Postmatic Basic Rebrands as Replyable, Moves Two-Way Email Commenting to SaaS Product

Postmatic is rebranding its WordPress.org Postmatic Basic plugin as Replyable and pushing the two-way email commenting feature into a new SaaS product. After discovering that many users simply want email commenting, without additional post delivery and newsletter features, Postmatic launched Replyable to offer this starting at $3/month.

“Replyable was born out of user feedback,” founder Jason Lemieux said. “Postmatic does more than most sites need and the price is squarely mid-market. From the beginning we’ve heard from users that they already use another newsletter service and just want Postmatic to handle comment subscriptions – but that alone isn’t worth $20 to too many people. With Replyable we can offer it for $3.”

Lemieux and his team have now transitioned Postmatic to be purely a Saas product without a presence in the WordPress.org directory.

“Postmatic will continue to grow as a complete engagement system and, if anything, become even more complex and go further up market,” Lemieux said. “Sites which use Postmatic tend to dive in deeply. It is meant to function as a package. Grow a list, deliver to it, get them talking about your ideas, monetize the results.”

The Replyable plugin on WordPress.org now simply covers comment subscriptions with all other features available in the commercial products.

Ripping an existing feature out of a free plugin and making it paid is fairly unusual and can have a negative impact on how users perceive the plugin. However, Postmatic has a plan to allow legacy users to continue using the features they had before by switching to Postmatic Labs. It’s an inconvenient change but is required for those who don’t want to upgrade to a commercial plan.

Although WordPress.org says Postmatic has approximately 1,000 active installs, Lemieux estimates there are 8,000 users including those using the commercial plugin or the Labs plugin. He would not share any specific revenue figures but said he learned some important pricing lessons in leading the bootstrapped startup for the past two years.

“We aren’t a runaway WordPress success story but we’re alive and loving our jobs,” Lemieux said. “About six months ago it became apparent that we needed to get out of the mid market. We had a huge group of people saying, ‘I just want email commenting and will totally pay you 5 bucks a month for it,’ and another group saying, ‘We pay $6,000 a month sending Mailchimp RSS campaigns but yours are better for only $1500. Why so cheap?’ That’s been a frustrating reality and a big lesson in knowing your audience and pricing appropriately.”

Next on Postmatic’s Roadmap: Epoch 2

In July 2015, Postmatic introduced Epoch as a Disqus alternative, offering 100% realtime commenting for WordPress. The plugin submits comments via AJAX so that they appear instantly without refreshing the page. Lemieux and the team have been working on the second version for nearly a year.

“Epoch 2 is a huge step forward,” Lemieux said. “We built it on top of the REST API and Angular. It’s fast and incredibly light. Commenting isn’t sexy – I don’t think it will ever be, but comments are great for SEO, community, and for building brands and authority. Comments aren’t going away. In fact, they are vitally important to keeping the web as a place for discourse, conversation, and the sharing of ideas. We need to continue to make them a better experience. Epoch isn’t groundbreaking in its functionality but it does the job of making sure sites of any size can still run native WordPress comments.”

Postmatic continues to innovate with native comments, an aspect of WordPress that doesn’t have as many commercial players as something like forms or e-commerce. Lemieux attributes this underserved area to the poor reputation of previous non-native solutions.

“I think it is because of the rise and fall of third party commenting system,” Lemieux said. “Early in WordPress history services like Disqus and Livefyre grabbed huge parts of the comment traffic on WordPress sites by offering more features, better speed, and improved moderation tools (with the hidden cost of selling your users down the river). It was certainly a siren song. But most all of them stagnated, violated user trust, or just plain didn’t work well. And commenting got a bad name. Naturally came the trend in disabling comments and, well, now here we are and people are trying to have conversations 140 characters at a time.”

Lemieux said the innovation he sees happening outside WordPress makes him believe that comments can overcome their past reputation.

“Things are getting better – and hopefully more folks will begin to innovate,” Lemieux said. “Lucky for us other blogging and publishing platforms are innovating and coming up with interesting ideas all the time. Some of them, like inline commenting from Medium, do make their way back over to WordPress. That makes me optimistic.”

