MailPress Enhancement/Bug Fix Wish List

MailPress is the most powerful free email newsletter plug-in for WordPress. Its ability to generate automatic newsletters from your posts is a great time-saver. Plus it has some powerful advanced features like open rate and link tracking, mailing lists and autoresponders.

Yet MailPress 5.1.1 also has some limitations, missing features and bugs which can really get in my way when I use it. At present it's merely great; once these issues are addressed it will be awesome.

So here's my list of enhancements I wish MailPress had, which would bring it much closer to replacing commercial email solutions like MailChimp and Aweber which don't integrate with WordPress anywhere near as cleanly. If you're a developer, I encourage you to give Andre a hand by submitting patches to add these enhancements, and fix these bugs.

I've ordered the list from most important to least important (to me, anyway):

Easy Subscribe to Newsletter when Commenting

Add a “Notify me of new posts via email” checkbox in addition to the “Notify me of follow-up comments via email” checkbox, as described by Joost de Valk here. This is a great way to turn commenters into newsletter subscribers and increase engagement on your blog. Here's an example of another blog with this feature.

Also add configuration options to allow both checkboxes to be selected by default, and optionally disabled.

Reference: Here is the Google Groups thread discussing this.

Custom Thank You Page

I'd like to be able to present a custom page of text to the subscriber when they have confirmed their subscription, so I can offer a more friendly greeting along with bonus download links.

Reference: Here is a Google Groups discussion of this.

Subscribe to Mailing List without Default Newsletter Subscription

Subscribing to a Mailing List always adds a Default Newsletter Subscription too. This pops up all over the place, and seems to be a core MailPress limitation at present. You can create a mailing list subscription form with:

loading MailPress Enhancement/Bug Fix Wish ListProcessing...


At present, there is no way to specify that the new mailing list subscriber should not also be subscribed to the default newsletter. On The Confident Man Project, I have an affiliate signup page which adds affiliates to my Affiliate mailing list; but my affiliates do not usually want to become newsletter subscribers.

I suggest that when the mailinglist parameter is specified, a checkbox should appear saying “Also subscribe to the newsletter”. The checkbox should be enabled by default.

This problem also exists with the Bulk Add field at the bottom of the MailPress Users list: adding new users here also adds them to the default newsletter; to add them to a mailing list without subscribing them to the newsletter, you have to deselect the default newsletter first which is really inconvenient.

Reference: Here is the Google Group thread discussing this.

Omit Certain Posts From The Newsletter

Sometimes I publish a post that makes sense on my blog, but doesn't belong in the email newsletter. It would be good to have a field on the Edit Post page that would allow me to omit these post from the Newsletter. I'd also like to be able to omit posts based on Mailing List subscription settings; for example, don't send a post to subscribers of my Customers mailing list. I don't want to bombard my existing customers with offers for a product I know they've already purchased.

Existing Users Should Be Added To Mailing List by Bulk Add

When adding a new MailPress user via the Bulk Add feature at the bottom of the MailPress Users list with a mailing list selected they don't get added to the selected mailing list if the user already exists. I believe this is a bug.

It's also not possible to Bulk Add users to a mailing list without also subscribing them to the default newsletter. This is a missing feature.

Reference: See here for the Google Group discussion of this, and here for the previous discussion.

CSV Import Problems

There are a few problems with CSV import:

  1. Imported users get added to the default Newsletter even if “Add default subscriptions” isn't selected. The workaround is to select “Delete all subscriptions”; but that will delete subscriptions of existing users who were subscribed to the newsletter, which isn't really what you want.
  2. The importer should recognise columns headed "email" and “name” automatically
  3. The uploaded CSV file is left in a publicly accessible directory with an easily guessable name.
  4. I'd also like the ability to ignore certain columns (instead of treating them as meta data).

CSV import is such an important feature, you really want it to handle corner cases correctly.

Reference: Here is the Google Group thread discussing this.

Selectively Disable content Filters in Manual and Autoresponder Emails

Many WordPress plugins register content filters which MailPress applies when sending email manually or from an autoresponder. In some cases this is what you want, and in others it isn't. For example, SEO Smart Links will turn all keywords in your handcrafted email into links back to your site; which isn't always what you want.

I'd like to be able to disable certain plugin content filters in manual emails; I know how to disable content filters in your newsletter but haven't worked out how to disable SEO Smart Links in manual emails. You can't just disable the plugin, since that affects your live site.

Reference: Here is the Google Group discussion of this.

Richer Selection On Sending Mail

When sending an email manually via the Mails menu, MailPress allows you to choose from a single email address, or all subscribers, commenters, mailing list members, or newsletter subscribers. However, you can't combine them or use the Geolocation information MailPress has access to.

