My Initial Thoughts on Using Postmatic

On November 21st, I mentioned that I was going to be switching over to Postmatic for managing my blog comments on December 1st. It’s been a great transition so far, but I thought I’d spend a little bit of time highlighting my experience with the plugin.

Migrating Existing Subscribers

Whenever you make the change to another plugin that does something similar to a plugin you used to run, the concern of how you’re going to manage prior functionality, subscribers, and so on is always a concern.

Before you even begin, the plugin lets you know if everything looks good in your WordPress installation for performing an import of your Jetpack subscribers.

Migrating Existing Subscribers
Migrating Existing Subscribers

This means that everyone who had subscribed to this blog via email will continue receiving updates via email, albeit dressed up a little bit differently in Postmatic’s template.

Upon installing Postmatic – that is, with the current beta at the time of doing this (that was beta 10) – I was able to import all of my Jetpack subscribers without any issue. After sending out the next post, I was able to confirm with Postmatic’s support – more on this in a bit – that the total number of emails for my subscribers had, in fact, been sent.

Template Customization

One of the things that I really like about Postmatic is the ability to customize the template of the email that is sent whenever someone is subscribed to the blog or subscribed to the comments of a particular post.

Granted, you can’t customize everything, but I’m a big fan of being able to creative as much of a cohesive experience as possible when it comes to people reading content be it on the web, in the browser, or in their email client.

A Header for the Email Template
A Header for the Email Template

Postmatic’s templating allows for making some tweaks that make sure you content looks as close to your blog as possible when delivered via email.

In my case, I simply added the a header that matched the header of the site as it exists on the web. To be honest, this was done at the recommendation of the Postmatic team (again, more information on this in a bit).

Managing Comments via Email

Of course, the previous features are all well and good but they are on the periphery of what the core plugin aims to do and that’s to bring comment management into our inbox. Generally speaking, I really like the overall experience.

First, all comments do come into email. Depending on your WordPress settings, you may want to change up your notifications because you’ll end up getting an email from WordPress and an email from Postmatic so you actually end up with a bit of extra email (at first and only if your settings are defined a certain way).

Secondly, replying to comments via email works exactly as you would expect. You’re able to see the comment, reply to the email, and then – usually within seconds – see the reply on your site. This saves a lot of time from the usual process of breaking out of your current tasks, logging into the dashboard, and replying via the dashboard.

Third, if you’re used to responding to comments using markdown (with Jetpack’s Markdown module), you can still do this. By that, I mean that you’re able to, say, grab quotes from the initial email, offset them with the ‘>’ to dennote a blockquote, and then reply to it within the email. From there, WordPress will render it exactly as you would expect.

Email is probably the one thing that we all use day-to-day to help us stay on top of our work and to stay organized. What Postmatic has done has made it that much easier to stay engaged with commenters through the channels that we’re already using the most.

On Support

Finally, I’ve mentioned several times throughout this post that I’d interacted with Postmatic’s support throughout my time with working with the beta and there are three main things that are worth highlighting:

  1. The rate at which the team responds to questions (and even just general comments), is incredibly fast. I can’t think of one instance in which something wasn’t resolved within 24 hours. As with any project, scaling support will come as the customer base widens, but the team is off to a stellar start.
  2. I mentioned earlier that I changed up the heading of my email template to that it more closely matched what I have here on the web. This was actually done after a recommendation by the Postmatic team. The fact that they take the time to look out for little things that enhance the user’s experience is top notch (and more rare than it should be).
  3. For those to whom it matters, I did mention that the team was reporting on the number of emails being sent out as well as their recommendation of the header image. I did confirm that the team was not reading through my email as they were flowing out from their server, but that they were actually subscribed to the posts and comments for several posts themselves. That is, they were dogfooding their product as much as possible. +1 for that.

Overall, I’ve nothing but good things to say about my experience with Postmatic. I’m excited to see the plugin hit version 1.0.0 and if you’re someone who lives out of their digital inbox and who is big on blogging, then I highly recommend this plugin.