45 Comments


  1. Nice product and good positioning to encourage Postmatic subscriptions. I wonder if Replyable is built on WP?

    Report


    1. Hey Elliot,

      The plugin itself is built on wp in the sense that it works with the native WordPress comment system. It’s no different in essence than Subscribe to Comments.

      The SaaS functionality is the ability for users to reply to a comment notification via email, and have that email return to your site as a child comment, as well as outbound email delivery (we take wp_mail out of the loop), relevance analysis, and compiling daily comment digests, and of course, email inlining.

      Report


      1. I guess what Elliot is asking is if you guys built the replyable saas app using WordPress or is it with another cms of framework?

        Report


      2. Ah, sure. The saas app itself is built in Rails. It is essentially just a really big mail router.

        When we built it out a few years ago (for Postmatic) we attempted to do so using Laravel but the tools weren’t mature enough quite yet and we got our butts kicked!

        Report


      3. Yep, that’s what I meant. Interesting learnings Jason – would love to see a blog post about that. Sometimes the ‘working out’ is as interesting as the final product. Great work.

        Report


    2. Also, Jason any ideas how I edit my name on these comments? My PW manager decided to input my email in the wrong field! Worried I’ll get spammed now :/

      Report


      1. Hey Elliot,

        These are all just native comments – so the site admin would have to change it for you. Try hitting up Jeff or Sarah. This makes me want to build @mentions into Replyable. :P

        Report


      2. Cheers Jeff – there is one more comment above with my email. Are you able to edit that too? Cheers

        Report


  2. The plugin mentioned at the bottom of the post (Inline Commenting) is worth checking out. It is definitely one of the most interesting commenting plugins to be released in the last few years. It needs a little love but is a fantastic start and I suspect the author, Kevin Weber, might be interested in having someone lend a hand.

    Report


    1. Inline Commenting is awesome. I’ve used it in the past when I was messing about with hybrid commenting (G+ Comments as main comment area, Inline for anyone wishing to use WP Comments along the lines of Medium).

      Kevin stepped away from development as he had other things to focus on. Not sure if he’s away permanently now, but it’d be great to see Inline given a reboot. :)

      Report


      1. And it’s getting emails like this that make me so proud of my team and this product. That’s one heck of a nice comment notification ;)

        Kevin updated Inline Commenting just over 4 months ago.. so I think he’s at least keeping it alive. Maybe we’ll be able to jump in there with him later this year.

        Report


      2. Haha, sure as heck beats the standard WP notification, or the old STCR plugin I used to use. :)

        Would love to see Inline taken to the next level, especially if it was feasible to highlight a piece of copy in the email of a post, and then the comment that’s submitted from there becomes an Inline one on the web version of that post…

        Report


  3. As an early user of Postmatic (and now Postmatic Labs), it’s encouraging to see them address user concerns like this, to give a product better-suited to different budgets and goals.

    I really can’t envision using another commenting system now, that’s how ingrained they’ve become to my content experience. Hopefully this rebrand for Postmatic Basic will see the team continue to build and innovate.

    And can’t wait for Epoch 2 – Giphy support, please!! ;-)

    Report


  4. Been using Postmatic without any complaints whatsoever. Jason is good people, I can vouch for him, his work with Josh on Epoch is amazing. I am using Epoch on several sites.

    I think the new brand name, makes a lot more sense! Good luck with sales!

    That said, looking forward to Epoch 2, do make sure that there is a way for us to style the comments. Epoch loads them via iframe which makes impossible to style them without having to update the source files — which as you know will be gone once I update to E2.

    Looking forward!

    Report


    1. You’re using it :)

      No, Epoch didn’t die. It’s stable and happy but we haven’t pushed out an updates for a while because any dev time we do have for it goes to working on 2.0.

      ….Which we could totally use a hand with :)

      Report


    2. Thought Epoch died

      I thought the same too. Submitted a pull request to GitHub repo a few months ago and then found that the last commit was on Dec 2015. Glad that Epoch 2.0 is coming :)

      Report


      1. Yea, sorry Joel. Now that Replyable is out the door I’ll take a look at that PR. It would make sense to push out a small update asap. There are a few others as well. I’ll get on it!

        Thanks a ton for your contribution.

