Postmatic is a new WordPress plugin that I think is quite promising. It's aim is to eventually change the way you utilize WordPress email in many ways, but its comment functionality is what intrigued me immediately.
Postmatic currently allows users to subscribe to comments and posts by email; but what sets it apart is that it enables reply by email functionality as well. That's something that has been high on my list of wants for a WordPress plugin for a long time, and I wanted it without switching to a third party system like Disqus.
All in all — aside from enabling replies by email — the current feature set is quite similar to Jetpack's Subscriptions module. Postmatic has widgets for post subscriptions and will send subscribers new posts and allow them to get emailed comment notifications as well.
I asked Jason Lemieux, a co-founder of Postmatic, if they were considering a way to import from Jetpack or otherwise integrate with it, and they are. They're working now to make it so that your old posts using Jetpack's subscription module for comment notifications will still work, and your new posts will use Postmatic.
I had a pretty thorough conversation with Jason and got to see Postmatic in action. For a free plugin especially, the functionality is quite impressive. I tested subscribing to comments, replying by email, and opting into subscriptions, and it is all very smooth. Here's a sample reply notification to my email.
Postmatic is already in beta with their API as well. With a little legwork, you can utilize Postmatic for a variety of custom use cases. I know I'd love to play with it to see if I could create email campaigns for custom post types or multiple lists. They also intend to monetize the plugin via a few avenues — including ensuring mail delivery and functionality add-ons.
Postmatic — available for download on WordPress.org — is and will remain completely free. At some point they'll exit beta and they will offer paid delivery of outgoing mail for larger sites. They understand the limitations of sending email through your own server and are using Mailgun to ensure delivery. They also have an extensive — and for now private — list of features they aim to introduce to Postmatic.
The product is definitely version 1.0. Advanced list management, and more advanced campaign delivery is still not ready. But I was impressed by how good of a 1.0 Postmatic is, and how much effort Jason and his business parter, Dylan Kuhn, have clearly invested heavily into the product. For instance, subscriber importing is already possible, so you could move to Postmatic for post delivery right away. They have videos show how to do that and more already available.
They tell me as well that Postmatic is in very early stages. Right now they are working on more advanced template building and other features to help tame your WordPress emails. I think they definitely have other services like Jetpack's Subscriptions and MailPoet in their sights.
I think WordPress email is ripe for disruption. Imagine, currently, all the ways users can get emails from a website, with little continuity: WordPress itself, Mailchimp or other newsletter provider, Jetpack / WordPress.com, eCommerce solutions, form solutions. Each of these sends email and each has their own quirks, look and feel, and otherwise.
I'd love to see a service like Postmatic help tame WordPress email as a whole, and offer a more seamless experience for my website visitors that receive email from me.
In the short term, I doubt any service will be able to do this perfectly. But I think as WordPress sites send more and more mail, continuity in this arena will be very important. I know, for me, as I prepare to enable club memberships on Post Status, it's top of my mind to provide a quality email experience to my members.