MailPoet’s 2019 Product Journey

Illustration by Mary Delaney 2019 as buildings

Phew! 2019 was quite the busy year. In this post, I’ll recap the past 12 months of the MailPoet product journey.

We mixed up our product development between planned tasks, and less expected ones, often related to email abuse. Weeds sparse the plush fields of email.

Our overarching feeling is that we ended the year tweaking and improving existing features, while 12 months ago we were hammering out many new tools. We find comfort in our product’s abilities more than ever.

Team-wise, we’ve proceeded with our inclination towards team happiness thanks to our focus on performance and quality output. We are sensible humans working on removing friction between ourselves.

Our support colleagues have excelled to save the day for many users, but also ourselves from the seldom emergency release. They help steer our product development as well, which is a lot of fun. They’re credited to getting so many 5 star reviews too. 

This post has a table of content in case you want to skip:

A more generous free plan

We decided to give more for free. In essence, MailPoet and its Premium features are entirely free up to 1,000 subscribers. Our users are also less confused thanks to a clearer signup page.

Why do this? Because we want to be nicer to the small guys, obviously. But also to grow our user base, naturally. We welcomed 50,000 new active websites last year.

We traded the loss in revenues for marketing through word of mouth from happy users. We still need time to measure the effectiveness of this strategy.

A better user experience, please

We began the year by expanding our array of email templates. There are 50 of them today, enough to differentiate yourself from the crowd. And we’re tempted to add even more later this year.

The email designer also got a facelift. It looks and feels nicer to use.

MailPoet's email designer

Computers can undo your mistakes since 1968. It arrived in MailPoet’s email designer in 2019. Better late than never, and boy does it feel as good as landing on the moon.

MailPoet works out of the box without configuring it. Signing up to an account is another story. We began work to remove the number of clicks our users have to go through. We’re still in the process of removing steps.

How likely is it that you would recommend X brand to a friend or colleague? This ubiquitous question on user interfaces today is the central question of a benchmark of user happiness called the Net Promoter Score. Interestingly, our NPS score (it’s 50) has been pretty much steady throughout the year. Did we fail to improve? When your score is this good, it’s hard to budge the needle, we think. 

NPS survey in the WordPress admin

No others can keep your mailing list as tidy as MailPoet does

We think newsletters should have an open rate of at least 30%. Forget your industry’s benchmarks, they don’t make any sense. Just aim for 40%.

Content will drive this type of infatuating engagement. But not only. You need to stop sending to disengaged subscribers. 

Purging or pruning your list is a well known best practice, but it’s often laborious for users. In Mailchimp for example, it’s a multi-step process.

In 2019, we changed all that. MailPoet is the only emailing solution that removes inactive subscribers automatically. It’s turned on by default, but can be deactivated. 

We saw an overall drop in email traffic by 15% since introducing the feature. Users don’t need to upgrade to more expensive plans so quickly either, and save money in the process. 

The good side effect is that our delivery service gets a good reputation for sending more engaging emails. We’re quite thrilled about this.

More power to WooCommerce store owners

There was a whirlwind in this department. A quarter of our users have WooCommerce. We feel quite obliged to help them in their mission to sell more stuff!

For starters, we now display what each email generates in revenue. Tracking sale conversion per email is quite important.

Revenues per email with WooCommerce

There are now four automated emails that MailPoet can send:

WooCommerce email types

In our email designer, store owners can also easily add their products by simply dragging them in their newsletter. Easy peasy!

We’ve also added a new transactional email template customizer 🎉 Now all of your WooCommerce emails, like order confirmations and processing info, can be edited to match your branding, directly from MailPoet.

Video demonstrating the WooCommerce email template customizer

All of the above was done with GDPR in mind giving store owners an easy process to abide by the European directive on privacy.

Uninstall your SMTP plugin now

Plugins that help deliver WordPress and WooCommerce emails with a third party sender instead of the host are quite popular. Rightfully so.

MailPoet users can forfeit these plugins since it’s now offered in our core as a toggle, regardless of how you send your emails: the MailPoet Sending Service, SendGrid, Amazon SES or SMTP.  One less plugin, hurray!

Send transactional emails setting

Upholding our high deliverability

In May 2019, we got blacklisted by SpamHaus. It stinks and stings.

This service is a market leader in anti-abuse tools that millions of inboxes depend on to safeguard against spam. For a couple of days, 40% of our emails didn’t get delivered.

It’s not unusual to get blacklisted, but it’s often by less influential lists. It’s part of our work as deliverability managers to get unlisted. But not all lists are created equal. 

We have an outstanding global deliverability rate of 98.5%, but a few bad emails can spoil the party.

Needless to say, we spent some pretty stressful days and told ourselves: never again.

We beefed up our anti-abuse measures in consequence with no effect on sending performance for our users. Moreover, we’re not requiring more from our users: SPF is still not required for most who sign up with MailPoet.

The main drawback is that we manually approve every account. This impedes the workflow of our new users because a human being needs to validate their account to ensure there’s nothing fishy (or phishy?). We’re working to reduce the wait time to a couple of hours at most, and eventually to remove it entirely.

We also spend more time educating our users that are switching to MailPoet about list hygiene. This said, we do see a number of good-intentioned users with such poor lists, many of which are impossible to save.

What’s in store for 2020?

Our vision is to be a true one-stop-shop for email in WordPress. We’re nudging closer to this goal.

Here is a list of plugin or services MailPoet replaces:

  • Newsletters / automated email marketing
  • SMTP plugins
  • WooCommerce email template customizer
  • Logging emails
  • Plugins for different types of signup forms (soon)

Moreover, this is what we started working on or will be tackled in the first half of 2020:

You’ve made it to the end! Thanks for reading.

Ask me anything in the comments. It’ll be my pleasure to respond.