        Report


  5. Curious if someone uses Replyable if there is any upgrade path to Postmatic later on, or does Replyable become the end-of-the-road?

    Report


    1. Switching between Postmatic and Replyable is seamless. We haven’t gotten the documentation on that done yet but we built them to be interchangeable. If you outgrow Replyable and want to upgrade to Postmatic you just switch plugins and adjust your account. It goes the other way as well (going from Postmatic to Replyable).

      Report


      1. Switching between Postmatic and Replyable is seamless.

        Switching is less the question; loosing features when upgrading is more of the question.

        I have yet to have the opportunity to use Postmatic for a client although I have wanted to because I prefer it’s user experience over solutions like Discuss. So understand I don’t know what I don’t know about Postmatic and Replyable.

        That said, I would hope that moving from Replyable to Postmatic or from Epoch to Replyable would not cause the loss of some features. But the way the article is written it sounds like Postmatic is going off in a different direction and might not have all the features of Replyable. If so it would make it a harder decision to start paying you more money knowing potential Replyable features we liked would be going away.

        So that is what I was asking about.

        I would hope that is

        Report


      2. Thanks for asking that, Mike. I think it would help this thread, and a few others in this conversation, for folks to have a clearer understanding of our different products.

        We make 6 different native commenting plugins, all of which can be mixed and matched to make the setup that works for your site. Four of them are free. One is freemium (Replyable) and one is fully commercial (Postmatic). All are GPL. You can read about them all on our site.

        Then to complicate things a little further, we do everything we can to make sure our plugins are compatible with other native-comment based plugins for even more flexibility. That’s where things like Simple Comment Editing and Basic Comment Quicktags come in. Neither are made by us but we all use the native WordPress comment system as a central backbone.

        Now on to your question.

        The two plugins which users may upgrade/downgrade/switch between would be Replyable and Postmatic. There are features in Postmatic which are not found in Replyable. However, there are not any features in Replyable which are not in Postmatic. Replyable is just the most-used feature of Postmatic (email comment subscriptions) abstracted out into a standalone plugin. You can read more about our decision to do so on our blog.

        Based solely on price point we’re going to guess that users first become familiar with our technology through using Replyable. If they then think they want to leverage the fuller engagement package which is Postmatic, they can upgrade to it easily. Or, if Postmatic users want to downgrade to Replyable that is possible as well. The big question our users have is this: If I switch between Postmatic and Replyable, what happens to existing comment subscriptions? What if someone sends a reply email to a comment that was sent from Postmatic, but now I use Replyable? The answer is that the emails will continue to be routed just fine. Switching is seamless.

        I’m happy to answer any other questions you might have.. but if you want to follow up with me directly you can do so via our site.

        Thanks!

        Report


      3. Thanks Jason. This is the “money” quote:

        However, there are not any features in Replyable which are not in Postmatic.

        That was what I was trying to figure out because the article seemed to me to imply otherwise. So, good to go.

        Report


  6. Also wondering if there is an optional timed comment editing capability currently available, or planned. I’d say 90% of the time I submit a comment I either immediately see a typo or realized I wanted to add or change something…

    Report


    1. I’m going to guess you are talking about Epoch here. Epoch does play well with Simple Comment Editing. I’m not sure why Jeff and Sarah aren’t running SCE here on Tavern. They used to but maybe something came up.

      Report


      1. I double checked and Simple Comment Editing is enabled, it’s been enabled for a long time. I was wondering where the timer went to for editing comments. Hmmmm

        Report


      2. Hey Jeff – The fabulous Ronalfy has just pushed an update which fixed the Epoch incompatibility. Give it a try.

        Report


      3. Ok, Installed the newest version of Simple Comment Editing, let’s see if it works.

        Report


      4. It’s not so much I am talking about Epoch is that I am a prospective customer saying “I am looking at paying you a monthly fee for your service, and this is a feature I would want to have.”

        Report


      5. I’m sorry, Mike. We don’t have a paid front-end commenting solution. We only have Epoch. It’s free. And since it uses your native WordPress comments it plays nicely with other commenting plugins (like Simple Comment Editing).

        Our paid plugin is Replyable. It handles comment two-way comment notifications via email and nothing more.

