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Weekly Wrap 10/29/10 - Outlook 2011, Heatmaps, Facebook Fans

Friday, October 29, 2010

Some interesting links from the week that was that I thought the FeedBlitz News audience would appreciate.

Outlook 2011 to use Apple's WebKit to Render HTML Mail

This is important because most corporate users use MS Office - and hence Outlook to read their email. I do; it's a great app. But the Outlook team started to use Word as their HTML display engine in Outlook 2007 and it's awful. Not as bad as gmail (which is utterly, utterly atrocious - another rant for another day). But still pretty darned ugly. Getting email to display well in Outlook versions after Outlook 2003 is a big, big challenge.

Using WebKit means that Outlook will finally have a secure, fast and complete HTML rendering engine. To paraphrase Vice-President Biden, this is a big flaming deal. I'll be upgrading the minute it's available for this reason alone.

The Ultimate Heatmap

A "heatmap" is a way to show where users interact on any given web page. The more interactions, the "hotter" the area on the page. This site and downloadable PDF shows you what site layouts work best for generating additional revenue from advertising (specifically AdSense but the lessons are generically applicable) - the author claims some layouts can generate 3x the revenue.  Your mileage may obviously vary, and (as Andy Beard does) you can question the methodology (scientific it ain't), but it's still great free research that anyone with easy template management and advertising blocks can benefit from.

But it isn't good for only advertising placement. It's also great for usability and any call to action. If you don't run ads but want people to subscribe to your list, put your subscription form in the best performing slot in the heatmap. If you want them to donate to your charity, vote for your candidate ... ditto. Good stuff, readily actionable, quick benefits. It's nice work - go read it and then test it on your site.

We're Valuing Facebook Fans All Wrong

Part two of a three part rant by Jay Baer. Read, mark and inwardly digest. And then read it again. Great observations in this section. Very thought provoking.

Finally, from the It-Wouldn't-be-FeedBlitz-if-we-didn't-shamelessly-self-promote department:



Announcing List Building for Bloggers: An email marketing series for social media #LBB

Building on my six-plus years of blogging, about five years or so of FeedBlitz and many more in technology, product and email marketing, I'm going to to be publishing a series of posts over the next few months that I hope you will find helpful and informative.  My goal is to try to help you make the most of your work using the power and capabilities of email, the universal social network, regardless as to whether you're a novice or a more advanced blogger. At the end of the series you should be able to grow the value of your blog faster, whatever "value" means to you and your blogging efforts.

I'll be covering a wide range of email-centric topics, but focusing specifically on bloggers' needs. Bloggers are typically neither email nor technology gurus - you're the expert on your content. The vast majority of you are also not large corporations with oodles of money to throw around either!

This set of articles is for you. I'll be running through the following areas:

  • Why Email in the Age of Social Media
  • Lists, Email Marketing and your Blog
  • Autoresponders and Drip Marketing
  • Dual opt in and unsubscribes
  • Branding
  • Landing Pages
  • Spam, filters and deliverability
  • Compliance and the law
  • Traps for the unwary
  • Using multiple lists and mailings
  • Email Marketing Analytics
  • Optimization
  • Social Media Integration
  • DIY or Outsource
  • and more.
"List Building for Bloggers" won't be FeedBlitz-centric. I'll be making this a series a set of tips, advice and how-tos that you can apply (or at least ought to be able to apply) using whatever email system you use. So it's not just a pitch in wolf's clothing. I will, however, have specific examples and how-tos from FeedBlitz itself to help our users do what I'm recommending; that's only fair. These will be clearly marked in their own sections.

Posts will appear once or twice a week and be tagged "List Building for Bloggers" and reposted to Twitter using the #LBB hash tag. You can subscribe to the blog to get your updates, follow me on Twitter or simply track the #LBB hash tag on Twitter itself.  N.B. Posts may also be longer than most - you have been warned!