 

20 Replies to “My Initial Thoughts on Using Postmatic”

  1. Wow, thanks so much for all of your kind words, Tom. They just landed in my inbox :) We do try to subscribe to every blog that runs Postmatic to keep up on how folks are using the service and who might need a little help. You’re right, i’m not sure we’ll be able to scale that approach but for our few hundred beta sites it’s been alright. It’s just email. 

    The upside is that all sorts of interesting, wacky, and seemingly random content shows up in my inbox every day. And what i’ve found is that since the content is in my inbox it fits within my workflow. Even though i’m in the midst of launching a product I read a lot more blog content than I used to, and I hope that Postmatic has that effect for everyone: that your average post gets in front of more people than it would have via rss or web, and most importantly that it reaches them where and when they have time to read it, reflect, and respond. It makes for better quality conversations.

    Or course commenting by email is what people are most excited for in Postmatic, but i still feel that the more important feature is that your content gets delivered in an accessible way, to the right people, where they are comfortable. If we can do that the conversations will blossom.

    During beta we are certainly seeing an increase in commenting on the sites we are on, but more importantly we are seeing longer comments and more thoughtful discourse. Maybe people are used to writing short comments, but long emails. That’s good by us.

  2. Thanks for making this review and providing an opportunity to try out Postmatic to those of us who have been curious but too busy to set it up so far.

    Am I misremembering, or did you initially have Postmatic sending out your new posts as well, and now it’s back on Jetpack Subscriptions? I have a distinct memory of this (but maybe it was another blog) where the “read more” link in the emailed excerpt goes directly to the jump after the lead rather than the top of the post. That’s a really great thing.

    1. Hey Dan,

      Interesting observation. Jason from Postmatic here.

      In a previous version we respected the MORE tag and in the emails from Tom we would only show excerpt and then link to the jump spot in the browser.

      In our recent release we removed support for the MORE tag in the interest of showing the full post in the email… because after all if we are inviting the user to reply to the email to leave a comment they really ought to be able to see the full post. 

      We’ll probably bring back support for the MORE tag as an option in the next few weeks….

      1. Yes, I took your survey on that and voted for the both-and option. :-)

        From a reader standpoint, I like getting the full post in the email. From
        the writer standpoint, I want people to come to my site. But if readers are
        just as likely to comment via email — thanks to Postmatic — maybe it’s
        even better in some ways that they do not click through as much. Shifting
        the main commenting action to email rather than a form could really help on
        the performance and spam-fighting front. Maybe the whole open form idea
        will eventually be seen as a bad thing.

        A note about the comment emails I’m getting right now as I reply — in
        Gmail the content breaks out past its outlined table, and there is a lot of
        white space on the left. I have to scroll right to see all the text. Not
        sure if I can include a screenshot here, so if the attachment is
        stripped here’s
        a link

        .

        [image: Inline image 1]

        1. Hey Dan,

          Yea, that was a really tricky decision to make. The feedback from users was absolutely down the middle. Half thought we should respect MORE, half thought we shouldn’t. But 100% of people thought it should be a choice. At least there was some clarity there.

          Maybe the whole open form idea will eventually be seen as a bad thing.

          Wow. That would really be something. I hadn’t thought of that. But then again, there are already lots of email haters out there :)

          Would you mind telling me what device / os / browser you are getting that gmail error in? You hit upon a limitation in that we don’t yet support attached images.. and i’m not sure why your link got stripped out. It’s either on us or on Tom. I’ll investigate. 

          Tom, sorry to use your post as a support forum. Not my intention. Dan, please followup with me via our usual support…

        2. Hi Dan (great first name, by the way!!),

          That was one of the questions I asked Jason and his team too, as I currently send out a weekly newsletter that includes that latest posts (in excerpt form) along with some other stuff.

          I love having Postmatic on my blog, and it’s become second nature to me to use the reply by email feature (so much, I now get slightly aggravated when I need to click back through to a blog to comment).