        Report


      6. So, to be clear if I use Replyable I can’t use Epoch. And if I use Epoch, I can’t use Replyable?

        (That was half of the question. The other half…);

        If I upgrade from Replyable at some point to Postmatic, will I loose any features?

        Report


  7. Thanks, Awesome, Postmatic was once used on my blogs and rebranding it would definitely make it further improved.

    Report


  8. Seriously guys why the love for this product. This bait and switch is a reason I’ll never use a saas comment plugin and am building a plugin to handle all this functionality internally.

    Report


    1. Hey Pete – I’m not sure why you would call Replyable bait and switch? On its own it is a powerful Subscribe to Comments plugin that raises the bar in that niche considerably. For free, without advertising, and built entirely on native comments.

      If users are looking for services that require remote services (outbound mail delivery, inbound processing of replies, comment relevance processing, and user-based throttling) they can upgrade for a few bucks a month. They don’t have to, though. Use the free version! It’s great.

      If you are looking for a non-saas comment subscription plugin that does process replies try checking out CommentMail. It does require a Mandrill account but if you keep your usage low you can get away without paying a dime.

      Report


    2. Pete, I’ve never understood it either. And that’s without the bait and switch.

      The Tavern serves as a sort of flagship site for the plugin, yet its performance here is so woeful that I’d never consider using it. Half the time the comments don’t load at all, and when they do, it’s ridiculously slow. (And yes, I’ve tried multiple devices from multiple connections, some wired, some wifi, some just plain cellphone).

      Evidently some other users have different expectations from mine, but perhaps not that many do. With all the coverage the plugin has had here on the Tavern, you’d have thought it must be really doing well. But it actually hasn’t got that many users. I can’t say I’m surprised.

      Report


      1. Hey Tim,

        I think you are confusing Epoch with Replyable. Epoch is a front-end ajax-based commenting plugin we make with a number of contributors that is totally free, gpl, and has no paid versions or addons. It exists to solve some of the front-end issues with running native commenting and was developed for larger sites (such as this one) that want to run native comments but run into impossible performance issues.

        Epoch isn’t perfect, nor complete (as Sarah mentioned in the post, we’re working on version 2), but for many sites it works better than the alternatives, such as here on Tavern where it reduced the time to submit a comment from 21 seconds down to a 250ms.

        I hear you about loading posts here that have more than a hundred or so comments. Epoch uses handlebars to render the comments on the client-side, and depending on your device it can lag. We’re addressing that in version 2.

        The only other native-commenting solutions available for high traffic sites are Jetpack (see 21 seconds, above) and WpDiscuz which is quite nice for many sites and in most cases outperforms Epoch – but it comes with tons of features and a heavy-handed design that doesn’t work for everyone.

        Do you know of others solutions that retain content ownership and privacy, yet perform better than Epoch?

        Replyable is the comment notification plugin we make which is freemium. That’s what this article is about.

        When you say the Tavern serves as a flagship for our plugins, that is true. We’re proud of that. They use 4 of our commenting plugins here. All of them are free and gpl. Only one has a paid plan, and it is optional. I don’t see any bait and switch there. If you do, please point it out.

        Report


      2. I hear you about loading posts here that have more than a hundred or so comments.

        I do wish people commenting on here would stop making up quotes.

        I never said anything about the length of comment streams. My point about comments here either never loading or doing so only after a lengthy wait applies when there’s just one or two comments, or five or six. It’s just an awful experience.

        I don’t really care how fast you think comments can be submitted. If they take so long to read that most people won’t be bothered, the whole thing is moot anyway.

        In my view, and for all its inherent faults, native commenting provided a far better experience.

        Report


      3. In which case, the post here on WP Tavern is relevant, as it’s on about Replyable, the product, that works with native commenting as well as other third-party options.

        So talking about speed and performance when Replyable is being used in conjunction with native comments also becomes a moot point.

        Report


  9. I personally love where Jason is taking WordPress commenting. A comment can turn a post into a resource.

    Seeing some behind-the-scenes, there is a lot of work here, and a lot of it is to benefit the WordPress community.

    Report


  10. We have been running Jason’s plugins on our site and loving what it has done for engagement. Excited to see what comes next, we’ll be on board.

    Report

Comments are closed.