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Back to the Future: Growing your audience and simplifying your email marketing with blogs

Monday, August 28, 2006

I'm delighted to be the guest on "Conversations with Experts" hosted by Denise Wakeman and Patsi Krakoff on Wednesday (a.k.a. the Blog Squad), on August 30th at 8:30 pm eastern. There's no charge to listen live, so if you're interested there may still be a few last lines available. Registration is required.

Among other topics, we'll touch on how to:
  • Build closer relationships with prospects and customers using blogs and email.
  • More easily differentiate yourself from your competitors.
  • Take the pain out of creating and managing your email marketing, newsletters and e-Zines.

The full agenda is online at the Blog Squad's main site here. Tune in if you can!


New interactive knowledge base available

Friday, August 18, 2006

This week FeedBlitz's customer service has expanded on two fronts.

Firstly we welcomed Al, who has been taking a lot of the support burden off my shoulders. Secondly, as well as working on responding to support questions, we spent some time this week adding a new interactive knowledge base to the feedblitz.com web site.

Let us know what you think of it, and look for new articles to appear over time. Please visit the KB before emailing support. We'll integrate it more seamlessly into the site as we release FeedBlitz v2, but for now we believe there's a lot of value in it already, so we're making it available now. We'll ultimately replace the static FAQ with this more readily updated, interactive version.


Minor FeedBlitz fixes and Enhancements

Friday, August 11, 2006

A quick update on a number of small fixes and improvements we deployed today:

  • A bug affecting OPML imports from FireFox has been corrected.
  • Users can now publish and subscribe to URLs longer than 255 characters.
  • Site names can now be longer than 255 characters.
  • Subscribers can now specify authentication for subscriptions.
  • Subscribers can now edit a subscription’s settings if it is not a syndicated subscription from a FeedBlitz publisher.


On Wednesday's Delay

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

FYI Wednesday's mailout was significantly delayed by two factors.

Firstly, a configuration error on one of our servers meant that it was busy applying security patches during the overnight run, causing the run to fail. That was addressed promptly and the run restarted.

Secondly, our restarts were then affected by an issue that caused them to poll all your blogs and feed successfully, but then fail to send out any emails. We've been working late to solve this one, and now have a fix in hand. (For the conspiracy theorists out there, this issue appears to be unrelated to the patching - more just dumb (bad) luck). The emails *are* going out now, and we expect the service levels you expect to resume with Thursday's mailings.

We regret any inconvenience caused.


July 2006 Summary

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Time for our regular monthly update on activities here at FeedBlitz, the web's leading RSS to mail service. Let's do the numbers.

Active circulation at month end was a whisker over 700,000, representing over 8% growth from June. Feedblitz.com had 230,850 visits and 743,804 page views, up from June's 205,634 and 729,583 respectively. Based on activity so far, in just the first couple of days of August, I'm confident that we'll crush those numbers next month.

New capabilities added in July saw FeedBlitz enable user customization of the registration confirmation email (perfect for non-English content), a monthly newsletter option, and the management of our delivery to AOL (initial post, update 1, update 2). We also sponsored and attended the most excellent BlogHer conference, and I was interviewed by Internet marketing expert Lee Odden.

Now regular users are usually accustomed to more feature adds during a month than we've delivered in July. There is, of course, a reason for that. And the reason is that we're working in some new, exciting and innovative capabilities that I hope to be able to announce in September, all things being equal. This work is both important and time-consuming, but trust me on this one - it will be worth it.

Meanwhile, stay cool in this blistering Summer heat, and watch this blog for more FeedBlitz news.


AOL Deliverability Update 2

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

It's been a week now since we've been tackling the AOL deliverability issue, and while we're not out of the woods completely yet, things are definitely significantly better than a week ago.

Firstly, we haven't had a "we're worried about the level of unsubscribes" memo from AOL since last Wednesday, which indicates that we haven't crossed their threshold enough to warrant a warning. This is definitely a good thing, and an external indicator of progress.

Secondly, by cleaning up the lists and clarifying the language at key points we definitely are making a difference, and our metrics bear the point out. Right now, we have 22,985 happy and deliverable AOL subscribers, 770 bouncing and 200 about to be cleaned up by the automated list management services. If anyone is still seeing persistent AOL problems on their list please write to support.

Now, if you're an AOL user (or anyone) and don't want to get FeedBlitz News, and are wondering how you got it, a few points:

1) You did actually request this. Most people subscribe after signing up for the newsletter they want. If you want the info, we can tell you.
2) We do not automatically add subscribers to our lists.
3) You don't have to get any email updates from FeedBlitz in order to get updates from the site or sites you want. Feel free to unsubscribe using the links in the email. We won't take it personally. Find out more about us at http://www.feedblitz.com/faq.htm or just fire up your favorite search engine.
4) Unsubscribing is immediate after you confirm. Do it once, you're done. If the links don't work it's because your ISP or email client has done something. Write to us at support and we will remove you withtin a business day.
5) We treat AOL users hitting the "spam" button as if they had requested an unsubscribe - these addresses will be removed within a business day.


BlogHer Conference Wrap

Now that I've had a little time to recover from the jet lag etc., I thought I'd wrap up on last weekend's BlogHer conference.

The conference itself was a great event, even for me (a man). The attendees all seemed to find the environment a safe, secure and friendly one, and it certainly seemed to me that everyone was welcome, regardless of gender. BTW, male attendance was (as far as I can tell) way down from the 20% in 2005, so come on, gentlemen: step up for next year.

From an agenda perspective, I found most of the topics on day 1 to be the most useful and interesting to me, but then they were the more technical ones. Day 2 was more topical and issues related, and since I blog largely for customer service and marketing purposes I found the day to be a little less interesting for me. It was the better attended of the two days, though, which I think indicates the momentum of blogging as a whole and, perhaps, the issues motivating women in particular in the blogosphere. If you're wondering "why is a women's blogging conference necessary?" then the attendance alone should tell you: because there's a reason (and a market) for one.

FeedBlitz was a technical sponsor of BlogHer and we'll be continuing to support their efforts over the coming year. For what it's worth, kudos and thanks to Jory, Elisa and Lisa for organizing the event so well, and to all their volunteers and partners who helped. Having been around conferences my whole career I know they're a nightmare to run, and this one was very well run indeed.

It was also fabulous to meet many of our users (and, I hope, users to be) at the conference. Not only did I start day 1 by meeting Dave Winer, but I also had the pleasure meeting with Denise Wakeman and Patsi Krakoff of the Blog Squad, the very talented Elise Bauer, the multi-tasking Liza Sabater and many more. Liza was kind enough to introduce me to Robert Scoble while we are all standing in line at a poolside bar (I know, tough trip...) - he was there with his family as his wife was speaking on Day 2. I finally met Guy Kawasaki, who not only uses FeedBlitz but also was the one who pointed Jory and I at each other a few months ago. Also a big hello and thanks! to Susie Bright (contains adult-themed content) for finally tracking me down in the heat on Saturday. I met many others too numerous to mention (and a couple of folks I hope to be able to mention at some point in the future, all things being equal), and so if I omitted anyone, sorry. Drop me a line and I'll add you.


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