Configuring e-mail settings
AbleOrganizer contains several tools for sending e-mail, which are used in a number of ways:
- Sending thank you messages in response to donations, registration, signing up for the site, etc.
- Mass mailing to constituents in the contact database.
- Sending targeted messages in response to petition signatures.
The platform contains tools that allow you to easily personalize and tailor the contents of your messages to reflect your organization.
When you are setting up e-mail support for AbleOrganizer, you are really taking steps to ensure your e-mail messages will get through to their recipients. The system is designed to make it easy to conform with most best-practices around e-mail deliverability, and to make it easy to integrate with third party services capable of handling issues like whitelisting, uptime and the like. This includes:
- SMTP server support, allowing you to direct e-mail messages to be sent through a specific e-mail server.
- Bulk e-mail support, allowing you to send messages to lists of contacts.
Heads up! The tools for sending e-mail discussed in this article are the recommended ones for managing e-mail through AbleOrganizer. If you have a preferred system (such as Constant Contact), you can download modules for that system on Drupal.org and use them in place of the ones discussed here.
SMTP Server Support
AbleOrganizer is able to route e-mail through an SMTP server. SMTP stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, and SMTP servers handle the process of routing e-mail over the internet to its recipients.
While it's possible your organization could already have robust, ample SMTP servers for e-mail delivery, this is not the case for all groups. Even if it is, there could be many reasons you would want to use an external SMTP server, such as:
- You want e-mails to 'just work' without having to think about how they get there.
- Your site is hosted on a server that limits outbound e-mail delivery.
- Your site is hosted on a windows server that does not include tools for e-mail delivery.
- You are concerned about blacklists, and want to use a trusted service that will deal with issues on its own.
- You are building your site on a local machine that does not have an SMTP server installed, you don't want to learn how to turn it on but you do want to be able to test the e-mails being generated by the system.
There are a number of free or low cost SMTP services available. Here's a list of some to consider.
- Amazon SES (Simple Email Service) - http://aws.amazon.com/ses
- Rackspace Webmail - http://www.rackspace.com/email-hosting/webmail
- Google Mail - https://mail.google.com
AbleOrganizer includes an SMTP module that allows you to connect your site to any external SMTP server. You can connect to the server using the web-based administrative settings page. This page will ask for a number of details including the address for the server, authentication details, and more. The details for how to connect to an external SMTP server will vary based on the service you are using.
AbleOrganizer also includes a module that allows you to connect to the Mandrill service. Mandrill is very similar to other SMTP services, except that it offers more information about deliverability than you might find in other systems. You can use Mandrill as an alterative to other SMTP servers by signing up for an account and entering your API key on the Mandrill settings page.
Configuring your outbound deliverability settings
Once you have selected an SMTP server, or Mandrill, or something else altogether, you need to tell Drupal to use whatever service you have selected. Go to the mailsystem settings page in the admin section of your AbleOrganizer website. Set each of the following options to the SMTPMailSystem (or MandrillMailSystem):
- Site-wide default MailSystemInterface class
- Mime Mail module class
At this point, AbleOrganizer will be sending e-mails through the SMTP mail server you have selected.
Mass mailing support
AbleOrganizer allows you to send mass e-mails to contacts. The system will generate e-mail messages to lists of people throughout the system using your default SMTP settings. This is very useful when you need to get in touch with a list of people who signed up for an event, or when you need to send an e-mail blast to a smaller list of contacts.
For larger mailings, you certainly can use the tools within AbleOrganizer. In order to get the best performance, however, it is recommended that you consider using a third party service for sending messages.
AbleOrganizer works together with a number of third party tools for bulk e-mail delivery. They are supported through contributed modules, some of which ship with the platform. Some of the more popular services for sending messages are included below.
Notes on third party mass mailers
- AbleOrganizer provides partial support for each of the third-party mailing systems listed above. Some features, like contact synchronization, are not fully supported.