sendy logoWithout doubt email marketing is the most effective marketing channel online. In search for a better but low cost email autoresponder, I found Sendy. Sendy is a relatively new email autoresponder service, an alternative to Aweber and Mailchimp which costs less. I am using sendy for some time now and I would like to share my experience with you all. Sendy is a cheap email marketing software, but is it really worth your time?

Lets find out..

So why not Aweber or Mailchip?

When talking about email marketing, the 2 most popular name that comes up often are Aweber and Mailchimp.

I tried Aweber as an email marketing provider before but they charge $19 a month. It doesn’t matter whether you have 5 people on your list or 500, it will still cost you 19 bucks a month. The worst part is, aweber starts to charge more as the email list grows. It went to $59 a month when my email list grew to 3,000. I recommended aweber to one of my friend and it charged him for the deleted subscribers, just because it was on the backup list.

I use email software to get in touch with my audience, I am not making money from my list of subscibers. So it is not affordable for me to pay such high prices for email autoresponder service.

I even tried Mailchimp but since I am in the internet marketing and make money online niche, their policy prohibits me to use them. Their free plan does not includes an autoresponder service.

Then comes Sendy,

When I was looking for a low cost email marketing solution, I came across sendy. Sendy was recommended to me by Weebly CEO, David Rusenko. I instantly went to the website and grabbed a copy for $59 (I think.)

Understanding Sendy

Sendy is not your regular email marketing service. They are self hosted email software. What’s WordPress for blogs is what Sendy is for email marketing. This means anyone who wants to give Sendy a try, will have to go through a comprehensive technical setup.

For this reason I am sure it turns off most of the people who are willing to give it a try.

Since I used Sendy for heck of a time, I will share a sendy walkthrough for those who wants to give it a shot.

But before that let me tell you how it works,

You install sendy into your web server; either in a domain or in a sub-domain. There you can manage the visual interface. The emails will be sent through an email sending service. You can plug it with your own web host to send emails (not recommended) or you can get a third party SMTP server to deliver the emails.

You Will Need an Amazon Account

Sendy is built for Amazon’s Simple Email Service. This is the email delivery service they recommend.

amazon ses overview
Amazon SES Overview

So when you want to use sendy you will first need to setup an account for amazon SES.

To do this go to Amazon Web Services website and either login with your amazon ID or sign up for a new account.

Inside the console you will have option to choose dozens of different services including Amazon SES. They offer 15 GB of free storage for new AWS users. They cost you just 10 cents for sending every 1,000 emails using their service.

This is the secret of cheap email marketing software that actually works. Amazon is a trusted name worldwide and their servers have higher email success rate. I pay just around 30-50 cents every month for my email marketing, compared to $19 a month for amazon.

So after you sign up for amazon SES, you will get a test account with a quota of 200 emails a day. This will be enough to get started and configure sendy. Once you are all set you will have to ask amazon to make your account operational and increase the quota to 10,000 emails a day. After using them for a while amazon increased my quota to 25,000 a day and now most recently my quota is 50,000 emails a day.

Setting up Sendy

I assume you have purchased a copy of sendy and downloaded the latest version from their website. If you haven’t got a copy yet, get one from here. You will find a get started guide here which will help you to configure the technical stuff, so no need for me to write it here. Instead I will explain those steps which sendy didn’t cover.

The Configuration File

It would be better if sendy would share a bit more in detail how to configure the config file.

Inside your sendy folder there is a folder called includes. Inside it there is the configuration file called config.php. Open the file with a text editor.

sendy configuration file
sendy configuration file

Enter the installation URL. This will be the exact url with http:// for where you will access sendy. For an example: http://www.yourwebsite.com/ in my case it is: http://emails.tamalanwar.com/

Now you will need to put in 4 values for it to work,

  1. dbHost -The database host
  2. dbUser -The database username
  3. dbPass -The password of the database
  4. dbName -The name of the database

The dbHost is localhost 99% of the time. So set that as localhost. You will then have to create a database, a password and a user with permission to write to that database.

Now log into your web hosting account and go to phpMyAdmin or databases.

The steps are,

  1. Create a database
  2. Create a user and password
  3. Add user to the database and grant all permissions

Please check out this page for a detailed step by step instructions on how to do that.

