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Lost a server May 23...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Uh oh ... It was half of the web site and a third of the mailing capacity, and it went down hard.

FeedBlitz mailing and web site services have has not been interrupted, but mailings are much slower today and the web site, down to the one older machine, is dragging. We're working with the hosting service to get the server back online, and when it does we'll throw it back into the fray to get things back to normal as quickly as we can.

Update: An additional WWW server was been brought online just after 11:00 am edt

Update May 24: Shortly after midnight edt our ISP 'fessed up to a network hardware failure. They've addressed this so this host is back online and we're catching up on the backlog.


Feature Update: Recycling is Good for your Posts

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

You're blogging. You want your articles read. As much as possible.

So starting today, FeedBlitz is going to help extend the life of your newsletter articles by automatically providing a summary of older posts at the end of each mail - a simple recap, if you will. The idea is to recycle your recent work to extend your circulation and grow page views for zero effort on your part. A link to the recap appears in the table of contents we automatically build for you when we send your emails out.

The recap itself consists of a brief description and a bulleted list of older articles with links back to the source. If you are tracking click-throughs, FeedBlitz tracks clicks on recap links as well.

The post summary is enabled for everyone. The default setting is to send the five most recent articles in the feed after the ones that make the mailing. You can see how it looks on your publication's preview at www.feedblitz.com/f?previewfeed=<listid> (so the FeedBlitz news preview is at www.feedblitz.com/f?previewfeed=84 ). If you're getting this article by mail, you'll also see the recap at work just below this entry.

You can change the number of articles in the recap (including setting the value to zero to disable it) and the text used to label the summary in your syndication's basic settings. Here's how:
  1. Go to My Account - My Syndications - View and Manage (or http://www.feedblitz.com/f?Lists )
  2. Choose Syndication Setup - The Basics
  3. Edit the values and save.
The recap is built for previews and scheduled updates only; On demand and newsflash broadcasts do not get the recap.

Recycling. It's good for the environment, and it's good for your circulation.



FeedBlitz circulation surges past 2,000,000

Friday, May 18, 2007

As of a few minutes ago, FeedBlitz's active circulation (the number of active reader - active publication pairs) blew through the two million mark, to 2,009,613. It took us just under eight months to go from our first seven figure total to today. By comparison, our first million took nearly 14 months to achieve.

FeedBlitz has established a continuous track record of growth and innovation in the RSS to email market. The only mainstream vendor who's business model does not depend on selling advertising (hey, we actually have a business model); we give the most options and the most flexibility to bloggers, publishers and marketers looking to extend their reach with a professional, automated HTML email newsletter solution. We offer real-time analytics, unsubscribe and referral reports, broadcasts that compliment RSS-driven publication, and complete subscriber management. We are the only RSS to mail newsletter vendor that supports marketing using innovative social media platforms such as Twitter, and there's more on the way on that front. Like our one million article, we're in the middle of a beta. It's for an exciting - dare I say it, ground breaking - marketing and lead generation service we'll be launching soon.

So a few metrics to wrap up this milestone, to parallel the first:
  • Our largest list has well in excess of 100,000 subscribers.
  • The next five have over 50k each.
  • The 10 largest publishers account for a circulation of over 580,000.
  • There are 23 publishers with circulations greater than 10k.
  • Our busiest day (so far) was May 11, 2007, where we sent over 790,000 updates.
  • Circulation has grown 7.5% since the end of April alone.
So thank you to everyone for your confidence and support!

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Welcome Back, the FeedBlitz Knowledge Base

FYI the FeedBlitz Knowledge Base is now back up and running at a new location, http://kb.feedblitz.com/kb

In addition a couple of our other site areas have also moved:
The feeds for all of these remain as they were.

We've also upgraded the API site to a proper (not self-certified) SSL certificate, which will make life easier for developers building solutions around our content distribution services.

