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All Features for All Publishers and All Subscribers

Thursday, August 30, 2007

I recently blogged that the FeedBlitz Newsletter Edition has had a quick uptake among professional publishers. However, premium pricing, although it has a low entry point, has put its features beyond the reach of many non-commercial bloggers. That's a shame. So we’ve decided to fix it. FeedBlitz will now enable Newsletter Edition’s full-functionality free of charge to all publishers in exchange for small FeedBlitz-sourced ads in their messages (see below for info on what they look like and when they'll appear).

FeedBlitz message volume has grown to the point where it is attracting the attention of potential advertisers. These services recognize the value of the targeted delivery that requested email content offers. FeedBlitz is their only practical opportunity to buy placement in the email sent from thousands of blogs to millions of subscribers each month. The combination of FeedBlitz’s growth and the evolution of these services means that we can now use ads to fund the services and features - capabilities that we could previously only offer by charging a fee.

It is important to note that FeedBlitz is neither selling nor revealing subscriber email addresses – there is no change in our privacy policy. In particular, ads will only be distributed as part of the content the subscriber specifically asked for from that publisher or article source. Nothing else is changing. Subscribers can still terminate any subscription at any time.

Effective on a rolling schedule (again, see more below), there will be just one, fully-featured version of FeedBlitz: Newsletter Edition. Publishers using our free services will be automatically upgraded to use this service, and in exchange we will place what we believe are relatively unobtrusive ads (see below for how to see some samples). Or, publishers can pay on a sliding scale based on the number of subscribers, and avoid having any ads appear at all. Existing premium publishers will not have ads placed in their content, nor will their payments change, regardless of the plan they’re on. Consistent functionality, ad or fee-funded, is a model that has worked well for many other “freemium” services and we believe the new capabilities it enables will work well for all our publishers, their subscribers and FeedBlitz.

For premium (i.e. paying) publishers, we’ll sweeten the deal further. In a couple of months, after we complete some technical changes, we plan to offer revenue sharing on ads we source. Publishers will then be able monetize their mailing lists using FeedBlitz, delivering a brand new revenue stream for their blog or site.

These are, obviously, significant changes. So what exactly are our plans, how might they affect you, what will you see, and when?

Free Service Publishers

  • Your service will be upgraded on September 14 to an ad-supported version of FeedBlitz Newsletter Edition.
  • You’ll be able use Newsletter Edition to tailor the email’s look and feel, adjust delivery schedules, offer Skype, AIM and Twitter subscriptions, collect and use subscriber demographic data, and more.
  • Newsletter Edition gives you a major boost in capabilities at no charge which you can take advantage of as your time allows; no new action is required of you.
  • After September 14 we’ll be retiring the standard, less functional “Personal Edition”

Premium Publishers

  • You will not have ads placed by FeedBlitz in emails to your subscribers.
  • We plan to introduce optional revenue sharing programs for premium publishers in the future which will give you an opportunity to profit in a new way from your blog or site.
  • If you are on a “Pro” or “Turbo” plan your services and payment schedule will stay as they are until you upgrade to Newsletter Edition (or cancel, and thereby automatically upgrade to the ad-supported version).
Premium Subscribers
  • You will not have ads placed in the emails generated for you as part of your Turbo Subscriber upgrade.
Subscribers who Subscribed Through a Publisher
  • As always, the content you receive is determined by the publisher of the content you subscribed to.
  • If the publisher allows FeedBlitz to place ads in emails, then FeedBlitz supplied ads will appear in the mail you’re already getting.
  • You will not receive any email from us that was not originated by your publisher or our “email to a friend” capability.

Subscribers who Subscribed Directly

  • If you set up your subscription directly with FeedBlitz rather than through a FeedBlitz-enabled publisher, the email you will receive will contain small ads.
  • You will now be able to modify the delivery schedule of your email subscriptions, a feature you previously would have had to pay for.
  • You will not receive any email from us that did not originate from the content source.
  • Contact FeedBlitz to find out about how to take advantage of our upcoming advertising programs and the targeting we can offer.


  • Our privacy policy has not changed.
  • The confidentiality of your email address is critical.
  • In particular, we have not - and never - share your email address with the ad network(s) we use nor any third party except the publishers you subscribe to (unless you elect to be anonymous to them) or as required by legal action.
What will the ads look like?
  • Ads will be small “taglines” discreetly placed just above the unsubscribe footer as appropriate.
  • If you get this email from the main “FeedBlitz News” syndication, scroll down to see the ad (if not, please subscribe by going to www.feedblitz.com/f?Sub=84 )
  • If you view this online, go to www.feedblitz.com/f?PreviewFeed=84 and scroll to the bottom to see the ad.

What if I don’t want ads and I don’t want to pay to remove them?

We’ve been running these ads in limited form for 4 weeks now. They’re being successful, and we haven’t had any objections from the publishers or their readership about them. We’d urge you to try them out as we take the capability live and take advantage of all the exciting and powerful features that FeedBlitz Newsletter Edition will give you for a while.

But, if after reviewing everything you really, really can’t stand it and don’t want to become a premium publisher, that’s OK. We respect that decision. Since FeedBlitz is a fully open system, here are the ways to export your data:
  • To export your publications, log in to your account at http://www.feedblitz.com/ and pick My Account Advanced My Syndications Export to OPML.
  • To export your subscriptions, pick My Account Advanced My Subscriptions Export to OPML
  • To export your subscribers, pick My Account Advanced My Subscribers Export to Text
Of course, we offer corresponding import features for publishers wanting to take advantage of FeedBlitz’s powerful HTML email newsletter edition features.

