MailPoet: How to Run Your Email Marketing Campaign Within WordPress (a Review)

Posted on May 17, 2015 by in Resources | 36 comments

MailPoet: How to Run Your Email Marketing Campaign Within WordPress (a Review)

MailPoet Newsletters isn’t your typical newsletter plugin.

Unlike MailChimp or AWeber, MailPoet enables you to create newsletters and manage lists from within the WordPress dashboard. It’s a truly native WordPress solution for managing your website’s email marketing campaign.

MailPoet has a number of great features and offers a premium version with extended capabilities. It’s no wonder it’s one of the (if not the) most popular WordPress email marketing plugins.

In today’s plugin review, we’ll start by taking a look at MailPoet’s features, then explore the benefits and drawbacks that arise with WordPress-native email marketing platforms.

About MailPoet

MailPoet is a native email marketing solution for WordPress that enables users to create newsletters, automated emails, new post notifications, and autoresponders. The plugin also comes with a widget that can be placed on your site to capture new subscribers.

MailPoet says it aims to make email marketing “fun, not frustrating”. It was born from a desire to send great-looking emails without you having to leave WordPress and immerse yourself in an alien interface. To date, the plugin has racked up some 3.6 million downloads and boasts 200,000 active installs.

MailPoet Newsletters originally launched in 2012 as the Wysija Newsletters plugin, an acronym for What You Send Is Just Awesome. As the MailPoet plugin has risen to the top of the WordPress newsletter plugins, the MailPoet company has grown to a distributed team of 13 team members spread across nine countries. The MailPoet website boasts that the team speaks a total of seven languages – a fact that may have helped MailPoet add language support for nearly 30 languages so far.

Key Features

MailPoet is first and foremost a newsletter and automated email marketing plugin, so it makes sense that those are its key features. We’ll cover the functionality of each now.

Newsletters

Getting started with MailPoet’s newsletter builder is a piece of cake.

The plugin comes with a sample newsletter saved as a draft. It’s called “5 Minute User Guide”, and that’s exactly what it is.

Even if I hadn’t used other drag-and-drop newsletter builders or watched a six-minute getting started video that is embedded into the activated plugin’s welcome screen, I doubt I would’ve had any trouble getting started with building my first newsletter.

Newsletters

Working with newsletters in MailPoet is fairly self-explanatory. When you edit a draft or create a new standard newsletter, you’re prompted to create a subject line and choose a list.

Next, you build your newsletter in the drag-and-drop editor. As you move your cursor across the editor screen, you’ll notice that nearly everything is clickable or draggable. A box of content widgets off to the right lets you add titles, plain text, WordPress posts, dividers and social bookmarks. You can add to an image repository in another tab for easy access to logos or other frequently used images.

Styling options include colors and fonts for all elements. Font options are somewhat limited, owing to the fickle nature of email programs. Themes, however, are not. There are several dozen free themes, which include not only layouts, but also PSD files. Premium users can choose from an extended collection of themes, also with PSD files included.

MailPoet themes

Finally, you have one last opportunity to review your sending details, set up Google Analytics to track your campaign (for premium users), then schedule or send your email. One thing missing here seems to be the ability to edit the email’s preview text snippet. This has become a great place to get creative and grab the attention of subscribers with your marketing.

Post Notifications

MailPoet’s Post Notifications feature might be familiar to you by a different name, such as “email alerts” or “RSS-to-email”. Regardless of what you call it, this feature lets you automate newsletters to go out when you publish new WordPress posts. You can set up regular posts to go out every time new content goes up, or alternatively on daily, weekly, or monthly schedules.

The MailPoet team have done a good job with this feature, enabling what content goes out and what it looks like very customizable, yet very easy to set up. I’ll let Kim from MailPoet tell you more about how that works in this two-minute clip below.

<iframe src=”https://player.vimeo.com/video/46247528″ width=”615″ height=”348″ frameborder=”0″ webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>

Autoresponders

MailPoet also lets you set up two other types of automated emails besides post notifications. Automatic emails can be triggered when:

  1. a visitor subscribes to your list, or
  2. when you add a new WordPress user.

