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CAN-SPAM: Being Legal is Not Enough - A Rant #LBB #emailmarketing

Friday, January 28, 2011

In lieu of this week's scheduled List Building for Bloggers post, I want to instead focus - yet again - on permission and why, in particular, simple CAN-SPAM compliance is not a defence against being labeled a spammer.

The background is this. FeedBlitz's quality monitors suspended a new account yesterday for complaint rate issues. We engaged with the list owner who complained that this was unfair, how could we, in all the years they'd been emailing they'd never had more than a few complaints a week etc. etc. And, besides which their mailings were legal so we should not suspend the list.

They then quoted an excerpt from the Wikipedia entry on CAN-SPAM, thus:

There are no restrictions against a company emailing its existing customers or anyone who has inquired about its products or services, even if these individuals have not given permission, as these messages are classified as "relationship" messages under CAN-SPAM

And I agree - their mailings were legal. The complaint rates showed, however, that too many of their "subscribers" felt their mailing was spam. Just because it's legal doesn't make it right.

As it turns out, some members of the list were acquired from people who'd bought products from this publisher, as well as online subscribers. Much as being in a social network doesn't give you permission to mail someone, nor does their buying a product and parting with an email address as part of the process give you permission either.

Permission must be explicitly given to you by your subscriber for your marketing mailings to be successful and minimize complaints. Now, you can use the purchaser's email address without that permission for what are called transactional mailings (e.g. "Your order just shipped" or "How well did we take care of you?"), because they are relevant to that specific business transaction between you and the purchaser. You just shouldn't add them to your email marketing database and start hitting them up without permission, and you shouldn't use that email address outside the context of that transaction.

Legality is necessary, but not sufficient

But why?

That's a fair question.

The answer is because the receiving ISPs don't care about legality as a deliverability criteria. What they ultimately care about is customer retention, and one of the things that turns into in practice is trying to stop spam from reaching their users' inboxes. Less spam = happy subscriber = recurring revenue for the ISP.

And how do they stop spam? By applying filters based on sender reputation and, after that, content and subscriber preferences. What determines reputation is a while laundry list of factors such as complaint rates (which are driven by permission, relevance and timeliness), bounce rates, how often a sender mails an address that they've been told is dead, sending volume, spam trap hit rates, email header and content structure, authentication and more. We at FeedBlitz take care of all this so you don't have to. It's what we do.

Critically, note that not one, not one of these factors is affected by CAN-SPAM compliance and legality. See?  Having your email be legal is pretty much irrelevant to the receiving ISP. Legality is simply not a criteria they apply to determine whether your email is accepted, routed to junk, or (ideally) sent to the inbox.

In other words, your deliverability is not affected by what CAN-SPAM says you can legally do. CAN-SPAM compliance means that you aren't violating the law; that's all.

Compliance does not mean your email will be delivered. It does not mean that your email isn't spam. It does not mean that an ESP has an obligation to send it. It does not mean that an ISP has an obligation to deliver it.

What matters is whether you are following email marketing best practice so that the metrics the ISPs care about are good enough to get your message to your subscriber's inbox.

Which is why FeedBlitz - and other high quality email senders - coerce you as far as we can into following best practice because of the way we do business, and why we at FeedBlitz monitor metrics and enforce them for everyone daily.  As a  blogger, you want that from your email service, because (a) you want your own emails to have the best chance of getting through, and (b) you don't want a rogue mailer on the service wrecking deliverability for everyone else (specifically, of course, you). Quality counts.

Seeing the invisible complaints

So, then, what about the publisher's assertion that they didn't get many complaints before?  Well, that's because what an ESP (email service provider, like FeedBlitz) and ISPs call a complaint is someone hitting the "spam" button in their email app. When this happens, messages are passed from the ISP to the ESP via what's called a feedback loop, telling the ESP to drop the subscriber from the list. When we get a complaint like this, we remove the subscriber from the list and send you this message.

The crucial part to understand is that the feedback loop mechanism does not extend to individual bloggers and publishers. You, as an individual, will not be notified by a receiving ISP that the subscriber has hit the "spam" button (gmail is an exception to this rule if you structure your emails correctly, which you're almost certainly not doing since it's a function of the SMTP header).

