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June 2007 Monthly Update

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Back in the saddle again, and the biggest news last month was the launch of the FeedBlitz Newsletter Edition, a new service that enables any publisher to deliver customized content to any subscriber no matter how that subscriber subscribers.

In other words, if you’re a blogger, you can capture subscriber details (such as name and location) and use that to create customized content to that user. Personalized, targeted content means better higher returns – Web 2.0 gets personal. All driven from your blog.

For email newsletter marketers, you can use FeedBlitz Newsletter Edition to reach both your current newsletter subscribers and Web 2.0 subscribers – all with one service meeting the needs of both, bridging the gap as readers transition from legacy communications to social media. If you don’t have a blog or an RSS feed, FeedBlitz Newsletter Edition will create them for you- all you need to do is type in your articles.

The bottom line is what we’re calling “One Touch Publishing” – no matter how you create your content, all you need to do is publish it once and FeedBlitz Newsletter Edition will customize it, publish it and distribute it to your subscribers without your knowing how. Consistent delivery, consistent reporting and consistent management for all your communications – that’s what Newsletter Edition delivers.

FeedBlitz Newsletter Edition pricing starts at under $2 for publishers with under 10 unique subscribers, which makes it really affordable. It includes email, RSS and web customization, demographic capture and schedule changes in one solution. So if you haven’t tried it out yet, give it a whirl! And become a power publisher in one easy step.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating of course. After 4 weeks there are over 80 Newsletter Edition publications, which is more than I’d expected at this stage. Welcome all.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we had a database outage on June 21 and subsequent problems getting everything back on track - thanks for everyone who stuck through it. We’ve been fine tuning the system ever since to reduce the problems that caused the outage, and have been steadily improving our robustness while still growing the subscriber base (more on this below). Things were certainly sticky back there for a while, with performance issues aplenty as we tuned the system while keeping the mails going, but I’m happy to say that for the last couple of days it’s been humming along quite nicely. Getting the messages out reliably has been job#1, and that’s been our focus the last three weeks or so.

It’s still true, however, that emails for the US east coast are taking until 9am or 10am to finish mailing. FeedBlitz is now routinely sending over one million pieces each morning, and there’s no getting around it – that takes a fair amount of time and effort to do. If you want to see your messages emerge more quickly than that, one option is to edit your publication’s time zone and move it to a different time zone. If you’re on the US east coast, try moving an hour to Atlantic Time. If you’re anywhere else in the US, try going over to Pacific Time. Rest of the world – pick the time zone that’s right for you. You’ll be happy that you did.

Alternatively, you can pick a paid upgrade (either Turbo or Newsletter Edition) which will enable you to choose a different schedule altogether (including manual, Express, weekly or on demand). Log in to your dashboard to explore upgrade options.

To the monthly metrics then. FeedBlitz left May with a circulation of 2,523,249, up 35% over April. June? June’s circulation topped 3,053,875 – up another 21% month on month and only six weeks after blowing past the 2 million mark. The web site saw over 621,000 visits (up 8%) with page views up correspondingly to 1.616 million.

Message metrics were even more impressive.

  • Total messages sent: 37,094,694 (up nearly 69% from May)
  • Average messages / day: 1,236,490
  • Peak daily messages: 1,702,572 (June 26)

That’s the equivalent of nearly 40 million page views delivered via email, so not only has circulation grown, but on average publishers are using FeedBlitz more.

Or, putting it into one of those silly but fun analogies, FeedBlitz basically emailed the equivalent (more or less) of the entire population of Kenya last month. Poland’s next!

Still, a point worth discussing at this juncture is, well, what does this mean to the average publisher? Consider these two data points.

Firstly, of the publishers in FeedBlitz that track open rates (it’s optional, off by default), reported open rates are 31% on average (your mileage will, of course, vary). Open rates are generally under-reported for technical reasons, but let’s stick with this number as it’s the one we have. So, assuming that the average extends across FeedBlitz system-wide, FeedBlitz generated nearly 11.5 million actual page views in June (somewhere between Cuba and Zambia, according to my new nifty population scale).

Secondly, and quite coincidentally, Fred Wilson (the cynics at Wired will love this one) blogged about his reach – the number of readers reported actually reading his RSS feed - which is more or less the RSS equivalent of an email open rate. His reported reach is currently under 10%. Now, Fred uses FeedBlitz (so we contribute to his circulation and his reach), but he doesn’t track email open rates and (even if he did I wouldn’t share them). But I would assume that, given he’s an “A-lister” and a venture capitalist, his audience is heavily into RSS as a communications medium. Perhaps I’m wrong about this - may very well be very wrong - but that’s my assumption at any rate.

So. Based on these numbers though, it sure looks to me (based on my assumptions) that email subscriptions to your blog will, on average, outperform an RSS feed in terms of the ratio of subscribers actually reading what you have to say (certainly once your circulation gets to be of a certain scale). And if that’s the case, if you’re not offering an email option for your readers, you’re missing out on both circulation and eyeballs. And therefore revenue. Your mileage will vary, and perhaps Fred’s case is extreme (his reach started at over 50% when his circulation was smaller), but if you need a reason to offer a newsletter edition of your blog then these data points surely seem to give you one. Or at least some extra food for thought.

On which note, we’re back to doing more interesting things now the service is on a more even keel, and this post is already waaaay too long. Onwards.

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