Can Drupal Do It?

Sarvasri's picture

I must say that I was somewhat discouraged at the last meeting as to whether Drupal can do what I want.
The reason I got into Drupal was because it is supposed to be the most flexible and extensible.

I want to be able to collect names and send newsletters to my clients and others interested in my work. It seems like such a simple request for a CMS. The recommendation was to use a paid service like Mail Chimp. I was shocked that I would have to use a paid service for such a simple need. I want to send out to a list and target the list by zip code or city/state so that if I visit that area of the country I can alert people that I'm coming. Or maybe I want to send out a specialized newsletter to a subset of the list with special interests. Sometimes I may want to send to the whole list.

I was researching costs. Another book author that I know of started with a small list of a few thousand, such as I have, but as it expanded, he is now paying over $1000.00 per month for emailing through a service. This is not what I want to do. I want to have something like "Mail Chimp" or "Constant Contact" built in to my site. This is what a web site and email is for -- to keep in touch and keep people aware of your organization.

I'm sure that companies of any significance don't use Mail Chimp, they have these features built into their online presence. Question is -- Can Drupal do it?

Sarvasri

Comments

CMSs aren't really designed

daniel_j's picture

CMSs aren't really designed for mail management. There are some modules that let you do it, but they are making Drupal perform outside its area of strength.

If you want to avoid paid services, you might want to look into PHP List.
http://www.phplist.com
It probably wouldn't take a whole lot of coding work to integrate that with Drupal, if that is deemed necessary.

phplist integration with Drupal

Sarvasri's picture

Thanks for the reply. This looks wonderful.
I'm not yet a php coder though and don't know how I would get names from the web site into this system.

There is a Drupal to PHPList integration module as a development version.
Do you know anything about it or the person who is doing it? (link below)

http://drupalmodules.com/module/phplist-integration-module

Are there other similar projects like PHPList with existing integration?
If not...
How do I become a PHP coder on a good enough level to do this kind of integration?

What you want to do can be

mrconnerton's picture

What you want to do can be done with Drupal but you just have to plan it out a bit more. It sounds like at its basics you are just going to have a newsletter but capture a bit more detailed information from people.

This could be as simple as a webform + views + views send or as robust as https://drupal.org/project/crm_core with their core profile function that lets you make robust forms that creates contacts, activities, and more. There is even a distro around that one https://drupal.org/project/ableorganizer which may have features you want.

The size of your mailing list and how often you email is also a factor. There are plenty of small to large business using mailchimp or mandril (transactional email) simply because it works. Even if you did a drupal solution, I would still put mandril on the backend to actually send the emails. $1000 for mailchimp a month is something like 200,000+ subscribers / 2,000,000 + emails per month

I would take a look at some of the modules I posted above like ableorganizer but also think about doing this directly with mailchimp. Any Drupal solution at the very least is going to require you understand how to install and manage a Drupal website if you are not paying a developer or agency to build this for you. You don't have to pick a permenant solution right now. When you outgrow whatever you start with you can just export your list and import into the next solution as you grow.


Matthew Connerton | matthew@aspiringweb.com
Aspiring Web a design & development agency

Integration of the best of multiple distros

Sarvasri's picture

The first distro I've been looking at is https://drupal.org/project/openenterprise
It has the social media platforms integrated. It also has SEO tools built in, but not the email sophistication of PHPList.

I will also want to work more deeply with some participants to my web site, especially businesses that want to institute a new kind of wellness program based upon my new book. At this point, Salesforce is financially prohibitive so the crm_core capability is attractive. I presume Open Enterprise uses CRM Core as does AbleOrganizer.

AbleOrganizer as a distro doesn't seem to have the social media or SEO management covered as well as Open Enterprise. It is probably using CRM_Core for contact management. I am not able to evaluate yet how well that could work as a PHPList capability.

Would it make sense to use the most robust of the distros as a starting point and add the modules used in the others? If so, then Open Enterprise with CRM_Core integration and PHPList integration would be a potential solution. I just don't know if PHPList as a dev module is ready for prime time or if CRM_Core would be up to the job as a list and newsletter manager (at least in the short term). Anyone with experience?

Although I have installed a few Drupal installations, I lack experience with this level of integration and with module functionality, and also lack the resources to pay for development. My only real option is to learn more very quickly.

All suggestions appreciated...

I'm saying you don't

mrconnerton's picture

I'm saying you don't nessicarly have to use phplist if you are going to implement a drupal site. I didn't even mention modules like simplenews, newsletter, etc that fundamentally do the same thing.


Matthew Connerton | matthew@aspiringweb.com
Aspiring Web a design & development agency

Mailchimp

JJmonterey's picture

First of all you don't have to pay for Mailchimp. Mailchimp is free for up to 12,000 emails a month and up to 2,000 subscribers. It has Drupal integration and a few support modules.
With the Mailchimp Module (https://drupal.org/project/mailchimp) 15,000+ users and the
Webform Mailchimp Module (https://drupal.org/project/webform_mailchimp) or the
Mailchimp Subscriptions Module (https://drupal.org/project/mailchimp_subscriptions) you should be able to accomplish what you need to do.

