FeedBlitz is an email and social media subscription automation service for blogs and social media, and the premium FeedBurner alternative.

Get free email updates:

Preview | By FeedBlitz

FeedBlitz News

Subscribe to the FeedBlitz Blog for news, customer service and feature updates by mail or RSS.


Five Easy Steps for Easy Video Marketing Online

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Video marketing online is exploding. The average US viewer now watches more than 187 videos online per month, and that number is only increasing.

To help your business attract customers through this exploding new medium, I recommend video blogging. While many people are intimidated by the technical complexities of producing online video (or are just shy about appearing on camera), video posts to your blog are easier than you think.

Five Easy Steps for Easy Video Marketing Online

To get started in online video there are a lot of complicated strategies and equipment that you can use. Instead here’s the plain and simple way I recommend that can get you started in online video quickly and inexpensively:
  1. Camera: Almost any video camera today can plug into your PC to upload video to the web. Use your point and shoot digital camera, a hand held camcorder like the Flip, or my personal preference, a web cam.
  2. Setup: Prep some notes about what you want to say, and find a pleasant, quiet and well lit spot to use as a background for your video shoot.
  3. Shoot: Turn on the camera and start talking. Save it when finished.
  4. Upload your video to YouTube: This is the part where non-technical people get intimidated but it's really quite easy. An account at YouTube is free. After you have one simply go in and click the button that says "upload". “Browse” to find the new video file on your hard drive and click to upload it. You can even use a webcam to record directly onto YouTube, if you would like.
  5. Distribute Your Video: Here’s where the marketing part kicks in! Once your video is live on YouTube, you can syndicate it around the web. Grab the URL of the video's page on YouTube and promote it on your blog, Facebook, Tweet about it, and share it with your friends and business associates.
    Even better than sharing the URL is to copy the "embed code". If you have access to the HTML of your website or blog's pages, you can paste this embed code in to make a YouTube video player appear on your site. That way visitors can watch your video without leaving your site.
The cost of all this? FREE!

BONUS TIP: Automatic Video Syndication by Email

My favorite online video syndication technique it is to share my videos by e-mail, too. This may sound complex but FeedBlitz makes it easy!

If you use FeedBlitz to turn your blog’s RSS feed into newsletters, you’ll also discover that FeedBlitz offers a great feature that automatically captures a still image from your video and places it in the e-mail newsletter.

Your e-mail newsletter subscribers will see a nice big JPEG taken from your video. They can click on that picture to visit your site and play the video right away. This is a super handy FeedBlitz feature that can help you get double duty from your online videos. It also attracts much higher clickthrough rates than simply including a URL.

Example: Each week I send an email newsletter to the readers of my books, Internet Riches and e-Riches 2.0: Next Generation Online Marketing Strategies.

So to share a new video I follow the steps above: I shoot and upload the video to YouTube, followed by posting the new video on my blog at ScottFox.com by pasting the YouTube embed code into a post. Then, when my e-mail newsletter goes out each week via FeedBlitz, attractive, clickable JPGs from the videos I post are automatically included!

To see this technique in action please visit ScottFox.com to subscribe to my free e-mail newsletters. Each week I'll share with you more practical online marketing and e-commerce money-making strategies just like those detailed here.

I'm looking forward to seeing your smiling face soon in an online video, too!
  • What are your online video marketing tips?
  • Are you posting your videos in your Feedblitz emails yet?

About the Author

Scott Fox is the host of the online marketing success coaching community ClickMillionaires.com. He is a serial startup executive, podcaster, and author whose e-business strategy coaching helps solopreneurs, small business owners, and corporations make more money online. He is the best-selling author of two books: Internet Riches and e-Riches 2.0: Next Generation Online Marketing Strategies. Visit http://www.scottfox.com/ for free email newsletters and http://www.clickmillionaires.com/ for a free trial of his personalized coaching community.

Labels: ,


Three Essential Tips to Growing Sales and Service, One Tweet at a Time (at @ProBlogger)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Twitter offers small businesses and independent professionals unique opportunities to out-maneuver their larger competitors, by using the social network as a real-time prospecting and customer service system. You can improve your pipeline and grow a stellar support reputation simply by following these three simple tips:
  1. Use Twitter Search to find leads and spot problems in real time.
  2. Know when to tweet and when to hold off.
  3. Use Twitter’s Favorites function to aggregate testimonials.
Click here to read my entire guest post over on Darren Rowse's ProBlogger site.



Growing Your List: Accelerating Subscriber Growth

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Growing Your List: Accelerating Subscriber Growth

[This is the fourth article in the List Building for Bloggers #LBB series]

In this post you will learn about:
  1. The basics of online list growth.
  2. Integrating with social media.
  3. Email to a friend.
  4. Creating and testing incentives.
  5. Making the most of offline events.
  6. The role of advertising.
  7. Subscriber import.
  8. Three things to never, ever, EVER do.
There's also a comprehensive set of action items at the end for you to use right now to better grow your list.

Quantity and Quality

Much like site traffic, pretty much the first thought you have once you’ve set up your list is “how do I get more subscribers?” – and that’s the topic for today’s List Building for Bloggers post. Before diving in, however, it’s worth emphasizing one key point: Quality beats quantity. So do try to grow your list; but keep your list’s quality high too. List quality is the topic of the next LBB article.

There are fundamentally two different ways to add subscribers to your list:
  • Organically, where new subscribers add themselves to your list via your forms.
  • Via Import, where you add new subscribers to your list yourself.

Online Mailing List Building Basics 

Make it easy to sign up on your site

The absolute best thing is to have visitors sign themselves up using your email list subscription form, placed on every page of your web site, above the fold, clearly marked (see last week’s “List Building for Bloggers” post for more on this). Consider asking for email subscriptions as well via your blog’s post footer feature – if you actually ask for the subscription you’re much more likely to get it than if you don’t. Ask for the order!

Add email signup to your Facebook pages

If you’re using a third party email list service like FeedBlitz then you should have access to a Facebook subscription form app to add to your pages. Do it! Enable your Facebook visitors to sign up for your list as well. In other words, make your social media content feed into your mailing list, as well as vice versa via sharing icons.

Enable email to a friend in your mailings

The email service you use to deliver your blog’s list should also have an “email to a friend” feature (sometimes known as “forward to a friend”). If it’s not on, enable it. You’re allowing your readers to refer your content to someone else, which is a Good Thing, and as part of this process the email to a friend feature should ask the recipient for a subscription too.

Enable email subscription links in your social media posts

I firmly believe that you should rarely, if ever, post to a social media site without a relevant link. When you post to a social media site, make sure that the links you put up include a link to your email subscription form (as described in this post: “From Like to Subscribe”). It’s hard to do on Twitter because of the 140 character limit, but there’s no excuse for autoposts to richer social media outlets (especially Facebook and LinkedIn) not to include a link to your subscription form. If your autopost provider doesn’t link back to your main list’s form, ask them when you’ll get one - else you're missing out on potential new subscribers.

Incentives, Promotions and Leads

A great way to grow your list is to use an incentive. Your incentive should obviously be compelling, valuable and relevant for your target audience. What you don’t want to do is attract tire-kickers who are just in it for the reward, so plan it carefully. Ideally, any reward should also be unique to your list – the only way to get at the reward is to join the list; your incentive shouldn’t be readily available otherwise.

Incentives come in two fundamental forms:
  • A bonus for simply for signing up.
  • Recurring rewards for subscribers who stay subscribed over time.

Signup Rewards

Effective reward signups include:
  • Free content (e.g. an eBook, report, white paper, coupon or sponsored item).
  • Prize drawings.
Free content can be delivered via your “thank you” autoresponder or a link on your activation landing page.

If you’re running a small business, using a relevant report, eBook or white paper to encourage new subscriptions is a great way to do lead generation for your company.

Prize drawings are usually for physical items, such as money, gift cards, or some other real-world item that your audience would value. But you can think out of the box here too. Your prize could also be a service you offer, such as an hour of your time, a personalized seminar, free market analysis, a coaching call etc. Depending on what you do, this can also be an effective lead generation tool.

The value of what you offer should also be relevant to the value your list brings you. If your audience is frugal moms, for example, offering a $100 gift card is a very appealing offer - it's perfect for an audience focused on spending less. If that offer brings you 5,000 extra subscribers over the life of the incentive then you’re paying 2c per subscriber; significantly less than you would pay via  traditional PPC or CPA advertising.