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New Feature: Article voting, powered by outbrain

Thursday, May 17, 2007

I'm delighted to announce the results of a partnership between FeedBlitz and outbrain, enabling us to add article ranking and display to your emails. So now you can get feedback from your readership about what you're writing - and your readership can see what everyone else thinks - even if your subscribers aren't commenting on your blog (or if you have comments disabled). It's a great way to get insight from those who are unwilling or unable to voice their opinions in writing online (but you "A" type personalities can vote too, of course!)

So FeedBlitz is now rolling this facility out to all users over the next few days; it is enabled by default. The option to change that setting is in the Syndication Setup - Tracking, Forwards and Comments menu option at www.feedblitz.com/f?lists

Now, what you see in these emails is only the first fruits of our work together. FeedBlitz is continuing to work with outbrain, and I expect that we'll be able to deliver valuable information to publishers as usage grows and the technology evolves. A big "thank you" to founder and CEO Yaron Galai and his team as we've worked through the implementation.

Since we're partnering with outbrain, your article rankings join those made by outbrain's other users. That's actually important for the long haul. Recently funded, outbrain's goal is to use the "wisdom of crowds" (or "serendipity" as they call it) to help you find content that you might otherwise miss. There's an explanation here, and more here by outbrain's founder, Yaron Galai on his personal blog as to why outbrain is not Digg. if you're interested in getting your dose of serendipity, hop on over to outbrain.com and sign up.

One final, important, word on privacy. No personally identifiable information is shared when the rating graphic is displayed, nor when you vote. In other words, the good folks at outbrain have no idea who you are, so go ahead and vote away - but only your most recent vote counts, so "vote early, vote often" won't work!

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Delayed start today (May 16)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

but all will be done in the next 4 hrs....

Updated - done.


New Feature: Referrers Report (or, where are my subscribers coming from?)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Last month FeedBlitz introduced the unsubscribe analysis survey, real-time analytics for marketers to figure out why subscribers leave.

Today I'm happy to announce the introduction of the corollary Referring Pages Report, which shows (again in real-time) the page your subscriber was on when they first hit the FeedBlitz signup code. Put the two together and you have the email equivalent of the entry and exit page reports from your favorite web analytics package.

What you'll likely see is that most of your readers are coming from your main page, with others arriving from individual post pages - these visitors are probably getting to your posts via search engines, and signing up right there (so if you do NOT see this then make sure that you have your subscription signup form on individual post pages as well as your main page). You may also see some FeedBlitz pages there - if there is no referrer reported to FeedBlitz it puts in the first page to be entered in the signup process.

The referring pages report works like all the others - click on the chart or links for increasing detail for all your publications in summary, all by date, and then an individual publication by date.

So get the whole picture from FeedBlitz, entrances and exits, by using the analytics menu for your feed (from its popup menu) or your entire account (My Account My Syndications Reporting and Analytics).

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FeedBlitz Subscriber Count Reporting May 8-9

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Ugh. One annoying side effect of the issues on the night of May 8th-9th is that subscriber count reporting we sent to third party services was likely too high for the 8th and 9th (if we interacted with your feed, that is).

The numbers were fixed yesterday afternoon, and will be back to normal in reports you view on the 11th for readers on the 10th, if they're not already there. In addition, we have a data fix for the FeedBlitz subscriber report - also affected - being applied as I write.

Update - data for the subscriber reports were was corrected late Friday evening.


Mailings running but slooooooow

So please be patient! We've identified the performance problem in the code - and that will be fixed shortly to enable later runs to run with their usual alacrity.

Update: Fix deployed, we're zipping along now at (slightly better than) our usual rate...


Delay for overnight May 8-9

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

We've discovered a technical issue today (May 8) that really, really, really needs to be fixed before we start mailing again. We're working on it, but I currently don't expect it to be fixed until early tomorrow. We'll get the mailings caught up just as soon as we can once we have the problem sorted out. Meanwhile, all other aspects of the service, including signups and unsubscribes, are continuing normally.

Update: 11:32 edt - we (ok, the comoputers) are working on the last phase of the changes. This requires database changes that will take some time to run - the site will not be taken down for this. ETA for completion is early this afternoon, US eastern.

Update: 16:45 edt - messages atre being delivered.


