Comparison of Five Post Notifications Solutions for WordPress

Update: MailPoet now offers post notifications! Check out the video. Are we just as good as the choices above? You be the judge.

We love when our websites send automatically a daily or weekly newsletter with our latest posts. It’s more common to see post notifications than newsletters written manually in the WordPress community.

Post notifications has several names depending on who’s talking about it:

  • Email subscription to post updates
  • Email alerts
  • Post notifications
  • Automatic newsletter, or auto newsletters
  • RSS to Email

I personally always called them “email alerts” because Lorelle said so a few years ago. Most of my past clients just used the term “automatic newsletter“, which makes a lot of sense, if you ask me.

Five plugins / services for email subscription reviewed:

  1. Wysija Newsletters plugin
  2. Feedburner email alerts
  3. The legendary Subscribe2 plugin
  4. “Email subscription” delivered by JetPack
  5. MailChimp’s Rss to Email: free under 2000 subscribers

This is my own selection. I believe they are the best or most used (no official figures!). You should be satisfied with at least one of them. But there are others. Google around if you think my list is a little short or add ideas in the comments below.

Let’s take a look at each to evaluate the pros and cons.

Wysija Newsletters

Here’s a short video demo on how you can set this up quickly with our own plugin:

We’re for sure a little biased. Nonetheless, here’s my own take on it.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Quick to setup
  • Allows you to import lists of subscribers
  • Stats for total number of opened, clicked and unsubscribed
  • You can import and export lists

Cons:

Feedburner Email Alerts

This is my personal favorite. My past clients were rarely satisfied with its looks though.

It’s still at the top of my list because I lost count of how many I installed myself since my first install 6 years ago.

The concept is easy: any new posts in your RSS feed are sent to your subscribers once a day or week.

This is an example what a typical Feedburner alert looks like :

Feedburner screenshot

Pros:

  • Reliable, with an occasional hiccup
  • Good deliverability (emails actually get delivered)
  • Automatically integrated with Google Analytics
  • Easy and good stats

Cons:

  • Not newbie friendly (take a look at this tutorial)
  • Lack of design and layout customization
  • Can’t import existing lists
  • Can’t easily resend the activation email to people who didn’t to activate their subscription (export to Excel!)
  • Translations in languages are unreliable
  • Send once a day or once a week, no other choice
  • Feedburner stopped evolving once Google bought it. Even with the new beta interface…

Subscribe2: the only plugin!

Very simple and practical free little plugin. I installed it on quite a few intranets where Feedburner can’t access the RSS feed it needs. This plugin has been getting quite a few downloads everyday since its beginning.

Screenshot of the basic out-of-the-box looks of an email from Subscribe2, which we use internally ourselves:

Subscribe2 screenshot

 

Pros:

  • Very easy to set up
  • You can send to your site’s users
  • Highly customizable frequency and scheduling
  • It’s maintained and updated
  • Double opt-in isn’t forced, which is great for intranets
  • Notifications can be enabled for comments too.
  • Stats available in Google Analytics (only)
  • It’s free, but consider donating!

Cons:

  • Difficult to customize the looks (no themes)
  • Some of its emails are in simple text and not HTML. There’s an extended version that does take care of that.
  • You can’t send to hundreds or thousands because there’s no queue to send in batches. There’s is a paying solution though.
  • You’re forced to send emails through your host. There’s a hack to send via SMTP, but it’s not ideal.

JetPack’s email subscription to post and comments

JetPack is a suite of plugins and services of WordPress.com blogs made available for your own WordPress site that you host yourself. They recently added post notifications, which is a service more than a plugin.

JetPack’s subscriptions’ emails always look the same regardless of the site:

Jetpack Subscriptions Screenshot

Pros:

  • The easiest to install…
  • … there’s only a widget to configure!
  • Good deliverability
  • Users can pick their own frequency of notifications to: immediate, daily or weekly
  • Notifications are also available for comments, which is an alternative to the ever so popular Subscribe to Comments plugin, which we use on this blog
  • Multiple languages

Cons:

  • You can’t configure the design or layout
  • You can’t import an existing list
  • You can’t exclude posts from categories of your choice
  • No stats
  • In English only

MailChimp’s RSS to Email

MailChimp converts the RSS of your site into post notifications, just like Feedburner. I’ve only set it up once myself, but this is a popular solution for many in the WordPress community. It’s free as long as you have under 2000 subscribers.

