Proven Digital Marketing
SMS Marketing Suite with CRM Integration Using Twilio and Keap
Keap is a SaaS CRM, sales, and marketing automation platform that also offers text message marketing. However, it costs over twice as much as using Twilio, the leading API-based cloud communication platform. To keep messaging costs low, I wrote a WordPress plugin to integrate Keap and Twilio.
The primary feature within this plugin is a WordPress admin page for sending an SMS message to a group of Keap contacts. The recipients are determined by chosen Keap tags via a multi-select combobox within the “SMS Blast” form. Below that, there is a text area field to compose the SMS message. Keap contact field variables can be included in the message template with an optional fallback value like
Since the goal of this WordPress plugin is to keep marketing costs low, data validation and confirmation are essential. After submitting the SMS Blast form, the system processes and stores the data for review. The review screen shows Keap contacts vs. planned Twilio messages followed by potential alerts of discrepancies. This may include the number of duplicate phone numbers, contacts missing required template variables, and contacts not opted in to receive text messages. Lastly, the review screen offers buttons for sending to a test group and final submission.
This plugin also includes various custom WordPress REST API endpoints to further integrate Twilio and Keap. Some endpoints create, tag, and update Keap contacts while others send texts and trigger flows via Twilio. Within Keap campaigns and Twilio Studio flows, these WordPress endpoints facilitate more engaging and personalized customer experiences.
Purple Turtle Creative
Mailgun Subscribe Form with Security Features to Limit Costs
While Twitter was becoming X and Meta was releasing Threads, Purple Turtle Creative decided to offer a reliable, platform-independent way to keep interested users informed: good ol’ fashioned email. Purple Turtle Creative is a bootstrapped business that keeps costs low by foregoing expensive CRM service subscriptions, though. This meant that I needed to implement a re-usable mailing list subscription form by using our API-based email service provider, Mailgun.
Since Mailgun uses volume-based pricing, security was a top priority for the mailing list subscription forms to protect Purple Turtle Creative from exorbitant surprise fees. As the first layer of protection, I implemented Cloudflare’s new CAPTCHA solution called Turnstile on the client side. An advanced bot might still slip through, though, and humans sometimes make mistakes. That’s why I also decided to implement a double opt-in process to ensure the integrity of the mailing list and protect Purple Turtle Creative’s sender reputation.
Using a double opt-in process means that subscribers must click a verification link in a confirmation email to actually subscribe to the mailing list. That costs one email in Mailgun’s volume-based pricing, so I created a database table to track email verification requests and impose rate limits. There is a cooldown period to prevent rapid repeat requests, a maximum number of permitted retries per email address, and a weekly limit of total API usage. Atomic database access is essential to ensure there is consistency between all rate limit trackers and concurrent email verification requests.
The Holistic Psychologist
ActiveCampaign Contact Record Cleanup with Bulk Deletion Plugin
After running a successful online business for some time, stale contact records eventually pile up. This means costs consistently increase when using a CRM with volume-based pricing, such as ActiveCampaign. However, there is no quick way to purge these cold contacts within ActiveCampaign!
To help businesses reduce their CRM costs and clean up their records, I created a WordPress plugin. It registers a new WordPress admin page with a quick, multi-step process. Since it is quick to tag contacts within ActiveCampaign in bulk, I decided to mark contacts for deletion with a tag. Then the business can apply the “Marked for Deletion” tag to all ActiveCampaign contact records that they’d like to delete.
In the WordPress admin page, the user first clicks a button to start the process. API requests to ActiveCampaign then retrieve all contact records with the “Marked for Deletion” tag. The WordPress admin page then displays the number of contact records, asking the user to confirm the bulk deletion process. Once confirmed, all contact records are then deleted from ActiveCampaign. Since this process can take a while depending on the number of contacts, I used benchmark tests to also show the WordPress user an estimated end time.
Purple Turtle Creative
Custom WordPress Plugin API to Fulfill Downloads and Remote Updates
After developing Completionist, I wanted to make it available for free download. Instead of listing it in the WordPress.org plugins directory as I had done with Grouped Content, I wanted to create my own resources server API.
To implement the client-side connection, I used YahnisElsts’s plugin-update-checker package on GitHub. This gave me a fantastic starting place to understand what API endpoints I needed to create.
I packaged the resources server code into a WordPress plugin which runs on Purple Turtle Creative. It includes custom WordPress REST API endpoints to dynamically deliver the plugin’s details from the requested release’s ZIP file.
The endpoints are secured with nonces to ensure the download link expires. Direct requests for the plugin ZIP file are also denied via NGINX rules, so the release package can only be downloaded via a valid request to the resources API. Lastly, I implemented Google Analytics’ Measurement Protocol API to monitor the API’s traffic and performance.
