Welcome to another edition of The Lab Report!

I hope you’re able to make this the very last email you open for the year and spend the next week with family, friends, or simply as a time to recharge.

I used to always feel guilty about taking time off, but then I realized that stepping away from your day-to-day IS productive.

If you ever doubt this, try taking a 30-min walk in the middle of your work day. Ideally through a park/trail and without headphones.

You often come back with new ideas, problems solved, or renewed motivation.

And you just plain feel good.

Taking time off IS productive.

📫 The hunt for a new email marketing platform


One of my passive tasks this week was to start thinking about what I’m going to do with my email marketing platform next year.

I’ve been using ActiveCampaign since 2016, and while it’s not the fastest platform on the planet, it’s super powerful and has generally been considered the gold standard.

Over the years they’ve continued to raise prices, but it didn’t affect me since I remained on the grandfathered plan.

Then I got the email last year that grandpa is dead.

You could keep your current rate by paying annually, but once you need to change your plan in any way then you start paying the new expensive rates.

The new rates are almost double what I was paying previously, making ActiveCampaign one of the most expensive options on the market.

So I went down the rabbit hole of trying a few different options:

MailerLite, ConvertKit, Moosend, FluentCRM and Brevo.

One interesting thing I noticed during my search is that few people seem to love their email platform.

Many times when I’d look to see what platform someone was using, I’d find them mentioning that they were potentially looking to switch to a different platform.

And the ones who weren’t looking to switch, like their platform in spite of XYZ.

This lack of consensus makes things difficult when trying to figure out where to go next.

Without making this section too long (I might write a full post on this if people want), here is my scouting report of each of the platforms I mentioned.

Email Platform Scouting Report

MailterLite: The best UI of all the platforms. Smart Sending based on individual contact behaviour is an amazing feature. Gives good insight on the engagement of your different segments. Makes you want to write more emails. Pricing is affordable. Very limited automations. Can’t organize custom fields. No website tracking. Desperately missing “lists” to help manage unsubscribes.

ConvertKit: The closest thing to a consensus among creators, but it’s hard for me to figure out why. The UI looks dated and it’s not overly powerful. Pricing is in the middle. They have some nice X factors like the Creator Network and a referral system. But other than that, I’d love to hear why so many people use it. Maybe there’s something I’m missing.

Brevo: Looked decent at everything, but didn’t have anything standout. Expensive to start out with, but potentially cheaper as your list grows. They don’t support tags, so I didn’t spend much time investigating it further.

FluentCRM: Better than I remembered it being. Powerful automations. Since it’s self-hosted, it’s the cheapest option on this list. I have concerns about how long it takes to send mass broadcasts. If your site goes down, so does your email marketing. Doesn’t integrate natively with my popup software – need to use webhooks.

Moosend: Has powerful automations. Has website tracking. Has custom field organization. Has great reporting. Has the most affordable pricing aside from FluentCRM. Even though they recently revamped their UI, it’s still not great. Easily its biggest weakpoint.

Initial Conclusions

The biggest surprise on this list for me was Moosend.

Even though I purchased an 8k contact LTD four years ago, I still didn’t expect it to be a serious contender.

It actually seems like it could be a great platform – possibly the closest thing to an ActiveCampaign direct alternative (which also makes migrating a lot easier).

Its features beat out most of the competitors, and would even offer me more than my ActiveCampaign Lite plan did.

I love to use beautiful tools, and I don’t love Moosend’s UI, but the revamp at least makes it functional.

Moosend dashboard

I mostly write and design these newsletters from inside of WordPress anyways via Newsletter Glue.

With the best overall feature set and the lowest price point, Moosend is the platform I’ve decided I’m going to try giving a shot.

If it just had the UI of MailerLite, it would seriously be a home run.

💅 How to create an awesome glowing card hover effect

Watched a great tutorial this week from The Lab Report subscriber Nicholas Arce.

He walks you through how to create that affect where when you hover over a card, it creates a glow on both the border and card background that follows your mouse.

It’s a neat effect that I’ve seen many times but wasn’t sure how it was done.

It’s actually a lot simpler than I thought.

Even though the tutorial is for Bricks Builder, it can easily be replicated for any builder that outputs a clean DOM.

📈 Admin and Site Enhancements raising its pricing after Dec 31st

Admin & Site Enhancements

A couple of months ago I wrote a newsletter about how I was excited that Admin and Site Enhancements would help me cut down on the number of plugins on my sites.

It’s also done wonders for me in terms of cleaning up my backend.

My admin nav now only shows the items I use often, and I can click “Show All” if there’s anything else I need.

Definitely helps things feel less cluttered.

Cleaner admin and custom ACF columns

I should also mention that they just released ACF and Meta Box support for the Admin Columns Manager module.

So you can now show custom fields on any of your admin pages, which is sweet.

Wibowo reached out to me to let me know that the launch period will end December 31st, after which all plans will be increasing in price.

There will still be a lifetime deal available as an option (again, with the higher price).

As a final promo, he’s offering The Lab Report subscribers 10% off until Dec 31st.

You can use this link and use the code NEWPULSE10 at checkout.

You can give the free version a try to see if you jive with it, but I’m personally purchasing a larger license pack and plan on using it on most my site builds going forward.

👨‍💻 The best free code snippet manager


The team at WPManageNinja put out *another* plugin this week.

FluentSnippets is a high performance snippet manager that allows you to add PHP, JS, CSS, HTML etc. code to your site.

It has a few areas where it stands out from all the other free plugins.

It’s file based, meaning all your snippets are saved in your file system instead of your database. This saves database calls and is considered more secure.

You can add advanced conditions to control where your snippets are loaded, and it has automatic error handling.

It’s not meant to serve as a replacement to a more feature-packed snippet manager like the almighty WPCodebox (Shahjahan has said this himself), but it would be my go-to option if you don’t already have a premium snippet manager or just want to get something up quick on a smaller site.

☁️ Closing Comments

That’s all for this week.

That’s all for this year actually.

Thanks for making 2023 a great one.

I hope you enjoy your holidays and have a happy new year 🍻

If you ever want to discuss any of the topics in this newsletter, I usually post a dedicated thread each week inside of the NewPulse Labs Facebook group.

You can also find previous issues of The Lab Report over at https://newpulselabs.com/newsletter.

Talk soon!