No Support Today, Monday May 25 2015

Even FeedBlitz’s amazing support team needs a day off now and then, and so I’ve told them not to come to work today.

For everyone else, please note that the offices are closed for the Memorial Day holiday here in the U.S.  Stay safe, enjoy the time off if you can, and we’ll be re-opening all bright eyed and bushy tailed first thing tomorrow.

Phil

Hero Images, Thumbnails and Tumblr: RSS Subscriber Emails with Impact

Want your subscriber email blog updates to be more than a rehash of your blog posts? Splendid! Because now they can be, as the FeedBlitz EZ Template editor just keeps getting better.

Want to extract your blog’s main photo and use it as a “hero image” at the top of your mailing for extra impact? Now you can.

Perhaps you need thumbnails for daily or weekly digests with many posts? Done and done.

In addition to adding more dynamic content such as pins from Pinterest, pictures from Instagram and (New!) the latest from Tumblr, we are now giving you much more flexibility in how your mailing’s content is displayed. With this latest update to the EZ template editor, you can now choose to:

Display content as it appears on your blog:

This is our standard default setting.

Display the post title, then the first significant image (a.k.a. a “hero” image):

Give some “wow” up front with a compelling visual!

 

Display the hero image, then post title, then content:

More visual pop, but this time the featured image appears before the post title.

Display a title,  thumbnail version of the featured image, and then the content:

Small, but perfectly formed, a discreet image for a more subtle, elegant presentation.

Display the thumbnail, title, and then the content:

No matter which layout you pick, you can now also choose how the body of the post is displayed. With or without images, for example. Or using the (usually abbreviated) description of the post, if your site provides one. If your site does not provide a descriptive item in their feed, we can also abridge the full content intelligently.

TL;DR: Lots of new choices!

Too many words in this post? Worry not, Dear Reader. Here is a screencast video that walks through the current features of the EZ Template Editor. As always, if you have any questions our support team is here to help Monday  - Friday 9am – 5pm Eastern.

By the way…

Did you know that more than half of email is now opened on mobile devices? The good news is that all mailings created with the EZ Template Editor are, by default, responsive. You do not need to spend time testing your mailings across devices and platforms, we’ve taken care of the work for you.

The EZ Editor gives you the ability to add your own logo, change fonts and colors, add a table of  contents, and a toolbar without ever having to worry about losing your responsive design.

No Phone Support Today, Tuesday, May 12th.

Telephone support will be unavailable today; live chat (from the top toolbar) and email support will still be available during east coast business hours, however. Phone support will be added back on Wednesday, May 13th.

Power Email Marketing with FeedBlitz

Did you know we have great power email marketing capabilities? While FeedBlitz is best known for its RSS feed powered email automation (corporate engineering motto: If it moves, automate it), we’ve been steadily increasing FeedBlitz’s traditional email marketing capabilities as well.

In case you missed it, here’s a quick summary of our “Newsflash” emailing function, which is used for “traditional” (i.e. manually produced) newsletters, updates and sales pieces:

  • New: Draft mailings from blog posts, and then edit before mailing;
  • New: The ability to mail multiple lists at the same time;
  • New: The ability to apply multiple suppression lists to a mailing;
  • New: The ability to suppress mailings using active or unsubscribed members of other lists;
  • Use custom fields to send mailings to specific segments;
  • Real-time and scheduled mailings.
To round this list out for completeness, FeedBlitz also offers:
  • Multi-step autoresponders;
  • Triggers to automate transitions between lists;
  • Shopping cart and third party system integration via API and parser;
  • And, of course, the industry’s most capable RSS to email marketing service, period.

There’s a lot to this side of FeedBlitz, and in this post I’m going to briefly explore the new Newsflash dedicated email blast capabilities.

How to send a mailing

To send a mailing that isn’t being produced by an RSS feed as its source, go to the main list’s dashboard. Click the large green “Send a Mailing” button upper right, then choose “Newsflash Email Blast.”

You’ll end up at a screen asking you how you want to create the content for the mailing before you start to edit it.