MailChimp offers the most flexibility in terms of design. This example is a notification from Yoast’s popular blog on WordPress :

RSS to Email by Mailchimp screenshot

Pros:

  • Most flexible in terms of design
  • Good deliverability (avoid spam filter)
  • Many plugins available to help integration, like subscription form widget
  • Allows you to import lists of subscribers
  • Good variety of stats

Cons:

  • Not that easy to install and configure
  • You need to learn another application
  • MailChimp logo displays at the bottom of your newsletters

 Lowdown: what to go for?

  1. Our own plugin, of course! :-)
  2. For simplicity‘s sake: JetPack
  3. For simplicity and stats: Feedburner
  4. For a subscription site (aka members): Subscribe2
  5. For maximum flexibility: MailChimp

DISCUSSION

    Author’s gravatar

    Mine is mailpress ;-)

    Author’s gravatar

    There is indeed MailPress!

    It’s been around for a long time and could have been a part of this list indeed.

    We think it’s a bit bulky, but has pleased a few over the years and deserves credit for staying completely free. Tough choice since emailing is rather complex and not a part time activity.

    Right?

    Author’s gravatar

    Good analysis of the options.

    I’ve used Subscribe2 in the past and it’s simple and reliable for smaller numbers. This time I’m going to have a go setting up MailChimp as it should be more of a serious solution.

    Author’s gravatar

    I have been using Subscribe2 + Feedburner (mainly for RSS, but the email comes with it).

    The biggest problem with Feedburner is that it is hidden away and requires a bit of patience for the user, whereas Subscribe2 is one-click.

    I’m happy with Subscribe, but the unsubscribe options aren’t too obvious – not automatic at the bottom of all emails as you’d expect. I am going to try to change the email text to include that, so we’ll see.

    I’d probably change to Jetpack if it allowed me to manage the subscription list (I get a bit of spam subscriptions).

    So it’s a work in progress. Thanks for your helpful information.

    Author’s gravatar

    Thanks for your feedback! If you want to be on the list of our beta users for our Wysija’s upcoming auto newsletters, let me know!

    Author’s gravatar

    Feedburner is too buggy…. I (and several other users) are having issues with it sending old posts as ‘new’, while not sending out the new posts… but I guess that’s what you get for free…

    Author’s gravatar

    I am new at blogging and I started using jetpack to manage my subscriptions, however, whenever I post something on my blog it automatically sends the entire post to my subscribers. I would like to only send a link so that they have to come to my blog to read the entire thing.

    Is there an user friendly plug-in that does that? and that will transfer my subscriber list?

    Author’s gravatar

    Hi there,

    My work blog has recently moved from wordpress.com to wordpress.org. We currently use Subscribe2, which is excellent *except* for the fact that users can’t choose their own subscription frequency. Jetpack would be ideal for us but, because of how we use our blog (for internal communications only), Jetpack doesn’t work – our blog is protected by our company single sign-on authentication system, meaning Jetpack can’t see it.

    Does Wysija allow users to choose their post frequency and, if so, would it work for a site that is behind single sign-on authentication?

    Thanks,

    Sarah

    Author’s gravatar

    Sarah, you can create 2 lists: one which sends itself daily and another weekly.

    When your users subscribe, they’ll be able to pick which list and even edit it afterwards (edit feature coming in our next release).

    Feel free to try Wysija as it is pretty fast to setup and play with it.

    Author’s gravatar

    Hi, looking for a solution to subscribe to comments of posts of a particular taxonomy term. That way you can further segment your visitors and deliver only content that is relevant to their needs.

    Author’s gravatar

    Excellent list, just what I needed for my research. I’ve been using Jetpack for now and have tried Feedburner. I prefer Jetpack, it’s so simple to setup in comparison and looks professional.

    Author’s gravatar

    Hi Alex, thank you for your post. I asked a question and I hope you can answer. I created a feedburner subscription to my blog so my subscribers can receive each new article. I wish I had more subscribers and I created a free tool to offer in exchange for their email address. I wanted to use mailchimp but I wonder how to combine these new subscribers to my feedburner count that I would post it on my blog when it is quite big. Caroline

    Author’s gravatar

    Do you know of a good plugin that has the capability for a field prompting subscribers to enter their name? Thanks!

    Author’s gravatar

    You can do that with our plugin.

    Author’s gravatar

    Great! This also allows for people to subscribe to receive emails with an excerpt of each new blog post, correct? Will I have to create a new newsletter for each post or is it automatic? Thanks for your help!

    Author’s gravatar

    Well, let me say that I’m constantly searching for new email plugins but, for automatic post notification, the winner (for me) remains the same: Post Notification. Unattended, old (and other sins), but reliable since 2009 and customizable (with more or less efforts).
    For newsletter: ALO Easy mail newsletter. Click tracking, several lists, batch and layout settings (via native post editor).

