Postmatic Launches 100% Email-Based Commenting for WordPress

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Postmatic publicly launched its email-based commenting service today and is now officially out of beta. The free plugin aims to increase comment engagement by allowing readers to subscribe to new posts/comments via email and leave comments by simply hitting reply.

Postmatic also launched a commercial service alongside version 1.0. For $9/month customers can add additional features, including guaranteed mail delivery for thousands of subscribers, fully responsive HTML email for posts and comments, support for oEmbed and shortcodes, and the ability to moderate comments from your inbox.

The Challenges of Sending Bulk Email

Since Postmatic is critically dependent on email delivery, founder Jason Lemieux and his team didn’t want to hassle with attempting to send it themselves.

“Sending bulk email is really difficult to do correctly so we’ve partnered with folks that have already solved it,” he said. “All posts, comments, and otherwise are sent through a combination of both Mailgun (by Rackspace) and Mandrill (by Mailchimp).

“This takes all of the uncertainty out of the equation and makes sending WordPress content to lists of tens of thousands of subscribers as easy as pie. Users don’t need to sign up for accounts with these services, change their dns or anything – we handle it all for them.”

Lemieux reports that Postmatic had 1,200 sites in its beta program, ~500 of which they considered highly active. The individual installations were the easy part of the beta. Supporting the subscribers, which are more numerous, was the greatest challenge the team encountered.

direct-reply“During beta we delivered posts and comments to roughly 46,000 unique subscribers and processed nearly 15,000 incoming comments,” he said. “These numbers are pretty small so we’ve built a system that scales and are ready to open the doors to everyone.”

Notifications sent from Postmatic are two-way transactions designed to invite further discussion in comments, so the team has to be able to adequately support the myriad of email clients that people are using.

“Email is complicated and as old as it is, it still seems like the wild west in a lot of ways,” Lemieux said. “We have to make sure that the post being delivered to an old-timer using Pine on his home-built Linux box communicates ideas just as well as the same post when seen in Gmail or on an Apple watch. Then we have to accept comment replies from all of these sources as well, which it turns out you can do. With a watch. Leave a comment. Go figure.”

The Future of Postmatic

Postmatic is a micro-startup that is mostly self-funded. Approximately 10 months before starting, the team knew that they wanted to be ready to quit their jobs when the time came.

“We were fortunate to be able to squirrel away much of the funding we needed while also building it in tandem with our usual client work,” Lemieux said. “When we entered beta last fall and saw the reaction people were having to commenting by email we chose to stop taking on new client work, bring in a small amount of private funding, and go at it full time.”

Postmatic’s tiny four-person team is what made this possible. Two members are full-time and the other two are currently part-time.

As part of their quest to seamlessly join email and commenting, the team deemed it important to launch with importers for Jetpack, Mailpoet, and Mailchimp. This makes the transition easier for site administrators who are already hooked into more traditional comment subscription services. Postmatic also has a few more high priority items on the roadmap.

“The first is to support sites with high publishing frequency by enabling digests,” Lemieux said. “We have some fantastic ideas about how to do this in the new world of email commenting that will be of huge benefit to publishers and readers both.

“As we move into the world of professional publishing we’ll also need a diversity of templates. Rolling in a template library or template builder is the plan there. Both of those things are next on our list.”

The team behind Postmatic is investing heavily in 100% email commenting because they believe that innovation in WordPress comments is long overdue.

“Every comment system needs email to some degree,” Lemieux said. “Livefyre, Disqus, Jetpack – all send an email notification (if subscribed) that a new comment has been posted. But you still have to jump over to a blog to reply and post a comment. It’s not always possible to do so, nor is it easy on mobile – which has become so important.

“Postmatic takes that out of the equation – notification leads to reply, leads to blog comment, in one seamless action. Why wouldn’t you want email commenting to work like that?”

Email commenting and post notifications are available in the free plugin, but these features are just the beginning of how Postmatic is aiming to revolutionize WordPress commenting.