[Update: The first post is out! Click here to read it]

So subscribe or follow and get ready for the first post! We'll be starting next week (w/c November 1st 2010). If you have any topic questions you'd like to see me address during the series please let me know via the comments or on Twitter. See you next week!

P.S. If you think your friends or followers would find this series valuable, please retweet on Twitter or share on Facebook using the buttons below. Thank you!

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Growing your List with Incentives - Cupcakes, Recipes and Printables, Oh My!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

50% List Growth in Just Six Weeks

As blog and website owners, we are always looking for ways to increase our readership. While there are many factors that attribute to increasing your readership; content, great topic, photos, etc.

I'm here to share with you how I have grown the mailing list on my blog, Hoosier Homemade, much faster by offering free printables (and a weekly newsletter, Cupcake Chronicles) to visitors who join the mailing list. The printables and companion weekly mailing, Cupcake Chronicles, is exclusive content - cupcake designs, how-tos and monthly free printables - that only email subscribers receive.

I started out with just my blog’s newsletter, which had about 1,600 subscribers at the end of August 2010. Six weeks later the list has grown 50% - to well over 2,400 now. Using the exclusive content incentive - the printables - has been a significant part of that success.

What are Printables and Why do they Matter?

My readers are for the most part, Moms who love creating fun and easy treats for their families and saving money.

There are two different kinds of printables. The first are store coupons readers can access online, print at home and take to the store, these can be found online at websites like Coupons.com (affiliate link). The second kind of printable is the form of a Cupcake topper, like these fun Halloween printables. Making the printables only available to email subscribers is a great incentive for my blog’s readers to join the list, and they're a great match for my readership's lifestyle. They're also a great link between my online presence and their lives in the real world.

Incentives Increase Readership

I know many of you don't offer a recipes, crafts or even cupcakes on your blog! But the ideas are endless for offering a free printable or other incentive. Maybe you write about menu planning, you could offer a printable with the days of the week. Or if you share organizing tips, like Life Your Way, you could offer organizing printables.

It doesn't have to be printables, of course. The whole idea is to think outside the box. What do you have to offer? What do your readers like? How could you bring more readers in? What would they really value that you can offer? Make your incentive match your target audience and your list will grow faster.

Making Your Own Printables

If printables are an option for you, if you can't design them yourself find a designer and ask them to swap advertising with you. The Paper Cupcake is currently providing me with 1 printable per month for my Cupcake Chronicles Newsletter, in exchange for advertising. Then my virtual assistant adds the printables to my blog each month and adds a link to the newsletter. Having printables has grown my list; mailing the printables also increases traffic back to the site when the mailing goes out.

We use FeedBlitz to mail out regular updates from the blog automatically, and FeedBlitz’s newsflash feature to send out the printables and Cupcake Chronicles to the list.

Are you ready to gain some new readers?

Give printables – or some other incentive – a try! It really works. Have questions? Please feel free to contact me, I'm happy to help!

About the Author

I'm Liz from Hoosier Homemade. I've been blogging about 1 1/2 years, and share recipes, decorating, homemaking and lots and lots of Cupcakes! Follow me on Twitter at @HoosierHomemade or on Facebook

About Guest Posts on FeedBlitz

FeedBlitz welcomes relevant guest post submissions on the topics of email, social media, blogging and online marketing. You don't even have to be a FeedBlitz user or publisher to post here!  Click here to find out more.

And now for something completely different - Easy Halloween Cupcake Recipe!

[Phil says: Liz has generously agreed to share an easy cupcake recipe with us! Easy, because as my kids will attest, I'm no chef. So give it a go this Fall and let us know how they turn out in the comments. Over to you, Liz!]

It's that time of year...Halloween! And these Halloween Cupcakes couldn't be any easier!

One of the things I often do to create special cupcakes, is take a regular boxed caked mix and add some extra ingredients to it, changing the flavor.

