WordPress Plugin Review:
Comment Reply Notification
Commenters don’t know how much you care, until they know how much you care!
One of the ongoing struggles with encouraging reader interaction on blogs is … encouraging reader interaction!
There are many steps that go into adapting the commenting system on wordpress to best accomplish our goals. These include things like enabling threading, enabling commenters to subscribe to comments, giving high quality backlinks (dofollow, commentluv, keywordluv), minimizing forced logins, etc…
Another concept that many bloggers find helps with reader engagement is to notify the commenter when a follow up reply has been left to their comment.
Now there are a couple ways to approach this, and a couple obstacles, but I want to show you what’s working for me currently.
WordPress Plugin: Comment Reply Notification
Comment Reply Notification is a straight forward little WordPress plugin that enables you to set for the commenter to receive a email indicating that their comment has been replied to.
[Note: I recently switched to the ReplyMe plugin which is very similar, when this plugin wasn’t updated for a bit. Both plugins are similar and work well and are stable. If you’re using this plugin with no problem there is no reason to switch.]
This plugin’s feature set has been built into the “wp thread comment” plugin that folks with older themes need to use to enable comment threading if the default checkbox in WordPress does not work for them. (However, please don’t use that plugin on themes that support the native threading enabled check box.)
Unlike many other similar plugins available, this one by default includes both their original comment AND the reply comment.
You can select whether the commenter receives a notification when an author/admin replies to that comment or when anyone replies to that comment. You can force this to happen regardless… or you can provide a checkbox that can default to checked – or – unchecked to allow the commenter to decide.
You can customize the email subject line AND the body text, which is particularly useful as there are a lot of changes you can make to get it to “feel” right verbally. I found that it works okay by default, but that the original comment and reply comment kinda get smooshed together and it really needs an extra <br /> inserted between the two to open it up some visually.
This plugin does not automatically send them any sort of generic thank you SIMPLY for commenting, such as “Comment Relish” (which I have had trouble getting working at times) and “Thank Me Later” (which appears to be working) both do. Because of that, either of those could be used in conjunction with this one. However…
Thanking someone for commenting and letting them know that there has been a reply can be valuable assets in our toolbox for encouraging interaction. However, we still must find a way to deal with the laws surrounding it. One way or another, I think it’s fair to say that folks should have SOME way of finding out they are likely to receive a piece of email from you.
I chose to use the editable field in Keywordluv plugin, which I already run, to add a note of this fact. While it’s certainly not a full legal consent, at least it’s there. (Yes, I know it had gone missing, I had a upgrade hiccup, which reminded me to blog on this topic!)
Another way is to establish a page with your fully detailed comment policy – and the fact that you do send notifications – and put a plugin like “Comment-Policy” that forces the commenter to check a box and agree to the policy before they are able to leave a comment. However, many of you have heard me get on tangents over forcing the commenter to do more and more action steps “just” to leave you a comment. They’re doing YOU a favor, the goal here is to avoid punishing them for that. The fact that we often ask them to complete captcha is more than many of them wish they had to do! (That said, I would say that “Comment-Policy”… or setting the plugins setting to “Commenter choose to do so (default unchecked)” is the legally correct solution.)
Comment Reply Notification Summary
This simple little plugin helps you to further encourage reader engagement by making them aware of follow up comments. Because following up and replying on comments is not done on all blogs (only those interested in growing), many readers do not think to check back for replies to their thoughts and questions. This plugin helps with that, and also puts your name back in their inbox, hopefully bringing them back to your blog another time and giving them additional exposure time to your optin.
Remember that with all of these similar comment to email style plugins to honor at least the spirit of the law. Imagine that you are using your “best” email address and trying to minimize spam in it so you can actually get work done. Make your policy clear and your follow up worth their time. Hopefully it goes without saying that you also need to make your reply comment interesting!
So, what are your thoughts on receiving follow up emails on blogs you have commented on? Do you find them interesting? useful? tedious? annoying? Is this affected by whether you are there for some reason you enjoy versus being there simply leaving a comment so you can get your backlink from their blog to build your SEO? I personally prefer it, with or without an additional checkbox, over needing to subscribe to the whole thread that may be super-active, just to keep up with if the author replied to me. How about you?
Let me know your thoughts and if you found this information useful I would be grateful if you would share it with others!