A feedback loop is a service to service communication only. Moreover, accessing a feedback loop as an email service is a privilege, not a right. ESPs have to earn their way onto feedback loops by having a track record of good sending behavior (we're on them of course!). So what we call "complaints" are feedback loop notifications, which are very real and are, yes, complaints. But they are invisible to you, the blogger, until you use an ESP like FeedBlitz to run your mailings. Unfair? Maybe. The way it is? Yes.

So, to be clear, what we report to you as a complaint is NOT a subscriber hitting "reply" and saying "that mail stank, remove me from your list" - you'll get very few of those, I expect, just like the publisher of the list we suspended. Remember that what we're reporting are feedback loop metrics ("spam" button hits). You'll never know about these "spam" complaints until you use a reputable email service like FeedBlitz which will track those metrics for you. When you do switch to a quality, supported email service like FeedBlitz - and you will eventually because you want high quality automated email production and sending with great deliverability - you may be in for a rude awakening if you don't have a properly permissioned list, which is what happened here. The publisher simply had no idea of the true complaint rate because they didn't have access to the same level of data that we do.

Should you get that rude awakening, for crying out loud don't shoot the messenger! Don't blame the ESP for revealing the ugly truth about your mailings because they actually care about quality and have taken steps to inform you of the fact. Bear in mind the reason you selected that ESP in the first place (it's a little like the old joke: Don't complain about your wife's judgement, look who she married). If you want great deliverability (and who doesn't?), you have to play by the rules.

So if you end up with a quality notification, change how you acquire subscribers, ask for help and take your ESP's advice. Your ESP will probably help you because they want to keep your business if your mailings can be brought quickly into line. But they can only help you if you're prepared to listen to the metrics, the advice and lose your sense of entitlement simply because your mailing is merely legal.

Remember, flagging an email as spam is the subscriber's call alone; your opinion doesn't count. The ISPs are their gatekeepers. Use email marketing best practices and you'll be successful with your campaigns, the ISPs and your ESP.

And if you don't? Well, just don't complain that it's legal so that's OK.

It isn't.

Alrighty then, rant over :) Normal service will be resumed shortly.

P.S. If you think your friends or followers would find this post valuable, please retweet on Twitter or "Like" on Facebook using the buttons below. Thank you! And if you have a comment, contribution or something else to say, please comment too.

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Slogan winner, now available in Swag form!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

And the winner is: "I know you read my email, FeedBlitz told me."

You all are a tad creepy. In a good, tracking-my-email-marketing-metrics way, of course :-)  Thanks for all your suggestions and for voting. It was fun!

Anyway, the contributing sloganeer was Carrie Issac, goodies as promised already delivered.

Meanwhile, our new CafePress store is now open for business at http://cafepress.com/FeedBlitz so you can have your favorite slogan (not just the winner) immortalized on the tchotchke of your choice. Remember these are the most popular crowd-sourced sourced slogans. Go figure (but go shop, too).

So, ladies and gentlemen: start your shopping carts...

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No More CAPTCHAs (*sort of)

Monday, January 24, 2011

FeedBlitz has made its CAPTCHA invisible for our premium upgraded customers. Which means, for the most part, people subscribing to paid up feeds will no longer have to fill in all those numbers and letters.

Usability and accessibility wins, for sure, but isn't this a huge risk? Aren't we going to get tons of bots now?

Well, we think not (and this is the "sort of" part). Using the same technology that's in our Wordpress Comment Form plugin and additional concepts that built from there in the anti-spam plugin built by Andy Bailey of CommentLuv fame, there is in fact a CAPTCHA on the form. It just doesn't need a human being to fill it out. It's effective enough as-is in discriminating between people and bots.

The visible CAPTCHAs return to reduce risk if and when necessary, but for most people most of the time there won't be any CAPTCHAs required if they're subscribing to an upgraded feed. You can see it in action here on the subscription form for Seth Godin's blog (oh, wait, you can't! See? That means it's working.)

So, yet another reason to upgrade! Start a trial now at www.feedblitz.com/f?NewsUpgrade

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From Fan to Sp*m and Anti-Social Networking

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Right Way and the Wrong Way to Integrate Social Media Messaging and Email Marketing

Or, to paraphrase the mathematician played by Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park, "just because you could doesn't mean you should."