Chocolate Orange Cupcake Recipe:
  • 1 Chocolate Cake Mix (devil's food is good)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 cup Orange Juice

Place cupcake liners in a muffin tin, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together all ingredients and divide into liners. I use a little less than 1/4 cup per cupcake, this yields about 30 cupcakes.

Bake for about 10-12 minutes. Cool completely.

Orange Buttercream Frosting Recipe:
  • Favorite Buttercream Frosting (store bought or Homemade)
  • 1/4 cup Orange Juice

Mix frosting using the orange juice to add flavor. Frost cupcakes and add a few sprinkles, a fun Halloween pick or create pumpkins.

For the pumpkins, frost cupcake completely and mound the frosting up a bit in the middle making a pumpkin shape, then sprinkle with orange sugar. I like using a bowl to dip the cupcake into the sugar or you can simply sprinkle it on, being sure to work over the bowl so you can re-use any extra that falls off. Using a toothpick, create some lines on the pumpkin and add a green gumdrop or piece of green licorice for the stem.

Visit Hoosier Homemade for more fun Halloween Cupcakes!

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Three Tips for Stellar Real-Time Customer Service via Twitter

Monday, October 25, 2010

At FeedBlitz we try to excel at customer service - see my favorites feed. We use these techniques daily (just like we do the Six Twitter Sales Tips) to make sure our clients get the help they need when they need it. Field tested, customer approved!

1. Monitor Your Brand with Twitter Search

What you get: Real-time intelligence on customer, product and brand issues.

How to get it:
  1. Tune a search query using Twitter's real-time search at http://search.twitter.com/
  2. Plug the search query into your favorite Twitter client.
  3. Watch for the conversations and mentions.

2. Engage with readers, customers and clients

What you get: The ability to make unhappy clients happy and to stop small problems becoming larger crises.

How to get it:
  1. Directly @reply the author of the tweet
  2. Be polite e.g. "sorry to hear that, here's what you need to do"
  3. Solve the problem as quickly as possible (d'oh, right?)
  4. Don't be afraid to take the conversation off-Twitter
The last point is important for several reasons.

Firstly, some problems aren't easily solved in a couple of 140 characters or less; email can be a much better venue for problems that aren't readily solved over Twitter. It's OK to ask someone to contact support at yourdomain dot com, or to ask for a follow to use DMs instead (follow them first!).

Secondly, if someone's reached for Twitter first instead of emailing you directly, it might already be too late. Don't start a spat in public if you can avoid it; if you can get someone who's unhappy offline where you can address their issues that can really work out well. BUT ... do follow up in public where possible, even if it's to gracefully say "I'm sorry we couldn't solve your problem in the end." More often than not your potentially hostile client will say "thanks for trying" and the crisis is averted.

3. Follow up!

What you get: Closure and chance to create a fan.

How to get it: Wrap up the interactions with a "Glad we could help" or "Thank You" tweet. Ask if you can help more. Basic stuff, but still incredibly effective.

Key Resource: Knowledge Base / FAQs

For common questions it's so much faster, easier and effective to tweet a link to the relevant article online. For traditional bloggers, this might be a link to your most popular posts, or your recipe database, or your blogroll.

Case Study - From "Hate" to "Fan" in Four Hours Flat!

Let's take a look at how this played out in real life; this was a set of interactions from October 6th, 2010.

Here's where we started. Yikes!

Hello feedblitz: I hate you right now.less than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry®

I engaged with the user, got them going, and, four hours later, was rewarded with this:

@phollows ok. figured it all out! i thank you for your personal care and attention to detail! feeblitz, i'm now a fan :)less than a minute ago via web

And now Mani's "fan" tweet is in my real-time testimonials feed, helping our sales efforts.

Good luck with your efforts! By the way, if you liked this post, click here to read my related post on using Twitter for sales and revenue generation.

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Three Lessons from BlogWorld you can Apply Right Now #BWE10

Friday, October 22, 2010

Now I've had a few days to absorb my BlogWorldExpo trip to Las Vegas it's time to put the lessons and tips into practice. So, if you're looking for YABWEWU (yet another blog world expo wrap up) move along, there's nothing for you here. Sayonara.