New: On-Demand for curated newsletters

This option lets you pick and sort the posts to include in the mailing. Unlike the “On-Demand” option from the screen where you picked “Newsflash,” this choice drops these posts into the Newsflash email editor. This gives you the chance to add editorial, make changes … and turn your blog posts into a curated newsletter. What it eliminates is lots of tedious copying and pasting for you, which makes producing your newsletter faster and less error-prone. If you have a newsletter that is a basically your blog posts but with extra commentary and specials for your newsletter subscribers, this is a great option for you.

New: Include other lists

No matter which option you choose from the starting screen, you can readily mail multiple lists with the same content. Better yet, you don’t have to worry about sending mailings to the same subscriber multiple times, or having to go to the hassle of creating a master list.

In the “Audience Selection” area you can now pick one or more other lists to send the mailing to. When the mailing is sent (important and worth repeating: Not when you schedule it, but when the mailing actually starts); FeedBlitz sends the mail to every active subscriber on the list just once. It’s a great time saver! Here are the details:

  • If the subscriber is on multiple lists and on the “main” list (i.e. the one you’re nominally sending the newsflash from), the newsflash will appear to come from the main list;
  • Otherwise the mailing will come from (one of) the other list(s) you picked;
  • No subscriber will be mailed more than once;
  • Metrics (sent, opens, bounces, unsubscribes, complaints etc.) will all be reported under the main list only;
  • Mailings will be sent formatted with the template of the list the subscriber was pulled from;
  • If the subscriber unsubscribes it will be from the list they were pulled from.

New: Go wild with subscriber suppression

We’ve had suppression lists for a years, but what’s new is that you can now use:

  • Multiple suppression lists in a mailing;
  • One or more of your email lists as well as / instead of one or more dedicated suppression lists.

For example, say you have a main marketing list, and a smaller list of people who’ve bought product X from you. You don’t want to email those who’ve already got the product something that says “Buy Product X” — so you use that smaller list to suppress mailings from the main one.

You can choose multiple suppression lists, active subscribers and unsubscribed readers. Like the multiple list mailing feature above, those to exclude are determined when the mailing starts, not when it is scheduled, so it’s safe to schedule an offer days or weeks in advance.

Finally, it’s worth emphasizing that suppression always wins out over inclusion. In other words, if a subscriber is active on any of the lists / segments you define, but is also on one of the suppression lists you pick, then that subscriber will not be mailed.

FeedBlitz: Going Beyond RSS to Email

Want to go beyond automated mailings? These new capabilities make targeted delivery and traditional curated mailings a breeze in FeedBlitz.

New: Add Pins, Instagram to your Subscriber Emails!

When is an email to your subscribers not simply an email to your subscribers? When it’s a platform for your other social media activity to better engage, inform and entertain your readers, that’s when.

Many of you are active on Pinterest and Instagram, curating and creating engaging and persuasive graphics and photos. But most of you are not including those photos in your email updates to your subscribers, and that means you’re missing out on opportunities to broaden your email audience’s experience with your brand, as well as delivering a more interesting mailing.

FeedBlitz makes it super easy to change this with a cool new capability in our Easy Template Editor. The results? Well, scroll down to the end of this email and you’ll see my recent Instagrams and the latest pins from my friend Bob Cargill (hope you find them interesting!).

All you need to know are your user / account / board names at Instagram and Pinterest. Then:

  1. Log in to FeedBlitz, pick the newsletter you want to add Pinterest and Instagram to;
  2. Click the orange “design” button (switch to the easy editor if you need to);
  3. Access the new “Pins and Instagrams” section and add the account info and how you want to see them:
  4. Preview and save!

As you can see, you can have them laid out as tiles or in rows; in this email (if you’re getting this via email) you can see that my Instagram feed is in rows, and Bob’s latest Pins are tiled. If you’re reading this post on the web site or viewing it in an archive, the new sections look like this:

And, of course, all these images are added responsively, so they will shrink gracefully — and even change how they’re  laid out — on devices likes phones and tablets with smaller screens.

This new FeedBlitz capability make your email newsletter updates to your readers more exciting, engaging and compelling. Try it today, or email support if you’d like some more assistance.