From Mailchimp:
http://mailchimp.com/pricing/free/
http://connect.mailchimp.com/integrations/drupal-mailchimp-and-mandrill-...

Already over 2000 subscribers

Sarvasri's picture

Over the years I have done many trade fairs, etc. I would do healing on people all day long, getting rid of long standing pain and other problems for over 100 people per day -- pain, body structure, and other health issues -- all done with bio-energy healing (one of the chapters in the book). In that time I have accumulated over 5000 names and emails, of which over 2000 are still current.

So Mail Chimp is not going to be free from the start.

Since I have to do something new, I would like to set up a system that will grow into the future.

Hi Savasri,I don't believe

BDaggerhart's picture

Hi Sarvasri,
I don't believe anyone was telling you at all that it couldn't be done with drupal, simply that there are much better options (that are also much easier to set up). If you must integrate with drupal, I've had pretty good success using a combination of simplenews & mimemail.

One thing I would highly suggest you look into if you want to do everything from your site, is make sure your server doesn't mind sending out whatever quantity of emails you hope to send out. Your mail server has to come from somewhere, so if you aren't interested in something like mailchimp or another good email/newsletter client, you should definitely get in touch with whoever is providing your hosting and check with them on how mass email is handled. They're not likely to mind whatever you start out at (it takes awhile to build a huge email list that you don't pay for), but if all of a sudden one day, you're sending 10k+ emails at once, you're going to have to take care. One of the easiest to get your email address(es) and/or website blacklisted for spam is to not handle mass emails properly.

Good luck,
Brandon

That is a very important

mrconnerton's picture

That is a very important point about the mail sent from server. At this point I never let any client site send mail from servers. Everyone uses http://mandrill.com/pricing/ for transaction email which is free up to 12k emails a month.


Matthew Connerton | matthew@aspiringweb.com
Aspiring Web a design & development agency

Good point on using a

BDaggerhart's picture

Good point on using a separate client Matthew. In fact, I'm pretty sure the general idea is, once you get up into "professionally-sized" email lists (more than a few thousand), then some way or another, you're going to have to pay for the service of sending the emails.

Also, thanks for that link, I was looking recently for a decent service for that, I'll check it out.

Yes, you can do this with Drupal.

Slurpee's picture

Yes, Drupal can collect names and send newsletters. Collecting names/email addresses can be easily accomplished in Drupal in a variety of ways. It depends on how you want to collect the data...user registrations? newsletter sign up field/block? webform survey?

Sending newsletters is another step you may or may not want Drupal to handle. Sure a 3rd party service such as MailChimp can accomplish the task. Another easy solution is to utilize smtp.module to hand-off sending email requirements after newsletters have been created in Drupal after collecting names. Or you can actually send newsletters via Drupal via modules such as simplenews, mass_contact, or modules utilizing system such as phplist.

Most difficult issue is not related to Drupal, but how to be a responsible email sender. What is preventing your domain from being flagged as spam after sending 10,000 emails in one day? Will you be flagged as spam all over the Internet ultimately forcing users to miss your email? It is recommended to pay for a service that guarantees email delivery and provide statistics about the campaign...then services such as MailChimp/CC seem decently priced.

I think specific questions/guidelines need to be defined. How/where do users register for mail list? How many subscribers/emails are sent out to the list? How often are emails sent to list? Is the mail list for announcements or discussion?

Best Practices

Sarvasri's picture

I'm sure there must be some best practices to avoid having your domain blacklisted. It should be obvious from the email content, and from proof of subscriptions, that the email is not spam.

PHP list includes some throttling to prevent hitting service providers with too much at once. Perhaps there should be a policy statement on the webpage describing how subscriptions are managed. Or perhaps the major providers have some other mechanism to ensure that emails are legitimate. After all, mail chimp, constant contact, and others are sending out email by the millions. So it must depend upon the relationship.

I still get lots of spam from Hotmail. So I don't think that mail coming from a legitimate website can be considered such a problem. Still looking for solutions in terms of best practices.

Can't install Open Enterprise on Acquia Stack

Sarvasri's picture

I want to try out Open Enterprise installed on an Acquia Devel install so I can experiment.
I installed Acquia's Dev set up.
I started the Open Enterprise install - it gets to a point where it asks for --

"To continue, provide your server connection details"

It wants FTP user name and password for my computer FTP to my local host.

I have no idea how to respond to this.

I would like to talk with Daniel or someone who can guide me as to what I need to learn to be able to solve these kinds of problems. I know I am lacking some important knowledge about web development. I found a list of what is considered the essential knowledge, but I don't know how to get it.

It would be great if I could talk to someone.
Please send an email if you can help to Sarvasri@RebuildHealth.com

Thanks.