Autoresponders

The email can be sent immediately or held back any number of hours, days, or weeks. For WordPress users, automatic emails can be triggered for specific roles.

Subscribers

MailPoet’s List and Subscribers dashboard has all the basics you need to manage an email list, as well as a few perks I wasn’t expecting.

Individual subscribers and whole email lists can be added as promised by MailPoet in only two steps. You can then sort or move subscribers into separate lists. I was surprised by MailPoet’s import and export options, which let you work with your list in either a CSV or Excel file format.

Export subscribers

Still, I have to admit, I’m not keen on managing email lists inside of WordPress. After all, they constitute such a valuable asset for blogs and businesses, I worry about the potential loss of the list from a server issue, or worse yet, having the data stolen in a site hack.

Enterprise solutions such as MailChimp and AWeber aren’t immune to hacking, of course. Still, I’m betting they have far better safeguards and redundancies than the average WordPress install. And of course, whether or not you have an email list filed away on your WordPress site, you should absolutely make regular backups and store them offsite.

Statistics

For the free version of MailPoet, analytics are a bit thin, but still actionable.

Free users will be able to see stats for opens, clicks, and unsubscribes on a per-newsletter basis. These metrics show up under the Newsletters tab.

Premium users are rewarded with a much deeper dive into email marketing data. This lovely (and long!) screenshot from the MailPoet team gives you a good idea of what you can expect in the stats dashboard once you’ve got some data to crunch. You’ll also get to see stats for each subscriber and newsletter. Premium users can also tap into the power of Google Analytics, tracking campaigns through their Google Analytics dashboard.

Other Notable Features

Beyond the key features mentioned above, MailPoet offers a number of additional perks for getting the most from your email marketing efforts.

  • Sign-Up Widget: The plugin’s sign-up widget can be configured and ready to go in only two clicks.
  • Single or Double Opt-In: You have the option to add subscribers to your list immediately, or require an email confirmation (which may be required for certain countries).
  • Display Optimization: MailPoet has made a point to display your email uniformly for users, no matter what email service or device is used to read your newsletter.
  • Sending Options: Your emails can be sent through your web host, Gmail, or any SMTP, such as SendGrid, Amazon SES, and Mandril.
  • List Segmenting: You can segment your mailing list according to opened, unopened, or clicked variables.
  • Up to 2,000 Subscribers: The free plugin allows you to add up to 2,000 subscribers to receive your newsletters.
  • Support: This plugin features rather extensive documentation. The MailPoet knowledge base has over 80 in-depth articles.

The premium version extends the features of the plugin quite a bit:

  • More than 2,000 Subscribers: The premium plugin removes the subscriber cut-off, allowing you to send to more subscribers.
  • In-Depth Stats: You get a detailed stats dashboard for newsletters and subscribers and the ability to see stats for individual subscribers.
  • Automated List Cleaning: The premium version adds automatic bounce handling.
  • Spam Score Test: You can test the likelihood of each of your newsletter drafts to end up in a subscriber’s spam folder with this test. You’ll get feedback on how to improve your score, too.
  • Improved Deliverability: The premium plugin lets you validate your emails with a DKIM signature, improving the odds your mail gets to the intended recipient.
  • Priority Support: MailPoet offers its premium license-holders priority support.

Other Considerations

While I’m finding MailPoet to be a solidly built, easy-to-use, and versatile newsletter plugin, I do have a few sticking points that keeps me from absolutely loving it.

Advanced Email Marketing Options

There are a couple of advanced options missing from MailPost and I’m not sure why.

To clarify, when I say “advanced”, I don’t mean complicated. These are simple toggle options found in other email marketing apps that can give a huge boost to your message open rates and click-through rates.

Firstly, I mentioned above the inability to edit the preview text snippet. For MailPoet, that text reads:

MailPoet snippet preview

You’ve seen this message or a variation of it so many times, you don’t even think about it anymore – until someone changes that message into an attention-grabbing hook that gets you to open the message. It can be a very effective trick.

