Install Mautic Self-Hosted Email Marketing Platform on Ubuntu 20.04 Server

This tutorial will be showing you how to set up Mautic email marketing platform on Ubuntu 20.04 with Apache or Nginx web server. Mautic is a free open source alternative to commercial email service providers like MailChimp. Key features of Mautic includes:

  • Lead nurturing and tracking
  • Marketing campaigns
  • Dripflow programs
  • Create Landing pages
  • Social media monitoring
  • Install free plugins to extend the functionality of Mautic.
  • Mautic can be easily integrated with third-party SMTP relay services like Gmail, Mandrill, Sendgrid, Amazon SES. You can also use your own mail server.
  • and much more

Install Mautic Self-Hosted Email Marketing Platform on Ubuntu 20.04 Server

Benefits of Self Hosting Email Marketing Platform

Why do you want to self-host email marketing platform instead of using third-party ESPs (Email Service Provider) like MailChimp?

For starters, self-hosting can save you a lot of money. Mautic is free and open-source software. You only need to pay $8.99/month for the VPS (virtual private server), which can run a full-featured mail server and the Mautic email marketing platform. It can easily handle millions of subscribers. So your total cost is always $8.99/month no matter how many subscribers you have. If you own millions of subscribers on MailChimp, the cost would be thousands of dollars per month.

Another reason is that Firefox browser blocks third-party trackers by default, so the MailChimp signup widget on your website doesn’t work properly and the MailChimp pop-up won’t shown to your visitors. By hosting the email marketing platform under your own domain name, Firefox doesn’t block the tracker, so your signup widget or popup can work properly. This is also true if users of other web browsers decide to block third-party trackers.

In addition, you can manipulate subscribers’ information from the database and even automate it with a Cron job. For example, I often see there are typos when a visitor enters information on the sign-up form. I use a cron job to automatically correct some common typos.

Last but not least, self-hosting can protect your freedom of speech. You never need to worry about an email service provider closing your account like Mailchimp did.

Challenges of Self Hosting Email Marketing Platform

The first problem you face is finding a good self-hostable email marketing platform. Previously we have discussed how to set up Mailtrain, which is an open-source alternative to MailChimp, on Ubuntu 20.04 server. However, Mailtrain is missing several features a typical site owner would like to have.

  • Mailtrain doesn’t provide users with an easy way to insert signup widget or popup on the website.
  • Users can’t set time schedule for RSS campaigns.
  • No contact rating.

After all, Mailtrain is just a project of a handful of software developers.

Mautic, on the other hand, is a project of a team of developers and has developed more and more features over the years. You do have an easy way to insert signup widget and popup on your website with Mautic. There’s also a vibrant and very active community around it. Furthermore, Mautic is more than just a newsletter/email marketing platform. It’s a full-blown digital experience platform, as they call it. With Acquia (which is a company offering paid service for the Drupal open source content management system) acquiring Mautic in May 2019, the future for Mautic has never been brighter. So I feel it’s time to switch from Mailtrain to Mautic.

The second challenge is to have the technical expertise to set up the email marketing platform on your own server. Don’t worry, I will show you how in just a few moments.

The third challenge is that you need to have a good reputation for the IP address of your mail server and your domain name as well. Otherwise, your emails will land in the spam folder. Gmail Postmaster Tools can show you if you have a good reputation for your domain name and IP address. As you can see from the screenshot below, I always have high domain reputation with Gmail, because I always follow best practices to send emails to my subscribers. It’s very rare that my subscribers report my email as spam.

gmail-postmaster-tools-mail-server-domain-reputation

To send out bulk emails, you need to follow these rules or practices.

