Monday, January 26, 2009
So it's interesting to see that relatively few (roughly 10%) of our publishers have actually taken that step. While doing wonders for FeedBlitz's brand recognition, surely most people would really rather prefer to promote themselves or their own brand?
Well, perhaps it was too hard to use or difficult to find. If that's the issue then that problem, at least, is now solved. I'm pleased to announce some new features that make it much easier to tailor the emails FeedBlitz sends on your behalf - and no HTML required.
Introducing the Easy Email Template Editor
Added to the new newsletter wizard (Newsletters - New) and to the Newsletters - Settings section of the web site, we've added an easy template editor (plus a new "envelope" editor- see below). The existing template editor, a very powerful WYSIWYG point and click system which also allowed HTML source code edits, remains; it's now re-labeled as the "advanced" template editor.
The difference is that the "easy" editor isn't overloaded with features and doesn't try to be everything to everyone. It's therefore a lot less intimidating to a casual user and a lot easier to get to grips with. No HTML for a start. It lets you pick (and upload) a header image or logo, choose basic page layouts, fonts and colors, all using simple(r) form fields. In other words, pretty much all the branding and customization that most publishers want for a lot less hassle. Easy, fast and not at all scary, the easy template editor gets the job done while the FeedBlitz code handles the complexity of HTML template generation based on your design decisions. The editor has a handy-dandy thumbnail feature to show you how it all fits together (more or less) on the page, along with a preview capability so you can see how your current posts look formatted with the easy template's settings before you save.
The flip side to ease of use is, of course, that there are limits to what one can do in the easy editor. It makes assumptions about font sizes and link colors, for example, only allows one logo (surely one is enough for most?) and doesn't permit background images. But it's plenty good enough for the majority, and has another, very important, advantage: the HTML it produces is much more likely to render properly in a wider array of email systems than a graphically gorgeous - but complex - CSS (cascading style sheets)-laden HTML template produced in the advanced editor. CSS, simple or complex, is routinely abrogated, edited or just plain ignored by many email clients, especially web-based ones like gmail, and that can play havoc with the emails that looked so good leaving our servers. Being obliged to keep things simple by the basic editor works to your advantage here: You're much less likely to be disappointed by the way your mail looks in, say, gmail when using a template built by the easy editor than when using the advanced flavor. FWIW it's not impossible to achieve a cross-platform email template in the advanced editor by any means; it's just that much easier to inadvertently introduce HTML that won't work in gmail or Outlook 2007 or something else when using the advanced version.
Finally, the easy editor is a great way to jump start even complex template branding work; any easy template can be tuned and edited in the advanced version.
The Envelope, Please...
Complementing the easy template editor is the new envelope editor - customizing the from / reply-to addresses and email subject lines. FeedBlitz has been able to do this for years but it was somewhat buried in the advanced editor. Now it's front and center, and you can tune your email envelope attributes without worrying about the graphics. Experienced FeedBlitz publishers will be relieved to know that it's still there on the advanced editor, however. Customize the way your email looks before it's opened at Newsletters - Settings - Email Envelope Settings.
And, finally ... image uploads
Both the easy and advanced editors now also feature image upload capabilities. Yay! Got a custom logo or image you want to use? You can now upload it to your own private storage area on FeedBlitz. You can also reference images online as URLs, just like you always used to, but this new feature makes it easier for you to customize newsletters using your current resources instead of digging around for hours trying to find the URL of your logo that your designer buried three CSS sheets deep last time she rebuilt your web site.
No more excuses.
So now there's really no reason not to build your brand and customize your FeedBlitz mailings. Start by heading over to Newsletters - Settings - Easy email design and enjoy...