“The debate about the usefulness of comments in WordPress rages on while email marketing and automation has become a very hot area,” Lemieux said. “But really the WordPress comments system is an email automation platform just waiting to happen.”

If you’re curious about what it’s like to participate in comments without ever leaving your inbox, Postmatic has a live demo available where you can try it out.

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28 Comments


    1. Cheers, Keith – one of the longer posts I’ve written recently, but happy to support Postmatic with a post that does it justice. :)

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  1. Hmmm, I don’t know….It’s already hard for me to keep up with my current emails.

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    1. Hi Jeffrey, that’s one of the concerns my readers had (and me, to a degree) when I first got involved with the beta early on.

      I do think Postmatic have created a great workaround to this, with their notification throttling on busy conversations. Also, as a commenter, do you already subscribe to notifications on posts you’ve left comments on? If so, this is no different – with (for me) the added bonus that I can reply at my own pace, regardless of where I am (on the phone on a train to that backwaters of Canada, for example).

      Just my tuppence worth from my own experiences with that concern (and the feedback from my readers/commenters once the throttling solution came into play). :)

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    1. Good luck with this one @Jason – Danny B has obviously fallen in love with it.

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    2. @Jason Lemieux I seen the information about this in the dashboard of a WP site I manage. I own and or manage several business websites. Some of my clients have been looking for a way to stay connected with the people they do business with. I would like to do that as well with my own business. I currently have a comment blocker plug-in called “Disable Comments” installed on many of my WP-based websites. I do this because of the amount of spam comments. If I were to get this for myself or my clients paid to have this service, how does it block all the spam comments? Apologies, I am still learning as I go about all that a WP site can do, even though I ahve been doing them for the past 18 months. Still learning. Thanks for any answers ahead of time.

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      1. I use a mix of Anti-Spam and Topsy Trackback Checker, which confirms the commenter is who they say they are and their email address matches the IP it’s attached to. This pretty much eliminates 99.9% of spam.

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  2. I’ve been using postmatic on my site and it’s great. Jason and the team are incredibly responsive and handled my support questions quickly. What you can do with it in terms of branding the whole user experience of your commenting is really cool. I’m sure there are more great features coming too.

    When I started to jump into it more I realized how little time I was actually giving to the comment experience on my site. This actually forced me to take a step back from default WordPress and think about how the conversation with readers happens on my site. It’s been a good process.

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    1. “When I started to jump into it more I realized how little time I was actually giving to the comment experience on my site.”

      Couldn’t agree more, mate. I found the same – even though I like to think I’ve tried to look after my commenters over the years by installing systems I thought they’d like, the way people interact with email is very different. And that’s led to my content being shaped better too – can’t argue with that!

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  3. Great overview/interview, Sarah, and great to see Postmatic getting the attention the team behind it deserves.

    I installed one of the early builds back in February, and I’ve completely fallen in love with it (as Keith Davis kindly points out above!) ;-)

    It takes a little change in thinking to leaving a comment and replying to that comment directly from email – but once you do think differently, it makes so much sense. And they really do offer top-notch support, and are open to ideas to make the experience even better.

    As a blogger, that’s all I ask for. Looking forward to seeing what’s next in the roadmap.

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  4. I’m a big fan of the plugin — I’ve been using it since November of last year and it’s been great for keeping up with comments on my blog.

    Granted, we all have our different workflows, but I tend to run everything out of my inbox and having the comments directly there with the ability to respond (without having to, say, hop into a browser) makes it *that* much easier to keep the discussion going.

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  5. Great writeup. And yes, I just recently was introduced to it and was very impressed. In fact, will be adding it to my own site soon to give it a test. What I’m looking forward to is being able to share this with beginners and users as an option for their own comments. And from my initial experience with it, well, I think this will be perfect for a lot of them. Can’t wait to see what the future holds.

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  6. I’ve been using this service for a while. It works well. It’s not perfect IMO, but I don’t know of any other services which are as good as it.