  1. Make sure the recipient gave you permission to send email. Use double opt-in to verify the subscriber’s email address.
  2. Don’t send cold emails to thousands of people who have never received emails from you before. Instead, you need to warm up your IP address. For example, send 500 emails on day 1, then send 1000 emails on day 2, send 2000 emails on day 3.
  3. Include your contact information and your mailing address at the bottom of the email message.
  4. Personalize the email message as much as possible. For example, include the recipient’s name in the email.
  5. Conform to CAN-SPAM Act
  6. Avoid large attachments.
  7. Clean your email list. For example, delete email subscribers that haven’t opened your email in the last 30 days.
  8. Get approved as Return Path Certified Sender.
  9. Test your email placement with GlockApps.

It’s also highly recommended to improve your IP/domain reputation before sending bulk emails. Now let’s look at how to install Mautic on Ubuntu 20.04 server.

Prerequisites of installing Mautic on Ubuntu 20.04 Server

If you don’t have your own mail server yet, I recommend using the free iRedMail program to quickly set up your own mail server before installing Mautic, so you don’t have to spend money on commercial SMTP relay service.

Mautic is written in PHP and relies on MySQL/MariaDB database server. So you need to set up a LAMP stack or LEMP stack. If you prefer Apache web server, then set up LAMP stack.

If you prefer Nginx web server, then set up LEMP stack.

Note that iRedMail will automatically set up a LEMP stack for you, so if you are going to install Mautic on your iRedMail server, you don’t need to set up LEMP stack again.

You also need a domain name. I registered my domain name from NameCheap because the price is low and they give whois privacy protection free for life. Without further ado, let’s install Mautic on Ubuntu 20.04 server.

Step 1: Download Mautic onto Your Ubuntu 20.04 Server

If you go to the official website to download Mautic, you are required to enter your name and email address. If that’s not what you like, then download the latest stable version by executing the following command on your server.

wget https://www.mautic.org/download/latest

The file will be saved as latest. Use unzip command to unzip it to /var/www/mautic/ directory.

sudo apt install unzip

sudo unzip latest -d /var/www/mautic/

Then make the web server user (www-data) as the owner of this directory.

sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/mautic/

Step 2: Create a MariaDB Database and User for Mautic

Log in to MariaDB console.

sudo mysql -u root

Next, create a new database for Mautic using the following command. This tutorial names it mautic, you can use whatever name you like for the database.

CREATE DATABASE mautic DEFAULT CHARACTER SET utf8 COLLATE utf8_unicode_ci;

The following command will create a database user and password, and at the same time grant all permission of the new database to the new user so later on Mautic can write to the database. Replace red texts with your preferred database name, username and password.

GRANT ALL ON mautic.* TO 'mauticuser'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'password';

Flush privileges table and exit MariaDB console.

FLUSH PRIVILEGES;

EXIT;

Step 3: Install Required and Recommended PHP Modules.

Ubuntu 20.04 ships with PHP7.4 in the default repository. Mautic currently doesn’t support PHP7.4. For best compatibility, it’s recommended to add the PHP7.3 PPA and install PHP7.3.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ondrej/php

Run the following command to install PHP modules required or recommended by Mautic

sudo apt install php-imagick php7.3-fpm php7.3-mysql php7.3-common php7.3-gd php7.3-imap php7.3-json php7.3-curl php7.3-zip php7.3-xml php7.3-mbstring php7.3-bz2 php7.3-intl php7.3-gmp

If you use Apache web server, then you need to disable the PHP module for Apache.

sudo a2dismod php7.4

You also need to disable the prefork MPM module in Apache.

sudo a2dismod mpm_prefork

Now you need to run the following command to enable three modules in order to use PHP-FPM in Apache, regardless of whether mod_php is installed on your server.

sudo a2enmod mpm_event proxy_fcgi setenvif

Then restart Apache.

sudo systemctl restart apache2

Step 4: Create Apache Virtual Host or Nginx Config File for Mautic

Apache

If you use Apache web server, create a virtual host for Mautic.

sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/mautic.conf

Put the following text into the file. Replace mautic.example.com with your real domain name and don’t forget to set DNS A record for it.

