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Sending posts by email on Ghost - everything you need to know

The native newsletter makes Ghost an excellent option for publishing, but there are some caveats worth knowing.
You should know this about sending emails on Ghost featured image.

Before you start sending posts by email on Ghost, there are one or two things you should know.

This information will make your life easier and help you avoid mistakes.

So, to take advantage of native newsletter features on Ghost, let's dive right in.

TL;DR

  • Use "Email content" card to add content that will only be displayed on the email;
  • If you send a premium post by email for free members, it will show all the content on the page;
  • To send only a preview post for all members, write the preview, send the post and then paste the whole post;
  • You can use an external email service to send preview posts to all members;
  • Adding CSS style is a bit tricky. How it looks on Ghost editor is how it will look on the email;
  • Ghost shows which members open emails but don't show clicks.
  • Each post can only be sent by email once;
  • You cannot send Pages by email;

Sending content only by email

To send content on your email that will not show on the website page, use the Email Content card inside Ghost editor.

You can use this for a greeting or a different type of introduction.

The Email Content card has Hey {first_name, "there"}, as the default content. This means that if you have the person's first name, the message will display the name. For example, "Hey Tiago". And in case there's no information, the fallback text will show "Hey there".

You can always change this content or greeting.

Also, you can give it any use, like sending a newsletter sponsor.


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What happens if you send a members-only post by email to free members?

The full post will be sent in full. So premium and free members will receive the same email with the same content.

If you want to avoid this, send only a preview by email. Then, see the next section on how to achieve it.

How to send only post preview

If your goal is to send only a preview of the article by email, there are 2 ways:

  1. Sync members with an email service provider (ESP) and send emails through them;
  2. Write a preview on Ghost and change the content after sending the email;

They are both viable options. But the second one is easier as there are fewer moving parts.

However, if you like to schedule posts for later, making changes to the post right after sending is a hassle.

Also, if you're going to change the post's content, you need to keep the URL the same. This way, when people click to read online, they'll be directed to the correct page of the website.

Gloat has an article on how you can achieve this.

The option I like the most is syncing members with an ESP like Convertkit. Plus, with Zapier doing this is easy.

Further, as we move to a world where Apple (and soon Gmail) block open rates, having information about who clicks on the email is essential. This will help keep a clean email list with only engaged members following some of the best practices.

Styling elements

You can add CSS style to elements that are sent by email. But this is a bit tricky as some email clients like Gmail sometimes remove the style.

One example, I add style to links to make them look like buttons because it's easier to do. But when I send the email, the style is removed, and the button looks like a regular link.

But if you add proper code (like this), you can add stylish elements to emails. In this example, the star rating system will work on Gmail and will look neat!

As a rule, to know if the style will be delivered correctly, you need to pay attention to how things look on Ghost editor.

So, you need to make elements have the same look on the editor and on the website.

Let's see the example of the sign-up form I have on my website. On the website, it looks like this:

Sign-up form with the proper CSS style on The Stack Junction website.

But in the editor, it looks like this:

Sign-up form without the CSS style on Ghost editor.

So when I send it by email, it will look the same as in the editor. Like this:

Sign-up form without CSS style on Gmail, similar to what was on Ghost editor.

There is a simple workaround for this sign-up form. First, send the post by email, then add the sign-up to the page.

This way, members don't need to see a form that's not useful for them. And new visitors to the website will have the ability to become members.

Analytics

Inside the dashboard, Ghost shows open rates of each member, but there is no clicks information.

Also, there's no information about email opens for members that use Apple Mail on iOS 15 or later. This was one of the privacy features introduced by Apple on that version.

The loss of this information is a bit annoying. But it's not the best way to check if members are engaged reading your emails. In contrast, clicks are more helpful information to have.

Mailgun can report clicks on emails, but I haven't found a way to show which member was making the clicks on the email.

So, a workaround is using an external email service like Convertkit. This way, you can see which member clicks on the links.

The advantage of knowing these clicks is that members are showing interest in what you send them. This is a sign of engagement and healthy members list.

Further, to avoid spam traps, you should have a double opt-in. This is enabled on Ghost by default. If you use an ESP, activate this option as soon as you can.

One possible scenario is only sending posts by email for premium members. So, they receive the full post in their email. Yes, you can't track if they open or click on everything you send, but they're already showing interest with their wallet.

Posts can only be sent 1 time

You can only send each post by email once.

So, you cannot send the email with a preview for free members, revert to draft, and send the full post for premium members.

Also, you need to consider that posts are associated with a URL. So, if you send a post by email and then delete it, members that click "view online" will get an error about the page not being available.


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Defining who receives each post

You have 3 options to decide who receives posts by email:

  1. Free members;
  2. Paid members;
  3. Specific members (based on tags);

And there are several combinations you can do with these 3 options. For example:

  • Send only to free members;
  • Send only to paid members;
  • Send to free + paid members;
  • Send only to members that have VIP tag;

Sometimes when I'm doing tests on the website, I select members with the "staff" tag. This way, only "staff" receive the tests. You can think of other creative uses for this specific members option.

Can you send a page by email on Ghost?

No. You cannot send a page by email on Ghost. Sending content by email is a feature reserved only for posts.

As of version 4.12, you can't do it, and it's not expected you'll be able to do it anytime soon.

Final considerations

Ghost's native newsletter is a robust feature.

It will work well, show information about open rates, and has different sending options.

However, adding style to some elements isn't straightforward. But, with Ghost 4.15, you can now add a CTA to the email without effort.

Further, be aware that styles on Ghost editor are the best predictor of its appearance on member's inboxes.

If you want more advanced information, like which member clicks on links, you can send the posts through an external email service.

This article is part of a series where I talk about how to make your life easier using Ghost. Other articles of the series are how to make Ghost open links in a new tab and how to add nofollow and sponsored links on Ghost.

For questions, reach out to me here or on Twitter.

If you want to start using Ghost, consider using my affiliate link below.

Thanks for reading.


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