Additionally, there doesn’t seem to be a way to conduct A/B or split testing in MailPoet. That sort of makes sense, given that the plugin is focused more on automating your marketing. Split testing usually has to be set up by the email creator, scheduling different delivery times for the same message or trying different email subjects. Automation can play a role though; some programs will send both versions to a sampling of the list, then send the better-performing email to rest of the list.

Data Storage

Another concern I have with MailPoet is something I already mentioned above: storing your list on your own server within your WordPress install.

This situation makes me worry – the same worry I’d have storing my most valuable papers or possessions on the kitchen table rather than locked away in a safe. It’s probably fine, unless something unfortunate happens.

A robust backups solution should provide peace of mind, but personally, I feel very comfortable in the knowledge that the likes of AWeber and MailChimp live and die by the reliability and security of their service. MailPoet doesn’t (yet) offer me the same reassurance.

Security

Speaking of unfortunate situations, a review of MailPoet wouldn’t be complete without mentioning a serious security flaw discovered last year, which eventually led to thousands of websites being hacked. I don’t hold this against MailPoet, as there are plenty of other major plugins which have experienced similar issues, and because I think MailPoet acted promptly to patch the vulnerability.

There was some disagreement between Sucuri – the firm that discovered the flaw – and MailPoet over how to tell users about the problem, but here too, I think MailPoet has learned good lessons. In a New Years blog post, MailPoet wrote about the experience and the efforts they’ve made to improve their product and processes.

The Sending Issue

Perhaps my biggest concern relates to sending emails with all-in-one plugins like MailPoet.

You’ll generally need a sending service to handle your newsletters. Two basic options are to use:

  1. your domain host, which will subject you to daily send limits, or
  2. a Gmail account, which isn’t really designed for bulk mailing.

Alternatively, MailPoet has built a nice integration with SendGrid, a free SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) service, which doesn’t even require installing another plugin. Other subscription sending services will also work.

However, there appears to be some exciting news on this topic. MailPoet wrote in a blog post last fall that they are in the process of building the capability to send users’ email beginning this year. The difficulties of sending email wasn’t lost on MailPoet, which admitted 30 percent of their support questions were on this topic. I for one am excited to see how this development will improve the existing plugin.

Pricing Info

Price is a strong feature for MailPoet, placing it a bracket way under the likes of AWeber and MailChimp.

The free version gives users a good idea of the functionality and performance of the plugin. The extensive documentation also gives users plenty of info and screenshots to know what added features they can make use of after purchasing a license.

Besides the free version, MailPoet has three pricing options:

  • Blogger License: $99 per year for one license.
  • Freelance License: $249 per year for four licenses.
  • Agency License: $399 per year for unlimited licenses.

Walking through the checkout process was also surprisingly easy. The premium version installs a second plugin to add the premium functionality to MailPoet. It’s very quick to get going using the premium version.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a flexible, automated and easy-to-use solution, MailPoet is a strong contender for handling your email marketing. It has great customization options; even within the free plugin.

I would recommend this plugin to beginners who are looking for an easy-to-use solution and for WordPress users who really want something that automates in a flash. I’d be hesitant to recommend MailPoet for users with very large subscriber lists, because of the complexities of sending, message delivery, and list storage. However, with the company’s new sending service, that might become a non-issue wiin a few months.

I also am looking forward to MailPoet 3, due for release sometime this year. The MailPoet blog notes that they are building the new version from the ground up, and I look forward to seeing what they come up with next.

What do you think about MailPoet, and WordPress email marketing plugins in general? Share with us in the comments section below!