No matter what your incentive offering, track your metrics, and try testing with different incentives on a weekly or monthly basis to see which work best for you. Changing your rewards seasonally, timed with a product / service launch (not necessarily your product or service, e.g. think: next iPhone release), or even something topical can reap rewards. Simply rotating a set of equally effective incentives can yield a boost as each new offer goes live.

Finally, if you’re using a reward incentive, mention the winner (perhaps anonymously, as in “PH from Sudbury, MA won this month’s prize”) on your blog and in your mailings – show your readership that the reward is real and that people are getting it.  

Recurring Rewards

Once on your list, you want a subscriber to stay on the list. Relevant content is key, of course, but you can also reward them with something that’s also only available while they’re on the list. This might be a separate email to the whole list (see “Cupcakes, Recipes and Printables, Oh My!”), or a drawing eligible to current subscribers every week, month or quarter. If you’re going to run a recurring prize drawing, however, make sure your emails remind them of the fact that (a) the drawings are happening, and (b) that they must be an active subscriber to qualify.


Professional bloggers and businesses should consider advertising as a way to attract new subscribers. You can offer the incentive in your ad and direct them straight to the relevant form or “squeeze” page. You can advertise using third party content networks, such as Google’s AdWords or a Facebook ad. You can also place ads on related bogs, partner or directory sites. If you accept ads and you have space to fill, consider an exchange between you and a partner site for your ad.

Since advertising does typically cost money, however, make sure that you measure and understand the ROI (return on investment) of your ad program. Specifically, you need to measure the subscriber acquisition cost generated by the ad, and that subscriber’s lifetime value (LTV) – in other words, how much income a subscriber means to you, on average, while they’re on your list or a member of your site. You don't want to waste money on getting subscribers onto your list, after all.

Incentive Optimization

Once you’ve tried several incentives and you’ve found the one(s) that work well, test them further by moving them around on our site and changing the copy or graphics associated with them (see the ultimate heatmap referenced here). Do they work better on the left or right sidebar?

If you have a good incentive, consider moving it above your logo and masthead (as Money Saving Mom does here):

Effective but Annoying: Popups

Popup dialogs, especially ones that move, can be very effective in getting subscribers to join your list. We’ve all seen them: you navigate to a page, and between five and 30 seconds later the page is hidden behind a popup asking for your subscription (often with a special offer incentive attached too).

People use these because they work – they add subscribers quickly. Personally, I loathe them. They interrupt what I’m doing without permission, and as a professional, ethical marketer, permission is important to me (as is not being interrupted, let's face it). Where they can go from intrusively annoying to losing you visitors is when a popup appears on every page visited, and doesn’t respect the reader's decision not to sign up (or worse, keeps appearing after the visitor has, in fact, signed up).

If you’re going to use a popup, here are my suggestions:
  • Consider using a header or footer toolbar plugin instead.
  • Time the popup so the subscriber can read your content first. If they haven’t had time to decide that your content is valuable after five seconds, you are wasting their time asking for a subscription that quickly. Consider delaying the popup until the second or third page view that session.
  • Don't nag. Do not pop up the form on every page view. Wait a for an hour or two at least.
  • Ensure your form has a mechanism to never reappear (a “don’t ask me again” checkbox, for example).
  • Don’t ask existing subscribers for a subscription! If the visitor is already on the list it’s really, really annoying to be interrupted again about joining the list.

Offline Events

When you step out into the real world for your sales, marketing or other activity, take along a signup sheet. At a bake sale? Take a signup sheet. Speaking at a seminar, business breakfast? Take a signup sheet. Going to a networking event? Take a signup sheet.

Your signup sheet should ask for name and email address and should have an option the attendee can check to be asked to join your mailing list. When you get back from your event, you can add the ones who wanted to join your list directly (but only the ones who checked the opt in box, right? Right).

Which gets me to…

Importing Subscribers

You have some addresses you want to import. You want to add them to your list.

And that’s probably fine, especially if you’re switching from one mailing list system to another. It is a legitimate activity to switch list apps / services / vendors, and you should not have to make your already opted in subscribers opt in all over again simply because you want to use email service A instead of email service B.

That said, untrammeled subscriber import is an obvious way to spam people, and spam is bad. Subscriber import, from an email service vendor’s perspective, is fraught with danger. While we all want you to grow your list – it’s how we’re paid, one way or another – we want it done properly so we don’t get blacklisted.

There are several approaches that different services have adopted to balance client list import needs with protecting deliverability and service integrity: 
  • Don’t allow imports at all (e.g. FeedBurner). You have to get everyone to opt in again using your form. Very effective for preventing abuse, but a pain for you if your list is anything other than trivial.
  • Only allow imports with rock solid proof. Imports are only allowed if you have associated log data (e.g. containing the IP address of the system that originally created the subscription). Imports are gated, often subject to manual review before you can run a mailing. Effective, true, but can create significant delays for you while you’re waiting for any reviews to complete. These vendors are basically saying they don't trust you (yet). They may also simply not allow imports from older or in-house systems due to lack of proof, and so if you can’t meet their tests subscribers have to opt in all over again.
  • Allow selective imports without notification. FeedBlitz allows imports directly from FeedBurner lists, for example, precisely because the only way on to a FeedBurner list in the first place is via dual opt in. It's inherently trusted.
  • Allow imports with an opt out mailing. This is FeedBlitz’s core (non-FeedBurner) approach; imports are allowed but we send every recipient a welcome mail along with an opt out link. This allows us to collect list quality metrics immediately, but since the vast majority of bloggers and list owners are ethical, we don’t gate your use of that list. In other words, FeedBlitz trusts you unless we discover we shouldn't. Since this an inherently riskier approach, FeedBlitz employs robust anti-abuse and import checking technologies to ensure the process isn’t abused - all before the opt out emails are even sent. It works for us and for our clients; our deliverability is excellent.
  • Allow all imports no matter what. You can do this with self-hosted software (perhaps as basic as your own email software), and with other systems and services. While this is the easiest for you, services that don’t somehow check or validate imports place your reputation at great risk. Self-serving as it may well seem, I'd avoid any service or product that does not somehow filter or verify imports.
IMPORTANT: Use a reputable provider that uses some kind of “safe importing” approach.

If you can’t import a subscriber, what you can do is add them using your subscription form, starting the dual opt in process (you MUST use dual opt in; don’t do anything less). Make sure, however, that you only add folks who have explicitly told you that they want your mailings. 

Importing and abuse sanctions

If you start adding addresses that haven’t given you permission your complaint rates will rise and should be quickly noticed by your email provider. Once this happens, the conversation between you and their anti-abuse team is likely to be brief, uncomfortable and very to the point.

They may close your account, or restrict your ability to import. At FeedBlitz, for example, we automatically suspend any list where the metrics indicate abuse, no matter who the client. If an import appears to be spammy or not permissioned properly, it is stopped before any opt out emails are sent and further imports prevented until you get in touch with us.  

Importing: What you must never, ever, EVER do

Permission is everything in email marketing, and – remember – once you start your blog’s list you have become an email marketer.

Do not import email addresses from anything other than a source you control. So do not import from a CD of names you bought on the Internet, for example. Don’t do it.

Do not rent or buy email addresses and add them to your list. You do NOT have permission to email anyone on these lists. If permission was ever granted by the addressee (doubtful), it was to the list’s vendor, not to you. Don’t do it.

Do not import from a partner blog or sister company’s list. This includes your spouse’s blog, your BFF’s site or the firm whose Board your CEO is on. The names on that list gave their permission to the list owner for the list owner’s content. If you mail them it’s spam. Don’t do it.

Bottom line: If permission was not explicitly granted to you for the content of your blog, do not import. 

Your Action Items

  • Make sure your subscription form is clearly visible on your blog.
  • Add list-aware social media integrations.
  • Create a set of incentives to offer to accelerate list growth.
  • Plan and test your incentives.
  • Optimize your best incentive by testing with different copy, graphics and locations.
  • Create a signup sheet for offline events.
  • Only import subscribers who previously gave you permission directly to mail them.

Next Up

Growing your list’s quality – making the most of your current subscribers.

About List Building For Bloggers #LBB

Written by Phil Hollows, the FeedBlitz Founder and CEO, List Building for Bloggers (#LBB) is a series of posts to help you make the most of your blogging by harnessing the power and capabilities of email, the universal social network, with your bog and social media communications. No matter whether you're a novice or a more advanced blogger, there will be something for you to learn, apply and benefit from in this series. Click here to read more about #LBB

P.S. If you think your friends or followers would find this series valuable, please retweet on Twitter or "Like" on Facebook using the buttons below. Don't forget to use the #LBB hashtag when you do. Thank you! And if you have a comment, contribution or something else to say, please comment too. :-)

Labels: ,


Five Key Steps to Grow Your Mailing List #LBB

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Five Key Steps to Grow Your Blog's Mailing List

[This is the third article in the List Building for Bloggers #LBB series. Read the first and second ones.]