    The main thing that I dislike, is that it is obvious that I am using Postmatic to anyone commenting on my site. The emails you receive from it are in a very particular style. I’d like just an extremely crude/simple text email with no advertising or branding in it. KISS (keep it simple stupid).

    I’d also like it to be self-hosted to avoid privacy issues.

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    1. Thanks, Ryan. How is the obviousness any different than Jetpack, Subscribe2, or any of the other comment-notification plugins?

      We do sent in multipart and there is a secret text-only version hiding in there. Given the choice would you send that instead of the html versions? We’re considering enabling the option.

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  7. Very instersting how the way we interact change every day a little bit. I found this a great change cause i follow a lot of comments over many sites and this way it´s faster to reply.

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  8. This is a great service. I was lucky enough to be part of the beta and while I wasn’t one of those heavy users, I found it a superb service. The emails it sends look fantastic and the automated posting of comments via email really just works like magic.

    It really is a magnificent service and one I really cannot say enough good things about. Highly recommended!

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  9. Why would I want people to be able to comment without even coming to my website? Isn’t the idea to get more people to come to your website?

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    1. You can still do by hosting sharing an excerpt of the post and driving traffic back to your site.

      Granted, the commenting that goes back and forth will be happening via email, but the unique page views wouldn’t matter anyway because they’d be, you know, non-unique :).

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    2. It depends what your goals are. If you are making a living off of ads then you may feel short-term hit in page views. But if you are blogging for the sake of standing out in your field, be an authority on something, or for the sake of having conversations and sharing ideas… well then the more comments the better. And we do that in spades.

      Notice above I said short-term hit in page views: we’ve seen that in our beta testers. Sure you might miss a few returning users if you are giving them the convenience of continuing the conversation wherever they are… but the increases in your community and readership will make up for it over time.

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    3. Hi Rick,

      That’s a great question, and one I’ve discussed with my readers, commenters and subscribers when talking about Postmatic. For me, you don’t need to discourage people coming to your site (as Tom mentions, there’s an excerpt feature that still drives subscribers over to the full post – it’s only comments after this that would be handled by email).

      But I’ve discovered something interesting in the three months I’ve been using PM.

      1. My traffic hasn’t actually been impacted, because the content is still being found via search, social shares, direct referral, etc. Commenting is a small part of driving traffic – it’s more about answering questions about your product or service, and that’s where the new traffic comes from. So it doesn’t really matter where the comment is hosted – it’s the answer(s) given through comments that brings in the traffic that matters.

      2. Because of the options to include widgets with your email template, you can use up to three different CTAs on every single email that goes out. Not just your standard post email; not just your standard newsletter email – but every single one that goes out as a new comment or comment reply. AB testing with this has shown I’ve had commenters visit my site because I’ve targeted the CTA to the content being discussed. Because it’s widget based, you could essentially change the CTA on the fly, to attract extra page views, visitors, eyeballs, etc. And because it;s going out with comments, it’s a far more effective option that hoping one single post email with a CTA widget will be seen, especially if you have 50-60 unique commenters.

      These are just my own personal experiences. The CTA part can take a little work, especially if you want to target based on specific posts (maybe that’s something that Jason and his team can take up for a future update, category-based templates) – but then doesn’t the most effective and profitable marketing take work anyway?

      Hope that offers a little insight into why traffic hit and concerns doesn’t necessarily need to be there. :)

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      1. Hey Danny,

        Right – the footer does support 3 native widgets. And since they are native you can do some pretty interesting things with them.

        As far as your CTAs go: install a conditional widget plugin and then do different CTAs depending on the post category, time, or whatever. There’s a good list of them here: http://torquemag.io/6-conditional-widgets/

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      2. Very cool, hadn’t heard of that option – cheers, Jason, will check the link out!

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  10. Postmatic is a micro-startup that is mostly self-funded. Approximately 10 months before starting, the team knew that they wanted to be ready to quit their jobs when the time came. THAT WAS 5 MONTHS AGO ISN´T?

    By the way… I think Rick has a good point to discuss!

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