36 Comments

    • @hitch, I couldn’t agree more! I read every post from ET, but the ones I enjoy the most are the ones you speak of. I am no genius when it comes to css and styling of themes, but I so enjoy learning by reading the great posts here at ET. Thanks for bringing up a great point. (no offense guys, but “hitch” is right…I, personally, have heard enough about “email campaigns” and would like to hear more about tips, tricks, and other things us “amateurs” might not know about!). But, as always, thank you for all the great stuff you guys give us. It is “invaluable”! This is the best and most valuable blog that I have ever encountered. I look forward to each and every post. That is much more than I can say for ANY other blog out there…and there are several that I read regularly, and without question…you ARE the best! 🙂

      • Yes i agree, the article should be much more about designing, html and css. I know that there are a lot of articles about html and has out there, but if you can write css tips and tricks that can be applied to any elegant themes, more especially for divi theme.

  1. I’ve installed MailPoet on a few websites for friends who are new to email marketing and wanted to integrate it with Bloom – quickly and easily. The two work together well. The only problem I’ve ever seen anyone have is when the forget to create a list first – then attach it to Bloom in the settings.

    As for SMTP services, I’ve been using Mandrill App for about six months and really like the service.

    The only issue I have with all of these plugins is – the final product as it appears from one inbox to the next can be inconsistent. For example, in Yahoo, the text spacing in the newsletter often gets “crunched” with spaces between paragraphs disappearing. In Gmail, you get a different look. At the end of the day, the more graphic or colorful the mailing, the more things get lost in translation. Sometimes simple text (even if you’re sending an html message) is the way to go.

    • How do you attach it to bloom. I already have a list but Bloom asks me for an account with Mailpoet. Any ideas?

  2. The article skims over what may be the best selling point of Mailpoet — it allows you to easily and completely integrate and synchronize the content of your WordPress blog posts with the content of your newsletter, whether you do it manually or use the automatic feature described above. Unlike Mailchimp, etc., no copy and pasting of articles from one to the other is required and no reformatting for email vs. website. And when someone clicks on the “read more” link of an article in the newsletter it takes you directly to the article on your WordPress website.

    This WordPress integration alone places it way above the competition for me.

    Also I second the recommendation of Mandrill SMTP.

    • Can’t RSS campaigns in MailChimp do this?

      • We tried RSS first and the newsletter results looked unsatisfactory. Tried the plugin “MB ImageChimp RSS Feed Enhancer” and it didn’t help.

        Does anyone know how to make this RSS method work well?

    • It does take a little bit of work to get RSS generated emails in Mailchimp to look the way you want, but it is doable. You just have to use the tags for the individual elements verses the generic RSS tag.

      The other thing is the RSS of WordPress itself, which has been kind of hassle.

      I haven’t used Mailpoet, but I might have to look at it. I use Acymailing on Joomla sites paired with Elastic Email for an SMTP service and the ability to pull in content, events, and directory listings straight into the email really speeds up the process

  3. Hi.

    I’m using the premium version of MaiPoet and I’m sending campaigns through AMAZON SES using the Easy WP SMTP plugin.
    The combination offers a very cost effective solution (compared to Mailchimp or Aweber or GetResponse).

    It works perfectly ! Not a single issue since I started.

    To cope with the potential dataloss, I backup my database every single day on an external site.

    Hacking remains a concern but I believe I did as much as it is possible to protect the entire website (and not only to protect privacy).

    Your worries about security make me thing you do not rely on WordPress as the right platform to make a website. I believe it is secure enough … as soosn as you keep everything up to date 🙂 (and we know the last weeks were interesting looking at that topic).

    Cheers …
    Eric

    • I think anyone who keeps a few backups of their list will be fine. You can easily export a list and then import it again if a site crashes – or, even move the list to a new site with a fresh install. That’s easy to do.

      Amazon SES is the most cost effective service out there right now. I had some configuration problems when I tested it last fall. I may try it again down the road now that I know about the Easy WP SMTP plugin.

  4. Has anybody used both MailPoet and myMail plugin? It seems that myMail is also a big contender in this category. Any chance myMail can be integrated with bloom?

    • I am using MyMail with Mandrill. One big disadvantage is that the spams, unsubscribes in MyMail does not automatically get transferred.

