Did you know you could save significant time in your content marketing calendar just by automatically sending your posts by emails from your WordPress site using a newsletter plugin?
This article compares the top three free newsletter plugins for WordPress for sending post notification emails in WordPress — Jetpack, Mailchimp, and MailPoet.
Not everyone looking for a post notification email solution will have the same set of objectives, time, or technical skills. Some might want a solution that offers complete control, from designing emails to scheduling them. Whereas others might want a simple solution — one that works right out of the box.
So keep reading to find out the best solution for you. In this post, you’ll find a full comparison of each plugin, along with recommendations for who and what type of business each plugin is best suited to.
This article will take a look at the following:
Comparison methodology & criteria
In order to help you make the most out of this post, I’ve broken down the comparison into specific metrics. Here’s an explanation for each of them:
- Ease of campaign creation – This metric measures the ease of creating email campaigns. How easily can you design emails? What are the email builder features?
- Learning curve – This metric measures the complexity of each tool. Do you have to create a new account to use the service? How many steps are involved before you can launch a campaign?
- Subscribers and signup forms – This metric considers the ease of importing and exporting subscribers, subscription form features and other limitations (if any).
- Types of newsletter campaigns – This metric measures the different types of campaigns that you can create with the tool/service.
- Email deliverability – This metric measures the reliability of your newsletters landing in your subscribers’ inbox. Plus it also considers different email delivery mediums (if applicable).
- Analytics – This metrics measures the depth of email analytics (such as click rate, open rate, etc.) offered by the newsletter plugin.
- Popularity – Lastly, this metric measures the popularity of the brand and how many people use the plugin.
Jetpack Subscription: send your posts when you publish them
Jetpack is by far one of the most popular plugins for WordPress, with over 5 million active installations. It comes with a variety of modules ranging from site uptime monitoring to a free CDN.
The Subscription module by Jetpack is what we’re here for. It lets you sign up for post and comment notifications for your blog. Let’s take a look at this plugin in more detail, keeping in mind the comparison metrics.
Ease of campaign creation
You can’t create typical newsletter campaigns using Jetpack because it doesn’t have an email builder. This is probably the largest drawback of the plugin. Jetpack only supports two types of notification campaigns:
- Email notifications, and
- Post notifications.
Admittedly, Jetpack does both these things incredibly well. There is virtually zero configuration required. You just need to enable the module, and notification emails are sent to your subscribers — whenever you publish a new post.
However, note that you can’t customize the content or design the post notification emails — they look exactly the same for every site.
Jetpack has the easiest learning curve required when compared to the other plugins in this comparison post. In order to use the service — all you need to do are these two things:
- Create a WordPress.com account and link it to Jetpack, and
- Enable the Subscription module.
This makes Jetpack very useful for people who are just getting started with WordPress and are looking for the simplest “plug-and-play” solution available.
Subscribers and signup forms
Jetpack enables your site’s visitors to sign up using a typical subscription form (added using a widget) or via the comment form. The second bit is very useful in gaining new subscribers.
However, when it comes to managing subscribers, Jetpack could do better. You can’t view your subscribers from your WordPress dashboard. Rather, you have to visit your WordPress.com account and navigate to Your Site > People > Email Followers.
Exporting your blog’s subscribers is simple. Just click Download Data as CSV to export your existing email subscribers. You can use this CSV file to import your subscribers in Mailchimp or MailPoet.
Importing your subscribers is a very cumbersome process in Jetpack. You can only import 10 people at a time, and there is no bulk-import option.
Jetpack relies on WordPress.com’s infrastructure to deliver hundreds of thousands of post notification emails every day. Therefore we can rest assured that emails sent by Jetpack have very high email delivery rates — ensuring that they land in your subscribers’ inbox, and not end up in spam.
Unfortunately, in the analytics department, Jetpack only shows you how many email subscribers you have. You don’t get a basic campaign metrics such as open or click-through rates. Note that Jetpack has a Stats module, which gives you an overall view of your site’s traffic, but lacks when it comes to providing email marketing metrics.