I have a mailing list for Customers, and another for Affiliates. Members of these lists are not necessarily newsletter subscribers. I'd like to be able to choose combinations like:

  • All newsletter subscribers who are not members of the Customers mailing list
  • All members of the Customers mailing list who are not also on the Affiliates mailing list
  • All newsletter subscribers in a certain country
  • All members of the Customers mailing list in a certain country
  • All newsletter subscribers and members the Customers mailing list, without sending duplicates.

Embedded Video Support

Embedded videos, whether created via OEmbed links or shortcodes from popular plugins like the WordPress Video Plugin, generally don't work in popular email clients like Windows Live Mail. Other email services work around this by converting the video into a static image which links to the video on the video hosting service. Users who click the play button in the image find themselves playing the video, and they at least see an image in their email client. At present, all I see when I read a MailPress email with an embeded a video is a blank space.

Embedded Facebook Like, Tweet and Google +1 Buttons

I use the Really simple share buttons plugin to generate the Facebook Like, Tweet and Google +1 buttons at the top and bottom of my posts. But they don't show up when I view my newsletter emails in Windows Live Mail. It would be great if they did, so newsletter readers who like my post can share them more easily.

While it's probably a lot harder to implement, it would also be great if the SexyBookmarks buttons turned into a clickable image that worked, even if it's not animated. At present I disable Sexybookmarks entirely in my newsletter.

Don't Track This Link with Tracking Add-on

The Tracking add-on tracks mail reader activity by replacing all links in a post with tracking links when creating the newsletter. Although link tracking is an excellent feature, sometimes I want the links to be left alone. I'd like to be able to specify a property for each link that indicates that its shouldn't be replaced with a tracking link, like rel=notracking.

Support for External Redirections in Tracking_ga

Affiliate links are generally cloaked/managed using local URLs that point to 301-redirections which send the visitor to the hidden affiliate address. This helps prevents commission fraud by visitors who try to edit the affiliate link. Affiliate links end up looking like this:

http://confidentman.net/resources/doubleyourdating

instead of the less inviting:

http://www.kqzyfj.com/click-3556402-10745526

Affiliate link manager plugins such as SEO Smart Links Pro, Ninja Affiliate, Pretty Link Pro, and many others all support this form of redirection, which is also recognised by the most popular Google Analytics for WordPress plugin.

The MailPress Tracking_ga add-in adds UTM tracking parameters to all links to the local site, so that Google Analytics can track which MailPress emails users clicked links in to bring them back to the site. Tracking_ga correctly omits these parameters from links to external sites. However it currently doesn't recognise that links beginning with the redirection prefix are actually external links. When tracking parameters are added to these links, they can confuse the external site.

Tracking_ga should be enhanced to add a parameter similar to the Google Analytics for WordPress plugin's “Internal links to track as outbound:” parameter. All links beginning with these prefixes should be treated as outbound links so that no tracking parameters are added to them. (Note the Google Analytics Plugin's “Track outbound clicks & downloads:” field is only available if “Track outbound clicks & downloads:” is selected, but the problem exists even if that option is disabled; so Tracking_ga needs its own field).

Reference: Here is the Google Groups thread discussing this

Manual Republish Button

A button on the dashboard sidebar that tells MailPress to republish a post in the next newsletter.

Automatically Republishing Old Posts

When no posts have been published in WordPress for N days, republish the post that was last published longest ago in the newsletter. This would enable blogs with large amounts of content to cycle through their content indefinitely when no new articles are being published, say because I'm on holidays or no longer writing new content. N should be configurable; I'd set it to 7 by default.

I know you can already do a similar thing with the autoresponder feature, but this would be much simpler to use than manually setting up an autoresponder with the content of every post and would automatically accomodate new content.

The Tweet Old Post plugin does something slightly similar for your Twitter feed. It would also be cool to republish old posts to Facebook and Google+. A single plugin that handles all four would be ideal.

Remind and Delete Users That Don't Confirm

Many user registrations on my blogs never get confirmed. The biggest source of these is spam comments; Akismet doesn't filter the spam until after it's accepted, meaning spammers end up registering bogus addresses for updates to comments on articles they spam. Other anti-spam plugins can do a slightly better job by trapping spam before registering the spammer, but this doesn't always work either. If the confirmation mail bounces due to a bad address it won't exceed the bounce handling threshold and even some legitimate users never confirm their subscription.

For MailPress maintenance to be automated, users who don't reply to the confirmation email should be reminded after one week, and deleted from the database after two weeks.

