How I Made PHPList Autoresponder Work In My Site

PHPList is a free autoresponder plugin for wordpress. It takes some tweaking to make it work though.

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Being a newbie in the blogging world, I was not ready to invest hard-earned money on an Aweber autoresponder or other list-building autoresponder services that required monthly payments. I purchased a software called FreeAutoresponder Pro which only needed a one time payment. However, I believe it requires a lot of PHP know-how in order to make it work to my liking. So after trying for weeks to make it behave the way I want it, and failing, I decided to find some other tools that don’t entail a lot of expense. That’s when I found PHPList. It actually surprised me that it has always been there waiting for me because it is included in Fantastico. And most importantly, this autoresponder is FREE!.


The installation was a breeze because I did it through Fantastico in Lunarpages. I just accepted all the default values already in the boxes. I only needed to input some required fields like the install directory (which usually is ‘lists‘), the admin name and password you need to login to your PHPList account, etc.

After the installation, I logged in through http://mydomain.com/lists/admin/. The resulting page was very user friendly. PHPList by default only asks your subscribers for their email address. If you want to require their names, you need to create a Name Attribute. You do this by going to the PHPList main page and clicking on the ‘attributes‘ link under the ‘Configuration Functions‘ block. In the resulting PhpList Configure Attributes page, click the ‘add a new one‘ link. Type ‘Name‘ in the name field box, choose ‘textline‘ in the Type menu, leave the Default Value and Order of Listing as is, and check the ‘Is this attribute required?‘ checkbox. Save Changes.

Next step is to create a list. In the sidebar to the right, click on the ‘lists‘ link. Click on the ‘add a list‘ link. Type in the name of your list in the ‘List name‘ text box; check the checkbox to make the list ‘active‘; leave the ‘Order for listing‘ as is; and finally, write the description of your list in the large text box. Save.

Create Subscribe pages. Click the ‘subscribe pages‘ link on the sidebar. ‘Add a new one‘. The fields are self-explanatory like the previous ones. When you come to the ‘Select the attributes to use‘, check the ‘Check this box to use this attribute in the page‘ checkbox. This makes sure that the Name field will appear in the subscribe page besides the email fields. Then check your list in ‘Select the lists to offer‘ portion. ‘Save and Activate‘.

To start having your readers subscribe to you, you need to find out the url link to your subscribe page. You do this by going back to the subscribe page and clicking the ‘view‘ link of your created list. The url you find in your browser’s url box is that link e.g. ‘http://yourdomain.com/lists/?p=subscribe&id=1‘. Copy that and use it in your site’s side bar or wherever you want people to click in order to subscribe. Of course, this arrangement is not same as those you find in most websites where their name box, email box and submit buttons are integrated right on their website (with the theme). Using PHPList requires your reader to be directed to the PHPList subscribe page which usually does not look like your regular themed pages. There is however a plugin that can integrate this into your wordpress pages beautifully. Please refer to the article Making The PHPList Form Integration Plugin Work to know how to do this.

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10 thoughts on “How I Made PHPList Autoresponder Work In My Site”

  1. I have been meaning to look into an auto responder and completely forget about it until I read this article.

    Thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed piece on something most new bloggers wouldn’t even dream of trying, I know I wouldn’t.

  2. Nice post! Is there a way to automatically send a series of emails over time with the PHP list autoresponder? For example if you want to send out weekly tips to new customers.

  3. Thanks for the help!

    “Create Subscribe pages. Click the ‘subscribe pages‘ link on the sidebar. ‘Add a new one‘. The fields are self-explanatory like the previous ones. When you come to the ‘Select the attributes to use‘, check the ‘Check this box to use this attribute in the page‘ checkbox. This makes sure that the Name field will appear in the subscribe page besides the email fields. Then check your list in ‘Select the lists to offer‘ portion. ‘Save and Activate‘.”

    Was driving me crazy trying get them to show. I’ll be back!

  4. You can actually use “cron jobs” to have PHP List “schedule” your mailouts. That way you can create the whole month’s worth, and schedule them to go out 1 each Friday, or something like that. More on PHPList cron jobs are available on the PHPList site, under forums, I think.

    Also, it’s not that difficult to “theme” PHPLIst’s subscribe pages to your own site’s image, or combine minor theming with an iframe, to bring the subscribe right into your site.

  5. Hello,

    Great article with great information. Couldn’t help it but bookmarked this article, it’s just way too awesome not to bookmark. Congratulations on making phplist autoresponder work within your website, you’re very ambitious and smart!

    Keep up the good work, you’re doing great !

    Best regards,

    Maria
    Maria Pavel´s latest blog post ..CNA Online Training And Certification

  6. Hi!

    Nice article.
    I am actually trying to build a sequential messaging AR
    out of php list. Meaning I hae premade messages sent out
    on weekly interval.

    Can this be done.

    Thanks!

  7. The best example of how to utilize phplist is already shown at phplistmod.com (I hope moralde admin is okay with the link i posted here), you can customize your phplist to the fullest as i did on almost all of websites. Please take a look and let me know. Just want to share since nowadays tagline is “sharing is caring” 🙂

    *admin note: links within the comment body itself is usually filtered by Akismet and gets thrown to the Spam folder automatically.

  8. I hope admin will allow this comment. Since it’s all about getting a phplist to work on your web server. Please consider to customize your phplist. Embed custom subscribe form on any web pages, remove phplist footer on email message and so on.. you will be amazed on how far you can go with phplist. Check it out now at http://phplistmod.com .

  9. I have a question. If I am using the default subscribeform created by phplist, is there an easy (for a total newbie) way to set up any capcha within the code that I cut and paste from the default form and embed in a placeholder on my webpage?

    Sorry for the question, but I have been struggling with this for over a week. I’m not using wordpress or any other tool like this. I set up my website using Xara.

    Thanks

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