<VirtualHost *:80>
  ServerName mautic.example.com
  DocumentRoot /var/www/mautic/

  ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/error.log
  CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/access.log combined

  <Directory />
    Options FollowSymLinks
    AllowOverride All
  </Directory>

  <Directory /var/www/mautic/>
    Options FollowSymLinks MultiViews
    AllowOverride All
    Order allow,deny
    allow from all
  </Directory>

</VirtualHost>

Save and close the file. Then enable this virtual host with:

sudo a2ensite mautic.conf

Reload Apache for the changes to take effect.

sudo systemctl reload apache2

Now you should be able to see the Mautic web-based install wizard at http://mautic.example.com/installer.

Nginx

If you use Nginx web server, create a virtual host for Mautic.

sudo nano /etc/nginx/conf.d/mautic.conf

Note: If you install Mautic on iRedMail server, you should create the virtual host under /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/ directory.

sudo nano /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/mautic.conf

Put the following text into the file. Replace mautic.example.com with your real domain name and don’t forget to set DNS A record for it. Also note that if you install Mautic on iRedMail server, you should use the TCP socket (127.0.0.1:9999) instead of the Unix socket (unix:/run/php/php7.3-fpm.sock).

server {
   listen 80;
   listen [::]:80;
   server_name mautic.example.com;

   root /var/www/mautic;
   error_log /var/log/nginx/mautic.error;
   access_log /var/log/nginx/mautic.access;
   client_max_body_size 20M;

   index index.php index.html index.htm index.nginx-debian.html;

   location / {
     # try to serve file directly, fallback to app.php
     try_files $uri /index.php$is_args$args;
   }

   location ~ /(mtc.js|1.js|mtracking.gif|.*\.gif|mtc) {
       # default_type "application/javascript";
       try_files $uri /index.php$is_args$args;
   }

   # redirect some entire folders
     rewrite ^/(vendor|translations|build)/.* /index.php break;

   location ~ \.php$ {
     include snippets/fastcgi-php.conf;
     fastcgi_pass unix:/run/php/php7.3-fpm.sock;
     #Note: If you install Mautic on iRedMail server, you should use the TCP socket instead.
     #fascgi_pass 127.0.0.1:9999
   }

   location ~* ^/index.php {
     # try_files $uri =404;
     fastcgi_split_path_info ^(.+\.php)(/.+)$;
     # NOTE: You should have "cgi.fix_pathinfo = 0;" in php.ini

     fastcgi_pass unix:/var/run/php/php7.3-fpm.sock;
     #Note: If you install Mautic on iRedMail server, you should use the TCP socket instead.
     #fascgi_pass 127.0.0.1:9999
     fastcgi_index index.php;
     fastcgi_param SCRIPT_FILENAME $document_root$fastcgi_script_name;
     include fastcgi_params;

     fastcgi_buffer_size 128k;
     fastcgi_buffers 256 16k;
     fastcgi_busy_buffers_size 256k;
     fastcgi_temp_file_write_size 256k;
   }

    # Deny everything else in /app folder except Assets folder in bundles
    location ~ /app/bundles/.*/Assets/ {
        allow all;
        access_log off;
    }
    location ~ /app/ { deny all; }

    # Deny everything else in /addons or /plugins folder except Assets folder in bundles
    location ~ /(addons|plugins)/.*/Assets/ {
        allow all;
        access_log off;
    }
    # location ~ /(addons|plugins)/ { deny all; }

    # Deny all php files in themes folder
      location ~* ^/themes/(.*)\.php {
        deny all;
    }

    # Don't log favicon
    location = /favicon.ico {
        log_not_found off;
        access_log off;
    }

    # Don't log robots
    location = /robots.txt  {
        access_log off;
        log_not_found off;
    }

    # Deny yml, twig, markdown, init file access
    location ~* /(.*)\.(?:markdown|md|twig|yaml|yml|ht|htaccess|ini)$ {
        deny all;
        access_log off;
        log_not_found off;
    }

