I continue to be intrigued by people who are turning WordPress into more complex web applications. With that in mind, let’s take a look at Jackmail which is the second newsletter plugin I’ve covered here at The Plugin Economy.
Jackmail is incredibly full featured and you can tell the team has been working on it for a long time. What I like about it best is the user interface. It’s just very appealing and as someone who struggles with interface design there’s a lot here for developers like me to learn from.
But what got me interested in Jackmail from the start was the plugin’s pricing.
The revenue model for Jackmail is not the norm in WordPress plugins which is another reason I wanted to take a look at it more in-depth. The plugin itself is free but users pay based on the number of emails they send out. Everyone gets a limited amount of email sends per month/day so you should be able to download and get a feel for if Jackmail is right for you or not at no financial risk.
Yannick Chizzolini, one of the people behind Jackmail, took some time to answer my questions about the plugin.
Jackmail is another instance of extending WordPress beyond a traditional content management system. Did you initially set out to make such a large plugin?
We’re from a French company called Sarbacane which develops software to create and send newsletters. Sarbacane, the software, has always been a desktop application. But, recently, our management decided to make a web version.
So it was more or less natural for us to extend this web solution to another universe. WordPress is used on 1 out of 4 websites in the world, so we thought it was a good idea to work in this way.
The amount of features that Jackmail has is pretty impressive. Which parts of the plugin were the most difficult to put together? Which features are you the most proud of?
Honestly, what took us the most time, is the UX. We worked a lot to enhance the user experience. We definitely wanted our user to have the greatest time ever in our plugin.
We can’t be proud yet, since we have a lot to do, but we have a lot of good reviews through our web chat client, and that make us proud.
So far I’ve spoken to mainly solo plugin developers but you appear to have several people working on Jackmail. Can you talk a bit about everyone involved and what skills they bring to the plugin’s development?
As said earlier, we’re just a small team inside Sarbacane, dedicated to Jackmail. Basically, we’re 3 people dedicated to the project but we have 100 coworkers in the company. So, if tomorrow we need more help in order to work on a new feature, we will use developers from the Sarbacane team.
In the “official” Jackmail team you have:
Savinien, our developer who realized the whole plugin. It took a year to create Jackmail, and thanks to Savinien, we should have more years coming of development to add features.
Maximilien, who is our Product Manager. One of his jobs is to establish a roadmap. He works a lot with Savinien to decide what we will have to develop or not. He also is our web developer. He created our website and blog.
And I, Yannick, Business Development Manager. My mission is to spread Jackmail all around the world. Social media, articles, news, shows, interviews. My work is a mix between sales and marketing.
Jackmail is a free plugin that offers limited outgoing emails per month. Your business model is based around the usual support plans and then tiered-pricing based on the amount of emails sent per month. Was this always the plan to generate revenue with Jackmail and how has the sales process gone so far with such a unique pricing setup?
This has been a big brainstorming. What we were sure of is we didn’t want our users to pay for the plugin. We wanted to grant a free plan to create visibility and allow a lot of users to try us. So far, so good. We do not have a lot of paying users so far but a lot are on the free version. 90% of our users haven’t had to pay anything.
Email marketing is a crowded space. How have you approached marketing Jackmail and what have you found to be the most and least successful approaches to getting the word out?
We could be the best plugin in the world, if nobody knows, we’re no one and so, not the best. Our main issue now, is to be known. When you want to download an app for your mobile, you head to your OS Store, put your search and all the time, you pick the app you want in the ten best results.
Jackmail currently lacks reputation and you can’t find us in the 10 best results. Our main goal now is to be in the top, to be seen. Seen, downloaded. So simple and obvious but we can’t go further if no one know us. So we’re working a lot to spread the word. And it’s a big investment in time and in money.
What’s next for Jackmail? New features, improving existing ones or focusing on sales and marketing?
Our road map is longer than my arm. We have so much to do that our next 5 years are full.
We want to be more integrated to WordPress. Every single mail leaving your WP Dashboard could be sent and designed with Jackmail. For example, lost passwords, abandoned carts, new user in the forum, bills, new orders. Anything coming out.
We’re currently adding more connections with others plugins. We’ve done Bloom and Gravity Forms recently. We’re now working on OptinMonster and CaptainForm.
But without visibility all theses new features would be nothing. So we’re working both on improvement and marketing.