Feature Update: Setting "Email to a Friend" Free

Monday, May 07, 2007

The "email to a friend" facility has been liberated! It used to require readers to be logged on in order to use it, which - let's face it - wasn't exactly user-friendly. So we've removed this requirement to make it easier - and free, of course - for subscribers to share your content and build your circulation.

More interestingly, this change means that if you want to add an "Email this article to a friend" link to your web site or blog, well, you now can. No emails need be harmed in the process! You just need to be have your bog registered with FeedBlitz, and then set up the link as follows:


The parameters are:

  • NNNN - Your FeedBlitz feed ID (visible in its edit screen).
  • UUUU - The HTTP encoded URL of the article.
  • TTTT - The HTTP encoded title of the article.

Note that there are TWO semicolons in the middle of the URL, and that the trailing ";0" is required. You can use your blogging system's templating codes to drop the right values in.

Put in practice, here's the link for an article from Elise Bauer's "Simply Recipes" site:


So you can see that premium customers get their templates used as well, ensuring a consistent user experience throughout the process. If you are logged in, then FeedBlitz will automatically substitute in your email address as the sender to save you some time. Once you've previewed the message on the second screen it's a single click to send it on its way.



Feature Update: More Twitter!

We have just introduced an additional Twitter option and made some key wording changes to the existing FeedBlitz Twitter service. Basically, there are now two versions of the Twitter service, which appear at subscription time for premium FeedBlitz publishers:
  1. Twitter (your timeline) - the original service, so your Twitter followers see the updates as if you had posted them yourself;
  2. Twitter (direct to you) - you alone get the update.

What does this mean? Basically, if you want to "microblog" with Twitter, i.e. get your posts onto your subscribers' mobile phones, subscribe to your blog with your Twitter account using option (1). Updates are posted to your public account timeline, all your followers on Twitter will get them too.

If you simply want your subscriptions (and you can of course have as many as you like) on your Twitter-supported device, choose option (2). FeedBlitz will send you a Twitter Direct message, and none of your followers need know about your personal obsessions and persuasions.

Both forms work the same way. FeedBlitz uses your Twitter ID and password to validate your account information. You can also pause, delete or preview your subscription from feedblitz.com web site as well, provided that you have linked your Twitter identity to your email address.

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April 2007 Monthly Update

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

With a little more time in hand than last month, here's a quick update on the state of the Internet's largest blog and RSS to mail service.

  • Active circulation was 1,868,702, up just over 5% from last month's 1,773,615.
  • Web site visits were 484,000 with 1,294,000 page views

The web metrics are actually down a little from March, but this appears to be entirely due to a noticeable drop in activity around the first week of April and the associated Easter / Passover holidays.

This month I'm introducing a new set of metrics for you all - the total number of messages sent, and the maximum number of messages sent on any given day. Remember that a message is not just an email since we now support Twitter. These counts are subscriber updates, and don't include "transactional" emails that we send to verify subscriptions, update publishers etc.

For April, then, the subscriber volume metrics were:

  • Total messages sent: 16,820,525
  • Average messages sent / day: 560,684
  • Peak daily messages sent: 727,143 (April 10)

FWIW so far today (May 1, 1:30 pm edt) the total is 681,883, so we may see April's peak beaten immediately. [May 2nd: Not quite! May Day's total ended up at 709,666, making it our second busiest day after April 10]


The PayPal issues from earlier in the month appear to have been resolved - thanks to everyone who stuck with us until that problem was sorted out.

In addition, a lot of people wrote about our Twitter integration (initial post here, how to stop it here). There's more coming on this front, lots more excitement is en route.

We also welcomed Jory Des Jardins to the Board; she's a fabulous addition to the firm (and I'm not saying that just because I've a Board meeting in a few minutes, honest!).

A great new feature was added to FeedBlitz last month that didn't get much notice, but I think is a very useful tool, so I'm going to mention it again. If you haven't already done so, take a look at the unsubscribe report - there's some very interesting data about your subscribers there.

Finally, we tweaked some features last month but I didn't blog about the changes; I'll get that done this week.


We're running some :-) You know how to reach me...

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