In this issue of List Building for Bloggers you will learn:
  • The Wrong Way to integrate social media contacts
  • The Right Way to integrate social media data with your blog's email marketing
Yup: This one is that black and white.

[This is the tenth article in the List Building for Bloggers series – Click here to read all the #LBB posts]

Integrating Social Media Messaging and Email: The Wrong Way

Permission and relevance are the keys to successful list building, with timeliness following closely behind.

Permission though, needs to be explicitly granted. I've covered this before in previous List Building for Bloggers posts. I emphasize it frequently because it is essential to your success as a blogger in building your list and getting your message delivered.

Social networks, increasingly used for commercial purposes, rely on email and other messaging to inform you of updates. They also can enable you to email your contacts / friends / fans / followers – and with that functionality comes the very strong temptation to cross the permission line. The social networks, after all, want you to connect with your contacts, and they have features that exist for expressly this purpose.

So let's take your friends on Facebook. One of the things you're probably able to see is your friend's email addresses, unless they've been very restrictive in their privacy settings. So you can, in theory, harvest these addresses and add them to your mailing list. Because they're your friends, it's OK, right?


Just because someone has made you a friend doesn't mean you have permission to add them to your list. A social media site isn't a personal CRM (custom relationship management) database. Sure, mail them relevant social stuff -and encourage them to join your list - but use the social network itself to do the messaging. Anything that even smells of mass mailing outside of the network itself is spam, plain and simple.

Similarly with your fans – some may allow you (either by design or sloppy privacy settings) to see their email addresses. Again, don't add these addresses to your mailing list. Even if they've become a fan of your business Page on Facebook, it is not permission to import them into your list. Pressing "like" for a page is nothing more than an electronic congratulatory pat on the back; don't misinterpret it as a carte blanche to deluge them with email. You should do that with status updates and wall posts instead, which is the right way to keep them informed.

Another path to abuse with Facebook is the event. As others have noticed, messages from Facebook itself have excellent deliverability. If you can "hijack" that then you're pretty sure your message is going to be read. The unethical have started to do this and I've seen training videos online on how to do it. Ugh.

By all means create legitimate events that are relevant to your Fans and promote them. Don't fake it, and don't (ab)use Fans from Page A to promote the unrelated business from Page B. Keep your messaging to what's relevant.

Facebook also allows you to import addresses into events, up to 5,000 at a time. If you're not already a fan, Facebook invites you to become one. I personally find this distasteful. Yes, I agreed to be on your list. But I don't want to be a Fan of your Page. If I did, I'd have become a fan already, see? Trying to force me into it? Not cool.

If you want to promote your event to your mailing list, use your mailing list! And by all means have a call to action in your mailing to "Visit us on Facebook" to make it easy for subscribers to like the page. Link to the event on Facebook. But trying to coerce me into becoming a fan via import? From my perspective, it will have the opposite effect. I'll be off your list ASAP, nor will I attend your event or like you page. It boils down to respect for your audience – if you don't respect me and the permission I gave you, I'm out of here.

Same with LinkedIn. Agreeing to share professional contact information is not permission to add the contact to your mailing list. Don't mass mail your LinkedIn contacts via your list – don't add them to your list at all! But you can (and should) list your subscription page on your LinkedIn profile, and occasionally set your network update to invite your contacts to join the list. Just don't overdo it.

Integrating Social Media and Email: The Right Way

Is all lost? Not at all. There are plenty of ways you can do this right.

You can use social network features to communicate properly, respectfully, with your network (and with those outside it) using those networks. We all know the rules of the road on each platform. Follow them and market / sell / promote away! Good luck! It's worth it! You can (and should) use social media to encourage new subscriptions (read the earlier posts in this series!).

You can also use social networks to find out more about email addresses that you have properly acquired.

Let's say I add myself - phil@feedblitz.com - to your mailing list. You don't know too much about me. But if you can find my email address in your contacts at LinkedIn, or as a Facebook friend, you would know that I am male, my full name and other personal information. It is OK to grab that data – I have voluntarily made it available to you or to the world – and you can append it to your mailing list. Now you can personalize your mailings to me using my name. I'd probably like that. I'd much rather be greeted as "Dear Phil" than "Dear Customer."

Why is this OK? Because the email address (and my permission to use it) came first. You're backfilling with other data you also have permission to access. In other words, you're not adding me to your mailing list; you're just finding out more about me. No permissions about my mailing preferences have changed or been assumed or implied.

