Q&A with MailPoet, the WordPress email newsletter plugin

What you send is just awesome

MailPoet is a free plugin that lets you compose and send email newsletters from within WordPress. It’s an excellent solution for users who want to do more with email, but aren’t ready to use a standalone service like GoDaddy Email Marketing.

MailPoet WordPress Plugin
MailPoet Newsletters in the WordPress.org plugin directory

While this may sound like a niche use case, the stats are surprising: MailPoet is one of the most popular plugins month over month in our WordPress Hot 100 year-end review, it averages more than 1.5k downloads per day from the WordPress plugin directory, and it holds a 4.8/5 star rating with 2,299 five-star reviews.

We wanted to learn more about the team behind this plugin, so we got in touch with the developers. Here’s what they had to say.

What should people know about you and MailPoet?

Hey there! My name is Kiefer and I do all the marketing, branding, and writing here at MailPoet.

We created MailPoet to solve the problem of sending WordPress posts directly to your subscribers, without having to use a separate tool to copy-and-paste your content.

Ultimately being successful online is about good content, and WordPress is all about content. We wanted to make it as painless as possible to get your blog posts to your readers.

MailPoet is the most popular email newsletter plugin for WordPress with over 300,000 active websites. We recently launched a beta version of MailPoet 3, a complete rewrite of the plugin.

MailPoet started out as Wysija Newsletters. Where did the original name come from? Why the change?

The original name stood for “What You Send is Just Awesome”. While a cool acronym, it obviously was difficult to spell, say, and remember.

We ultimately went with MailPoet for a few reasons: it was unique (there aren’t too many poetry-inspired names out there!), much easier to handle, and the “poet” refers to WordPress’s tagline, “Code is poetry.” Mailpoet.com was also only $12 :)

WYSIJA Website
The original “What You Send Is Just Awesome” (WYSIJA) website.

Have you ever considered branching away from WordPress? Why/why not?

We have but ultimately decided the built-in WordPress community was too big of an asset. By branching out, we wouldn’t be able to immediately market our product to a ready-made audience. We’d also lose some of the simplicity that makes MailPoet great in the first place.

MailPoet doesn’t include any sending service; instead, you rely on the host’s PHP mail or a third-party provider. Has the team considered providing this service out of the box?

Yep, we’re building our own sending service! We’ve actually been testing it with users for nearly six months now and plan on rolling it out to everyone in the near future. Ultimately, the goal is to be a one-stop shop.

The premium version of MailPoet integrates with Google Analytics. Are there any other integrations that people should know about?

We integrate with quite a few of the most popular WordPress plugins. You can also use the MailPoet embed code to add a subscription form wherever HTML is supported.

What’s your guiding philosophy around product development?

Simplicity. The simpler the software, the better. The easiest way we’ve found to do that is to always focus on our end users. Will the user find this confusing? Then get rid of it. Thankfully, MailPoet has always been super simple.

What keeps the team motivated to keep working on MailPoet?

The wide variety of users is always motivating. It’s fun to see the different types of people that use MailPoet — some are tech-savvy bloggers while others are just everyday businesspeople.

One of the coolest users we have is Aurélien, a wine seller in France. We helped Aurélien grow his subscriber list from zero to an essential tool he uses to keep in touch with his customers. Here’s the blog post on his story.

What have you learned from growing MailPoet as a business?

The importance of support. As a small company, we don’t have a huge marketing budget. What we do have, however, is the ability to give personalized support to every one of our premium users.

Our support is entirely email-based. We found it was the easiest and best way to help users (and it fits with our identity as an email newsletter company).

For the future, we are building a support beacon directly into the plugin, so that users can get help without ever leaving their site.

MailPoet Knowledge Base
The MailPoet Knowledge Base is full of helpful documentation.

What are you doing to support word-of-mouth referrals?

Our best marketers ultimately are our users. When it comes to word-of-mouth marketing, the best thing we can do is make a quality product and get it in front of people. You can’t force someone to be excited about your product — they need to be genuinely impressed to give a genuine referral.

What advice do you have for other plugin developers who see this as a business opportunity?

Look for simple problems that everyday people have. It’s common for developers to only think about developer problems and developer solutions. Sometimes the best businesses are built solving problems for florists, wine sellers, writers, and other regular people.

Any general email marketing advice you’d like to leave our readers with?

Content is ultimately king. Focus on creating awesome content first and optimizing your email campaigns second. At the end of the day, quality is the most important thing, not hyper-specific email marketing tactics.

Thanks to Kiefer and the MailPoet team for working with us on this story. You can find out more about MailPoet on their website, follow their blog for updates, and connect with MailPoet on Facebook and Twitter.


Also published on Medium.

Image by: Daria Nepriakhina via Unsplash