All things being equal, the new FeedBlitz v4 user interface will be on by default for all users starting Monday, January 16th, 9:00am eastern. You can get a jump start on it by visiting www.feedblitz.com/f?v4 if you haven't already done so.
The FeedBlitz email parser integration that enables subscribers to be automatically added to one of your lists has been modified since we launched it. If the list you are adding to is an autoresponder, FeedBlitz will add the subscriber and activate the autoresponder automatically. It doesn't feel right to make them go through dual opt in in this case just so you can say "thank you."
If the list the parser is attached to is a standard mailing list (newsletter, blog powered or otherwise), dual opt-in will still be required.
I will be the guest on the NAMS (Niche Affiliate Marketing System) weekly training calltomorrow evening, Wednesday, January 4th at 8pm eastern. Join me and David Perdew for an hour of education and chat on using email marketing profitably for digital products and your site. Hope you can join me - use the guest registration process if you're not a NAMS member.
I'm also going to be running some training at the NAMS7 conference in Atlanta in early February. You can find out more about that here - I'm really looking forward to it. See you tomorrow!
Following yesterday's announcement of our Pinterest integrations, today it is Google+'s turn. Google+ has been added to FeedBlitz in two key areas to enable end-user sharing of your posts and links to their G+ circles:
As a new social media feed "flare" added to FeedBlitz RSS feeds (enabled at RSS - Social Media), enabling RSS and email subscribers to share the post with their circles on Google+
As an additional sharing option when an email subscription is activated, added to the screen blogged about here, so that new, enthusiastic subscribers can invite their circles to join your list.
If you use FeedBlitz's email services you'll need to set up a FeedBlitzed version of your site's regular RSS feed if you haven't already done so, enable the G+ social media flare, and then make your list's article source your new FeedBlitz feed. Easy!
So now your readership can share with pins, circles, tweets and links. Whatever next?!
I'm happy to announce that FeedBlitz has added comprehensive support for Pinterest - the increasingly popular social pinboard service - to FeedBlitz's RSS (and by extension, blog to email) subscription services.
What we've enabled is:
The ability to splice your pins into your FeedBlitz version of your blog's RSS feed (via RSS - Splices), which will include your pins into that feed, and by extension into any emails and updates sent from that feed. The default is to add a daily summary of pins to the feed, but you can change that on the splices page. All you do is put in your account ID, and FeedBlitz takes care of the rest.
Enabling your subscribers to pin your posts to their Pinterest boards, increasing your social sharing. Again, this is via our RSS feed service, the premium alternative to FeedBurner. Go to RSS - Social Media and enable the Pinterest "flare." Your FeedBlitz feed will now have the Pinterest icon added to its sharing options. When clicked, the first image in the post is put up for pinning along with the post's title. The icon will show up in your feed and in any mailings it powers.
This is great news for crafters, art bloggers, photographers, or any bloggers who uses imagery consistently in their posts.
If you want to add Pinterest to your blog's email subscription mailings but don't yet have a FeedBlitz RSS feed, creating one is easy. All you need to do is:
Create a FeedBlitz version of your blog's feed at RSS - New Feed.
Change your FeedBlitz mailings' article source to be the feed you created in step (1) at newsletters - Settings - Content Settings - The Basics (v3) or via the list's settings button in FeedBlitz v4.
You don't have to use that feed anywhere else if you don't want to - but you might well be tempted when you see what we can do :)
I'll admit it. I'm one of those writers that used to blush when being called a blogger. My embarrassment was based on stereotypes, of course, and I'll confess them here only to prove a point. I didn't like being called a blogger because bloggers weren't artists. Bloggers were in it for the money and would do anything to make a sale. And if they weren't that, bloggers were publishing drip about their personal lives, which I didn't care for.
I started blogging in 2005, when perhaps those stereotypes had a percentage of truth to them. I kept my blog to myself, oddly enough, but as people started to find me and as my short stories and essays earned recognition in the literary world, The Writing Life blog started growing - whether I was ready for it or not. Now more than ever, I understand that bloggers can't be boxed in to a single category and that, as a young writer trying to earn a living, one of the most important things I can do for my career is identify as a blogger.