So you can use social networks and other public data to find out more about your list if you want to put the effort in. That's OK, as long as you get explicit permission to mail first.

You should not start with demographic data (e.g. a name) and then find an email address and add it to your list. That's spamming.

Or, let's say Joe@MegaCorp.com was on your list, properly permissioned. You find out from Facebook that Joe has left MegaCorp and is now at AcmeWidgets. Should you update your email list to Joe@AcmeWidgets.com? No. You don't have his permission unless you've heard from him that it's OK to update your list.

What you should do instead is send him a message via Facebook and say "congrats on the new gig, may we update our mailing list with your new address?" It's perfectly OK for you to solicit permission within the context of the social network as long as you're being respectful and following the rules of the road.

Let's say Joe says "Don't add me to your list, I'm in a different area now, but feel free to contact my replacement, Mary@MegaCorp.com" you cannot add Mary to your mailing list. She needs to give you her permission to do that; a third party (Joe) cannot. So fire up the phones or a personal email to Mary, introduce yourself and start from there. You can't assume implied permission simply because Mary replaced Joe functionally.

Next Up

How to find and avoid the traps for the unwary that can prevent your emails from getting through.

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. :-)

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QR Codes for Mobile and Offline Subscriptions

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Another "quick win" feature! You can now get a QR code (a popular 2D barcode format) for your FeedBlitz subscription form, which simplifies subscriptions from offline and mobile readers (the one on the right is for this blog's subscription form).

You can put it on mobile web sites, t-shirts, billboards, business cards, collateral - practically anywhere - and anyone with a QR code reader (basically any modern smart phone with a suitable app) can scan the code with their device and go to your form and subscribe. Neat!
Available now at Newsletters - Forms - Subscription Forms.

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Important FeedBlitz API Access Change

Friday, January 14, 2011

If you or your organization is using the FeedBlitz REST API (docs here) to integrate with FeedBlitz, there's an important change you need to know about. As of February 15th, 2011, the current API access endpoint (https://api.feedblitz.com) will CHANGE, as will the way you authenticate to the API.

All API accesses should now use an API key (get one at My Account - API Key) via the following end point:


For example, if your API key was "QWERTYUIOP" then this call would return your user information:


This end point is available now for production use and transition testing. After February 15th the old endpoint will be torn down and become unavailable.

We're making this necessary change to improve the availability of the API and make it more secure. If you have any questions please contact FeedBlitz technical support.  The API page at www.feedblitz.com/api.asp and the reference manual it links to have been updated to reflect this change.

Please update your apps as soon as you can!

If you're not using our API but would like to integrate FeedBlitz more tightly with your site, see our knowledge base API area here.

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The One-Click Random Email Subscriber Pick

Running a contest, drawing other other incentive program to help promote your mailings? Sometimes you have to pick a winner ... and that can be a pain. Export readers, upload to excel, throw a dart at the printout ... there ought to be a better way to pick a random winner. And now there is.

So we've released a feature early that was intended for the new FeedBlitz UI because it's so gosh-darned useful. It simply picks a random subscriber from the selected list who isn't you and who's currently active. Simple, fast and drop-dead easy to use. What's not to like?

Find it at Newsletters - Subscribers - Random Subscriber, and ramp up your email subscription incentives!



Six Winning Ideas for your Landing Page (and How to Avoid Incentive Program Risks)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

In this issue of List Building for Bloggers you will learn:
  • How list-building incentive programs can harm you
  • How to make incentive programs work without complaints
  • Six great ideas for your subscription activation landing page
As usual, at the end of the article is a set of action items for you to put into practice right now.

[This is the ninth article in the List Building for Bloggers series – Click here to read all the #LBB posts]

Incentive Risk

In prior articles on List Building for Bloggers I've talked about using incentives to help accelerate list growth; they're an easy way to get people to opt into your list.

The problem with incentives, however, is that you do get a certain proportion of "tire kickers" who'll opt in to get the goodies and then opt out as soon as they can. Not especially ethical, somewhat frustrating, but it comes with the territory.

