I'm considering using Drupal's simplenews module for sending (most of) my email newsletters, rather than civiMail. Are there any disadvantages to doing this?

The background is:

  • Drupal 8 and civi 4.7 (when I go live later this year)
  • Mandrill to power the actual email sending
  • All newsletters will contain a single news item, not a collection of multiple items
  • I want email to be sent when the news is available, not weekly or monthly
  • I want my news creators to be able to have the simplicity of just creating an article and giving it a tag, without having to worry about enews complexities.
  • I want my news items to appear prominently on the website
  • I want various other bits of content to automatically appear in the email (coming events etc).

Given this, it seems to me that what I'm doing is basically automating the emailing of a Drupal content item (rather than creating a bespoke newsletter), and so it's better to use simplenews for this.

The only disadvantages I can see are:

  1. if I want to show, edit or automate the subscriptions in Civi, I'll have to create groups and use Drupal Rules to sync the civi groups to the simplenews subscription preferences.
  2. If I want civi and simplenews to update each other with knowledge about changed email addresses etc., I may have to use Rules for that also.
  3. I probably won't be able to personalise emails with tokens based on civi information about the contact. (which I don't mind)

Are there any other disadvantages to using a simplenews & Mandrill setup in this way? Any reasons to prefer civiMail? Do I seem to be thinking about this right?

thanks for your thoughts,


  • How are you thinking that someone turns on/off their subscription to the 'content'? if it was just 'send out the node' it sounds like it would have been a good fit for Subscriptions in D7. Not sure of the D8 plans for that. Also should point out the Views Token we built that means a View can be embedded in a civimail (not sure about using it in a Scheduled Reminder yet but may have some 'use') in case that makes sense since you are trying to send out more than 'just' a single node by the sounds of it.
    – petednz - fuzion
    Jul 14, 2015 at 21:33
  • Hi Pete, I haven't fully investigated, but I'm considering using simplenews for the subscription management. Different simplenews "newsletters" would be available for the different types of news I'd offer. Either I will have the content creators create the content as pieces of the simplenews content type (maybe streamline the UI), or have a custom content type and then use Rules to trigger the creation of a simplenews when an item of the custom content is published. Subscriptions would have been ideal, but there's been no D8 activity on it yet whereas the simplenews port is quite advanced.
    – Jonathan
    Jul 15, 2015 at 9:14
  • People would turn off/on their subscriptions by checking/unchecking the different simplenews newsletters. Views token is promising. If I wanted to use civiMail maybe I could trigger a civiMail by Rules or civiRules when a Drupal custom content item is published, and use Views Token to build up rest of the email. Maybe it will come down to which approach seems less hacky, involves less fighting against the tools.
    – Jonathan
    Jul 15, 2015 at 9:20
  • Turns out that simplenews can send out existing content types as newsletters; it adds additional options to existing content types. So Rules would not be needed in that case, a clear advantage over civiMail.
    – Jonathan
    Jul 15, 2015 at 19:10

1 Answer 1


It's technically possible to use either CiviMail or Simplenews, but the real questions in my opinion, are:

  1. What else are you using CiviCRM for? Donations, memberships, etc?

  2. If you're using Civi for lots of things, wouldn't it be nice to run reports on Donations vs. Mailings and keep your data in a single place: CiviCRM?

  • Thanks CiviTeacher - that's a good point about tracking. I'm thinking to use civi for Memberships, donations and events. However, while those reports would occasionally be nice to have, but they'd very rarely get used. We do little fundraising and are not very sophisticated when we do.
    – Jonathan
    Jul 16, 2015 at 8:21
  • What do you mean? Do you wear gumboots when out doorknocking? Or ask for money while eating a meat pie? ;-)
    – petednz - fuzion
    Jul 18, 2015 at 1:36
  • Hah! :) More like we just throw out an email a few times a year asking for help with some project and and hope a few people reply with big donations.
    – Jonathan
    Jul 24, 2015 at 14:50

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