Jetpack is for folks who are new to blogging and are looking for a simple, plug-and-play solution.
There’s virtually zero configuration needed and all of your emails will be delivered for free. In case you want to move to a better email marketing solution (ahem, MailPoet…) you can simply export the subscriber list to get started.
Mailchimp: Send your posts with RSS to email
Launched in 2001, Mailchimp is one of the oldest and most popular email marketing companies on the planet. Over the past two decades, the company has evolved into a marketing automation platform for small and large businesses alike.
You could say that Mailchimp’s had a lot of time to get post notification emails right. So let’s compare it with the other plugins and see what it can do.
Ease of campaign creation
Mailchimp has a brilliant UI, tons of built-in newsletter templates, and a kickass drag-and-drop email builder. That being said, creating post notification emails in Mailchimp can be a bit daunting.
To begin with, Mailchimp fetches new post information from your RSS feed. So, if you choose not to share the post except over RSS (a lot of publications don’t) then you don’t have much of a post notification email anyway!
Even if you are sharing the full excerpt over RSS, customizing the email using RSS merge tags can be difficult (as you can see from the screenshot above). And, of course, all of this has to be done from your Mailchimp account — away from your WordPress dashboard. This means opening a new tab, copying all your content across, and having multiple copies of everything.
No matter how good the onboarding process is, there’s no denying Mailchimp has a steep learning curve for people new to email marketing. Before you can create a campaign in Mailchimp, you need to first verify the sender’s (i.e. your) email address and domain.
However, albeit for seasoned professionals, Mailchimp’s automation capabilities are, admittedly, a godsend.
Subscribers and signup forms
Mailchimp enables you to create multiple signup forms for your WordPress site. That includes standard embedded forms, popup forms, and even a dedicated landing page with your subscription form. You can also use tons of WordPress form plugins to directly upload newsletter signups to your Mailchimp email list.
As far as email lists go, you can have up to 2,000 subscribers using Mailchimp’s free plan. Importing and exporting subscribers is a piece of cake, with various options available for importing via CSV, copy and paste and via third-party services like Salesforce and Zendesk. Similarly, there are multiple ways to export your email lists.
Mailchimp’s word-class email delivery platform delivers hundreds of millions of emails every month, ensuring high inbox delivery for your emails.
However, keep in mind that Mailchimp — like MailPoet — is vigilant when it comes to email deliverability and could freeze any underperforming email lists you might have, to curb bulk/cold emailing practices.
Analytics is deep-rooted within Mailchimp’s DNA. You get highly detailed reports for each campaign type including newsletter and automation campaigns. It also comes with a great mobile app to give you campaign stats on-the-go.
Mailchimp’s ideal user is someone who knows a bit about email marketing and wants to step up their game.
The free plan is a great place to start with email marketing. It offers incredibly powerful tools, enabling any email marketer to crush their KPIs. You could launch various automation campaigns (such as welcome emails, abandoned cart notifications, birthdays wishes, etc.), A/B test campaigns (to see which newsletters/images/subject lines performed better), and even run remarketing ads — all directly from Mailchimp.
That being said, all of this could just be a little too intimidating for someone simply looking to send post notification emails. Moreover, Mailchimp offers email support only for the first 30 days in the free plan. Post that, you’re on your own.
This brings us to our final plugin…
MailPoet: send posts by email with more flexibility
MailPoet is a free email marketing plugin designed for WordPress. Its unique selling proposition (USP) is that it enables you to quickly send newsletter campaigns, all without having to leave your WordPress dashboard.
As of April 2019, MailPoet is active on 200,000+ WordPress sites and another 100,000+ for the newer version. That’s 300,000+ WordPress sites using MailPoet! Let’s compare it with the other plugins and see what it can do.
Ease of campaign creation
Creating post notification campaigns takes only a few steps with MailPoet. Log into your WordPress site, select any of the 50+ newsletter templates, design your email, and send/schedule your campaign.