Here is a video tutorial from HostGator,

Enter these credentials to your configuration file (config.php) and save. Upload the folder into your web server and continue with the installation process.

You will need an FTP client to upload the folder into your web server. I use FileZilla FTP client. And here’s how you use filezilla:

Changing File Permissions

Sendy requires you to change the permission of the uploads folder. Once you have uploaded the sendy folder into your web server, locate the uploads folder, right click and select file permissions. Then type 777 numeric value which gives it writing permissions. Here is a quick video showing you how,

After installing sendy and configuring the amazon part, you will be ready to use it. For any issues you may have you can join the sendy support forum for further help. You can also hire me to help you setup sendy and amazon SES on your web server.

Getting Started with Sendy

Hopefully you configured sendy correctly. Now login to your sendy installation and create your first brand. You are allowed to create separate brands for separate people/companies and you can also give login access to these people with different username and passwords. You can also set a limit of their email sending and a monthly price which will be automatically billed. This way you can create your own white label email marketing solution and offer it to your clients.

client accounts in sendy
client accounts in sendy

The sendy interface is straightforward. You can send broadcasts from campaigns menu. You can view all lists and configure, add/remove users, setup welcome emails and even setup auto responders.

When you create a new email message you will see a visual editor and the HTML code editor. You can even plug in HTML email templates and send beautiful emails.

Setting Up Cron Jobs (for Scheduled emails & autoresponders)

To schedule your email campaigns you have to setup a cron job. Go to your web host and look for cron jobs option. Then select the cron configuration and the url to cron. For the scheduled emails you have to set it for 5 minutes and for autoresponders, you have to set the cron to run every minute.

cpanel-add-new-cron-job (1)
Cron jobs

This is the command for scheduled emails: Your_Sendy_URL/scheduled.php > /dev/null 2>&1

And this is the crontab: */5 * * * * (Runs every 5 minutes)

And for the autoresponder, this is the command: Your_Sendy_URL/autoresponders.php > /dev/null 2>&1

And this is the crontab: */1 * * * * (Runs every minute)

Managing Your Email List

After creating an email list, you can then add subscribers to your list. If you already have a list of emails you can add them and start sending emails to them.

Compared to Aweber, you cannot just add people and send emails like this. You have to ask their permission first to send them emails. This is a useful option when it comes to email marketing (make sure you are not spamming)

When you create a new list you have the option to have double optin or single optin. In my experience I found that it’s always better to turn on double optin, so that only the serious folks interested your content can subscribe. When you enable double optin, people have to confirm their subscription before they can start receiving your emails.

Email Signup Form

Click on any of the list you have and then you will find a button for the email sign up form. The email sign up form is a basic form. There is no visual form designer and you have to either code it yourself or hire a web designer to design a form for sendy.

sendy email form
sendy email form

Email Designs

The email composer is a simple visual editor. If you wish to insert email templates you have to manually insert the code. Once your template is in place, you have to manually edit the design and elements so nothing much here either.

sendy email editor
sendy email editor

Stats

Sendy shows you stats for email sents, open rates, click rates and bounces. You are able to export the email addresses of people who opened your email or people who unsubscribed. It also shows the countries in the stat however this has a flaw. Sendy does not correctly shows from which country the email has been opened. Pretty much basic stats.

sendy email stats
sendy email stats

To sum everything up, here are some pros and cons of sendy email marketing software,

Pros

  1. Low cost autoresponder. Pay $59 one time for lifetime use.
  2. Send emails for just 10 cent for every 1,000 emails from Amazon SES.
  3. Self hosted email software with ability to resell your service to clients.
  4. No restrictions for adding users since you own the software.
  5. Emails delivered by Amazon’s servers.

Cons

  1. Need a lot of technical skills to setup yourself. You may need to hire help.
  2. No direct support, get support from community forums.
  3. Lack of visual editor for email forms and templates.

The Verdict

Sendy is a fantastic product. It’s still in it’s early days and it has a long way to go. With more tutorials, less technical setup and better visual designers it can be a top email autoresponder service.

If you are interested to give sendy a go and would like to get help for setting it up.

I am satisfied using sendy for a quite while. Now I leave it upto you, what do you think about sendy email marketing software? Let me know in the comments.