    Author’s gravatar

    I’m using
    Feedburner
    Aweber
    Jetpack.

    I loved new Jetpack Email feature, but it lacks lots of things. Specially, they should send out email once in a day and not everytime you publish a new post. I have been getting lots of complaint regarding too many Emails.. :(

    Author’s gravatar

    Very informative piece, thanks.

    Quick question to a problem I’ve recently encountered.

    I recently went over 1,100 subscribers. So building the list was great but some weren’t recieving my 2x weekly posts! I want people to recieve my posts which include many pictures directly to their emails.

    I realized this week bluehost has hourly email restrictions. They increased it to 750. So now I’m trying to decide my next step.

    1. Pay for the WordPress Mail Queue (WPMQ)
    2. Mailchimp (paying account)
    3. Awebar
    I expect my mailing list to continue to increase.

    Thanks!
    Kevin

    Author’s gravatar

    I would go for option 2 or 3 (I personally use RSS email to update my readers via MailChimp). Building up an emaillist is gold, so I would use a good programm like mailchimp for that.

    Willem

    Author’s gravatar

    Hi Kim,

    Nice overview! Thanks!

    We’re currently using subscribe2 for our internal forum.

    Just got request from management to get something that will not send entire post to the email – just a title and maybe 1st paragraph with the link to original post so users are forced to go to blog to see full post and maybe comment on it. Any thoughts?

    Thanks!

    Author’s gravatar

    Vlad, you can indeed send the excerpt only with our own plugin. In fact, that is the default setting. Look at the video for a better overview.

    Author’s gravatar

    Thanks Kim,

    I actually just figured it out and finished changing settings… was about to write that everything is in order but you bit me one minute with your post :)

    Maybe it was default but I’m not the first admin on site so who knows what previous guys where doing.

    Thanks again!

    Author’s gravatar

    Great post. I’ve been fiddling with WP.com lately because WP.org seems really difficult, BUT I don’t want to give up my domain name. I know could probably transfer, but…might blow my mind. I had the Follow plugin onWP.org but yesterday while playing with WP.com a friends got a notification and said it was her first ever?? What?

    I just got the jetpack, and did the subscribe thing from there and hope that fixes things. But, yesterday while messing with WP.com I also got notifications that said you commented on….you might also like their sight. That was a first. It seems with WP.com there is some blog suggesting to help network you around. Is there anything like that for WP.org? Will this new Jetpack thing make my .org get all the same handy notifications like wp.com? And another thing, I see on my .org a list of comments made to my sight, but on wp.com I also get a list of replies to comments I made on other peoples blogs. I just swat that yesterday for the first time. Anyway to get that on WP.org? WP.com seems to have a much better interface but I feel like maybe I’m not using my .org to it’s potential. I’d like the .com ease on the .org site. Thanks so much for your time:) Us bloggers getting our minds blown by computer code appreciate you!:)

    Author’s gravatar

    Claudia, JetPack post notification and comment notification work the same way between .com and .org.

    Hope you got it figured out!

    Author’s gravatar

    Hi – I have a question about Jetpack email subscriptions and hoping you have the answer. I am a wordpress.org user and activated Jetpack email subscriptions. When I publish a new post, the email that gets sent out to subscribers says it’s from “wordpress.com” and not my blog name. Do you know how to fix this?

    A fellow blogger actually uses the wordpress.com version, and hers actually says her blog name.

    Any help is appreciated. Thanks!

    Author’s gravatar

    Thank you, you’ve answered so many questions with this post. I just installed your app and am going to start figuring it out!

    Author’s gravatar

    Hi Kim, Thank you for this page! I’ve been looking all over the Internet for an answer to what should be a very simple question… but I can’t find the answer anywhere!

    The question is: Does Feedburner send out notices when WordPress PAGES are updated? Or just POSTS? My client does not want his pages to be included in notifications, but I don’t see anything on Feedburner (or anywhere) that specifically states that WordPress PAGES are excluded.

    Thank you!

    Author’s gravatar

    Hi Kim!!!
    I got a problem with the installation of your plug-in…

    Author’s gravatar

    widget subscribe form doesn’t work in my website..it seems that doesn’t send info of new subscribers into my database…when i try to put an e-mail into the form and send the subscription ,anything happens!!!!i’m sorry for my english,hope you can guess what’s going on!!!!

    Author’s gravatar

    Eric, we’ld be more than happy to help you out. Simply use the contact form in the Contact page. Thanks!

Comments are closed.