In this post you will learn about:
  1. How to get subscribers
  2. What to send your subscribers
  3. When to send it
  4. Listening to Unsubscribes
  5. Promoting your list
There's also a comprehensive set of action items at the end for you to use right now to better grow your list.

Getting Subscribers

Once your visitors have landed on your site, you want them to subscribe. And for that you'll need a subscription form where the subscriber gives you their information and starts the dual opt-in process.

Preventing Abuse: Dual Opt-in and the Dreaded CAPTCHA

At some point during the subscription process - and this typically happens up front - the application managing the subscriber has to determine two distinct things:
  • That the visitor is probably human and not a machine;
  • That the human using the email address given actually wants to subscribe.
The first is often solved by a CAPTCHA - those squiggly letters and numbers that you see on many forms. The idea here is that a spam bot can't read the images well whereas you and I can (with varying degrees of difficulty). There are complexities here around computer-based image verification and providing alternatives for the visually impaired, but passing a CAPTCHA test indicates a high probability that you're a carbon-based life form.

A CAPTCHA or similar anti-bot device stops automated submission software (aka bots) filling lists with crud and also helps deliverability because crud-free mailings keeps you on the good side of the ISPs trying to stop spam from reaching their customers. It's a Good Thing.

Dual opt-in proves that the email address submitted to the form is real and actually wants to get what is being signed up for. If you're signing up someone maliciously this is the part of the process that will catch you. And by the way, if you do this as a prank, be aware that on any reasonable system your IP addresses will have been logged and is traceable. Here at FeedBlitz, for example, we can and do share the IP of the computer which created a subscription if asked to by the email address owner.

The point of this little segue was to emphasize that what you and your subscribers see as a simple subscription form has quite a lot to do behind the scenes to make sure your list is of the highest possible quality.

Placing the Subscription Form

So because the subscription form has a lot to do, it's often broken up into a couple of steps: Grabbing the subscriber's email address, and then presenting the CAPTCHA and requesting other data (such as demographics like city, state and zip) on a secondary page or popup. The benefit of this approach is two-fold:
  • The form on your site can be quite small (it only needs an email field and a submit button)
  • The process is initially "low friction" i.e. it's easy to start.
In order to get the most visitors to subscribe to your blog, you need to:
  • Have the subscription form on every page
  • Make your subscription form easy to find
  • Minimize the number of clicks it takes to get there
The absolute best place to have a subscription form is at the top of your sidebar, above the fold, clearly marked. Every click a subscriber has to make just to get to the form will reduce the likelihood that they will subscribe. So go to your site now (home page and a post page) and look for your email subscription form. If you have to scroll to find it, move it up. If you can't see it at all, fix it. If it's unclear, make it more visible. If it's a click or two away, change how it's presented. Other places where forms can be effective are above your logo or banner (yes, you read that right), or below every post as part of the footer. If you want to research positioning further, check out the heatmap link referenced here.

If you can avoid it in your design, do NOT use an envelope icon (I know, I know, I don't currently follow this rule. I should, though). Why? Because an envelope icon can mean
  • Subscribe by mail
  • Email me (i.e. the site owner)
  • Forward to a friend in an email
There are probably other reasons, but the point is this: what the envelope links to and does isn't clear unless you have words under it. And even then it's an extra click to get to the start of the process; without incentives you're losing potential readers from the very start.

Secondly, everyone understands email and relatively few understand RSS. So do NOT use a version of the RSS icon to stand for your generic subscription page; your readers won't get it. Further, if you are using icons, use the email icon first. Why? Because (a) casual visitors understand email and not RSS unless your audience is very technical, and (b) email is a better subscription channel for you. You're both missing out if you prioritize something that's relatively arcane and very technical - RSS - over something that's ubiquitous, well-understood and simply better - email.

Once the form is up, the pages that it sends subscribers to should reinforce your branding and so make the visitor feel comfortable that they're safe and still dealing with you. If you're using a third party service make sure that you're using their branding features. If they offer an embedded form that keeps the visitor on your own site, that's great for branding too.

Finally, the form should be self-maintaining. If you add or drop custom fields, for example, you (or your graphic designer) shouldn't have to go edit your site again. If you do you have to re-test the site, you might mess something up, you might have to wait and pay your web guys or VA (virtual assistant) to do it, etc.

What to Send Your Subscribers

Now you're signing people up, what are you going to send them? You have two basic decisions to make here:
  • Full or partial posts
  • All posts or just some

Full vs. Partial

If you send full posts (which most subscribers will prefer) you should expect lower click through rates, because the content is all there in the mail (use your email service to provide recaps of older or related posts if you can to encourage interactions back to the site).

If you send partial posts - which is tempting for sites which monetize through ads and affiliate programs - you should see more visitors come back to the site. There are a few things to bear in mind before going the partial post route for your blog, though:
  • Most content truncation systems are really, really stupid. When your content is abbreviated you get plain text: no images, no formatting, no links. It's dull and not at all compelling (not true for FeedBlitz, see the graphic on the left). So test first to check you are OK with what is sent.
  • Make your cut off point far enough into the post so that what is sent is enough to hook the subscriber into clicking through. I'd definitely advise against headlines-only mailings, for example, as they clearly fail this critical test.
  • Make sure you have a clear and compelling call to action in your mailing to get readers to click through.
  • A small - but typically vocal - minority of subscribers will simply unsubscribe from partial post subscriptions on principle. Apparently that one extra click is too much of a burden for you to place on them, despite all the effort it took to get onto the list on the first place because your content was so good. Go figure.

Choosing the Posts to Send

Most blog to mail systems will send every post you write, and for most bloggers that's exactly what you want.

However, you may only want to send certain posts automatically, in which case you should use an RSS to email subscription system that can filter. For example, here on the FeedBlitz News blog we filter out articles tagged "noemail" - they're typically used to notify site visitors of transient problems and aren't for mailing to a broader audience later on as they wouldn't be relevant. Similarly, if your site is large and complex you might want to use filters to drive multiple mailings; again, that's a topic for a later article. 

When to Send: Scheduling

When to schedule mailings really depends on just two key factors: how often you write and your audience's expectations. In particular, if your mailings don't align with the latter your unsubscribe rate will rise.

If your blog is for a town and you want to use an email service to send emergency alerts, you want the fastest possible schedule you can get; you won't be mailing often, but when you do it has to go quickly.

If you're a casual blogger and posting a couple of times a week, you can probably go with prompt delivery or a daily digest - it isn't time critical stuff. On the other hand, a corporate B2B blogger might run with a weekly schedule, because that might suit the corporate audience's work routines better.

If you blog more often - including multiple times a day - you may well want to go with a daily or even a weekly digest, since anything faster risks aggravating subscribers with too many emails. Too much emailing also risks increasing your complaint rate, which in turn increases the risk that ISPs will start routing your email to junk instead of the inbox.

No matter what you choose, a properly configured email subscription service won't send mailings if properly configured. If it does there's probably a configuration problem or, worse, a zombie.

Advanced users can create multiple lists to accommodate different types of reader; again I'll cover that in a later post.

Listening to your Unsubscribes

One of the great things about bloggers is the amount of interaction and community around our audience. We engage in conversations, listen and incorporate what we hear into what we do.

A notification that someone has unsubscribed is another form of feedback. Although it feels personal, it probably isn't. Unless you've just written something that you knew was risky, it probably isn't even about your content. The subscriber's probably lost interest, changed direction, or doing something different.

But, whatever the reason, you should pay attention to the message someone leaving your list sends you. Your unsubscribe form should ask why people are leaving the list (but not to the point of being onerous and stopping the process) and you should have access to that data. You might find out, for example, that your audience prefers weekly instead of daily updates, so you can simply change the schedule and that should make an immediate difference.

No matter what, though, the unsubscribe process should be fast, accessible and easy to understand. Do NOT make people log in to a system to unsubscribe. US and international regulations require that an unsubscribe option be clearly visible in all non-transactional emails - which includes ALL emails sent from your blog (a transactional email would be an email confirmation of a purchase, for example - it isn't from a subscription but is instead part of a process).

Promoting Your List

So your form is on your blog - but you're not done. Where else can that form go? How else can you encourage people to sign up?

