stats for each user, showing how many emails they’ve opened, and what links they’ve clicked on.
There is a free lite version of WPNewsman which includes many of the great features of the Pro version. However, upgrading to the premium version does bring with it many benefits including:
- Send to unlimited subscribers (limited to 2000 with the lite version)
- Bounce handlers to keep your lists clean and verified with live email addresses
- Use remote tracking on the links in your newsletters and subscriber actions
- Gain access to priority Newsman support
The price for upgrading to WPNewsman Pro is currently $79 a year for one site that comes with a 30 day 100% money back guarantee.
If you compare those prices to a popular email marketing newsletter service like Aweber, which charges $19 per month (equal to $228 per year) for up to 500 subscribers the prices of WPNewsman does look competitive. Although it is worth pointing out that you can use Aweber on multiple sites where as WPNewsman can only be used on one site.
When compared to other popular WordPress newsletter plugins such as Wysija which starts at $99 per year, WPNewsman Pro does look like a good deal. While it might lack the stats and tracking abilities of Wysija, it does feel like an easier to use and more intuitive product.
Support and Documentation
When it comes to support, purchasing the Pro version of WPNewsman entitles you to ‘jump the queue and get priority help’ over those using the lite version of this plugin. There is also a feedback center where users can suggest and vote on features they would like to see added to the product.
Additionally there is a pretty comprehensive knowledge base which covers the main features of this plugin. There is also a support blog on the site which includes lots of how to guides and tutorial videos for many of the functions of WPNewsman Pro. There is also a specific page that contains tutorial videos for getting started and creating your first subscription forms, messages and working with templates.
I feel that while the plugin is simple enough to use, in order to get started with the task of building a mailing list and sending messages, the online documentation is more than adequate to allow you to become familiar and proficient with all the features of this tool.
Final Conclusion and Recommendations
Overall I was very impressed with WPNewsman Pro. For single site owners who want to add newsletter functionality to their WordPress site, which can be accessed and managed solely through their site dashboard, this product more than delivers. There is no need here to login to any other services or webpages.
WPNewsman Pro is very easy to use, almost to the point where it seems like it’s a basic piece of software, but this is misleading as it does everything one would need to get started with a mailing list and beyond.
However, this plugin isn’t a direct replacement for the standalone email marketing services such as Aweber or Mailchimp as it does lack some of their more advanced features. These include the ability to create auto responder sequences that can be used to send emails after a certain period of days for new members, allowing to create a sales funnel that all new subscribers at exposed to. But for those who simply want the ability to send out rich HTML formatted newsletters to over 2,000 subscribers, from within their WordPress site, this premium plugin delivers.
To improve the value of the plugin I’d like to see more templates included, specifically for the sign up forms. As the appearance and style of a form can affected the number of signups a site is able to convert, having more options to choose from could help in this area. As mentioned earlier, an HTML editor for the form builder would’ve also been a nice feature to include.
At the end of the day this is a competitively priced plugin that can take care of the newsletter functionality of your site, featuring an easy to use newsletter creator that resembles the WordPress post editor users will already be familiar with. As it lacks the auto responder sequencing abilities of standalone email newsletter services, it might not be suitable to marketers with sales funnels but for regular sites owners who want to offer a fully functioned newsletter service, it is a great option.
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