Editing A User's Email Address

You can't edit a MailPress user's email address on the Edit MailPress User page. The only way to do it is to delete the user and create them anew. I'd like to just be able to edit the field instead.

Child Themes

To modify a MailPress theme, you have to copy it; then merge future updates manually. It would be good to have the equivalent of WordPress child themes.

"Add Form" Doesn't Work

When adding a Form, the Add Form button clears the form creation form without adding a form to the list on the right hand side. This makes the entire Form feature inaccessible. It only happens on some sites, but if it hits yours then you can't create contact forms. The only workaround is to use another contact form plugin, like Contact Form 7.

Here is the Google Group discussion of this

Paragraph Spacing Is Missing In TwentyTen Theme

It's easy to fix, but the paragraph spacing is missing in the MailPress TwentyTen them.

Conditional Text

Being able to insert text in a blog post that's conditional depending on where the article appears would be useful. Sometimes I want to include a statement like "Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting a series of articles on XYZ", and have it only appear in the email newsletter since such a statement doesn't make sense in an evergreen blog post.

For instance:

[conditional email]Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting a series of articles on XYZ[/conditional]

Or

[conditional web]This only appears on the web[/conditional]

Or

[conditional rss]This only appears in the RSS feed[/conditional]

Or

[conditional !email]This doesn't appear in the email newsletter, but does appear on the web and in the RSS feed[/conditional]

Being free software, to address these issues you either have to do it yourself, motivate and/or reward the developer(s), or hire a contractor to do it for you. Otherwise go with a commercial solution like MailChimp or Tribulant WordPress Newsletter. Got any MailPress wishlist features or bugs of your own to mention?

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About Graham

I'm the creator of BuildYourBlog.net.
This entry was posted in MailPress and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to MailPress Enhancement/Bug Fix Wish List

  1. Earl says:

    Great blog, I just started using mailpress and I love it!

  2. Hi! I'm using Mailpress and everything works fine except that I don't know how to allow users to share mail content in Facebook and Twitter
    I've seen that integrated share button is one of your wishlist but I'm wondering if there is some workaround to do this. Thanks in advance!!

    • Graham says:

      You'd have to edit the email template; which shouldn't be impossible but would take a little work. If anyone else has done this, I'd be interested in the code snippet too. Cheers, Graham

  3. There's some great suggestions in here, Graham. I just started using mailpress myself, after two years with subscribe2. There's one feature from that plugin that I'd love to see in Mailpress: a check box on the post edit screen to stop an individual post from being sent out.

    • Graham says:

      Yes I'm right with you there; that's what I meant by Omit Certain Posts From The Newsletter. MailPress has an advantage here over solutions that turn your RSS feed into an email stream, but it's not currently taking advantage of it. Here's hoping for such features in the future!

  4. I just started using MailChimp, with 4 subscribers so far. But am intrigued by the huge list of "subscribers" that my site has accumulated. Does MailPress communicate with those folks?

    • Graham says:

      They may be comment spammers, depending on how your site is configured and what plugins/methods you use to stop spam. Sometimes the commenter gets subscribed before the comment is identified as spam. In MailPress comment spammers show up as Inactive/Waiting; hence my wishlist feature to Remind and Delete Users That Don’t Confirm.

      • Thanks, Graham, I suspect a significant fraction of my "subscribers" are spammers. I wanted to e-mail them directions on how to jump in the lake! It's weird to have all these unscreened subscribers.

  5. Ive started using mailpress, really good idea thank you for all your help!

  6. Ravit says:

    Great Graham, your post gave me a big input as from the comments!!! I don't have yet a newsletter plug-in in my blog and now I can start the work... Thank you!

  7. Sophia says:

    it seems to be wonderful, mailpress! I would like to try it. Thank you for your sharing.

  8. Dave Pilgrim says:

    MailChimp really worked well for me. Thanks for the suggestion.

  9. Ahni says:

    There's some great suggestions in here, Graham. I just started using mailpress myself, after two years with subscribe2. There's one feature from that plugin that I'd love to see in Mailpress: a check box on the post edit screen to stop an individual post from being sent out.

    Beyond that, I hope this thing with duplicate mails can be sorted out once and for all! Thanks.

    • Graham says:

      That's a great idea Ahni; I sometimes write posts that don't make sense in a newsletter too.

      Since reducing my batch size to avoid exceeding Hostgator's PHP max_execution_time and disabling background wp-cron, I haven't seen any duplicates in months. I have fingers crossed that the WordPress 3.3 update will fix the wp-cron issue out-of-the-box. Cheers, Graham

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