Well, for starters, If your blog is part of a larger site with non-blog content, make sure the subscription form is everywhere on your web presence, not just the blog.

Next, find your service's Facebook app and add it to your Facebook site. This is really important for consumer-oriented communities where the bulk of activity is on Facebook and not the blog itself; if you're not trying to capture your readers there as well you're really missing out. If you use a Facebook app to post to your Pages and Walls make sure that it asks readers to subscribe to your list. Ditto for LinkedIn and other relevant integrations.

For services like FeedBlitz that also offer a link to a hosted subscription form, use that link on sites and other locations where you can't add a form, such as:
  • Facebook wall posts and your FB profile.
  • Your downloadable and printed collateral e.g. brochures, media kits, eBooks, coupons.
  • Your email signature.
  • Your LinkedIn and other social media site profiles.
  • Your about me page.
  • Your business cards.
  • Your stationery.
If you think about all the places someone can read something you've produced you'll probably find something that isn't yet asking for a subscription. All your content should link back to your site and give them an opportunity to subscribe. Remember, if you don't ask for the order you're not going to get the sale.

Importing and Transferring Subscribers

I know I promised this for this week, but today's post is already long enough and I also promised that it would be shorter, so I'll cover this next time!

Your Action Items

  • Add email subscriptions to your blog.
  • Determine your schedule and choose full or partial posts.
  • Check that your subscription option is clearly visible and above the fold.
  • Check your email option is unambiguous and ahead of RSS subscriptions.
  • Check the subscription option is on all pages of your blog.
  • Integrate email subscriptions with your social media platforms.
  • Add subscription links to other online resources and collateral.
  • Blog!

For FeedBlitz Users

  • Configure your subscription form and links at Newsletters | Forms | Subscription Forms.
  • Set post truncation settings at Newsletters | Settings | Content Settings | The Basics.
  • Schedules are controlled at Newsletters | Mailings | Schedule.

Next Up

Growing your list quickly and ethically: Subscriber imports, incentives and promotions.

About List Building For Bloggers #LBB

Written by Phil Hollows, the FeedBlitz Founder and CEO, List Building for Bloggers (#LBB) is a series of posts to help you make the most of your blogging by harnessing the power and capabilities of email, the universal social network, with your bog and social media communications. No matter whether you're a novice or a more advanced blogger, there will be something for you to learn, apply and benefit from in this series. Click here to read more about #LBB

P.S. If you think your friends or followers would find this series valuable, please retweet on Twitter or "Like" on Facebook using the buttons below. Don't forget to use the #LBB hashtag when you do. Thank you! And if you have a comment, contribution or something else to say, please comment too. :-)

Labels: ,


How to Get Started in Online Video - Guest Post

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thanks Phil for having me on the FeedBlitz blog to talk a little video. For those I haven't met yet...a virtual quick hello and nice to meet you.

A quick background before we get into the meat and potatoes: My name is David Siteman Garland. I'm the founder of The Rise To The Top where I do in-depth, fluff-free, no-holds-barred video interviews with unique entrepreneurs and big thinkers; plus articles, video blogs and more all aimed at helping hustling entrepreneurs (and aspiring entrepreneurs). Perhaps due to insanity, since 2008 I've made over 500 videos on the web in all kinds of formats with over 2,000,000 views to date. I have essentially been a video guinea pig trying everything under the sun. But enough about me, here are the goods:

In this fluff-free video you learn:
  • Why video is the next best thing to face-to-face communication
  • Content? Audio quality? Lighting? Video quality? What is the most important factor and the least important (and why)?
  • Ideas to get started for bloggers, content creators and aspiring video superstars

So get started and give it a try today!

About Guest Posts on the FeedBlitz Blog

FeedBlitz publishes a guest post every Tuesday from bloggers, email and social media marketers. We welcome relevant subsmissions for new ideas; click here if you'd like to learn more.



UI Update: Customizing Your FeedBlitz Menus

Monday, November 15, 2010

While we're diligently working on improving the FeedBlitz web site (a project which is progressing and also expanding as we dig deeper into the potential), we have realized that there are some quick wins that should dramatically improve the user experience for many of our visitors.

The customize tab.

So the next time you log in, FeedBlitz will quickly figure out whether you are a subscriber, a blogger or a power user of our services, and change the features and tabs available to you as a result. Subscribers, for example, get just two tabs (with simplified menus too), along with a new "Customize" tab.

You can easily switch views by using the "Customize" tab which appears no matter which version of the menu system you get.

Customization doesn't affect billing or the capabilities of the site as a whole, just the ones it makes available to you. Let us have any feedback in the comments. Thanks!



Weekly Wrap 11/13/10 - How bloggers make money, repurposing content, sponsor thanks

Saturday, November 13, 2010

How Bloggers Make Money Blogging

The always insightful Darren Rowse (@ProBlogger) produced a "mind map" showing the different ways bloggers can monetize their efforts. He shared it with the #blogchat group last weekend and it's worth a read if only to think out of the AdSense box many bloggers find themselves stuck in.

Three Ways to Repurpose Your Blog

Denise Wakeman's simply fabulous guest post this week was on repurposing your posts - how you can grow your readership by thinking beyond the blog. If you missed it, read it now. There are some really easy wins here.

Thank you to this month's email sponsor, Vistaprint!

Vistaprint is sponsoring our ad-funded email inventory again this month; thank you! At the moment they're running a calendar campaign (see ad below). If you'd like to be a part of the over one billion emails and updates FeedBlitz sends a year, please contact us!

List Building for Bloggers - Part 2

Hub and spoke methodology discussed, three common email marketing myths debunked, and a glossary of basic email sending terminology you should know.

And, let's face it, have you ever read a post before that mentioned antique flange sprockets and the mating habits of the South American ping pong ball in the same sentence? I didn't think so. Now's your chance, then. Click here to read it.



Lists, Email Marketing and your Blog #LBB

Thursday, November 11, 2010

[This is the second article in the List Building for Bloggers #LBB series. Read the first one here]

Your Blog's List

The most effective marketing tool available to you is email marketing. In the previous #LBB article I compared email to other forms of social media and showed you that not only did it outperform other forms of social media, email subscribers are higher quality subscribers as well.

The Hub and Spoke

Not the bicycle store downtown, and not that cute British pub you visited on vacation last year. Instead, the "hub and spoke" system is a very effective way to market yourself across all types of media. I've seen different bloggers use this concept in multiple ways to explain how they use it for SEO or promotions. The basic idea, though, is the same regardless:
  • Your blog is the hub where you create and manage your core content.
  • All other (social) media channels are the spokes through which the content is redistributed.
In other words, you create your core content and value on the blog. The content then flows out from there along the spokes to the other venues: Facebook, Twitter, your email list etc. Conversations and inspiration then flow back. You're probably using a hub and spoke approach now.

Adopting (or formalizing) a hub and spoke approach doesn't mean that you shouldn't create content (Tweets, Wall posts etc.) out on the spokes – you should. It doesn't even mean that your largest audience will be on your blog; there are many consumer-oriented sites now whose largest audience is on Facebook.

But the prime content starts from the blog and works it way out, and when it does so via email you have become an email marketer.

Email Marketing and Your Blog

Now I know you probably don't think of yourself as being in marketing, still less this strange beast called email marketing.

Instead you want to write about your cause, your family, how to save money, how to make money, maybe even how to eat money (tip: don't). You blog about your passion: Travel, business, coding, model trains, antique flange sprockets, Egyptian butterflies, the mating habits of the South American ping pong ball. You're in this for self-expression, not to fall into this thing called email marketing.

Good news: There are third party services like FeedBlitz that will take care of this for you by automating the process. We live and breathe this stuff so you don't have to. We're here to help.

But you still have to choose a service, or manage the mailings yourself if you keep it in-house. So here are some common email marketing terms demystified (hopefully!) for you to bear in mind. If this gets to be too arcane after the first few, skip down to the mythology department to skewer a few well-known.

Email Marketing: Terms and Terminology

Here are the basic email marketing terms and what they mean for you and your blog, no matter how you set up your email subscription delivery.

The List

This is the basically the database of email subscribers you are mailing. It can be as simple as just an email address, or can contain other data (called demographic data) you collect along with email addresses such as subscriber names, gender, city, state, zip etc. Most bloggers start out with one list; over time you will probably end up with multiple lists. For example, David Garland has a daily, a weekly and an events list for his site The Rise to the Top.


