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Simply Smarter Subscriptions, Part 1

Friday, November 30, 2007

Many power publishers - media companies, professional bloggers, larger businesses - often have more than one newsletter or email subscription to offer. Using FeedBlitz, everyone can offer the standard subscription form and link (available from your Newsletter Center) for a single publication, and - with some HTML coding - a form that lets your subscribers pick multiple options at subscribe time.

But, if you're publishing many newsletters, wouldn't it be great if FeedBlitz automatically produced a multi-newsletter subscription form for your account, with no extra HTML coding required? Wouldn't it be great if a multiple-newsletter subscription form were as simple to set up as a regular, single-newsletter subscription form? Wouldn't it be great if the multi-feed subscription form offered the IM and social network subscription options as well as email, just like the single newsletter form? And, finally, wouldn't it be great for you to have the option of the subscription process working in a popup window, so you could keep your new subscriber on your own site a little longer?

Yes, yes, yes and yes. Introducing the updated subscription form generator:

You can pick whether the form works in the same window as your blog (the default), or launches a popup using the options on the left. On the right, you can have the form work for just the Newsletter you're working with (the default), or offer subscriptions for all your public newsletters. Change your publications, and the form changes automatically for you. Plus there's now a test button to see the effect of your changes.

So if you have multiple publications, each publication will be listed, preselected, along with its description and a link to an online preview. Your subscribers can subscribe to one, multiple or all publications in just one process, with just one captcha to complete. It's simpler for you, simpler for them, and the net result is more happy subscribers for everyone.

For power users with multiple publications, a "public" newsletter is one where the FeedAdvisor privacy setting is OFF (that's the default, found on the first page of the Newsletter Settings wizard in the Newsletter Center). If your testing shows things you don't want to offer to everyone, simply open the Newsletter Center for the relevant publication in a new tab, enable the privacy option, and click "Next >>" to save it. Rinse, repeat until done.

None of your changes will have any effect, of course, until you post the new code to your blog or web site.

So hop on over to your Newsletter Center now, and put the new subscription form options through their paces.

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Mailvertise your blog!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

If there's one thing bloggers like it's to see your blog's circulation grow. And now you can use FeedBlitz ads to give your circulation efforts a boost. We've tuned the ad creation screen to let you pick your blog's subscription page as the landing page for the ad (that's the place a reader will be sent to when they click your ad). So promoting subscriptions to your blog just became a whole lot easier:

We also added a handy-dandy "test" button, so regardless of whether you're sending readers to a subscription page or to a different location, you get the chance to preview it before you save the ad.

All ads for your blog offer our comprehensive features, including the ability to target your to one or more channels, to different locations (including Zip codes in the US), and to keywords.

So start boosting your circulation now - and if you do before December 31st, 2007, you'll be able to get our end of year bonus too.

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FeedBlitz makes blogs affordable on Kindle

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

So a quick thought for all the gadget geeks out there, courtesy of Abe, the FeedBlitz VP Engineering.

If the Amazon Kindle charges 99c a month for a blog subscription per USA today, that gets really pricey really quickly. If you want 10 blogs, that's $9.90 a month.

But an email to your Kindle is apparently 10c a shot. So if you subscribe your Kindle to all your blogs using our daily email, it will probably cost 10c a day (for our standard service, where all the blogs are consolidated into a single digest). For 10 subscriptions, then, you'd be out $9.90 per month on the Kindle's blog plan, but you'd pay just $3 with a daily email update from FeedBlitz. If you have to have the Kindle, the economics of using email as a blog reading solution are compelling (your exact savings will depend on the # of blogs you subscribe to, how often they're checked, how often they change, and whether they're in the digest or not).

Unless I'm missing something here, you can have many many blogs on Kindle via FeedBlitz, making it affordable, as along as a single daily update is OK for you. Which makes the Internet access it offers much more interesting, doesn't it?

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Holiday Advertiser Bonus - up to $25

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

To mark the start of the holiday season here in the US, FeedBlitz is now offering new and renewing advertisers an advertising bonus of up to $25 between now and the end of the year.

If your next advertising charge between now and December 31 is between $25 and $99 we will credit your account with an extra $10. So your $25 ad spend becomes worth $35, even though you're only charged $25.

If your next charge is $100 or more, your bonus is $25.

Current advertisers will receive the bonus when their credit cards are next charged (provided it's before 1/1/08 US eastern time). New advertisers get the bonus immediately once your credit card is approved. Advertiser bonuses are awarded once per advertising account - subsequent charges will credit your advertising account as normal - and the offer expires at the end of the year.

So, start your email advertising campaign now in time for the Holiday rush and take advantage of this year-end offer to get more from your ad spend. It's time-limited and will not be renewed at the end of the year.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

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EMail Advertising Network Update

Thursday, November 08, 2007

For advertisers setting up newsletter ads, we've completely revamped the ad setup code to be a more friendly, simplified sequence of screens. It's much easier to get started now, and we've added help along the way where early feedback showed it was necessary. So, go on - give it a try! You can set up a targeted ad campaign in less than five minutes. We've also updated the advertiser FAQs to make things clearer.

We've also improved our ad targeting algorithms, with today being the first full day of use. The net result is that advertisers should see improved CTR (click through rates) and better average ad positions while spending slightly less per day. Seems to be working too: Across the whole ad network, average CTR is up 40%, but the effective CPC (cost per click) is down nearly 20%. The whole thing just became more effective and even better value.

Meanwhile, what are the earning opportunities for bloggers and newsletter publishers? At the moment, if your blog or newsletter covers sport, outdoor activities or travel, we have a lot of activity in these categories and you should opt in to the network to make the most of it.