Monetize Your Mailings: Introducing the Marquee Ad Unit

FeedBlitz is enabling a new, higher earning ad-unit, called a “Marquee” for publishers opted in to our ad network. The marquee unit in testing has significantly boosted earnings, in some cases nearly doubled them. As such, we’re really excited about this new ad format, and have enabled marquees for all publishers currently earning with our email ad network. Marquees go live for everyone using our ad network tomorrow, March 31st, 2015.

Marquees don’t always show, but when they do, they appear exactly once per mailing, just under your logo and above the post content. If they don’t, there’s no material effect on your mailing’s layout. If you’re reading this via email, then odds are there is a marquee sitting right at the top here.  Marquees are responsive, and so re-size automatically for mobile devices. They’re also wider and deeper than average, which is why they generate correspondingly more for you than our regular ad units.

We appreciate that they’re not necessarily for everyone, however. If you’re in our ad network but, after seeing them in action, don’t want to run these ads, go to My Account | Ad Revenue Share | Ads You Allow in Your Mailings (highlighted on the image below), click the button to edit your settings, and clear the “marquee” setting (highlighted in the main pane in the image below).

When you’re on that screen you’ll see another ad unit option, the takeover.  This is a rarer (and more intrusive) beastie that will, if it runs in one of your mailings, generate WOW-level earnings for you (relatively speaking). We’ll be introducing that later in April, so watch this space for more information on that.

Marquees are a great new way for bloggers and publishers to generate new revenue from their mailings. We’re excited about the potential this new ad option has for our clients. If you want to try our ad network, just log in and switch the options on, following the steps above.

Faster Ad Revenue Reporting

Publishers making the most of their content by monetizing with FeedBlitz’s unique RSS and email ad service can find out how they’re doing more quickly. Ad earnings are now being calculated hourly, with about an hour’s delay, instead of overnight. In other words, checking your ad earnings at 2pm will give you an idea of your earnings through about 1pm today, and the numbers are updated hourly.

Ad earnings are reported at My Account | Ad Revenue Share | Opt-In Ad Reports in the left sidebar navigation. If you’re not using our ads and would like to try them out, you can set up ads at the RSS feed level (go to the feed’s dashboard, click “Settings” and then expand the monetization section); or for all your mailings via My Account | Ad Revenue Share | Ads You Allow In Your Mailings.  Our ad network is particularly lucrative for large publishers who mail frequently — if this is you, give it a go yourself, or contact the support team for tips on how to get started.

We’ve Added @Animoto to our Video in Email Support

FeedBlitz today enabled support for @Animoto video embedding in emails we send for our publishers; an example using yesterday’s SmartForms announcement video is included here. What this means is that if you embed an Animoto video in a post, FeedBlitz will automatically convert that to a video thumbnail and mail that out instead (videos typically don’t work well in emails, here’s why). You don’t have to do anything special to include the thumbnail — it just works. Like our other supported video platforms (including YouTube, Vimeo, Wistia and more) the thumbnail links back to your source post where the video can be played, keeping your readers on your site, where they belong.

SmartForms: The Email Subscription Form Wises Up

Today I’m delighted to announce the introduction of FeedBlitz “SmartForms” – responsive, adaptive, flexible subscription forms available now, for free, with every active FeedBlitz publisher account.

To view the video online, go to https://animoto.com/play/Pvhh0ATjCknt0EUyD700yw

What’s Wrong with Email Subscription Forms Today

There are several problems with almost every subscription form out there right now, no matter what product, plugin, widget or service you’re using. Very often they’re not responsive — in other words, ill suited for mobile usage. They can be hard to update and / or customize, but worst of all, they’re Just Plain Dumb.

Why? Because if you have a popup, it’s going to pop up. If the visitor is already subscribed to your list, it doesn’t need to. But it does, anyway. That’s dumb — and incredibly annoying for your subscribers.

Got a form in your sidebar? It’s just as bad. Sure, it’s less annoying to existing subscribers, but it’s still occupying valuable screen real estate.