All of the subscribers on any one list should have a common interest which you serve with relevant content. Relevance is huge for managing deliverability and making sure that subscribers not only stay subscribed but help you recruit more visitors to your site. The good news is that it is easy to stay relevant as long as your blog stays on-topic and powers mailings to your list.


A mailing is an email you send to your list. A mailing can be a one-off, such as a holiday sales offer, or today's email subscription from your blog. Mailings are sent to your list or a segment of your list.

Segments and Groups

A segment (sometimes known as a group) means a subset of your list, which you can define based on information you know about the subscriber. It allows you to target mailings to one or more specific subscribers, something that you can't do with, say, RSS subscribers.

Newsletters and Blog Subscriptions: Just the same, only different.

A newsletter is basically a regular mailing from you to your list. For most bloggers, blog to mail services like FeedBlitz automate this process, and these updates are their newsletter. It's great editorial content, nicely formatted, that goes out on a frequency determined by the blogger.

Some bloggers and publishers consider their newsletter to be something beyond the automatically mailed posts. When used this way, a newsletter contains additional editorial content which does not appear on the blog and can be sent instead of (or as well as) automatic mailings from the blog. Personally, I don't understand why a publisher's extra editorial wisdom should be restricted to just the email list and not shared with every visitor to the site; a great way to do this is to write a weekly wrap-up post on your blog and have that automatically mailed as part of your blog to mail service.

Email Blasts

Ethical professional corporate marketers really, really, REALLY dislike the term email blast, because it sounds spammy. But what is it? It's a one-off mailing to your list. That's all. So it's okay to "blast your list" as long as a few basic rules are followed:
  • The list is yours and properly opted-in.
  • Blasts are the exception, not the rule.
  • They're relevant to your list.
Break any of these rules, though, and your rewards will be unsubscribes, complaints and ISPs blocking your mail. So don't abuse it. Keep the ratio of blast to newsletter at six to one or better.


Autoresponders are mailings sent in fixed sequence over a period of time to subscribers. A "thank you" note sent to a subscriber when they confirm their subscription is a very simple, one mailing long, autoresponder.

Autoresponders can (and often do) have multiple steps to them; they are therefore used for what is often called "drip marketing" where you send an email subscriber mail at regular intervals to incent them to do whatever it is you want them to do. They can be used to send special offers, send surveys a few days or months after a subscriber joins the list, and more. Darren Rowse has an excellent article on ProBlogger on how he uses autoresponders on his sites. Well worth a read.

If you're still not entirely clear on the difference between a regular mailing and an autoresponder, see this article in the FeedBlitz knowledge base.

Confirmed Dual Opt-In

The only way to make sure your list grows legitimately is to use confirmed dual-opt in. Confirmed dual opt-in proves that the email address given on your subscription form is (a) real, and (b) the email addresses' owner actually wants your mailings. The process requires the recipient to actively confirm they want your mailings by clicking on a link in a mail sent to them after the initial subscription form has been submitted.

Anything other than dual opt-in will lead to higher complaint rates and your mail not getting through. Don't do it (a reputable email service provider won't let you either).


A "bounce" happens when an email can't be delivered. Email services like FeedBlitz typically define two classes of bounce: hard and soft.

A hard bounce is where the receiving system says "the account you're trying to mail does not exist" in which case you (or your service) should delete the subscriber from the list and not attempt to send mail to that address again. I'll cover why in the deliverability section below.

A soft bounce is where the email can't be delivered because of a temporary problem, like the receiving server being offline or too busy, the subscriber's mailbox being full, etc. Soft bounces are okay to try to send to later.


When someone clicks the "spam" button in their ISP's webmail app the sending system should record that as a complaint. ISPs track complaint rates to help them determine whether you are being a well-behaved mailer. Do the right thing and you get to the inbox. If you have high complaint rates you're going to end up in junk. Not good. Complaint rates should be 0.3% or lower for any reasonably sized list. AOL takes a very dim view of mailers with complaint rates over 0.1%.

Complaints are typically delivered to email services like FeedBlitz by what are called "Feedback Loops" that link the mailer, such as FeedBlitz, to the ISP. They're only available to bulk emailers in good standing with the ISPs in the first place (and that includes FeedBlitz, I'm happy to say). See this topic in the knowledge base for more.


Narrowly defined, deliverability is the ability of your email system to get the email you send into the welcoming arms of the of the subscriber's email server. Any reputable email service provider should be getting deliverability rates in the high 97% or better range, because reputation is the prime factor in determining whether the email comes from a trusted source or not, and therefore whether it should go to the inbox or to junk. If you are unsure, set up some test accounts; mail them and see what happens.


Hereare the two golden rules about spam:
  1. Spam is the subscriber's call to make and theirs alone.
  2. If you think have permission to mail them and they make a spam complaint, see rule 1.
It doesn't matter if you think you got permission a year ago or yesterday. If the subscriber says "spam" it's spam; it isn't something to debate with them or your email service. Remove them from your list (your service should do tis for you automatically) and do not email them again.

Now, to be fair, there is some debate about whether you should email them one last time to confirm that they have been removed from your list (this applies to normal unsubscribes too), but as far as I'm concerned an unsubscribe or spam complaint means that they don't want to hear from your again, and writing them one last time is asking for your mail to be classed as spam again, which will affect your reputation and hence deliverability.  This is, in fact, generally good advice about email marketing in general: If you're not sure, don't.

Spam filters and Reputation

Spam filters determine whether an email should be routed to your subscriber's inbox (which is what you want), or transferred to junk or, worse, trash.

Most ISP filters work on reputation once the email has been received. Reputation is determined by the sender's past behavior, and includes typical complaint rates, bounce rates, spam traps and other proprietary techniques.

So, for example, if you (or your service) repeatedly emails addresses that respond with hard bounces, your mail will be routed to junk as it is clear that you're not paying any attention to what the receiving email systems it telling you.

Content filters (think Spam Assassin) used to be the only way to deal with spam. They are still used but increasingly play a secondary role to reputation for ISPs. It is extremely rare for email from an otherwise trusted sender to be routed to your subscriber's junk folder. If and when that happens you should contact your email provider to figure out why. (For example, in the one case where that consistently happened to a FeedBlitz client this year we narrowed the problem down to a single link in the email that was triggering the IPS's content filter. Remove the link, problem solved.).

Email from reputable senders should also pass commonly deployed filters (again, think Spam Assassin) because the emails will be properly structured and linked to external white lists. Unless you're doing something you shouldn't, you don't have to worry about content filters if you're using a reputable third party vendor for mailings from your blog.

White, Gray and Blacklists

A whitelist routes mail directly to the subscriber's inbox and bypasses most filtering.

A blacklist is a list that immediately routes your email to junk or trash; in some cases it a blacklist won't even let your email server connect to the subscriber's email server. Your mail doesn't get through. You don't want to be blacklisted.

Greylisting is a technique where the subscriber's email servers tells you that the server is busy right now, please come back later. It's not actually true, but it's an effective anti-spam technique because spambots typically won't bother to retry. Their mission is to shove a gazillion mails out the door as fast as possible; tracking and attempting retries gets in the way and they won't.

Reputable and corporate email systems, however, will retry later, at which point your mail will be accepted for delivery. Greylisting works extremely well for receivers. It may cause problems for senders, however, as it tends to delay messages and uses resources to track and manage the later retries.


Authenticated mail is genuine mail – a receiver can tell whether the email is really from the system it says it's from.

Why is this necessary? Well, unfortunately, it's easy to fake who an email is from. Spammers, phishers, viruses and malware do this all the time. You've probably received those fake emails from someone pretending to be your bank.

Authentication enables a receiver to tell whether the email that says it is from megabank.com was actually sent by megabank.com. FeedBlitz, for example, uses two authentication techniques on every email we send: SPF and DKIM (they're very technical specs and beyond the scope of this post).We do this because we have a great reputation (and therefore great deliverability) and we don't want a spammer wrecking that for us. Only emails sent from our servers will authenticate.

It's important to understand, though, that authentication only says whether the email is really from the system that says it sent it. That email can still be spam, however, because spam is the subscriber's opinion of the quality of the content of your email, not whether it is genuinely from you.

Email Facts, Fear and Mythology

So now you understand some of the terminology, let's take a look at some of the common fears and myths surrounding email marketing best practices:

My customers are technically unsophisticated and cannot use dual opt-in

Dual opt-in confirmations are required now for almost every service out there to validate email addresses. They're widely used and now expected. They can and do manage! Plus any other opt in technique is too easily abused and will affect your deliverability. So relax – focus on your content and building a reputable, high-quality list.