However, there's a bigger risk when using incentives that can affect your deliverability and your relations with your email service provider (ESP). What you can see is higher complaint rates - sometimes significantly so - with subscribers properly opted in via incentive programs. ESPs and ISPs really, really don't like high complaint rates, so reducing complaint rates is essential. And incentive programs can create complaint spikes that you want to minimize.

Why does this happen? Well, for several reasons:
  1. If the opt in to your mailing list wasn't explicit when the user signed up for the incentive, then any increase in complaint rates is justified: you don't have permission. It doesn't matter if "consent" is buried in the competition rules - if the user didn't explicitly opt in, you're spamming them.
  2. If the content you're sending them is unrelated to the incentive, then you'll see high unsubscribe rates.
  3. If your incentive program is run on your site by a third party service, which (for the sake of argument) properly dual opt-ins the contestants before giving them the reward, you will still get high complaint rates if the link between you, the service and your mailing list is unclear.
  4. If you run the program through a well-run third party service and you delay importing the contestants, your import won't be timely, and so many contestants may have forgotten that they got that coupon from you three weeks ago. Result: high complaint rates from the forgetful.
  5. If you run your import from your contest provider and then immediately send out a mailing, you're going to get high complaint rates because you haven't given your entrants time to read your welcome message before you hit them up with your mailing. Again, this will raise complaint rates.
  6. Your next mailing is too "salesy" and new recipients will perceive you as a spammer.
It's all too easy to fall into some of these traps - it can happen to the best of us now and again. How, then, to manage this risk and stay on the good side of your ESP, ISP and protect your reputation?
  1. Have your incentive program add entrants directly to the mailing list by incenting them to join the list in the first place. This way there's no ambiguity about what's happening, there's no import process to run through, and you can deliver the reward via an autoresponder or custom landing page once the subscriber activates. This eliminates pretty much all the issues outlined above. Everything is timely and relevant. So, instead of "Enter your email address for a $5 discount" your incentive is "Subscribe to our mailing list for a $5 discount" - it makes a big difference!
  2. For contest-specific forms, make the opt-in clear and explicit. Remember, you need to get permission. Whether you run your own form or out source to a third party contest management or fulfillment firm, you can easily add an opt-in checkbox to the form via APIs (FeedBlitz's APIs are here; this one easily adds an opt in checkbox to a form). Why? Because if there's anything to take away from this series it's that permission and relevance are key, and without them you're getting a one-way ticket to Complaintville.
  3. Be timely. If you have to import people into your list from your incentive campaign, do so as soon as is practicable after the entrant is validated. Ideally within minutes, and certainly that day. That way your entrant will still remember your promotion.
  4. If you can tailor the opt in confirmation mailing for your properly run incentive program, have it make clear that signing up will add them to your mailing list. Setting expectations early and often is a great way to reduce complaints and unsubscribes.
  5. Use your autoresponder and / or import message to remind them how they got into your list. So don't make your note say "Welcome to the SuperWidgets Mailing List" - instead make it "Thank you for using our $5 coupon - Welcome!" (or whatever) and use the note to make it clear that they're now on your list as they agreed to be when they signed up.
  6. Use an autoresponder to follow up a few days later, perhaps for a survey ("Did you use that coupon?" or "Tell us how you liked our widget") or something helpful ("Five online stores where you can spend redeem the voucher") or another offer ("10% off if you buy from us with discount code PQRS"). If you respectfully keep in touch with useful, valuable information you will see much greater engagement, even if a "regular" mailing hasn't gone out yet.
  7. Don't rush your next mailing. Autoresponders aside - which should be immediate - if you've imported a bunch of incentive program entrants don't blast them five minutes after the import completes; it's too spammy. You haven't given them time to read your import message yet. Be patient and wait till tomorrow. It's worth it.
Follow these tips and your incentives programs, whether you run them yourself or outsource, will rock your list with engaged, happy subscribers who won't complain on the first mailing.

Six Top Landing Page Tips

The most import piece of online real estate in the email subscription process is the post-activation landing page - what a subscriber sees when they wrap up the dual opt in subscription process. At that point they're excited about joining the list - they just went through dual-opt in for you - and are engaged with your content.

