What Is PHP, and What is PHP Mail?

If you’re reading this, I assume you already know what PHP is or at least what it is used for. Many websites use PHP, including this one, so we won’t go over its basic functionality here.

However, there is more to PHP than meets the eye, and it is more than capable of performing an entire e-mail campaign for you. In this article, we will discuss what PHP is and how you can put it to use to send e-mails more efficiently.

What Is PHP?

PHP was originally designed for writing websites. However, as we discussed above, it has a lot more to offer. If you visit the PHP website, you will see that it is a server-side language that can be used to develop web applications, server-side scripts, and even e-mail campaigns. It is mostly associated with the open source community because it was designed to be flexible and user-friendly, allowing anyone to learn how to code in PHP.

PHP is a procedural language, which means that you need to pass arguments to it in a certain order and it will automatically execute the instructions in the correct manner without any additional work on your part. These are some of its primary selling points. You won’t need to understand complex programming lingo in order to use it, and it will be much simpler to learn than other languages.

Why Should You Use PHP For E-mail?

As we have established, PHP allows for the development of a wide variety of things. One of the things it is extremely well-suited for is e-mail campaigns. E-mail has become such a crucial part of marketing on the web that even the most basic e-mail marketing programs incorporate some sort of automated response system, especially if you are doing anything online. For instance, if you are using your mail server to send the e-mails, you can put in place a simple filter to automatically respond to any new e-mail address you may have collected, directing them to a personalized welcome message or link to a resource you think they may find useful.

This is where PHP comes in. Because it is a server-side language, you will be working with it on a server that can send and receive e-mails. This means you can take advantage of all the tools provided by your mail server to craft a more personalized and effective e-mail campaign. You won’t need to worry about any mail client becoming obsolete because the functionality is built into the server itself. This makes your e-mails much more effective, as you will always be able to access the same mail client no matter what.

Furthermore, because it is designed to be user-friendly, any e-mail marketing program you implement will be a lot less strenuous to use. Since e-mail clients don’t need to be updated as frequently as other programs, the workload placed on your IT team (assuming you have one) will be significantly less, meaning they can spend more time developing new features and responding to user requests.

How Do You Set Up PHP For E-mail?

There are a few things you need to do in order to get PHP up and running for use in email marketing campaigns. First, you will need to connect to your mail server and ensure it is set up correctly. This is usually done through a simple web interface that is accessed via a web browser. It is important that you connect to the right mail server, as this will determine the success of your e-mail activity.

You also need to make sure you have a MySQL database available on the server you have chosen. This is where all the e-mail data is stored, so if you are planning on tracking e-mails as they are opened, logged, or deleted, you will need a database in order to do so. One more thing you will need to consider is the size of your mail-enabled HTML file. If you are sending e-mails as an attachment rather than using the body of the e-mail for content, you will need to make sure you have enough storage available on your web server to hold all the HTML code you might need. This is especially important if you are sending out a lot of HTML-based e-mails.

With that in mind, let’s get started creating our e-mail template.

Step 1: Create the Email Template

The first step in creating an e-mail template is to create a plain text file that contains all the relevant information the email needs to be sent to each recipient. This could include the recipient’s name, e-mail address, and any additional information you think might be relevant. For our purposes, we will keep it simple and narrow down to the basics: name, e-mail, and subject line. We will then proceed to populate this template file with our intended e-mail recipient’s information. In order to do so, we will use a PHP mailer to easily send out the e-mails. The mail() function allows for the automated creation of e-mails, so let’s get started.

Step 2: Create the Database

A database, or a collection of data, is an important element of any e-mail marketing program. This is where you will store the list of e-mail recipients, including any duplicates you may have found. You can also use a database to store additional information about each recipient, such as the name of their company, or any other details you might find relevant.

If you are just getting started with e-mail marketing, it may be difficult to decide where to place this database. If you are using your own web server, you can easily store this information in the MySQL database you have already set up. Alternately, you can use a free database such as MongoDB or MySQL to store your e-mail list, which you can then access via PHP.

Step 3: Configure the PHP Mailer

The next step is to configure the PHP mailer, which is a function that allows you to easily send e-mails. In order to do so, you will need to visit the mailer’s website and create an account. After creating an account, you will need to verify your e-mail address. Now that you have verified it, you can log in and begin creating your e-mail.

When configuring your PHP mailer, you have a few options to choose from. The most popular and simplest option is to enter your e-mail address and subject line, and click the Send button. For a more automated approach, you can enter a list of e-mails you wish to send, and they will be sent out without any further intervention from you.

A much more customizable option is to enter a list of recipients and they will be separated into different lists, allowing you to send a different message to each group. You can also choose whether you want to use a free version of PHPMailer or the Premium version. The free version is fully functional, but lacks a few elements that the Premium version has, which makes it more suitable for beginners who are just getting started with e-mail marketing.

Step 4: Create the HTML Files

HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language, which is what all the special formatting is supposed to do in an e-mail. If you are looking for a comprehensive guide to HTML e-mail design, you can find one here:

  • A Hands-On Guide to HTML E-mail Design
  • HTML E-mail Design for Dummies
  • HTML E-mail Design Complete

While you are on the subject of HTML emails, let’s discuss a few more things you need to think about when designing your e-mails.

Taglines & Marniels

The Tagline is the short phrase or sentence that appears in your subject line and is used to hook the reader into opening your actual email. It is usually one or two sentences long and is used to pique curiosity and make the reader scroll down to the body of the email. Every tagline should have a different call to action (CTA), or an action verb, such as:

“Here’s How to {Do, Make, Order, etc.} This Product”

“Learn How to {Use, Set Up, etc.} This Product”

“Read This Before {You, Yours, etc.} Order This Product”

Keep these short and snappy and use a combination of both short forms and long forms of words to keep your tagline interesting and engaging.

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