See, there's no point investing in going to an event like this and not executing when you get back. It's a couple of grand for me when all is said and done, so it is an investment and it has to yield a return.  So what I'm sharing here are my top to-do's that I'm working on following the show. These are easy things to do (in principle) and they can make a huge difference to your blog going forward. So why not do them yourself too?

Get An Accountability Partner

OK, little secret?  I'm a procrastinator. Big time. Never met a deadline I didn't like, because I can put things off until the deadline. (I'd tell you more, but maybe another time). So to stop me doing the same old same old and actually doing the stuff I say I should be doing from BWE10 I've got a mutual accountability partner - and I'm theirs. We trade to-do lists, help each other prioritize, listen to each other's challenges, opportunities, successes and failures, and make sure we stay on top of our goals.

So here's what I'm doing for accountability and what you can do as well to actually start - and keep on - delivering:
  1. Find an accountability partner (and be theirs too if it works, fair's fair).
  2. Arrange weekly meetings / con calls.
  3. Set up and prioritize the to do lists.
  4. Do the work and have them yell at you if you don't.
  5. Rinse and repeat steps 3-4, weekly.
Build an Editorial Calendar

I didn't do this before. Blogging for me was typically ad hoc, spur of the moment stuff, and mostly directly related to FeedBlitz.

Not any more. I've established an ed. cal. and will be sticking to it as best I can from hereon in.  Which, for me, means that are going to be a lot more posts on the blog (five a week if I'm successful) and the topics will be much broader. I think my readership can handle this, as shown by the fact that some of my most successful recent posts have been related to social media experiences I've had marketing FeedBlitz, not FeedBlitz itself. 

Many of the best known bloggers have editorial calendars and so far, in my experience, it's been very liberating, particularly when I've time to write the posts in advance and schedule them. It's a relief not to have to worry! My goal is to turn this blog into a resource, not just the FeedBlitz corporate soapbox.

Now what you want to do may vary for your audience, but I've a plan and will do my level best to stick to it:
  • Mondays: News / FeedBlitz Feature Tech Tips
  • Tuesdays: Guest Post
  • Wednesdays: FeedBlitz Sales / Marketing Post
  • Thursdays: How-To Guides
  • Fridays: Editorial
This week hasn't quite followed the plan, but it's been darned close and this will be the fifth post in five days, so I'm declaring victory for the week. You can - and should - be flexible on your ed cal, just don't give you so much flexibility that you don't follow it.  And if you can, write now and schedule automated publication.

Guest Posts

Another great tip from the pros - get guest posts on your blog and guest post on others. So go ahead and DO IT. I asked for guest posts (and directly solicited some as well); if all the volunteers get it done we have enough guest posts to fulfill that part of the ed cal for the rest of the year. Nice.

Meanwhile I'm trying to get my posts on other blogs (I got one one Denise Wakeman's a couple of weeks ago); this is harder to do but I'll keep at it. I have three posts I can repurpose, as well as write something custom, so if you'd like me to guest on your blog please email or tweet me.

Plenty to Get Started On - So Start!

Just three major action items so far, but I've spent much of this week on them. I already feel very good about having done them and am working through more of the items on my accountability list (there are many, many more - yikes - mayhaps I'll fill you all in on them later on). I feel they're going to make a very positive difference this quarter and beyond.

Got any similar tips yourself? What were your takeaways from the event? Share in the comments!

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Why aren't you promoting your blog?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I know you think you are. You think this post doesn't apply to you. You're exploring monetization strategies like AdSense, affiliate programs, web site analytics, SEO, creating great content.  All valuable, no doubt.

But you're not promoting your blog.

Case in point?  Last week's Blog World Expo in Las Vegas, which I attended along with about 5,000 other bloggers and new media professionals. The sessions were packed, especially (you guessed it) the monetization and SEO tracks.

