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Everyone who knows a thing or two about marketing understands the importance of a mailing list. In the past, marketers had to rely on premium autoresponders if they wanted a reliable mailing list management system. Today, that is no longer the case. You can build your own. This post will show you how to build your own WordPress Mailing List Manager.

I am not going to explain in detail about autoresponder basics. If you don’t know what an autoresponder is, then you should take some time to read about it. It is important for your business.

Here is what you need to run your own WordPress Mailing List Manager.

  1. Domain
  2. Webhosting
  3. WordPress
  4. Mandrill Account
  5. Mandrill Plugin
  6. Autoresponder Plugin

Only the first two items in the list above is not free.

I am also going to assume that you already know how to setup your domain, webhosting and WordPress. Again, if you don’t know about those, Google it up and do some light reading whenever you have the time.

Why do you need Mandrill or any other third party email sending service?

When you have a mailing list, you will be sending a lot of emails from your domain. This could pose a problem if you are on a shared hosting account. Most shared hosting providers put a very low limit on the number of mails you can send every day and month. Go over this limit and your account could be suspended or you will have to upgrade to a more expensive hosting package.

Shared hosts have the potential of being listed in spam databases. If your server is blacklisted by spam databases, then your emails will not be reaching your subscribers. Most likely, your emails end up in spam folders, if they are not blocked. Why so? You may be sharing your server with an unscrupulous spammer. Most likely, someone’s account has been compromised and their website is being used by another to send spam. The owner probably does not even know about it.

These two are the main reasons why you should use a third party mailer for sending out emails. So, no matter where your website is hosted at and how ever many domains you have, you have a centralized bulk mailer that does one thing. You have your own mail sender that is configured and set up for just one specific purpose. That is what Mandrill does.

So, now all you need to do is go and signup for your free Mandrill account. Mandrill’s free plan allows you to send up to 12,000 emails per month. That should be more than enough for most businesses who are just starting to build their mailing list.

Configure Mandrill as your domain’s mail sender

Once you’ve registered, it’s time to configure Mandrill as one of your domain’s mail sender.  Four steps is all you need:

  1. Add domain
  2. Verify domain
  3. Configure DKIM
  4. Configure SPF

First and foremost, you must add your domain into Mandrill. Just add your domain name into the domain field and click on the +Add button.



You will have to verify your domain before Mandrill allows you to use it’s services for your domain. To do this, you will have to click on the Verify A Domain button and enter an email address.


Mandrill will then send you an email containing a verification link. You must open the email and click on the link within that email.


Once you’ve clicked on the link, your email account will have been verified.


DKIM and SPF are two mechanisms that authenticates whether servers are authorized email senders for your domain. When you set up DKIM or SPF settings for  Mandrill’s server in your DNS, it tells the receiving server that Mandrill is authorized to send emails on behalf of your domain. This lowers the chances of your email being tagged as spam.

Setting up DKIM and SPF is not mandatory. You can already use Mandrill once you’ve got your domain verified.

In order to configure both DKIM and SPF, you will need access to your domain’s DNS management. You will need to add two TXT entries into your DNS. The values of these two TXT entries is provided to you when you click on the “View DKIM settings” and “View SPF settings” respectively.


Once you’ve configured both DKIM and SPF correctly, you can click  on the “Test DNS Settings” button. If both settings are correct, you will see check marks in both DKIM and SPF settngs.


Configuring WordPress to use Mandrill when sending emails

Now that Mandrill have been authorized to send emails on behalf of your domain, it is time to tell WordPress to use Mandrill for sending emails. By default, WordPress uses the server it is installed on to send emails out.

The easiest way to configure WordPress to use Mandrill is by installing the wpMandrill plugin. This plugin is available for free in the WordPress plugin Repository.


Install and activate it. Then all you need to do is enter your Mandrill API key and a handful of settings in the Mandrill Settings page.


Don’t know where to find your Mandrill API Key? It is available in Mandrill’s SMTP and API Info Settings page. Note that the API Key is in and not in your WordPress site.


Once you’ve configured the Mandrill plugin, you can then send a test email to yourself at gmail (or yahoo). When you open up that test email, verify that it was indeed sent via Mandrill.


Congratulations! You’ve managed to configure WordPress to send emails via Mandrill. You are almost ready to start running your own WordPress Mailing List Manager. The last piece of the puzzle is an autoresponder plugin.

WordPress autoresponder plugins

Today, there are many good autoresponder plugin for WordPress, paid and free. Among them are:

  1. Arigato Autoresponder and Newsletter
  2. Tribulant Newsletters
  3. MailPoet Newsletters
  4. Tidio Newsletter
  5. [GWA] AutoResponder

You can basically just install any of these autoresponder plugins and start building your mailing list.

Setting Up Arigato Autoresponder and Newsletter Plugin

I am going to show you how to use the Arigato Autoresponder and Newsletter Plugin. I chose this plugin because it is probably the simplest to use and works very well. So, to start it off, Head on over to the WordPress Plugin Repository (Plugins > Add New)  and search for Arigato (Enter arigato into the keyword search field)


Install the plugin and activate it. Once activated, you can then configure Arigato’s settings.