      I am trying to understand if there is a migration option from MyMail to MailPoet, as I want to automate my emails daily, weekly!

  5. I used to run my email campaigns and autoresponder with MailPoet. ElasticMail served as a sending service – as a recommended alternative by MailPoet. I always ran into issues of hard bounces and spam blocking due to domain pool problems (some spammers within the pool ruined the reputation of all the domains in that same pool).
    Anyway, I really liked MailPoet but couldn’t come round the sender issue so eventually I returned to MailChimp and never regretted it.

    • Hi Oliver,
      That is exactly the problem that I have with all of these plugins which use your own server to publish email or newsletters! If you are using shared hosting, which the majority of WP users would be, all it takes is anyone on that shared hosting to get blacklisted, and all users on the domain get blacklisted.

      That is the main reason that I still recommend using an external email provider to our clients rather than using any self-hosted solutions, regardless of the cost benefits of DYI. The security aspect is not a big factor because we make sure our websites are as secure as possible — recently one of our client websites repelled 492 hack attacks in less than an hour! Even I was impressed. 🙂

      • I understand that reason. Deliverability is a real concern.

        Anyway …

        I believe there is a serious opportunity to build a business case here : Mailchimp/GetResponse cost per user vs Mailpoet + Amazon SES + Dedicated (unique) IP … cost per user.
        Not sure you have to reach 10.000 subscribers to make the balance going in favor of the second option.

        I’ve been paying thousands of $ to Mailchimp.
        I’ve now the same service provided by Mailpoet and Amazon SES for a fraction of the price (it is about 1000 times less on a yearly basis).

        With a a good DKIM and SPF setup, deliverability is close to 100%. Once I’ll reach a higher number of subscribers – and even more important – once I’ll make money from my blog, I’ll go for a dedicated IP on AMAZON SES.

        Of course, setting up those tools cost a bit of time but that investment is very quickly amortized.

        The most interesting feature of Mailchimp is the auto-responder for which you need to pay for.. even you are under the 2000 subscribers.

        With MailPoet, you get that very important feature for free till 2000 subscribers (it is just the opposite approach), then you need the premium version. That choice looks very logic to me and helps more the people who start on the net.

  6. Nice to have this plugin as an option.

    Anyone knows if I could achieve this scenario with the plugin:

    Auto-respond when user subscribe, sending a unique QR code to each user?

    Thanks for feedback.

    Regards,
    David.

  7. I tried this solution and it slowed down my server considerably. I also did not like how I had to attach smtp services to it to save my Web host from being blocked as spam. It’s a good idea but I ultimately switched to Mail chimp and it has given me more deliveries and opens. We also use Mail chimp for our clients sites and they love it. Like the others above, I love this blog but would like to see more focus on how to use features of Divi or Bloom. http://www.surepointit.com

  8. The preview text snippet can easily me modified in the MailPoet settings tab.

    Example:

    [link]E2Marketing has shared an update with you.[/link]

    It is however global.

  9. I have to admit, it would be nice to stay within WordPress, and have all of the optin, sending, automation, and so on, options all in one package.

    I’ve been looking at MailPoet for awhile, trying to decide if it was a viable alternative to MailChimp. Doesn’t look like it does quite the job it needs to. Shame, but hopefully somewhere down the line that will change–or MailChimp will stop goofing around, and create some dedicated optin widgets and a workable dashboard. Either or.

    After reading this, I’m thinking it might be worth recommending to the new blogger audience First Site Guide targets, though. Thanks for the thorough review Tom!

  10. I also used to use the pro version of Mailpoet/Wysija. But for various reasons I have now changed to using the plugin Newsletter, which is working great.
    I found Mailpoet upgrades often a little buggy, which stopped me sending newsletters.