In terms of the drag-and-drop email builder, one of the primary advantages of MailPoet over Mailchimp is the former’s Automatic Latest Content block.
Unlike Mailchimp’s RSS Items content block, MailPoet’s Automatic Latest Content block picks the latest posts directly from your WordPress database — not from RSS — giving you better customization options.
This video overview of the feature gives a good idea of how it works:
*Please note that the design of MailPoet has changed since this video was created, but the steps are exactly the same. An up to date video is coming soon!
We also have a step by step guide of how to set it up to send your posts immediately.
MailPoet’s learning curve is somewhere between Jetpack and MailChimp.
Unlike Jetpack, you do need to configure basic details such as the sender’s name, email, and reply-to address. But that’s just about it. As soon as that’s done, you can create your first post notification campaign.
Unlike Mailchimp, you don’t need to sign up for a new service or verify ownership of your domain.
It’s worth noting that MailPoet does have a bit of a learning curve when it comes to manually configuring your email delivery options (more on that later).
Subscribers and signup forms
You can quickly import your existing subscribers to MailPoet, either via copy-paste or by uploading a CSV. You can also import your email lists from Mailchimp via the API.
MailPoet has a number of signup form placement options, including pop-up, slide-in, fixed bar, and widgets.
If you fancy using a third-party signup form solution, MailPoet plays nicely with a number of popular options.
One of the unique advantages of MailPoet is its ability to send unlimited emails via your WordPress host. This helps you save money when you have a large number of subscribers.
MailPoet offers preconfigured “email frequency” values for the popular shared hosts, preventing you from overusing their systems. You can also set a manual frequency if your host is not on the list.
MailPoet also enables you use third-party email delivery partners such as SendGrid and Amazon SES.
Finally, MailPoet also offers its own dedicated email delivery service, the MailPoet Sending Service. When you signup to this service, you can send unlimited emails for free for up to 1,000 subscribers.
The service can also send high volume emails — up to 50,000 emails per hour — making it very useful for large email lists. Compared to Mailchimp, which has a 12,000 emails per month limit on its free plan, MailPoet’s free plan allows you to send unlimited emails to your subscribers.
As far as analytics go, MailPoet’s free version offers you basic campaign analytics such as open and click-through rates. For detailed analytics such as individual link click rates, MailPoet offers a premium plan at $149 per year (without the Mailpoet Sending Service), or starting at $10 per month (including the MailPoet Sending Service).
In terms of sending post notification emails, I like to think of MailPoet as a “best of both worlds” solution.
It packs way more features than Jetpack’s Subscription module, but isn’t overwhelming like Mailchimp. In terms of simplicity, it’s not quite as simple as Jetpack, but definitely simpler than Mailchimp.
MailPoet is an ideal fit for anyone who wants a simple newsletter plugin with thoughtful automation features, such as post notifications and welcome emails. You can create and schedule campaigns, all directly from your WordPress dashboard.
If you want better email delivery, it’s worth checking out MailPoet’s free email sending service. As your email list grows, you can simply upgrade to a paid plan (which, I might add, is cheaper than Mailchimp).
Here’s how each of the three post notification plugins stack up against each other. I’ve kept the ratings simple: Okay, Average and Great.
|Ease of campaign creation||Great||Okay||Great|
|Subscriber management features||Average||Great||Great|
|Signup form features||Okay||Great||Okay|
|Variety of newsletter campaigns||Average||Great||Great|
Considering our goal of sending post notification emails in WordPress, here’s a brief three-point summary to help you decide which plugin is the best solution for you:
- Jetpack – If you want the simplest possible solution with zero customization.
- Mailchimp – If you’re looking for a full fledge marketing solution with a lot more features than just post notification emails.
- MailPoet – If you’re looking for a balance between email marketing automation (like post notifications and welcome emails) and good ol’ fashioned newsletters.
You can check out our definitive guide to newsletters in WordPress for further reading.
Have you used Jetpack, Mailchimp and MailPoet? Which solution do you prefer? What additional metrics could we have measured? Let us know in the comments below!