The activation landing page is your best chance to make the most of that excitement. While your mileage may vary, here are some thoughts for how you can direct that energy to benefit you:
  • Deliver a reward. A PDF eBook, white paper, coupon, a discount on a product / service - whatever it is you can use the landing page to deliver it to your excited new follower.
  • Offer more subscriptions. Got more niche lists or partner sites? Invite the reader to sign up for them. Running other programs? Ditto. Your landing page can also reduce any friction associated with these actions by auto-filling any applicable forms with information you know about the new subscriber (minimally, their email address).
  • Ask for a referral. They like you; have them tell their friends! You can use a simple form for this.
  • Leverage social media. Have a "tweet this" or Facebook status update form available where your new reader can say "I just joined the MegaCorp mailing list for the latest on antique flange sprocket hobbyists" in a tweet, Facebook status update or LinkedIn note. Spread the word.
  • Build what @ProBlogger calls a sneeze page of popular posts and deliver it here. This keeps the new subscriber on your site while they're excited about you and inclined to explore. Great if you monetize via ads.
  • Don't go overboard! Pick one, maybe two of these ideas and have clear, direct calls to action. Otherwise you'll simply confuse the new subscriber and all their energy and excitement may dissipate in a cloud of confusion. You don't want that.
Go ahead, optimize! You can also run different calls to action on your landing pages to see which work best. Test, measure, optimize; rinse and repeat.

Your Action Items

  • If you're running an incentive check that you're compliant with the best practices outlined above.
  • If you're selecting a third party incentive or fulfillment service ensure that they use confirmed dual opt in and can get you your entrant data quickly if they can't integrate via API.
  • If you're not incenting subscribers ... why not? Fix that!
  • Build your activation landing page using one of the top tips.

For FeedBlitz Users

Next Up

On how integrating social networking data and your email list can creat an anti-social network. Rules of the road for mailing followers, friends, contacts and fans.

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. :-)

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Vote in the FeedBlitz T-Shirt Competition!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The contributions are in, and based on the comments we have an eight way tie!


Or, rather, ugh.

So VOTE! Pick the slogan you think would work best for us.

Oh, yeah, and this little poll was created in FeedBlitz too. Didn't know we did that? Check the survey tab :-)



Boosting Site Traffic with Email Marketing, by Martin van Hemert

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My name is Martin van Hemert, and my website Utah3D.Net has seen tremendous growth in the past year, almost solely through email and other social media. The site is a showcase for spherical panoramas. So what's a spherical panorama? The best explanation is an example. Click on the image below, then click and drag directly in the panorama after it has loaded. You will be able to move in any direction, including up and down:
If you experience any motion sickness, you're moving too fast!!

As our traffic has grown, we've paid attention to the sources of that traffic. Here's where things get interesting. Less than 1% of our visitors come through search engines. Reports show large percentages coming through email links, and other social media links. These same reports show the largest percentages as "direct". In other words a URL entered into an address bar. If we had a catchy, short URL, people might be manually typing it in, but here is the URL to our most visited panorama:

Not very easy to type, is it? It even has a misspelled word in it! Yet, this page has had over 6,000,000 page views this past year, a number we can hardly believe, and for which we are grateful. We feel a very large percentage of this direct traffic is actually through email referrals.

Here is where FeedBlitz comes in, and no, Phil did not ask me to say this. For our audience, the best way for us to get the word out about a new panorama is through email. We view this as the kick the ball needs to start rolling. I started with another email update service (which shall remain unnamed), but after checking with 6 email addresses and finding only one was receiving anything, I quickly switched to FeedBlitz, and am glad I did. The service is great, and the emails get through. When I have a question, the answers have been quick, and they've even come directly from Phil. We currently have a little over 3400 subscribers.

The next time you need to take a trip, but can't book a flight, I hope you'll visit Utah3D.Net.

About the Author

Martin van Hemert is an architectural and fine art photographer based in Utah. Much of his early work was produced on 4x5 inch sheet film, and he has been involved in many phases of photography and custom photo printing. Over the past several years, he has become obsessed with creating spherical panoramas. In fact, he is probably thinking about panoramas right now. When he’s not shooting or fine tuning photos, he can be found feeding his wife’s horses, growing alfalfa to feed his wife’s horses, and taking long walks on the beach.