Purple Turtle Creative
I wanted to track Asana assignments related to my WordPress website as I worked on it. To my amazement, a specialized solution had not been built yet, despite an obvious need in the market.
Ever since then, I have worked on my own solution to integrate Asana tasks with WordPress. Completionist is a WordPress plugin that I offer for free download which features a dashboard widget, post edit panel (aka “metabox”), and custom automations.
Despite being a pretty small project thus far with minimal efforts to make its presence known, Completionist has received some notable attention:
Video Upload Optimizations via Mux API on BuddyBoss Theme
Poor video performance often leads BuddyBoss site owners to use third-party video embeds via YouTube or Vimeo. However, this requires the user to upload and host their videos from another platform—a platform they do not own nor have control over. This is an unacceptable solution for site visitor-uploaded content, which occurs directly on the business’s BuddyBoss WordPress website.
Using the Mux API, I was able to bring video optimizations to WordPress, including normalized audio tracks. I developed a custom WordPress plugin that uploads new videos to Mux and caches the Mux asset data to the site. To ensure the cached asset data is always current, I implemented a custom REST endpoint to process Mux webhook events. The endpoint is secured by verifying each request’s signature.
Hearst (Houston Chronicle)
Beauty Deals Finder ReactJS Application and Custom Sailthru Email Alerts
Beauty Deals Finder is a custom application built with ReactJS + Redux Toolkit and SCSS modules. It is configured and hosted on Houston Chronicle’s local commerce website (aka “Chron Shopping”) via WordPress.
Users may search for deals by selecting various brands and then save their selections as preferences. When a user saves their brand preferences, they are added to an email mailing list in Sailthru to receive automated, personalized daily alerts. The email notifies the user how many new deals have been added for their chosen brands, if any at all, within the past 24 hours. Clicking a link in the email takes the user to the Beauty Deals Finder application, automatically signing them in to review their latest deals.
All deal data displayed in the application and the Sailthru emails is requested from a separate internal service.
Purple Turtle Creative
The Purple Turtle Creative website was originally created with the Elementor Pro plugin with Elementor’s Hello theme. Since the website no longer needed design changes, it was time to commit the design to custom code. The main goal of the conversion was to remove dependency on the Elementor plugin. This would ultimately optimize site performance, decrease expenses, and reduce upkeep.
With many other optimizations implemented, the result is a blazing fast, custom Gutenberg WordPress website that loads in less than half a second. For more information, please read my blog post for a thorough report of the performance improvements.
Sailthru Email Template Local Development Toolkit and Process Improvements
While working full-time as a Software Engineer with Hearst, I took on additional responsibilities by becoming our team’s Sailthru email template engineer. We did not have a very good development process in place to work with Sailthru’s custom templating language (Zephyr), so I also took it upon myself to implement a toolkit.
Since the email templates contain Zephyr markup, I used Sailthru’s API endpoint for previewing Zephyr email templates. That allowed me to edit the templates on my local machine and then render the email in my web browser. For further testing, I could simply tick a checkbox to send a test email of my changes instead.
Additionally, I wrote two other scripts for downloading Sailthru email template contents and “include” template parts respectively. We use Sailthru in advanced ways at Hearst with custom Data Feed configurations, so I architected the toolkit to support that. Synching the template code locally from Sailthru provided a lot of key benefits:
- Version control and code backups via Git (which also facilitates proper code review process)
- Easily make changes to existing email templates using the developer’s own code editor
- Code searchability via terminal commands such as
grep (which also means easier code auditing)
- Ability to mix custom code with Sailthru’s WYSIWYG editor to reduce custom code burden
- Detailed template error messaging via the Preview endpoint’s response
Upon joining the Local Commerce team at Hearst, I was asked to overhaul our map article custom post type. Each map article post features a custom Google Maps instance with scroll event interactions and animations.
To streamline the curation team’s efforts, I implemented the ability to import their collected merchant listing data from Google Sheets. The data is stored as metadata for each map article post, effectively caching the data in WordPress and serving as the posts’ main content.
With our team’s designer, I then updated the frontend styles and functionality to improve the map articles’ sales appeal. Additional features were implemented to make sponsored listings stand out from the regular listings. In particular, I custom-coded asynchronous email signup form modals which submitted to the Mailchimp and Sailthru APIs. To ensure proper security, I also implemented custom WordPress REST API endpoints to proxy the form submission requests to the third-party APIs. My custom implementation of the Google ReCaptcha v3 API also validated the form submissions to reduce spam signups.