Reading Phil Hollows' List Building for Bloggers e-book changed my entire outlook. I purchased it because I'm also an editor for TRACHODON Magazine and am in charge of its blog, Cheek Teeth. I figured I shouldn't let my stereotypes about blogging get in the way of my business as an editor. But, wait a minute…didn't I also have a business as a writer? Listbuilding helped me see that as a blogger I am also an "accidental marketer," as Phil would say, and that by failing to take advantage of branding, list building, and email blasts, I was missing an opportunity to make a name for myself…and maybe even make a little money for postage and gas. I could still write quality blog posts and publish short stories I was proud of, but I could also maintain an active blog and website that offered incentives and literary products to my readers.
So I read the book, twice, with highlighter in hand. I already had the FeedBlitz "subscribe by email" bubble on my site, but it wasn't in the right place and I hadn't notified my contacts, branded the newsletter, or paid any attention to its schedule. Following the instructions in List Building, within a matter of days my email subscribers quadrupled and, several months later, I still get a few new subscribers each week. More importantly, I saw the hits on my website increase over the weekends - when I never post new content - because my subscribers were taking their time with my weekly FeedBlitz newsletter (which is emailed Friday mornings) and perusing my blog via click-throughs that FeedBlitz makes so easy in the newsletter format. Despite my belief that if I organized my readers through an email list my hits would go down, in fact, my hits kept going up.
Bolstered by this experience, I followed the other tips in List Building to a tee. Most changes were small - including a subscription link in my email signature, titling blog posts to make them appear readily in Google searches, dreaming up relevant incentives for subscribers - and within one month traffic on my site increased by over 35% and continues to grow. Excited, I set up my first autoresponder, as List Building suggests. Using an email blast to announce the project, and further promoting it on the blog and through social media outlets, I launched Monthly Fiction by Katey Schultz, 12 short stories in as many months for just $12 - a FeedBlitz autoresponder with my branding that delivers one new short story to subscribers each month for an entire year.
I'm a small operation with a lot on my mind, but List Building for Bloggers made marketing easy for this non-tecchie writer and helped me gain confidence that I do have things I can sell. Just last week I tested Phil's suggestion to market by using repetition. I posted one status update each morning on FaceBook with a quote from my chapbook Lost Crossings. In less than a week, I sold eight copies. We're not talking New York bestseller, but that's eight books that were collecting dust a week ago and will now be wrapped under people's Christmas trees.
I wouldn't be a good "accidental marketer" if I didn't end this post with a pitch. So here it is, fellow bloggers and business owners: Subscribe to Monthly Fiction by December 31st and get 33% off - just $8 for 1 year of award-winning fiction.
About the Author
Katey Shultz is a writer living in Bakersville, North Carolina. In 2010, she had over 10 short stories published and was recognized with 5 fiction awards, including the Linda Flowers Literary Prize. Her most recent work, Flashes of War, is a collection of 29 fictional stories focusing on characters in and around the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Starting this afternoon, active FeedBlitz publishers (well over 72,000 of you!) will be getting an email, letting you know that your account has been readied for the new capabilities of FeedBlitz v4.
FeedBlitz v4 is significantly easier to use than the current version, enabling you to work faster. If you've found the current FeedBlitz web site a challenge at times, then you'll find FeedBlitz v4 delivers a significant leap forward. Beyond better usability, though, FeedBlitz v4 also delivers insight into your site's entire audience across the social web.
If you have any questions about FeedBlitz v4, need help making better use of FeedBlitz in general, or just want help with your current setup, don't hesitate to contact tech support at firstname.lastname@example.org or read our knowledge base. We're more than happy to help.
You can always get a jump start on the new look and feel by going directly to www.feedblitz.com/f?v4 - you don't have to wait for the email to arrive!
Meanwhile, if you're curious about the changes that are a-coming, check out the video below.
FeedBlitz will become exclusively v4 in early the New Year.
Before I wrap up with the FeedBlitz "how-to" however, one point I didn't emphasize earlier but should is this: You should monetize the landing pages, true, but not the interactions that lead up to them.
By which I mean, don't bling up the subscription form with lots of offers and competing links. You want to draw the subscriber in closer, so make it clear what you want them to do. Don't distract them before they even start the process.
Similarly, you should keep the activation email down to one call to action: Activate your subscription. By all means brand it, but, again, don't add other competing links, distractions and bright shiny objects. You want them to finish the play, so make that the first, obvious and only choice they have.
Obviously, the same applies for your unsubscribe form. You don't want to be reported to your email service provider or the relevant government authority for making it hard to unsubscribe, so don't get in the way on the conformation page. Ask them why they're leaving and let them go. Save the monetization for the page that follows.