I can't email too often – my subscribers will freak out!

This isn't typically true for bloggers, because "freak outs" (i.e. mass unsubscribes and complaints) are caused by losing relevance or over-selling, i.e. spamming your list. Since your blog is, by definition, relevant to your subscribers this isn't a problem for bloggers. But, should you get lots of complaints and unsubscribes, pay attention to what your audience is telling you. If your readership is voting with its feet take action. Refocus and / or back off a bit.

For example, FeedBlitz recently had a new client with a weekly mailing. At my behest we switched to daily mailings. Unsubscribes picked up noticeably over the next few days; this blogger's audience had been used to weekly mailings from the previous service and they liked it that way, so we quickly switched back.

Finally, you can offer subscribers different mailings; they can then self-select into the daily or weekly versions and you can avoid the problem altogether.

Now, subscribers will freak out when email marketers (usually not bloggers) "blast" the list with nothing but sales pitches. Once the pitch to post ratio gets too high (and the unsubscribe rate will clearly tell you when that is) relevance is lost and subscribers will flee. Again, blog-powered mails are typically very relevant and this isn't a concern.

In fact, if you're a traditional corporate email marketer who writes a custom email newsletter once a month or once a quarter you are not mailing your list enough; every email you send will actually generate more unsubscribes and complaints than it should. Why? Because you're not top of mind in your subscriber's minds, and irregularly sent emails that arrive months after a subscription was confirmed will feel "out of the blue" and much more likely to be less relevant and more likely to be marked as spam. If this is you and you can't mail more often, consider using multi-step autoresponders to new subscribers to establish your presence in their mailbox between newsletter issues.

The core difference here is respect for your audience and readership. As bloggers we are all about respecting and growing our readership. As such, complaint rates are typically very low and engagement high.
Corporate email marketers risk treating their audience as low-cost resource they can sell to cheaply and at will. Bloggers don't. This core difference in attitude is what makes this myth false for bloggers and social media, but potentially true for corporations with little personally invested in their readership.

Shared servers are bad: I need a dedicated IP address for my mailings

Not true if you are using a reputable email service to power and deliver mailings from your blog. Why? Because email services like FeedBlitz care for and monitor our reputations and deliverability, so our servers and domain reputations will be excellent. It's what we do! You are not only outsourcing email production and delivery, your are also effectively outsourcing email reputation management as well.
Moreover, the email volume through reputable email services with well-known servers at fixed IPs is so large (for example, FeedBlitz sends well over one billion emails a year) that even a rogue list, should it even make it that far, can't affect the service's reputation as a whole because it will still be relatively insignificant to the entire day's mail sent from that IP.

It is true, however, that you should not send your blog's mailings from your shared web server using your shared web server hosting service. This is because the volume of mail from a shared web server is much smaller than from a dedicated email server run by a dedicated email service like FeedBlitz. As such, a spam web site on the same web server can easily ruin that machine's reputation, and take your email with it as the ISPs refuse to accept mail from that server.

Furthermore, many web hosts will limit the amount of email you can send per day, because it's much, much easier for them to throttle you than to take care of managing email reputation for the thousands of IPs they host. If you are even close to being successful you'll hit those limits very quickly. A dedicated email service won't limit you that way at all. There are lots more reasons why DIY isn't such a great idea for anything other than a trivially small list, but I'll cover that in a later article.

Next Up

Nitty gritty, actionable items to help you with getting started. How to set up and manage your list, scheduling, formatting, subscription forms and subscriber transfers.

About List Building for Bloggers #LBB

Written by Phil Hollows, the FeedBlitz Founder and CEO, List Building for Bloggers (#LBB) is a series of posts to help you make the most of your blogging by harnessing the power and capabilities of email, the universal social network, with your bog and social media communications. No matter whether you're a novice or a more advanced blogger, there will be something for you to learn, apply and benefit from in this series. Click here to read more about #LBB

Labels: ,


3 Simple Ways to Repurpose Your Blog Posts, by Denise Wakeman

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

How many ways are you leveraging your blog posts?

Most people write a post and that's the end of it. You're probably syndicating your blog feed to the usual places: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, at the very least. And that's a good thing.

Yet there are many other ways to get more mileage out of your content.

As discussed in one of my prior articles, content syndication is just one part of the equation. But to really get the most leverage from your blog, think about how many ways you can repurpose the content (and then syndicate the new formats to all the usual sites).

Repurposing your content means turning your blog posts into different formats like reports, white papers, articles, slide shows, videos, podcasts, teleseminars, ebooks, etc.

Why Repurpose Content?

It may come as a shock, but not all your ideal clients know about or read your blog! There are people in your target audience hanging out on other sites all over the web. People are looking for information to read, share and learn from, and you want them to find you and your solutions.

When you publish content on your blog, you're most likely providing valuable, relevant information that demonstrates how you solve the problems of your ideal client or customer.

While having that content on your blog is a great place to start, there are many more prospects you can reach by simply repurposing the content in a few ways and distributing that content on other platforms.

You get more exposure and more value from the time you've initially invested in creating the content. Not to mention that you can drive more traffic back to your home base.

What You Need to Know

There is some preparation required when repurposing and distributing your content on multiple sites. First, you must set up accounts on the sites you want to use for distribution. Always fill out your profile completely, along with adding your picture when you can.

Also I recommend creating a template you can use to hand this project off to an assistant. For every new post you repurpose, you'll need to have the following information handy: title, short description and keywords. This should be fairly simple to pull from the original post. Now you're ready to go.

Let's look at three simple ways to repurpose your blog posts that don't require a lot of time or technical know-how: articles, PDFs and audio.

#1: Reformat for Article Directory Sites

This is the simplest and fastest way to repurpose your blog posts.

If your posts are about 500-1000 words, this is a great way to get in front of millions of additional eyeballs. While there are dozens, if not hundreds, of article directory sites, two stand far above the rest and will do the job for you: EzineArticles.com and IdeaMarketers.com.

Upload your repurposed blog post to EzineArticles.com to get in front of 30,000,000 monthly visitors.

Both sites have been around for years, have millions of monthly visitors and are easy to use. Both have the option to upgrade a free account to a paid account so you can get faster approval and featured status, but you can get great exposure without the investment.

When you submit your content, you may want to tweak the title and make sure the content is not overly self-promotional. EzineArticles will reject articles with promotional links in the body.

You'll also need to create an Author Resource box with contact info, a call to action and a link back to your blog or landing page.

Both sites give you the option to have links to your new articles syndicated to your social sites.

#2: Reformat for Document-sharing Sites

Document-sharing sites cater to those who want to share and read documents as PDF, Word docs or slides. Scribd, for example, has tens of millions of readers every month who read and download documents from the site. The advantage here is that you can embed links and images in your documents, unlike some of the article sites that don't accommodate images.

Docstoc.com, another popular site, gives you the tools to sell your professional documents as well as give them away for free.

Again, it is super-simple to distribute your content. Copy your blog post into a Word doc; make sure it's nicely formatted; add your author bio with a call to action and link(s) to your blog, site and/or free reports; then convert to PDF. Upload and you're done.

A cool feature on some doc-sharing sites like Scribd, Docstoc and others, is the ability to embed your documents on web pages and blogs. This gives readers an easy way to share your content and again extend your reach to new audiences.

Scribd and other document-sharing sites let fans embed and share your content on their own sites.

Here are three more document-sharing sites:

#3: Record an Audio Version of Your Post

I'm seeing more and more bloggers create audio versions of their blog posts. This is not difficult to do and gives your audience an additional way to consume your wisdom.

Not everyone likes to read, so create a podcast and you extend your reach even further. There are dozens of podcast directories, and of course the heavyweight is iTunes.

About 13% (27 million) of U.S. Internet users listen to podcasts so this is an audience you don't want to overlook. They may never find your blog, but they're using iTunes to find content.

You don't need to be a recording star to create a decent audio of your blog post. I recommend Audacity, for free recording software. You'll need to host your mp3 audio files on the web and create a podcast feed. Some options are Podbean or Feedburner if you post the audio on your blog.

Once the podcast feed is created, submit it to iTunes (and any other podcast directory you wish). To submit to iTunes, go to the iTunes Store, navigate to the Podcasts directory, and click on the Submit a Podcast link.

The information you'll need to have on hand when you're ready to submit your podcast includes: title of your “show” (the collection of audio posts you'll be creating from your blog), description, keywords, category, and if possible, a graphic image or logo for your show.