          But I get the traffic-versus-engagement thing, and it’s definitely down to blogger preference and user experience from the reader point of view.

          So far, the majority of my readers have climbed on board with the Postmatic experience, and seeing what they have coming down the pipeline is pretty exciting. :)

          1. This thread is going again?! I thought I should chime in to let you know that we’ll have support for excerpts in our next release, which should be within a few days. There will be both a site-wide as well as per-post setting.

            Thanks for the kind word, Danny!

            1. Hey Jason, it looks like there’s no styling for blockquote tags. I’ve noticed Tom using them a lot here, and it gets a bit confusing. Is that on him or Postmatic? :-)

              1. Interestingly enough, blockquotes are one of our big challenges. Email clients render them with more interest than other HTML tags. Despite our attempts to globally and consistently style them, we often find our efforts undone. 

                And what’s worse, is that, Gmail for example changes how they processes them from day today. I can’t find any patterns or consistency. I hear you, and I’m going to try to take another look at it today.

                For the record, Tom’s blockquotes look great in fastmail, but not so great in Gmail at this current point in time. Go figure!

                  1. What I’ve also found is comment forms don’t always relate to the styling in Gmail. I’m currently using wpDiscuz in conjunction with Postmatic. On my old native comments, any styling I did came through – not so on wpDiscuz.

                    Even if I comment “natively” on-site using wpDiscuz, they don’t support formatting. Very frustrating when you want to make a point.

    2. Thanks for making this review and providing an opportunity to try out Postmatic to those of us who have been curious but too busy to set it up so far.

      You got it. I’m clearly a big fan and I’d love to see more people adopting it especially for those who, you know, live out of their inbox ;).

      Which … who doesn’t these days?

      Am I misremembering, or did you initially have Postmatic sending out your new posts as well, and now it’s back on Jetpack Subscriptions?

      Originally Jetpack was doing it, but now Postmatic is handling all of that (which Jason’s already followed-up more about :).

  3. Hi Tom,

    Came across this while searching for other’s experience with Postmatic.

    Very useful info.

    I am seeing what might be a small problem though by looking at the comments posted above…

    If you have a particularly long conversation thread such as the one above between Dan, Danny and Jason… if that went on much longer, would the replies have ended up one word to a line in a thin strip down the right of this column?

    I’m assuming a reply via email gets added as a ‘new comment’ as opposed to actually being on the web page and hitting the reply button below someone else’s comment.

    Question is… can you limit how much a conversation thread gets squeezed and nudged to the right?

    Other than that, this looks like a great plugin. :)

    1. Question is… can you limit how much a conversation thread gets squeezed and nudged to the right?

      This is a feature of the theme design and of WordPress configuration – not of a configuration option of Postmatic :). You can change how nested comments go in your WordPress settings.

    2. Hey Dell,

      As Tom said, that has more to do with his theme than it does Postmatic.
      Think of Postmatic as just a cool comment>email>comment gateway.

      Since everyone *does* think we are a comment system we decided we should become one and last month released Epoch. It does replace your comment template in the way you might be imagining. You can find it at http://gopostmatic.com/epoch.

      1. Thanks for the info Jason.
        Your reply actually answered a secondary question… just how many comments display in an email message, and what was the process for viewing the entire comment thread, as I can now see how it works in my email.
        It is an excellent system.
        I have a very specific use in mind tho, so I’m planning to contact your website with some questions. I don’t know if you guys are happy to do brief Skype calls with customers (or potential customers), but I’d love to have a quick chat with someone. Would probably be far quicker than bouncing emails back and forth.
        Anyway… I’ll ask that via the contact form on your site.
        Many thanks. :)

          1. Thanks Jason.
            I’ve used your calendar to schedule a Skype meeting with you on Wednesday.
            I am happy to talk pretty much any time. You have my Skype username now, so if a gap opens up prior to Wed, feel free to Skype me whenever suits you.
            Thanks. 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.