Email newsletter service selection: Announcement and Next steps

The Community team uses email newsletters sent through Meetup.com to connect with meetupMeetup All local/regional gatherings that are officially a part of the WordPress world but are not WordCamps are organized through https://www.meetup.com/. A meetup is typically a chance for local WordPress users to get together and share new ideas and seek help from one another. Searching for ‘WordPress’ on meetup.com will help you find options in your area. organizers. However, Meetup.com’s newsletter service can be unreliable (with several pain points like non-delivery of emails, lack of formatting options, and other issues). Based on community feedback, we decided to start looking for a newsletter service for these emails. Upon finalizing the features and evaluating service providers, we have chosen Mailchimp as the newsletter service for Meetup newsletters going forward.

Why Mailchimp?

We picked Mailchimp from a list of 15 services that we had shortlisted, for the following reasons:

  • It met almost all of the features in our wishlist, including (and especially) a native Meetup.com integration, which makes it easy to send monthly meetup organizer newsletters and annual surveys.
  • Mailchimp offers Pay as you go pricing, which proved to be one of the cheapest choices from amongst the options. It will cost US$2500 for 2 million emails (valid for 12 months), which is more than sufficient for the needs of the program. We can also purchase credits for smaller amounts (starting at $100) to test things out.

Mailchimp is not without its cons. As @sippis reported after his research, it can also have email deliverability issues (with emails sometimes going to spam and the promotions/social tab in Gmail for people that use those tabs). Its user-interface can be confusing, and as users we will need to create email templates from scratch.

Nevertheless, we decided to go ahead with Mailchimp primarily due to the relatively affordable pricing and features, not to mention the native Meetup.com integration. If Mailchimp does not prove to be a good fit, we are open to trying out other platforms in the future. This will be especially easy considering that we are using the pay as you go pricing and not a recurring subscription.

What does this mean for Community members?

Only existing meetup organizers and community members who subscribed to Meetup.com emails will receive the emails. So for them, things will continue with emails as usual. We will be sending the next edition of the Meetup newsletter and other emails to the community using Mailchimp.

We typically send the following emails to Meetup groups:

  • One meetup organizer newsletter every month (12 emails per year). This email is sent only to meetup organizers (currently at ~2,000 members)
  • One annual survey sent out to all meetup group members (one email per year to all members). This email is sent out to  ~430,000 members of the meetup chapter program.
  • One annual survey sent out to all meetup group organizers (one email per year to all organizers). This email is sent out to  ~2,000 organizers in the meetup chapter program.

Additionally, we reach out to members of a particular meetup group in these exceptional cases:

  • To address a code of conduct violation.
  • In case the group is inactive, or if the existing organizer wants to step down, we reach out to members to see if they are interested in stepping up to organize meetups.  
  • In other circumstances where it is necessary to email a whole meetup group, or selection of groups.

Subscribers can opt-out of these emails at any point in time. If you would like to opt-out of emails (if you are either an organizer or a member), please follow the link in the emails (linked here as well) to do so. 

Addressing potential GDPR concerns

One of the most significant concerns that we heard from community members was about the legality of moving our subscribers over to a different service. We discussed this in detail with the WordPress Foundation’s legal team, and received  feedback that switching the vendor used to deliver newsletters for email services (where the recipients have opted in for emails) is entirely within the GDPR guidelines. 

Meetup organizers and community members have already signed up to receive emails through Meetup.com so there is no issue there. But as noted above, if members no longer wish to receive the emails, they are welcome to opt-out.

Action items

  • If you are a meetup organizer that has already subscribed to Meetup.com emails, you do not need to take any other steps if you want to receive these newsletters. You will continue getting emails as a meetup group member/organizer. 
  • If you would like to sign-up for these emails (or if you would like to check if you are signed-up), you can do so through the following form
  • If you would like to opt-out of these emails, or to check if you are already subscribed, you can do so by following this link.

Do you have any questions or concerns about the Meetup newsletter project? Let us know in the comments. If you have any sensitive feedback that you’d like to provide us, feel free to email us at support@wordcamp.org.

#newsletter #newsletter-service #mailchimp