Once you have the podcast feed created and submitted to iTunes, then it's simply a matter of recording each blog post. I suggest a two-step approach to distributing the audio: 1) add the audio to your blog post so people can read or listen on your blog as they prefer and 2) add to your podcast feed so people can download to their mp3 player and listen on the go.

Add an audio version of your blog post to reach a bigger audience.

TIP: when you record your blog post, make sure to add a call to action or invitation to visit your blog along with your name and URL of the blog.

Much of this work can be done by a virtual assistant, especially submitting your article/document to the various sites. You write and record the post, provide the info: title, description and keywords, then have your assistant do the formatting and submissions.

Articles, PDFs and audio posts each provide an opportunity for you to reach new audiences. Now you've got at least three more paths from high-traffic sites leading back to your home base.

How many ways are you leveraging your blog posts? These are just three examples. What other formats have you found to effectively repurpose and distribute your blog content?

About the Author

Denise Wakeman is an Online Marketing Advisor and Founder of The Blog Squad. She helps entrepreneurs and small business owners leverage blogs and social media tools for their business to boost online visibility to get more traffic, leads, customers and opportunities. Denise writes on 3 marketing blogs, is a columnist for SocialMediaExaminer.com and is a contributing author on business blogging in “Success Secrets of Social Media Superstars.” She frequently speaks at conferences about business blogging and how to gain expert status through social marketing. She has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, Newsday, Canada's National Post, FastCompany Online, as well as many other online and offline publications. Learn more about Denise at http://denisewakeman.com/  



Using a Blog as an Email Sponsorship Ad Server

Monday, November 08, 2010

One of the great things about FeedBlitz's blog to email automation is that it can incorporate other feeds into the mailing using the <$Feed$> tag in the Advanced Template Editor.

Recently we used that tag to deliver a simple, easy to manage email sponsorship ad server powered by a WordPress blog - the approach will work well using any blogging system, so even if you don't use WP, do read on.

The Challenge: Easy to Manage Sponsor Ads

A client's web designer let us know that the client had recently successfully sold advertising directly, which was great. How could FeedBlitz ensure these ads showed up in the email? Normally we say that you include the ad image and link directly in the template.

However, the designer wanted something that did not involve the blogger having to learn about the advanced template editor or spend time working in it just to change the ad. It was too complicated for just this simple task. There were open source ad servers that could be used instead, but that was yet another learning curve to climb and software to install. What else could we do?

Solution: A Dedicated Ad Blog Included in the Template

The solution was to create a new blog where each post held the sponsor's ad. The blogger is more than capable of inserting the ad and its link into the "ad blog" so that solved the ease of use requirement. Each post in the ad blog is just the ad itself, linked to wherever it should go. Very easy.

We incorporated the ad into the mailing using the <$Feed$> tag in the advanced template editor, restricting the feed to a single entry (the current ad, in other words). We only included the post itself (because the ad was in the post, remember), so the new code in the advanced template editor was basically this:

<$Feed=[the URL of the ad blog's RSS feed] count=1><$BlogPosting$><$BlogItemBody$><$BlogPosting$><$Feed$>

This code pulled only the top ad from the feed (count=1 limits the number of entries pulled). The ad and its link, which are in the post itself, are inserted by the <$BlogItemBody$> tag. The <$BlogPosting$> tags are "control tags" that tell FeedBlitz when to start inserting feed items; they disappear in the final mailing.

We floated this off to the right of the text in the template and it worked great! Done and done.

Stats, Categories and Scheduling

Working this way had other advantages beyond having minimal learning curves and no new software or services.

By enabling open and click through tracking, the blogger can see how many impressions were generated and the click through report tells her how many folks interacted with the ad itself.

By using category feeds from the source ad blog, tagging each ad post properly, and using the category feed URL in the <$Feed$> tag, we ended up using the same blog to power different ads in the same template. We simply used a different category feed URL in each location where each type of ad should appear.

And by using scheduling, the blogger can line up different sponsors in the future as they come on board, just by scheduling the posts containing their ads. As the blog's scheduler publishes the new post to her blog (i.e. the new ad goes live), the email automatically switches over to the new ads when they are sent.

The Bottom Line

The client gets a trivially managed min-ad server for her email, powered by her familiar blogging application, tracked and displayed by FeedBlitz's uniquely powerful email marketing automation templates.

The designer doesn't have to worry about the blogger accidentally breaking her beautifully crafted email template.

It's the proverbial win-win.

Got an Interesting FeedBlitz Story? Tell us About it!

We'd love you hear from you.


Scheduled Maintenance Friday 12 Nov 2010 9:45pm eastern

A quick heads-up that we'll be running some maintenance at the end of the week. FeedBlitz will remain available during the maintenance but interactive use of the web site may slow down during the event.  For more information please follow @phollows on Twitter.


Weekly Wrap 11/5/10 - Foursquare, Getting Sponsors, Visualizations

Friday, November 05, 2010

Why I Deleted My Foursquare Account

OK, this one wasn't originally published this week, but Ari Herzog's recent thought-provoking piece on location-based services like Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook places came across my radar again this week and so here it is. I've personally always thought that out-of-office autoresponders and these new social media services as electronic "Please Rob Me" signs, but Ari's post shows how this gets to be really creepy and real. Should you delete your Foursquare account too? Your kid's? You might after reading this.

2010 Mid-Term Elections Twitter Visualization

The New York Times' innovative and yet functional visualization of twitter activity in this week's US elections. Simply brilliant.

Turning One Sponsor Into Many

Getting sponsors is core to many bloggers' monetization strategies once they step beyond AdSense. Great story and compelling insight from David Siteman Garland on a strategy that takes your first sponsor to add many more. If you sell your own ads or sponsorships on your site, this is a must-read.

Summarizing the State of the Blogosphere

LeeOdden summmarizes what Jason Falls just described as "the only relevant thing Technorati still does." Indeed. But some interesting data nonetheless, nicely presented in bite-sized formats by Lee. If you're a stats geek, check it out here.

List Building for Bloggers, Episode 1 - Email marketing in the age social media #LBB

Praise from the Twitterverse about the first article in our new weekly series:
"This was a phenomenal kick-off to #LBB. I read it this morning! Great tips--looking forward to the others." - @BrotherJesse
"Kudos to @phollows this is one amazing in-depth dive into why email marketing dominates all other forms to this day" - @autoburst
"Do you have an email subscribe option on your business blog? No? Read this article" - @DeniseWakeman



Why Aren't Email Lists Extinct in the Age of Social Media? #LBB

Thursday, November 04, 2010

[This is the first article in our List Building for Bloggers #LBB series]

So you've started your blog. You're on Facebook and perhaps even have a Twitter account. You're rocking this whole social media thing; why on earth should you bother with email? It's so, well, twentieth-century isn't it? Isn't email extinct, dead and gone?

Why bother offering email subscriptions at all?

Because you can't afford not to.

Here's why:
  • Email subscriptions are WAY more popular than RSS.
  • Email subscribers are your biggest fans.
  • Email is everywhere.
  • Email is accessible.
  • Email is the most effective subscription mechanism available.
  • Adding email subscriptions to your blog is fast and easy.
  • Managing email subscriptions won't take up your time.
You'll grow your readership, build your community and monetize more effectively by combining your blog with email. It's that simple.

Email Subscriptions are Very, VERY Popular

The facts are that email works: people want it. Email subscriptions – i.e. your newsletter or mailing list – are familiar to the vast majority of people online. They're comfortable with the concept. When FeedBlitz partnered with FeedBurner back in 2005 to deliver their email services for them, email subscriptions were the #1 requested feature.

Moreover, the evidence shows that email subscriptions are significantly more popular than their most frequently cited social media equivalent, RSS feeds. (I'll ignore for now the fact that most bloggers' email subscriptions are ultimately powered by RSS; it isn't important from the email subscriber's perspective).

Need some data? HubSpot ran a survey in 2009 and found that email subscription rates varied by audience, but could be as much as 12 times (not 12 percent, 12 times) more popular than RSS.

Darren Rowse, aka @ProBlogger, revealed at a session Blog World 2010 that ~75% of his subscribers were email-based; that's 3 times the number of RSS subscribers.

Based on these data points, if you don't offer email subscriptions you're potentially missing three to ten times your potential subscriber base.

Your mileage will vary, but clearly the opportunities lost to connect are significant. Can you really afford not to grow your subscriber base that much with a simple step?

Put another way, if someone told you that you could boost your subscriber count four-fold or ten-fold with five minutes' work, wouldn't you leap at that opportunity? That's what having email subscriptions in your blog can deliver over time.