    # Deny all attempts to access hidden files/folders such as .htaccess, .htpasswd, .DS_Store (Mac), etc...
    location ~ /\. {
        deny all;
        access_log off;
        log_not_found off;
    }

    # Deny all grunt, composer files
    location ~* (Gruntfile|package|composer)\.(js|json)$ {
        deny all;
        access_log off;
        log_not_found off;
    }

    # Deny access to any files with a .php extension in the uploads directory
        location ~* /(?:uploads|files)/.*\.php$ {
                deny all;
    }

     # A long browser cache lifetime can speed up repeat visits to your page
  location ~* \.(jpg|jpeg|gif|png|webp|svg|woff|woff2|ttf|css|js|ico|xml)$ {
       access_log        off;
       log_not_found     off;
       expires           360d;
  }
}

Save and close the file. Then test Nginx configuration.

sudo nginx -t

If the test is successful, reload Nginx for the changes to take effect.

sudo systemctl reload nginx

Now you should be able to see the Mautic web-based install wizard at http://mautic.example.com/installer.

Step 5: Enabling HTTPS

To encrypt the HTTP traffic, we can enable HTTPS by installing a free TLS certificate issued from Let’s Encrypt. Run the following command to install Let’s Encrypt client (certbot) on Ubuntu 20.04 server.

sudo apt install certbot

If you use Nginx, then you also need to install the Certbot Nginx plugin.

sudo apt install python3-certbot-nginx

Next, run the following command to obtain and install TLS certificate.

sudo certbot --nginx --agree-tos --redirect --hsts --staple-ocsp --email you@example.com -d mautic.example.com

If you use Apache, install the Certbot Apache plugin.

sudo apt install python3-certbot-apache

And run this command to obtain and install TLS certificate.

sudo certbot --apache --agree-tos --redirect --hsts --staple-ocsp --email you@example.com -d mautic.example.com

Where

  • --nginx: Use the nginx plugin.
  • --apache: Use the Apache plugin.
  • --agree-tos: Agree to terms of service.
  • --redirect: Force HTTPS by 301 redirect.
  • --hsts: Add the Strict-Transport-Security header to every HTTP response. Forcing browser to always use TLS for the domain. Defends against SSL/TLS Stripping.
  • --staple-ocsp: Enables OCSP Stapling. A valid OCSP response is stapled to the certificate that the server offers during TLS.

The certificate should now be obtained and automatically installed.

mautic https letsencrypt

Step 6: Finish Mautic Installation in Web Browser

Now in your browser address bar, type in your domain name for Mautic to access the web install wizard.

https://mautic.your-domain.com/installer

or

https://mautic.your-domain.com/index.php/installer

click Next Step.

install mautic ubuntu 18.04

In step 1, enter the MariaDB/MySQL database details.

mautic mariadb database

In step 2, create an admin account.

install mautic on ubuntu 18.04 server

In step 3, configure email settings. Note that you have many options in mailer transport. You can use PHP Mail, sendmail, or Gmail or integrate Mautic with third-party email services like Mandrill, Sendgrid, Amazon SES. These settings can always be changed after installation in Mautic configurations page. If Mautic is installed on your mail server, then you need to choose Sendmail as the mailer transport, so Mautic will use your mail server to send email.

mautic email server configuration sendmail

If Mautic and your mail server are running on different machines and you want Mautic to send emails via your mail server, then you need to choose Other SMTP server as mailer transport.

  • Enter the hostname of your mail server
  • Choose port 587
  • Choose TLS or SSL encryption.
  • Choose Plain as the authentication mode
  • Enter the login credential of an email address on your mail server.

mautic other smtp service

After step 3 is done, you can log into Mautic dashboard.

mautic php7.2

If you see the 500 internal server error, please check Mautic logs, which can be found in /var/www/mautic/app/logs/ directory.