For advertisers, the US is starting to getting more crowded, but if you want to target subscribers in Latin America, Australia or India, a basic minimum $1 bid will still get you into the top two slots if you start now (otherwise someone else will beat you to it and you'll have to outbid them to get the leading spaces).

Finally, we have added a new set of email alerts for advertisers. Advertisers will get an email when:
  • Their ad falls to a position of 4 or worse (on average, across all newsletters)
  • Your ad slips a whole position (e.g. from a 2.x average to a 3.y average)
A worse position (as indicated by the average position, position 1 is the best) means that your ad became a little less likely to be read or clicked on. So if you get one of these, review your reports and decide whether you need to alter your bid.

We have also added an email alert for advertisers who haven't completed campaign configuration. You'll get an alert the day after you started the process, and then just one more a few days later if you're still not done. After that we consider the ad abandoned.

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Feature Update: Partial Feeds, now with extra Pictures.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Without getting into the full / partial feed debate, which in (more or less) plain English is about whether you send the entire text or just a summary to the subscriber, suffice it to say that FeedBlitz (like many other services) has always offered the ability for publishers to limit the amount of text sent in each article. So if, say, you want only the first 500 characters of each post to go to subscribers, then you could configure FeedBlitz to do just that.

So far, so good. Now, in order to calculate the number of letters in the article, FeedBlitz (and, again, like the other services out there) stripped out the HTML tags from your post in order (a) to make counting a whole lot easier, and (b) to make sure that when your post was truncated, it wasn't truncated in the middle of some piece of HTML code, which would play merry havoc with the display of the rest of the newsletter.

The net result is that links and images are stripped out of truncated posts. Effective? Sure. Dull? Well, since all the interesting stuff was taken out, yes. And you know what? It's always ticked me off. I've always had this feeling that we could - and should - do better.

Fast forward to this week. We're working with a very large prospect whose business I aim to win real soon now. They happened to mention that it was disappointing to see their thumbnail images disappear from their otherwise very nicely formatted emails we were showing them, and could we do anything about that? And as I was writing the email back saying "well, no not really," I had a change of heart. It's always bugged me, fixing it would help win the business, and any fix would benefit everyone else using FeedBlitz's truncated post facility.

Long story short, problem solved.

From tonight on we're preserving and displaying images that appear before the cut off in truncated posts. The result for publishers using post truncation is much more visually compelling newsletters, greater reader engagement, and so an improved chance that the reader will start reading and then click through to the rest of the article.

Enough talk. Lets let the pictures speak their thousand words. I'm going to use Joel Makower's environmental business blog "Two Steps Forward" (Preview, subscribe) to show the difference (and no, he's not the prospect I referred to earlier; I'm just feeling extra green today).



Same content, same layout - the articles are still truncated, the custom call to action is still there, and the subscriber still has to click through to the site to read it all. But boy, isn't the second one just a whole lot more interesting? This capability will be running in tonight's (Friday, 11/2) runs.

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October 2007 Monthly Update

Thursday, November 01, 2007

What did FeedBlitz do in October?

Well, in October, FeedBlitz became the first ad-funded email newsletter service to to enable targeted ads to subscribers, the first email service to democratize email ad creation so anyone could create an ad, the first email service to share revenues with its publishers, the first email service to introduce auction-based CPM ad pricing, and the first ad service (I think anywhere - please correct me of I'm wrong) to make the current market bid prices visible to advertisers.

Plus we moved the database server around to make things faster.

Other than that, not much. How about you?

Seriously, though, since the ad network debuted earlier this week we have seen ad impressions double, the rate of blogger signups is increasing, plus we've simplified the signup and ad generation processes for both publishers and advertisers to make it easier to get started. It's still early days - don't expect to retire on your ad earnings just yet! - but watch this space. We have some innovative programs coming down the pike to really get things going.

One use of the ad network is to grow your circulation by advertising your own blog. Go to the Newsletter Center and follow the links to the sign up form code. There you'll find a URL that is your online signup form. Copy it to the clipboard, go to www.feedblitz.com/f?Ads and create an ad for your blog. Paste in your subscription page URL as the destination link for the ad, target it and voila! Done. Go on, give it a try. It's only $25 to start, and that will probably buy you 25,000 impressions if you start now before prices bid up too far. That's a fabulous deal to get your message in front of other subscribers in relevant locations reading relevant content. If you want to join the others who are monetizing their lists, there's a very simple 1 step process (pick your blog's category) to starting.

Meanwhile, October's metrics showed what can only be described as very robust growth over September:
  • Circulation: 3,299,499 (up 14% on September)
  • feedblitz.com page views: 1,999,745 (up 12%)
  • feedblitz.com unique visitors: 786,221 (up 14%)
  • Total messages sent: 31,957,801 (up 28% - see, I told you September was just a blip)
  • Average messages / day: 1,030,897
  • Peak daily messages: 1,624,010 (October 31)
If ever there was any doubt about the market acceptability for an ad-funded email service, these numbers pretty much blow that doubt away.

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More maintenance...

... yesterday at 6:33pm eastern the database was corrupted (that's not meant to happen with this software, of course, but there you are. Happen it did). We went through a complete backup / restore cycle and got it back running around 10:22 pm last night.

That turns out not to be the end of the story, unfortunately. Because of the data corruption, the restore only went as far as 10/26. The good news is that we have a backup from 3pm yesterday from which we can plug the gaps (for database types, it was double-write buffer and transaction log damage, so no: we can't just roll forward like you're meant to).

So we've taken the system down while we complete this last task. There will be some minor inconvenience for folks who created newsletters after 10:22 last night as your subscription signup forms will need to be updated afer the change. Everyone potentially affected has an email from me.


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