FeedBlitz SmartForms solve all these email subscription form problems.

Adaptive

FeedBlitz SmartForms do their best to recognize existing subscribers. And when they do, popups don’t pop up; regular forms shrink to dramatically reduce the real estate they take up (see the video above for an example). They’re much, much less intrusive when they can be, maximizing the screen space available for your other content. Visible SmartForms shrink, moving your other offers, ads and all your other sidebar content further up “above the fold” – better for the visitor, and better for your business in the long run.

Even when collapsed, however, existing subscribers can still use them if they want to. SmartForms always keep the subscribe button visible, and no matter who you are, clicking the subscribe button expands the form so it can be completed by the visitor, no matter what.

Responsive

One set of code in SmartForms works on tablets, phones and the desktop. No fiddling required. ‘Nuff said.

Flexible

You control the layout. What list (or lists, plural) the form offers, and how. Switch between vertical layouts for sidebars or horizontal layouts for forms that go between post and comments. Oh, and better yet? You can drop a field from your form and you don’t have to choose (or accidentally decide) to lose all your existing data along with it, simply to streamline the submission process.

SmartForms generate:

  • Hosted links;
  • Code for sidebar widgets;
  • Landing page forms;
  • Respectful popups.

When a SmartForm is submitted, it’s validated and submitted in place – the subscriber doesn’t leave your page.

SmartForm Dashboards

SmartForms collect data on how often they’re shown, submitted and opt-in rates. For example, Scott Monty (yes, that Scott Monty) has been using SmartForms in beta on a couple of his personal sites. He’s using our “respectful popup” version and saw conversion rates, in some circumstances, of over 9%.  No, that’s not a typo, and no, there isn’t a missing decimal point. On other places on his personal sites he’s still converting at over 1%.

Here’s what Scott said in an email to me last month, quoted here with his permission:

“I just wanted to drop you a note to thank you and your team for creating the pop-up form generator.

Here’s what I’ve seen: a major uptick in my subscriber numbers. It’s generated far more new subscribers than either (1) when I didn’t integrate any kind of email capture with a call to action or (2) I just left the static subscribe/form on my home page to do the heavy lifting.

Just thought you’d like to know.”

Metrics are good, performance is great, but what if something goes wrong? What if you update a SmartForm, and it then performs less well than its predecessor? No problem: SmartForms are all automatically versioned. So if you want to get an old one back, you can — with a few simple clicks.

And More…

There’s so much more to say about the capabilities of this release, but really, watch the video, then dive in. Access SmartForms from your list’s dashboard, click the “Subscription Forms” button and have fun! (For current publishers, our old forms are now under the “Classic” button).

We’ll be posting more about SmartForms in the coming days. For example, SmartForms can save some web sites (I’m looking at you, coupon and deal bloggers) quite significant sums of money. Stay tuned.

Email Marketing 101, Part 4

How to be Successful with Email Marketing 101

The previous three articles in the “Email Marketing 101″ series dealt with three core concepts:

  1. Why you should be email marketing;
  2. When to start email marketing; and
  3. How to start email marketing.

But email marketing isn’t an end point, or a static goal. It’s an ongoing process. While automation can and does yield significant benefits, you still have to make certain commitments to be successful.

If, however, you’re an avid blogger or content marketer, meeting these commitments isn’t going to be a big deal. To finish up the series then, here are some basic steps you need to keep on taking in order to be successful:

  1. Email regularly and predictably; we recommend mailing your list at least weekly.
  2. Listen to your unsubscribes; they’re telling you something. If you’re losing readers, offer weekly digests or content-focused lists as alternatives.
  3. SEO principles apply to your subject lines: Make subject lines short, compelling and keyword-rich.
  4. Make sure your emails look great on phones and tablets. If your template isn’t responsive then ask your email service’s support service for help updating it.
  5. Metrics matter. If you’re an avid consumer of your Google Analytics data for your site, are you doing the same for your mailings? You should, at least monthly.

Get these sorted out and you’ll be well on your way to establishing and growing a terrific email list consisting of engaged and loyal subscribers. Good luck!