Step 7: Enable HTTP2 to Improve Performance

You can enable HTTP2 protocol to improve page loading performance for Mautic.

Apache

First, you need to enable the HTTP2 module.

sudo a2enmod http2

Then open the SSL virtual host file.

sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/mautic-le-ssl.conf

Put the following directive after the opening <VirtualHost *:443> tag.

Protocols h2 http/1.1

Save and close the file. Then restart Apache for the changes to take effect.

sudo systemctl restart apache2

Nginx

To enable HTTP2 protocol in Nginx virtual host, find the following line.

listen 443 ssl; # managed by Certbot

Simply add http2 after ssl.

listen 443 ssl http2; # managed by Certbot

Save and close the file. Then reload Nginx.

sudo systemctl reload nginx

Step 8: Install the RSS To Email Plugin

For many site owners, the ability to automatically fetch content from RSS feed and send it to subscribers is a must. Mautic doesn’t support this feature natively, but you can install a plugin to implement this feature. Go to the Mautic plugins directory.

cd /var/www/mautic/plugins/

Clone the Mautic RSS to Email plugin from Github.

sudo apt install git
sudo -u www-data git clone https://github.com/ChrisRAoW/mautic-rss-to-email-bundle.git

Rename the folder to MauticRssToEmailBundle.

sudo mv mautic-rss-to-email-bundle MauticRssToEmailBundle

Clear the Mautic cache.

sudo rm /var/www/mautic/app/cache/* -rf

In the Mautic dashboard, click the gear icon on the upper-right corner and select plugins. Click the Install/Upgrade plugins button and the Mautic RSS to Email plugin will show up in the plugin list.

mautic rss to email

Step 9: Add Cron Jobs

Mautic relies on Cron jobs to update mailing list segments, email marketing campaigns, campaign events and process email queues. Edit the www-data user’s crontab file. (You should not add Mautic commands in root user’s crontab file.)

sudo -u www-data crontab -e

And add Mautic Cron jobs like below.

######  Mautic Cron Jobs #######

# update segments every 15 minutes
* * * * * php7.3 /var/www/mautic/bin/console mautic:segments:update  > /dev/null 

# update campaigns every 15 minutes starting with an offset of 5 minutes at the beginning of each hour
5-59/15 * * * * php7.3 /var/www/mautic/bin/console mautic:campaigns:update  > /dev/null 

# execute campaigns events every 15 minutes with an offset of 10 minutes
10-59/15 * * * * php7.3 /var/www/mautic/bin/console mautic:campaigns:trigger  > /dev/null 

# process email queue
2-59/15 * * * * php7.3 /var/www/mautic/bin/console mautic:emails:send  > /dev/null

# import list in the background
* * * * * php7.3 /var/www/mautic/bin/console mautic:import  > /dev/null 

# update MaxMind GeoLite2 IP Database once a week
@weekly php7.3 /var/www/mautic/bin/console mautic:iplookup:download  > /dev/null

Save and close the file. Note that Mautic cron jobs may use a fair amount of CPU and RAM resources. If Mautic and iRedMail are installed on a server with 2GB RAM, you should not deploy additional programs on the server, or you can choose to upgrade the server specs.

Step 10: Download IP Lookup Database

In order to know the subscriber’s geolocation, you need to download MaxMind’s free GeoLite2 IP lookup database.

First, you need to create an account at MaxMind. Maxmind will send you an email. Click the link in the email to set a password, then log in to your MaxMind account. Next, select My License Key on the left bar.

maxmind license key

Click the Generate New License Key button.

maxmind generate new license key

Give your license key a name. Then choose No, because we don’t need to use the geoipupdate program. Then click the Confirm button.

geoipupdate

Once the license key is created, copy the license key. Go to Mautic dashboard, click the cog icon on the upper right corner and select configuration. In the System settings tab, scroll down to Miscellaneous Settings.

  • Select Maxmind GeoLite2 City Download for the IP lookup service
  • Paste your license key into the IP lookup service authentication field.