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List Building for Bloggers - The Story So Far

Thursday, January 06, 2011

As the first post in the List Building for Bloggers series in 2011 I thought I'd take a moment to step back and review the series to date.  In case you missed them, here they are in order (click the title to view the original article):
  1. Why Aren't Email Lists Extinct in the Age of Social Media?
  2. Lists, Email Marketing and your Blog
  3. Five Key Steps to Grow Your Mailing List
  4. Growing Your List: Accelerating Subscriber Growth
  5. Growing Your List: Improving Engagement
  6. Are You Getting to the Inbox and Avoiding the Spam Trap?
  7. Mailing List Underperforming? Optimize it with these Tips!
  8. Autoresponders: What, Why and How
If you want to look at it another way, you can think of these posts answering the following questions:
  • Why bother?
  • What are the basics?
  • How can I improve quickly?
  • How do I get more subscribers?
  • How can I build engagement?
  • How do I avoid the junk folder?
  • What should I do differently?
  • How can I build automatic sales?
If you've taken the time to read all of these then you should have a pretty good idea of how to make your email marketing work harder for you. The trick, of course, is to put the advice into practice so check out the action items in each article in case you missed anything.

Talking of action items, I'm going to suggest that you make this your sole email marketing and list building action item for this week: Commit to reviewing ONE article and putting it completely, 100%, TOTALLY into practice within the next seven days. OK? Just one - I don't want you burning out or anything!

Next week? Back to our regularly scheduled emailing and social media integration goodness.

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. :-)

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T-Shirt Slogan Competition (Because I'm Not Funny)

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

I'm looking for ideas for FeedBlitz slogans for T-Shirts we're going to have made up. I'll start with some suggestions below - which will also show you why I need your help!

Add your ideas as comments; and while your suggestions should be clean if you want to be suggestive or "edgy" that's fine as long as it's safe for work.

So here are some ideas from the lame to the edgier-but-still-lame:
  • I <3 FeedBlitz
  • FeedBlitz is FeedBurner on Steroids
  • Email: It's the Original Social Network
  • FeedBlitz: So Social it's Nearly Communist
  • RSS is Not a Social Disease: FeedBlitz!
  • Move Your RSS with FeedBlitz
See? I really need help here. Have at it!  You all have a week. Vote or suggest in the comments.



Would you like to Guest Post on FeedBlitz? Call for Articles

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Last October we ran this post inviting you to guest on the FeedBlitz News blog and received a great response! Thank you. We have since published eight great guest posts so far, about one a week, ranging in topics from building thriving Facebook communites, a couple of video tutorials and many more.

If you'd like to expand your audience and have a fun story to tell that's relevant to social media, SEO, email and online marketing, please reply and let me know. Articles should be four to eight paragraphs - say 500 to 1500 words long - and, again, do tell a story if you can. Metrics are helpful to back up any claims you make, plus don't forget to include a bio and photo. If you are writing a testimonial (more than welcome but not required for guest posts) please ping me for some additional guidelines. Please ensure that your post and links are safe for work, which is what the FeedBlitz News audience expects. Posts may be edited for space, style and content; we'll obviously link back to you.

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

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

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

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2010's Top Posts

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy New Year to all from us here at FeedBlitz. We wish you health and every success - whatever that means for you - in 2011.

Here's a brief look back at the FeedBlitz blog for last year. These are our most popular posts as indicated by subscriber engagement metrics:
  1. FeedBurner Email Subscriber Import Wizard
  2. Comment Luv and RSS Stats: You CAN have Both
  3. Annual pricing, upgrade discounts!
  4. Top 5 Email Marketing Tasks
  5. RSS Metrics: The Good, the Bad and the Invisible 
Although only published in the Fall, I'm thrilled to see one of the List Building for Bloggers posts make it into the top five, even though it's had a lot less time to gain traction. Thanks!

Just for fun (and to level the playing field, time-wise), here are the top five posts on the FeedBlitz blog from the last quarter of 2010:
  1. Lists, Email Marketing and your Blog
  2. Growing your List with Incentives - Cupcakes, Recipes and Printables, Oh My!
  3. Announcing List Building for Bloggers: An email marketing series for social media
  4. Why Aren't Email Lists Extinct in the Age of Social Media?
  5. How to Get Started in Online Video
Interesting to see two guest posts here as well as three List Building for Bloggers articles. Only goes to show that guest posts are a great way for you to reach a wider audience. BTW if you want to write a guest post for FeedBlitz we'll be opening up the rolls shortly, so keep your eyes open on the blog for our next call for authors.



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