When will these changes take place?
  • For standalone subscriptions (ones where there is no corresponding FeedBlitz publisher account), ads will start appearing Thursday night, August 30.
  • For existing publishers using FeedBlitz’s free service, upgrades to the ad-supported Newsletter Edition will take place Friday, September 14.
All Features for All Publishers and All Subscribers

Enabling ad-support lets us offer full functionality to all publishers and subscribers and not just those who pay a premium (does this make us the first service to upgrade our free users this comprehensively?). Advertisers benefit from a channel where their ads accompany requested content rather than arriving as uninvited spam. Plus, having a single set of capabilities for everyone will also allow us to simplify the web site, making FeedBlitz easier to use for everyone.

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Routine Maintenance - Thursday 8/23 7pm eastern

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

FYI that FeedBlitz will be offline for some routine maintenance on Thursday evening. This will be a slightly longer than usual update, but once all is done we'll backtrack on any mailings that were missed. Visit this post for update information while the update is in process.

Update: Maintenance will start FRIDAY 8/24~7:45 pm The system was too busy to take offline today.



Import policy change

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Furthering our ongoing commitment to minimize the risk of abuse while keeping FeedBlitz as self-serve as possible, a number of changes have been made today to our import policies.

  • Only one import will be allowed at a time.
  • Outbound messages that look “spammy” will prevent all further imports until you request that the message be approved by support and the block lifted.
  • Import metrics will be tracked and used to drive Quality Alerts if necessary.

Import notifications are sent by mail when they complete, so legitimate users ought not to be affected by any of these changes. Based on today’s usage (65 imports so far), these new policies are working correctly and will not impede everyday use.



FeedBlitz Affiliate Program Testers Wanted

Friday, August 17, 2007

FeedBlitz will shortly be launching an affiliate program for our fee-based premium messaging and email newsletter services. If you'd like to help us kick the tires, figure out the kinks - and earn some recurring commissions on any clients you bring on as well - please email me directly or via our "info" address. The FeedBlitz affiliate program will suit VARs, web designers, blog consultants, ISPs and agencies. The system we'll be testing features a two tier commission structure (more sales = higher commission rate), and includes commission on both your own and your subaffiliate sales.

Write me and I'll send qualified candidates the registration links.



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Terms of Service Change for Lists with more than 5,000 Subscribers

Thursday, August 16, 2007

In this post I discussed some of the technical changes we've put in place to monitor potential terms of service violations, and we turned that into a tool for publishers - List Quality Alerts - to help them manage their circulation.

We are also putting in place economic changes to our pricing and policies. Larger lists can cause the most problems from a reputation / quality perspective in one fell swoop. It is also true that "genuine" larger lists are for professional purposes - for a company, an organization, a cause. The majority of larger lists clearly fall into this category and already use one of our premium services, and if they don't then, frankly, they can afford to.

So we are making the following terms of service and policy changes, to go into effect Sunday, August 19, 2007:
  1. Lists with an active circulation of 5,000 or more must be on a FeedBlitz premium service (Pro, Turbo or Newsletter Edition).
  2. We will insert ads into subscriber emails for lists with circulations of this size until such time as they comply.
If you're running a large list you're doing so for an organization that can afford to pay, so these changes are to encourage you to do just that. After all, the larger lists cost us more to manage, and if you're doing this professionally then it is not unreasonable for FeedBlitz to to be compensated for the work we do on your (or your organization's) behalf, especially since it's affordable to do so. We also believe that abusers will not part with valid payment information (since that's readily traced). Larger lists that fail to comply will therefore be looked at very closely indeed. Our terms of service have been modified to reflect this policy change.



New Feature: FeedBlitz List Quality Alerts

In order to help ensure that your list remains clean, starting today (August 16) FeedBlitz will send nightly alerts to publishers with apparent problems with their lists. If you get one, you can use these alerts to understand and deal with problems you may be facing immediately; we use these same alerts internally as one view into potential terms of service (TOS) abuse.

Every day, FeedBlitz monitors your core list metrics: the volume of messages sent, and then the number of bounced messages, unsubscribes and complaints that result. We have internal standards of what we expect to see for these metrics based on FeedBlitz's historic averages, ISP expectations and industry best practices.

If and when your list strays from these metrics, we'll send you a quality alert. The vast majority of you will never see one (nor should you, of course, since all your lists are properly opted in and compliant with the TOS). But just in case, here's what you'll see:
  • The reason for the alert being sent, including the metric(s) that triggered the alert.
  • The actions you should take and any other recommendations we may have for you.
Alerts will be sent daily until the situation resolves; they are configured to minimize false positives caused by transient issues.

The alerts enable you to proactively manage your list before we take any further action. Note, however, that egregious violations will be dealt with immediately without any prior notification. There are no warnings for those we believe to be deliberately abusing the service.

The FeedBlitz List Quality Alert service is your view into our stepped up TOS compliance monitoring processes, the technical changes I referred to at the end of this post. In that same post I mentioned both technical and economic changes to ensure that the risk of abuse is minimized. I'll be covering our economic changes in the next article.

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July 2007 Monthly Update

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

July turned out to be a relatively quiet month in terms of new features, so without further ado (and in an attempt to compensate for last month's very long post), here are the highlights:
As is my wont, a quick run-down on the month's metrics and their changes from June:

Month-end circulation: 2,439,536 (up nearly 5% on the adjusted figure of 2,330,144)
feedblitz.com page views: 1,750,631 (up 3%)
feedblitz.com unique visitors: 676,466 (up 9%)
Total messages sent: 41,343,196 (up 11%)
Average messages / day: 1,333,651
Peak daily messages: 2,054,380 (July 19)

For those who remember last month's summary, the volume sent was somewhere between Tanzania and Colombia on the population scale.



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