Next, Click the Fetch IP Lookup Data Store button. Finally, click the Apply button on the upper-right corner.

mautic maxmind geolite 2 city IP lookup

Step 11: Install the Tracking JavaScript

In the tracking settings tab, you can find a code snippet that you can add to your website for tracking visitors. If you use WordPress, then copy this code snippet and paste it in the footer.php file under the WordPress theme folder.

Muatic tracking javascript

Note that you need to go to the System settings tab, and add your website’s address in the CORS settings for the tracking JavaScript to work.

Mautic CORS settings

While you are at it, you should also set the default timezone on this page.

mautic set time zone

Click the Apply button. Note: I found that I need to wait some time for the timezone setting to take effect. You can clear Mautic cache with the following command for the timezone setting to take effect immediately.

sudo rm /var/www/mautic/app/cache/* -rf

Importing Contacts to Mautic

Check out the Mautic contact import page. Please note that when importing a large list (more than one thousand contacts) to Mautic, you should choose import in the background instead of import in the browser. That’s because the default PHP maximal execution time is 30 seconds, but importing a large list can take several minutes, so it will be stopped by the PHP limit if you choose to import in the browser.

Update to Mautic v3

You are advised to back up files and database before upgrading Mautic. To back up the Mautic files, simply run the following command, which will back up the /var/www/mautic/ directory to your home directory.

sudo tar -cpvzf ~/mautic.tar.gz /var/www/mautic/

To back up the Mautic database, run the following command, which will back up the database to your home directory.

sudo mysqldump -u root mautic > ~/mautic.sql

Then go to https://mautic.your-domain.com/upgrade_v3.php. You will see the upgrade wizard.

mautic upgrade to mautic v3

Click Start the upgrade button and wait for it to finish.  upgrading mauticAs you can see, the upgrade is successful.

you are ready to use Mautic 3

Wrapping Up

I hope this tutorial helped you install Mautic on Ubuntu 20.04. You can also check out Mautic getting started guide to learn how to use it. As always, if you found this post useful, then subscribe to our free newsletter to get more tips and tricks. Take care 🙂

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5 Responses to “Install Mautic Self-Hosted Email Marketing Platform on Ubuntu 20.04 Server

  • Hello, great article. As always.
    I was wondering if you could do a post on an open-source membership management product, an alternative to providers like MemberMouse? That’d be dope.

  • Hey – as always love your tutorials. I am getting the following error when trying to install Mautic:

    Mautic does not support PHP version 7.4.3 at this time. To use Mautic, you will need to downgrade to an earlier version.

    I am not sure if maybe i missed a step in the tutorial, but eventually what i did was edit the mautic.conf file and changed php7.4 instances to php7.3 and seemed to get it to work.

  • Hi Xiao,

    I followed your installation process as outlined in this tutorial that you’ve created, but I’m running into a minor issue after installation. I noticed that none of the images are showing in the email templates when trying to use Mautic’s email “Builder” (editor). So, I’ve created a thread on Mautic to see if they could help me resolve the issue. Even though the guy who helped me showed me a workaround, I’d still like to see how to fix this issue directly instead of working around it. Please take a quick look at the thread that I created in the Mautic forums and let me know what you think. I’d greatly appreciate your support. Maybe you will know of a quick solution:

    https://forum.mautic.org/t/html-email-templates-all-show-up-blank-in-editor-builder/16841

    Please take a quick look at the forum the link above and let me know if this is an easy fix or if it can be fixed at all. Maybe you’ve had this same issue? Thanks again my friend.

  • Victor Olvera
    3 seconds ago

    If you can’t send e-mails and get “permission denied” errors in your mail logs, go to Configuration → Email Settings → Mail Send Settings and try changing “Sendmail” for “Other SMTP Server” and put your own server settings (Host, Port:25, SMTP encryption type, SMTP auth mode, Username and Password) in the fields.

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