And out of those 5,000 attendees (I'm not counting exhibitors), as far as I could tell maybe FIVE (including myself) had their blog or business name on their T-shirt, or were carrying branded items like bags. The industry's largest conference and 99.9% of the attendees blew their chance to promote themselves to their peers in the sessions, halls and parties.  What a wasted opportunity.

Would you (did you?) go in street clothes, or are you committed to promoting your blog? Is it a business or a hobby?

Don't be like those 99.9% - figure out why you aren't promoting your blog.

Then go fix it.

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Free Service Upgrade Discount Set to Expire

Image: freepixels.com
Bloggers using FeedBlitz's ad-funded service have been able to upgrade to our premium ad-free service for monthly savings between 10% and 33%, and can even save as much as half off our list prices if they upgrade and run with an annual plan. Many have done so!

But this upgrade offer will expire at the end of this year - 2010.

If you are using our free / ad-funded service and thinking about upgrading, now is the time to seize the day.

Upgrading also gives you access to our RSS subscriber stats service (a.k.a. the premium feedburner alternative) as well as ensuring your emails go out without ads. These discounts for legacy free publishers are not going to be renewed in 2011 and so if you're on the legacy service and upgrade next year it will cost you more. (We are keeping the free service in 2011 but you will have to pay full freight if and when you upgrade).

So log in to your FeedBlitz account and go to www.feedblitz.com/f?NewsUpgrade to choose your discount now before year-end. Remember, you must be logged in. Click here to start. Very large legacy accounts are welcome to mail me directly to discuss transition options.

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Would you like to Guest Post on FeedBlitz?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Image: freepixels.com
 We're currently looking for bloggers to guest post on FeedBlitz News. If you have a story to tell about your use of FeedBlitz specifically, email or social media marketing in general, or have an article that you believe would benefit FeedBlitz's audience, please let me know. It can be a case study, a how-to, editorial, or something else - we're going to be very open to relevant submissions. It doesn't have to be FeedBlitz-centric (athough that would obviously be cool! :-) ).

This is a great opportunity to have your post featured on a blog with some 31k subscribers, as well as on most pages of FeedBlitz.com (and the FeedBlitz home page is PR7, so that might be of interest if you're interested in SEO).

Interested? Then please email me (phil at feedblitz dot com) or tweet me (@phollows) and we'll get the process started. I'm really looking forward to getting those submissions!

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Yahoo Advertising Blog Switches To FeedBlitz

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Yahoo Advertising Blog has switched from FeedBurner to FeedBlitz for new email subscriptions. To have a client like Yahoo! is great, but for everyone who isn't (yet) a public megacorporation take a look at how they're aggressively growing their list. As well as the email icon on the right, above the fold, in the subscriptions area, they also have house "ads" below each post asking the reader to subscribe. Simple text, clear call to action, big fat button. Awesome!

The blog carries good commentary beyond Yahoo's own services, so if you're a social media marketer, PR maven or online advertiser it's well worth following.

Subscribe to the Yahoo! Advertising Blog

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Social Media Edge Interview Archive - Plus #SMEDGE Discount!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

On Tuesday I was the main guest on the Social Media Edge radio show; it was a lot of fun to do and there were some great questions asked. You can visit their BlogTalkRadio website to hear the archive of the show I was on or any of their prior shows (or subscribe in iTunes, of course).

Or you could download the MP3 file of the show here (it's about 10MB).

You can listen to the whole thing, or skip to where I start at about 32:30.

For Social Media Edge (SMEDGE) subscribers we're offering a 10% break for new accounts - use the SMEDGE offer code on the payment screen.

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Save 10% to celebrate BlogWorldExpo (#BWE10)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Heading off to Las Vegas today for Blog World Expo and New Media Summit 2010, and since it's both my first time in Vegas and at BWE I'm happy to offer new customers a 10% price break using the BWE10 code when they sign up. The free trial will be shortened to 15 days, but we know you're going to be up, running and happy as a clam by then!