Set Up the Landing Pages on Your Blog
You need to decide which landing pages you are going to use and make them. Don't make them as posts, but as pages. Also make sure when you publish the page that you tell your blog to omit the landing page from your site menus and navigation. They should only be reachable as a result of the opt-in and opt-out processes in the email subscriber life cycle.
Now, bear in mind that you don't have to do all three at once in order to be successful. The "check your inbox" page will have the most traffic, but the people reaching the "welcome - you're in" page will probably be the most engaged. I recommend picking either of these as your first page to produce, depending on the programs you have available to monetize with. Leave the unsubscribe landing page until later if you're short on time.
As you build each page, remember too that the job of each page is to inform the subscriber of what to do next and / or confirm what it is they have just done. Make sure that the relevant message is front and center; don't shove it below the fold. After all, you've built enough trust to merit someone wanting to become a subscriber; don't give them second thoughts now.
Setting Up FeedBlitz
In your mailing list's settings, go to Newsletters - Settings - Content Settings - The Basics (v3), or your list's settings page (v4) and look for the three landing page redirect fields. Add the URL(s) of the landing page(s) you've created here and save. If your landing page is a script and can parse incoming variables, you can pass the subscriber's email address into the redirect as well by following the tip on that screen. That's it! What you then need to do is test that it all works, so log out of FeedBlitz, and then subscribe to your list using an email address you haven't used before. This ensures that you get the same experience as a fresh visitor to your site as you move through the process. FYI there are similar options for autoresponders too - just find the analogous screens and fields.
Test, Optimize, Repeat.
As you build your list, you should start to see increased engagement and monetization from these new pages. Once they're settled in, try changing the offers, the headlines or other elements on the page to see how that affects click through rates from those pages. Optimize steadily over time to grow your business further, and good luck!
In the previous post I pointed out that there were three landing pages on everyone's web site that are typically ignored or forgotten about from a monetization perspective. They are the landing pages that appear in an email list's dual opt-in transaction cycle:
The "Check your inbox now" landing page;
The "Thank you for joining the list" landing page; and
The "You have been unsubscribed" landing page.
What, then, can you do with these pages to help boost earnings without messing up each page's core purpose, which is to guide / reassure the subscriber through the relevant step of the email opt-in and opt-out processes?
Don't Bury the Lead
Well, the first thing you should not do is build a salesy squeeze page that distracts or detracts or confuses the subscriber. Each landing page has a core mission. So make sure that the basic message of each page - check your inbox, congrats you're in, sorry to see you go - is front and center for each. You need to make sure that the messaging of each page matches the visitor's expectations. Don't hide that core message with flashy bling, confusing text or a barrage of popups.
That said, once your main headline and opening sentence get the relevant point across, you can work on leveraging the engaged reader into something more revenue-positive.
The "Check Your Inbox Now" Page
When the visitor reaches this page, they're about half-way through the dual opt-in process. They completed the form, filled in any squiggly letters in your CAPTCHA, and the activation email is on its way.
The first thing this page has to do is to reassure them of this, and to remind them that they should check their inbox to activate their subscription. What you don't want to do is have them not finish the play, so you do need to encourage them to check their inbox ... eventually.
But since they're here, now, on this page, you have their attention. As they haven't yet fully signed up, it isn't time to ask them to refer your site to their friends; save that for the successful activation landing page later on.
If you're offering an incentive for new subscribers, this page is a great place to remind them of it. Let them know that they will be rewarded somehow when they finish up. Perhaps a 10-30 second video from you would work too.
You can also use this page to promote further activity on your site. A variation on the "sneeze page" theme, this can be a "while you're here, check out our most popular posts" message. It can be two or three of your greatest hits, or a more comprehensive list if your site has enough quality content. It's also entirely appropriate to use ads and affiliate links on this page, provided that they don't distract the reader from figuring out quickly that a confirmation is required. If you have ebooks to sell, or some other service that helps build your earnings, you could provide a prefilled order form. You get the idea...
Finally, if you have partner sites where you earn referral fees, you can offer your nearly-subscriber a set of "we recommend" links or a form that invites them to do whatever your partner site needs. You can't force them into it - permission is required - but it is a way to get paid for leads if the visitor converts on the partner site's page.