Email Subscribers are your Biggest Fans

These days it's work – it takes commitment – to subscribe to a properly run mailing list, what with CAPTCHAs and dual opt-in. The email subscribers on your list have made this commitment to you, and they are inviting you to barge right in and occupy their inbox (you need to do this respectfully, of course, but that's for a later post in the List Building for Bloggers #LBB series).

Many people follow hundreds of "friends" on Facebook, Twitter accounts, and all those teeny-weeny, unbranded, untracked, undifferentiated, easy to miss messages fly by.

See too Jay Baer questions the current vogue of trumpeting the number of Facebook fans and compares the trend to email subscriber valuation:
"The psychology of Facebook "likers" is similar to email newsletter subscribers (I have enough kinship with this company to allow them to stay in touch with me). However, in comparison to your Facebook fans, your email subscribers usually provide far more important information to your business when they subscribe. It takes a lot more than one click to subscribe to an email list."
Compare and contrast. Your email to a subscriber is in their inbox, by invitation. Fully branded. Content rich. Tracked. Customized. Personalized. A Tweet? Not so much.

Your subscribers are your core audience.

They're the foundation of your community. They advocate for you. Engage with you. Recommend and refer you. And email is the best mechanism for staying in touch – and for them to forward your messages too.

Email is Everywhere

You're a blogger. You're probably more tech savvy than many of your friends. Although you have already several email accounts (one from your ISP, cable or phone company, one from a free service like gmail or hotmail, one for your work, and one for your cell phone), you may prefer not to use email much of the time. That may be true of your blogging friends too as you all hang out online on Twitter.

So when you think subscribers, you may well think of RSS first. That's fine; it's natural to do so for you. But remember this:

You are not your audience.

Think about it. Your audience is probably less technically sophisticated than you are. They don't know nor care what RSS is. They don't want to download and install and learn yet another system just to get updates from your blog. And no, they don't understand that little orange RSS icon in their browser and they don't understand how to get to the browser's integrated RSS reader to subscribe and track updates. It isn't happening for them.

So, unless you are writing for a very tech savvy readership, your readers are not as likely to be comfortable with Twitter, RSS feeds or even Facebook. They don't "get" it. That's fine too – they're not worse than you or me, just not as focused on new messaging technology. So stop trying to persuade them that they're wrong (or, worse, stupid), and accommodate them.

Give them an email subscription option instead.

Because they'll all have email addresses. And so, no matter what, using email, you have the chance to turn a casual visitor from another blog or from a Google search into a subscriber, a fan, a member of your core community.

Email is also great because of its ubiquity. You can capture almost anyone with an email subscription form. That's just not true for a Twitter or Facebook page. In fact, the one thing you have to have to join any social network is a functioning, active, email address!

Email is Accessible

A growing number of companies are now blocking social media access from their offices. There a variety of reasons used to justify this - control, legislative compliance, security, productivity are just a few – and as short-sighted as you and I might think this is, it doesn't matter. Debating the wisdom of such a move is irrelevant. Very often sites like Facebook are forbidden within the corporate firewall.

It is extremely unlikely, however, that email is blocked. A visitor accessing your blog from a business location can subscribe with their company email address and your messages get through. Problem solved.

Email is also the #1 application used on mobile phones for most people aside from, well, phoning. I'll talk about making your emails mobile-friendly later in the #LBB series, but every smart phone has an email app built in and you can reach the mobile user with an email subscription process too.

Finally, email is readily accessible to people with visual impairments or reading difficulties. Screen-readers can easily convert an email for the visually impaired and so it's often the best way for them to access your content as a subscriber. This is especially true for HTML mail (the vast majority sent today), since accessibility features in HTML such as alt and title tags also work in your HTML subscriber emails. Social networks and status updates are brief, text based messages that lose all this valuable information.

Email is the Most Effective Subscription Mechanism Available

Email Subscribers Are the Best Subscribers You Can Have

I've already mentioned that an email subscriber is a committed subscriber, based on the work they've had to do to get on your dual opt-in list in the first place. It takes time and effort to do this, and it's much more of a meaningful investment than clicking "follow" on Twitter or sending a friend request on Facebook. In a sense, the ease of following someone on these social sites, while it ramps up your friend and follower counts, makes these counts increasingly meaningless. It's all too casual. And causal is not committed, not invested and not as valuable to you in the long run because of that.

Email is popular and represents a subscriber investing their time in order to have you talk to them. That's pretty amazing when you think about it.

But the best part of email subscriptions is what you as a blogger can do with them.
  • Unlike an RSS subscriber, you know who they are.
  • Unlike RSS and social media, you can brand emails to reinforce your message.
  • You can add your own ads or third party sponsorships.
  • You can ask them to tell you more about themselves.
  • You can personalize the interactions with each update (you can't do that with a tweet, RSS entry or wall post).
  • You can target segments based on history, activity of other demographics.
  • You can track activity easily.
  • You can set up autoresponders for drip marketing and affiliate sales.
  • You can offer rewards and incentives for new subscribers.
  • You can test different subject lines and calls to action.
And you can do all of this automatically, driven by your blog, for next to no ongoing effort. It's easy!

Email is Better for Most Subscribers

Most email applications are sophisticated, powerful pieces of software with years – decades in some cases - of investment put into them by their vendors. As such they can do things that most social media apps can barely dream of.

Here's what I take for granted in my email system as a subscriber.
  • Sorting, search and cataloging mechanisms.
  • Folders and rules to automate organization.
  • Categorization, customized views, archiving.
  • Trivial forwarding, replying, attachments and more.
  • Available when I'm offline.
  • Robust! There's no fail whale in your email app.

Email Complements, not Competes with, Your Blog and Social Media

Don't get me wrong here – I'm a huge fan of social media. I blog, tweet and all the rest of it. This isn't an email vs. social media battle.

It's this basic: Email is the perfect complement to your blog and other social media channels. You can use your email to link back to your blog of course. But it can also link back to your Twitter account, Facebook page or LinkedIn profile. It can invite people to "like" an article, for example. Or to retweet on Twitter. If you consider your blog as the hub of a "hub and spoke" marketing system, your subscriber emails are mini-hubs. They too can link back to your other content and social media spokes.

And so the final benefit of having email subscriptions. Better than any other social medium, email can drive subscribers back to your site and your other social media content, increasing page views over time and establishing a virtuous cycle of greater page views, increasing monetization potential and further growing your subscriber base (your core fans and eventually, your core customers).

Adding Email Subscriptions is Fast, Easy and Won't Add to your Workload

Here's the really good news. Setting up email subscriptions for you blog won't take very long and, if done right, won't need much work from you once you're up and running.

In fact, if you're spending more than five minutes a day on your email list once you have it going successfully, I'd say that something is very wrong.

There are several options to choose from using capabilities that might come with your blogging service, using your own email systems, all the way through to external service providers, like FeedBlitz, who can manage this for you. Some are free, some premium, and we all have different features, pricing approaches and so forth.

There will be a post at the end of the #LBB series on how to choose a provider, but if you're starting out now, just pick a reputable one (ask your blogging friends, research on Twitter etc.) and make a start. You can always export email subscribers for transfer later on if you wish (importing them elsewhere can be a hassle though – more on that can of worms in a later article).

Next Up on List Building for Bloggers #LBB

Welcome to Email Marketing with your Blog

List Building 101: Basic email marketing list jargon explained, demystified and a few myths debunked along the way.

About List Building for Bloggers #LBB

Written by Phil Hollows, the FeedBlitz Founder and CEO, List Building for Bloggers (#LBB) is a series of posts to help you make the most of your blogging by harnessing the power and capabilities of email, the universal social network, with your bog and social media communications. No matter whether you're a novice or a more advanced blogger, there will be something for you to learn, apply and benefit from in this series. Click here to read more about #LBB

The Blatant FeedBlitz Plug

Obviously, we'd be thrilled to have you consider using FeedBlitz for your blog's email subscription services (and more!). If you haven't yet selected a blog to mail vendor, please click here to view our five minute "getting started" video tour.

P.S. If you think your friends or followers would find this series valuable, please retweet on Twitter or "Like" on Facebook using the buttons below. Don't forget to use the #LBB hashtag when you do. Thank you! And if you have a comment, contribution or something else to say, please comment too. :-)

Labels: , ,


© FeedBlitz - Blog and RSS Email Solutions | www.feedblitz.com | info@feedblitz.com | Privacy | Terms of Service

Related Posts with Thumbnails Quantcast