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List Hygiene, or Cleaning Up Your List, on FeedBlitz

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The prior two posts have been talking about list hygiene - keeping your list's quality up by removing non-engaging subscribers - and described how to use a re-engagement campaign to do it. This post describes how to do it in FeedBlitz, everyone's favorite premium FeedBurner alternative.

New FeedBlitz Custom Fields

What you're going to need to do is cast your mind back to Monday (cue wavy time travel / flashback effects) where I described new date-based custom fields. I mentioned that there was a new set of "built in" or "system" custom fields now available in FeedBlitz - Joined, OptedIn, Opened and Clicked.

These are all date fields. They are there primarily to facilitate date-centric email marketing campaigns, such as list hygiene re-engagement programs. You can use them for much more than that, of course, and by the end of this post you'll know how.

The meaning of these fields is as follows:
  • Joined: The date the subscriber's email address was first entered onto the list (e.g. via s subscription form);
  • OptedIn: The mot recent date that subscription was activated (e.g. by clicking the link in the activation email);
  • Opened: The set of dates where an open was recorded for the subscriber;
  • Clicked: The set of dates where a click through on any link in a mailing was recorded.
So, if you imported a subscriber, the optedin date will typically be the same as the joined date. Otherwise, the optedin date will always be after the joined date.

The opened and clicked dates represent all the recorded values of an open and a click. How they're all used in segments is pretty easy easy, as you can see from the following examples:
  • joined<"2011-02-28" picks all subscribers added to a list before February 28th, 2011.
  • clicked>="2011-11-01" includes all subscribers who clicked on or after November first.
Using System Date Fields

One way to use these fields is as a loyalty program. Let's say that you started a promotion on November 1st, 2011 that rewards all new subscribers with sample chapters from your latest e-book. That's great! But somewhat unfair to your established subscriber base.  So you set up an email blast using the segment expression joined<"2011-11-01" and send subscribers meeting that criteria a link to the free chapters. Subscriber loyalty rewarded, trust reinforced. Nicely done!

Or, say you want to draw a random subscriber from the prior month as part of a giveaway. Copy active subscribers from your list to a new one using (say) joined>="2011-10-01" and joined>="2011-10-31" - then you can use FeedBlitz's "random subscriber" feature on this list to pick your winner.

Building a Re-Engagement Campaign in FeedBlitz

And this, then, is how you can build a re-engagement campaign. To keep things simple, we're going to assume that you want to remove all non-responding subscribers who haven't interacted with your mailings since April 1st, 2011.

The segment expression you need is:

optedin<"2011-04-01" and opened<"2011-04-01" and clicked<"2011-04-01"

Why these fields? Use optedin instead of joined because some people may have left your list and come back; optedin makes sure you limit things to people who've stayed subscribed the entire time. Then we add both opened and clicked criteria, since (as I explained yesterday) open rates are typically under-reported, so we smarten the expression up by referencing the click through data as well.

Set up the segment expression at the bottom of the Newsflash screen in v3, or create it directly in the sagments area in "Publisher Tools" in v4. Validate that you typed the expression correctly using the validator, then give it a name and save it: You're going to use it a lot during the re-engagement program.

What you're going to do is send each of the emails in your re-engagement criteria to this segment. In FeedBlitz, the segment is evaluated every time it is used. As and when subscribers that match this segment interact with you campaign or with your main mailings, they will no longer meet the opened and clicked criteria, so they won't be included in any subsequent re-engagement mailings. In other words, there's no need to worry that people who have ben encouraged to re-engage are going to get later messages in the program. They won't.

You send the initial email in your list hygiene program as a newsflash using this segment expression. Wait a while (1-3 days), and then send the next in the series, using the same expression. Repeat until you get to the final "See ya" message. Each mailing should be to a slightly smaller subscriber base than the one before, as people re-engage and take themselves out of the group the segment expression defines.

Finally, you're done. It's time to move the remaining people off your list. Here's how:
  1. Create an empty mailing list that's not blog or feed powered, just a simple list. Call it, say, "Non-engaged subscribers."
  2. Under Newsletters - Subscribers - Move / Transfer, move (not copy) subscribers from the list you ran the re-engagement campaign on into this list. Make sure you use the same segment expression you used in the newsflashes to select the people who didn't come back.
At this point, the non-engaged subscribers are OFF your list and now ON this new list. Your main list is now squeaky clean and much higher quality.

Fee Reduction with Effective List Hygiene

If you want to save a little on fees, delete this "non-engaged" list under Newsletters - Mailings - Delete.  It's worth pointing out that in FeedBlitz, deleted lists (and also deleted, unsubscribed and pending subscribers) do NOT count for fees. We believe that you're using FeedBlitz to send subscription updates; if there are addresses in your account we're not going to mail (e..g unsubscribed readers, bounces, people yet to complete the opt-in process) then we're not gong to charge you for them. It might save some money on fees; it might not. If you're not sure, contact FeedBlitz tech support to understand any impact it might have.

If you have any questions about FeedBlitz, custom fields, segments or our fee structure, please don't hesitate to contact tech support. Next week, a deep-dive into another more advanced area of email marketing automation.

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