Let’s just set this up with the bare minimum settings to quickly start you off building your mailing list. I’ll just go over the fields briefly.

1. Sender of all emails.
All your newsletter emails will appear to be coming from the value you entered into this field. It needs to be in the form of “Name<[email protected]>”

2. URL to redirect after registration.
Enter the URL of your Thank You page. Not sure what a thank you page is? Just leave it empty for now. Your subscribers will then be automatically redirected back to your homepage after they have subscribed. When you have the chance, do some reading on Thank You pages.

3. Double Opt-In.
If you are not familiar with double and single opt ins, here is a quick read about the benefits of using double vs single opt ins.

In short, using double opt in is highly recommended if you really want a high quality mailing list. However, setting this to yes will require that you setup a Thank You page redirect URL and also a Confirmation eMail Message.


You can also select to use Single Optin by selecting “No”. I would suggest that you use Single if you are unsure and not yet well versed in setting up all the requirements of double opt ins. This is just to get you started quickly.

4. Notify when someone subscribes.
Check this if you want to be notified via email when someone subscribes into your list. You probably don’t want to enable this to avoid getting too many emails about new subscribers. You can always come in daily to check your on your number of subscribers.

5. Notify when someone unsubscribes.
Check this and you will be notified via email when a subscriber unsubscribes from your list. You’d want to enable this so that you know your daily unsubscribe rate. If you find that your subscribers are leaving in numbers every day, you’d want to quickly send out an email to your existing subscriber base. You’d want to ask them if there is any problem with your email broadcasts.

6. Automatically subscribe user registrations.
Most would probably just leave this disabled as you probably don’t allow user registrations in your website.

7. Cron job.
Don’t have a clue about cron jobs? Leave this off. However, your emails will then only be sent out when you have visitors to your site. So if your site is fairly new, make sure you visit it yourself regularly to initiate the mail sending process.

It is however worthwhile to set this on and set up your cron job. You need to do it just one time. Just follow the guide provided.

8. Signup Form.
You can’t really change anything here. You can make modifications to the form when you post it up in your site. Test your changes first before pushing it out to the public. Make sure the form works.

Following is how the signup form will basically look like when used within your site.

Here is the form inserted using the script. Make sure you are in Text Editing mode when you copy paste the form script.


Here is the form inserted using the shortcode:

As you can see, it is possible to make some changes to the form when using the script but not the shortcode. As for styling, you can style the form as you wish if you know CSS.

Don’t forget to save your settings!

You are now almost ready to start building your mailing list. You need to do one more thing before you push out your email capture page to the public. You ought to have a number of email follow ups ready in the system.

Creating Your Email Follow Ups In Arigato

Arigato provides you with a very simple interface to create your email follow ups. Just click on the Arigato Email Messages menu and you will see a very simple screen for email creation.


The fields here is pretty straight forward. Lets go over them one by one.

1. Subject.
This is the Subject of your email. Personalize the subject using {{name}} code. Be careful not to be too spammy with your subject. You do have to be creative with subjects. It is what your subscribers see first. Try to make it short and simple yet interesting enough to make your subscribers want to open it.

Need help with email subjects? Here is a good reference on writing email subject lines. Have a read.

2. Message.
This is where you put in your email message body.

3. Days after registration.
This is field is used to determine when your email is delivered to the subscriber. Enter zero(0) to send the mail right after the user subscribes. Enter one(1) to send the email one day after the user subscribes and so on.

If you want to email to be delivered on a specific date then enable the check box and pick a date.

4. Email type.
Select the type of email you want to send out to your subscribers – HTML or plain text. Test out both of them and decide which suits you best.

5. Attachments.
If you want to attach any files with the email, add them with the attachment button.

Save your message. That’s all there is to it. You should at least create three(3) follow up emails with high quality content and a few free gifts to start with. This should make your subscribers hungry for more emails from you in the future.

Keep your follow up emails up to date with current contents. Don’t just create them once and then forget about them. Over time, your gifts and contents may become not relevant anymore. Keep it fresh.

Email Broadcasts with Arigato

Arigato also allows you to send out email broadcasts to your subscribers. Email broadcasts or Newsletters are sent via the Send Newsletter menu. It has the same interface as the eMail Messages. However, you don’t get to schedule your Newsletters.

Setup All Done, What’s Next?

Congratulations! You are now ready to run your WordPress Mailing List Management system. Your mailing list will not be costing you any monthly fees.

This post however, does not provide you with the details about creating a successful email marketing campaign. You need a full blown course to cover that.  You basically need to sit down for a bit and think about what you want to use as the bait to use to get email addresses. Do you have an ebook that you can give out to your subscribers? A discount coupon perhaps? A free premium plugin?

All you need now is the knowledge to run a successful email marketing campaign. You get to learn about becoming a successful email marketer without worrying about monthly expenses from your autoresponder system.

When you find that you’ve grown past the capabilities of Arigato Light, you can definitely upgrade to a better autoresponder plugin.