Mautic – not ready yet

So over the weekend I tried out the current version of Mautic, but there were a few issues.

TLDR; Mautic is not ready for production use.

Mautic is an open source  marketing automation product (think Infusionsoft). They’ve just released version 2.6 which has some nice features but I had some problems every step of the way.

Firstly, I needed to upgrade to a later version of php5, not a big hardship but just an annoyance that took a bit of messing around as I was using my Digital Ocean droplet to do this on, which hosts marketingartistry.com and my sendy instance.

That done, the installation makes recommendations on extra php modules that need installing, so yet again slight pause whilst I find the right module names and ‘apt-get’ them into place. Then create a database and we’re starting to get some traction. The application is installed and I can log in woop. Now for configuration.

There is a ‘bug’ (I won’t call it a feature) where when you change the settings, if you don’t have some fields set up for the salesforce integration – even if you’re not going to use it – then no other configuration changes would work. I wanted to switch the mail service over to using my amazon SES service. However it doesn’t use the AWS SDK like sendy and work through the amazon api, it uses SMTP with it’s swiftmail based code. So I had to create an SMTP user. Even so a couple of headscratching hours later I finally got email working.

Next issue was that the system does not implement two step optins (bread and butter requirement really in this day and age of spam and legalities all around the world). There was an article that explained how to build a funnel that would do this but it was overly complicated for something that should be trivial. However the actual flow builder is very nice and is a plus point to the application.

So having got email working, set up a campaign – with two step optimisation – it was now time to try out some sequences. Mautic requires quite a few cron jobs setting up at different times, so as not to overload the system. This smacks of poor thought because it’s fairly trivial to have a job queue and add different job types automatically, then poll the queue once a minute to see if anything needs doing – that’s pretty much what sendy does. Using a queue like this is also trivial in Laravel but Mautic seems to be a combination of Joomla code, Symphony Libs and some open source email templates. Even so I was able to get sequences working, but the email editor left a bit to be desired compared to a more rounded tool like thrive themes or even the sendy one. At least it did allow code editing which means you can use any email template you want.

Next up was tracking and this where the cracks started to show in full. There was a direct requirement for Javascript support to track anything – no other options. Any of a dozen browser blockers (adblock, ublock etc.) would be able to filter out this, and if the browser had js disabled then end of story.  Even getting the confirmation of signup would require a js enabled browser.

Doing a bit more searching I also found that SES API integration had been requested months ago but was not a high priority – so an alternative sparkpost was tried out but that would mean re-working dkim entries for everything. At least 1and1 have fixed their interface now and so DKIM editing is a breeze. The problems got worse with people reporting slow mail sending and no easy throttling so if I were to ramp this system up, things would be much slower than sendy.

So a nice experiment to see the graphical workflow builder, but it’s just not ready in all the right places to be used properly. Infusionsoft and the others are safe for now.

 

Spencer Westwood
 

Author, musician, developer and generally a bit of a self confessed computer geek.