    • I agree to that. Have used Newsletter from Tribulant for several years. I think the setup initially was a bit complicated (mainly because English is not my native language, I guess) – but once i’ve got the hang of it, it has worked great.
      The most important limitations – but that should count for any mailing plugin of this type – are the capacity our host gives (a telephone and they rised it), and the “limit” to avoid that the server gets blacklisted for spamming. I’ve learned that up to about 50/min is safe – right? Any way to come around that without having a dedicated bulk mail server?
      Kjetil
      PS Thanks for lots of good blog posts!

  11. A friend of mine uses the free MailPoet plugin on her site (which I help maintain) and it works perfectly for the bi-weekly newsletter she sends.

    I am always looking for better alternatives, but until that site starts generating money, there’s no way we can justify paying $10-$15 a month for the ~600 e-mails that she sends.

  12. Hi! Becs here from MailPoet. Thanks for your extensive review! We’ll definitely take your feedback on board. At the moment we’re working on releasing MailPoet version 3 which will have plenty of exciting new features. We would love you to take another look once it’s released.

    • Hi there, just wanted to follow up on the “View browser” link. This can be changed in MailPoet->Settings->Link to browser version

      • Hey Becs from MailPoet,

        Is there a way to add alt-text to the logo and other images? I notice in gmail the logo and other images don’t show up right away and there is no alt-text.

        Thanks, Susan

  13. Indeed Mail Poet is a great plugin, but I personally use Mailchimp. It has more options and better interface.

  14. Can mail poet just also do plain text only in html? without the theme thing?

    • Hi Dennis,

      You don’t need to use a theme but it will be sent as html. MailPoet auto creates a plaintext version for you 🙂

      Best wishes
      Becs

  15. I’m using mailpoet now after moving from AWeber. I gave that up as I’m no longer hosting client’s email.databases and RSS to email keeping their clients informed.

    I’m still learning this platform but enjoying it thoroughly.

  16. I’ve used Mail Poet on a number roof my clients sites an this it provides a huge amount of value for small to medium size businesses. The interface is fairly easy to use and setting up emails using content already published on your site literally takes minutes! However… as my clients steadily started to use Mail Poet for more communications they wanted to segment their active users, this is not currently supported at all. For me this is a major flaw which has made me move back to the much more laborious task of copy and pasting content back into Campaign Monitor templates as Campaign Monitor and Mail Chimp have advanced segmentation. Don’t get me wrong I love the plugin its just not ready for any large website where any segmentation of users is needed.

    One feature I would love to see is being able to at your last email template to a page in WordPress. All my clients want to be able to have their latest newsletter on the newsletter section of the site but alas there’s no option for this.

    In short: Great Plugin. Missing some key features.

    SendGrid is my vote for sending emails.

    • Hi Chris, you can segment active users! With Premium you can also segment users who click on specific links with any email.

      If you need any help or assistance, we’ve just released our improve knowledge base plus we provide support for all our users! Support site: http://support.mailpoet.com

      Best wishes
      Becs

  17. Thank you for this post. I found it extremely helpful as I had just installed the MailPoet plugin this morning.

    For me this post came at the right time. I don’t know that I would recommend it to clients with huge lists, but it definitely seems like it would be perfect for clients with smaller lists that are just starting with email marketing.

    I look forward to experimenting with it as I really like the idea of having this in the wp dashboard and the fact that it’s free. 🙂

    Thanks again!
    Susan

  18. Hi, This is a real good review and right on-point. I do use 3 systems to manage my emails. 1. bloom for the forms which is excellent, 2. Mailchimp for subscriber management and 3. Mandril for sending out emails and so far I have not encountered any problems.

    It just requires the right technical skills to set everything up and you are good.

  19. Hi, This is a real good review and right on-point. I do use 3 systems to manage my emails. 1. bloom for the forms which is excellent, 2. Mailpoet for subscriber management and 3. Mandril for sending out emails and so far I have not encountered any problems.

    It just requires the right technical skills to set everything up and you are good.

    *corrected mailchimp to mailpoet

  20. I am a newbie trying to use Mail Poet and it sent my update’ out 4 times. I am not impressed. It was set up to only send when there was new content. There was no new content and it still sent 4 times. Very embarrassing start for a new blog.

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