So click here to start your trial, and don't forget use the BWE10 offer code to secure the discount!  It expires in just over a week - midnight eastern on the morning of Saturday the October 23rd 2010 - so don't delay.

Interested?  Find out more:

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Introducing the FeedSmart WordPress Plugin for FeedBlitz

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

FeedBurner migration to FeedBlitz just got less stressful for WordPress users. Announcing FeedSmart, which captures all RSS traffic to your WP site, and routes it through your FeedBlitz RSS feed. FeedSmart is our equivalent to FeedBurner's venerable FeedSmith plugin, and is complimentary to our email subscription plugin that makes it easy to sign up new subscribers while they comment.

Now you can capture all your RSS stats with FeedBlitz, regardless of whether the subscriber is following your FeedBlitz feed or your Wordpress blog's "native" feed URL. You don't have to change your native blog feed URLs either, making migration seamless for your RSS subscribers. Your feed stays on your domain, which also allows you to switch out of FeedBlitz in the future if you want, so you're not locked in (hey, it keeps us on our toes - we like that! That's why we're innovating and those other guys aren't). You get the power of our feed hosting, splices, social media integration, stable stats, technical support and much more - and none of the hassle.

FeedBlitz RSS feeds require a premium account at FeedBlitz or an active trial; if you use FeedBlitz just for RSS subscriber tracking you get all this feedy goodness for only $1.49 a month after the trial ends (less if you're an existing free service user, click here for discount info). Start a trial today.

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FeedBlitz Founder Live on Social Media Edge Show, Oct 12

Monday, October 11, 2010

Hi Everyone,

I'm going to be on the Social Media Edge show live tomorrow, October 12th, at noon eastern. Find out more about FeedBlitz, why quality email marketing is increasingly vital for bloggers and businesses today, how integrating social media marketing with your list gives you the widest possible reach, and why a premium service is vital to your businesses branding and lead generation.

Hosted by Ken Cook, Social Media Edge uses BlogTalkRadio for their live streaming. Click here to find out more and hope you'll listen in tomorrow!

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Site-Wide Sponsorships Available

Monday, October 04, 2010

I'm happy to welcome FeedBlitz's first ever site-wide sponsor, Vistaprint. Vistaprint will be sponsoring the feedblitz.com site for the next two weeks, and all our ad-funded email inventory for this working week. A huge thank you and welcome to them. Check out their services!

FeedBlitz has sponsorship packages available for the web site and also for our email inventory, which is tens of millions of impressions per month; Feedblitz.com is currently ranked 6,926 globally and 2,512 in the USA according to Alexa.

Site and email sponsorships are available by the week, month or quarter according to your needs. We also have a profile on Atlas if that's how you like to research your ad buys.

Interested? If your company would like to follow in Vistaprint's steps and sponsor FeedBlitz, please contact me. The holidays are coming up, let's not forget. Reserve your space now.

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Related Articles Increase RSS Engagement

Friday, October 01, 2010

FeedBlitz has added "related articles" to its premium FeedBurner alternative RSS feed service. By adding this content to your feed, any one article becomes a platform for launching the subscriber back into your blog, even if you're using full post feeds. More opportunities to engage means more site visits and, in the long run, greater monetization opportunities.

Many blogs feature related articles, but many are driven by client-side scripts, and so don't make it into the underlying feed. This denies the blogger's most ardent readership a critical re-engagement opportunity.

FeedBlitz has solved this problem for all our feeds, adding up to three related articles by default. The feature can be tuned, including changing the number of related articles to show and the heading text, at RSS - Settings - Per-Post Customization.  To disable the feature, simply set the article count to be zero.

Related articles will appear for current feed entries when the feed is next updated, a splice changes, or the feed is refreshed via the RSS tab at FeedBlitz.com.  To see it at work, check out the FeedBlitz News feed here (scroll to the foot of each article).

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