When you're done defining the page, just make sure it isn't over done. If there's too much choice you'll end up confusing the visitor and they're more likely to do less, not more. Take time to edit.
Mission Accomplished - Welcome!
The visitor has activated their subscription. Thank or welcome them on this page, of course, and (if you can) set their expectations about how often they will be mailed.
If you offered some kind of reward for new subscribers, this is when it should be fulfilled. If the reward is they are part of a sweepstakes, say, instead of having access to a tangible deliverable, tell them that they've been entered (or whatever is appropriate). Let them know they've succeeded. If you are delivering an incentive, it's also a great idea to use an autoresponder here to deliver it as well as using the landing page.
Now, by getting to this point, the subscriber has completed the multi-step dual opt-in process. That's an achievement! They're pretty pumped. So NOW go ahead: Ask them for a referral. This is the perfect time to ask them to share your site or their new subscription with their social networks. Put big friendly sharing buttons on this page for that purpose, and place a good call to action around them. (FeedBlitz does this for the default landing page we serve, see this blog post).
Moreover, if you have a multiple list strategy in place at your blog, this activation page is a great place to offer additional subscriptions to your site. If most of your readers are joining your main list, then offering niche, category or other lists here is a great idea to bind the new subscriber deeper to you and your site. The deeper in with you they are, the more you can potentially earn. MoneySavingMom.com does this - when you activate a subscription, you're taken to her list of store-specific coupon mailings.
Finally, pretty much all of the ideas I mentioned for the "check your inbox" page will work here too. A little repetition won't hurt. Encouraging exploration - more time on site, more ads to be seen, more offers to view - will also boost your income.
Oh no! You're leaving.
Sooner or later, a subscriber is going to unsubscribe. Don't stand in their way.
But on the page that tells them they've been removed, what you can do is offer them alternative ways to reach you. Perhaps email isn't the way they want to follow you now. You can and should offer the ability to keep up via your favorite social networks on this page - you may lose a subscriber, but gain a Facebook Fan.
If you have multiple lists, perhaps the subscriber is unsubscribing because the list they were on is no longer working for them. Well, offer them your other ones - perhaps there's a better fit there that will keep them in the fold. Remember, people unsubscribe for a variety of reasons, so if all it is that they'd prefer to have a weekly wrap up and not a daily deluge, offer the weekly version here. You never know!
Wrapping It All Up
Next post will conclude this short series, along with a "how-to" implementation guide for FeedBlitz publishers.
Landing pages. Generically, landing pages are the pages where a user starts to interact with your site in some way, usually after an search, or possibly clicking on an ad. One of the things that Internet Marketers (and any business online) spend a lot of time optimizing are their landing pages.
The landing page is your last best shot at converting the new visitor into something else: A buyer, perhaps. A lead. A subscriber. A donor. A voter. The point being that you want that new visitor to do something when they hit that landing page, and optimizing that landing page to improve its conversion rate typically leads to more success (however you define that) later on.
Landing pages can be short and sweet, or go all the way through to screenful after screenful of text, with embedded videos, highlighted text - "squeeze pages" in the industry jargon. Optimizing landing pages needs lots of testing. Even simple headline changes, a subtle change in the call to action, or adding a chevron to a button can dramatically affect how well a landing page converts.
Dollars to donuts, you have three highly visible, highly engaging landing pages that you haven't even thought about. And that means you're losing out on potential conversions, and therefore on downstream monetization.
Thinking Harder About Dual Opt-In
The tragedy of most bloggers - which is why I wrote the "List Building for Bloggers" series and subsequent ebook - is that email subscriptions are neglected, forgotten about and generally ignored. Not only is that in and of itself a tragic loss of potential engagement (and, again, monetization opportunities), it also means you're missing out on three critical landing page monetization opportunities.
What are they? Well, think about the dual opt-in process. You probably haven't for a while, so here's a little diagram as a reminder:
See, after the subscription form is completed, there's the "Check your inbox now" page. It's a landing page.
After the subscriber activates their subscription, there's another "thank you for subscribing" landing page.
The third landing page I mentioned? Happens when a subscriber unsubscribes. They opt out of the list, and a "Sorry to see you go" landing page appears.
Three, very engaging, well-read, landing pages. Have you thought about how to make better use of them? Optimize them? Leverage them to help you monetize your site better? Because if you haven't, you're missing out on some great revenue opportunities.
More on what to do with the neglected landing pages hiding in your dual opt-in process in the next post.