We’ve Updated our Terms of Service

Last week I told you about how we’d updated our privacy policy. This week, it’s the terms of service’s turn for a little sprucing up.

It’s the same deal, basically. No changes in who we are, how we approach business, and what we do.

As part of modernizing it, we’ve added sections to cover the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (the “DMCA”) and how we deal with account ownership disputes. It’s very dry reading (something perhaps only a lawyer can love?), but it is our contract with you unless we have a separate agreement in place.

So the usual words apply: If you continue to use FeedBlitz, you agree to these terms. In brief:

  • There are no guarantees.
  • You are responsible for your own content, and its compliance with applicable law.
  • FeedBlitz is not liable for damages, including (but not limited to) those arising from any use, abuse, misuse or non-performance of the FeedBlitz service or the information provided by third party publishers.
  • FeedBlitz is not liable for third party content redistributed using FeedBlitz.
  • These terms of service can change at any time; if you continue to use the service you have implicitly agreed to the changes.
  • Your FeedBlitz account may be terminated by FeedBlitz at any time for any reason and for no reason.
  • You may cancel your use of our services at any time.
  • Any refunds other than for fraud, or billing errors, are at FeedBlitz’s sole discretion.
  • FeedBlitz may insert advertising depending on current program policies and your level of participation.
  • FeedBlitz may require upgrades or payment depending on prevailing policies.
  • FeedBlitz may suspend mailings on your behalf after any grace period expires or for suspected abuse.
  • FeedBlitz will not sell, rent or otherwise deliberately reveal your email address (see our privacy policy).

And because our lawyers will have a fit if I don’t say this, the words that count are on the terms of service page, here.

 

RSS Feed Service Degradation Jun 9 2016 – Resolved

Like many start ups, we use cloud computing services from major providers to provide core elements of our infrastructure. Right now, one of them is experiencing major issues across the board in the part of their cloud that we use. That has meant that feed serving from our data centers has been unstable for the last couple of hours, and that the options available to us to mitigate the effects are limited, as they would rely on the same cloud provider that’s currently in trouble.

We apologize for the inconvenience. We’re working mitigate the effects of their outage as quickly as we can. Right now we’re serving feeds, but on limited capacity and so it’s slow. We’re adding more capacity where it’s robust to do so in order to get back to full availability for RSS clients.

Update: Around 4:20pm eastern the provider in question started to recover. RSS feed services are now back to full strength

We’ve Updated Our Privacy Policy

The good news is, nothing material has changed. FeedBlitz is continuing to adhere to the same high standards we set ourselves from the start, in terms of both how we run our business and our obligations to you, our users.

The better news is, the updated privacy policy is I think not only clearer, it’s actually helpful, in that it contains things like links to third party sites where you can control how third party services we use (such as Google Analytics) treat your information. Light reading it is not, but it’s not exactly “War and Peace” either. If you care about how information about you is collected and used, it’s worth a read.

In more or less plain English, this is what our updated privacy policy says:

  • You have the right to control your personal information.
  • FeedBlitz never sells, rents or buys email addresses.
  • List owners can see the information you give them as part of our services.
  • FeedBlitz uses cookies, tracking and logging to make FeedBlitz work and tell list owners about activity on their lists.
  • FeedBlitz emails globally, but is a US-based business with a US-based infrastructure.

So why update it? Well, periodically, we review what we do and how we do it. As part of that process, our lawyers urged us to update our privacy policy to be both clearer, and to reflect modern realities. For example, the part about our servers being in the US turns out to be fairly important for non-US users. We didn’t have that before.

Anyway, lawyers are expensive (but for good reason), and it seems silly to waste all that money! You can find our freshly updated privacy policy here.

 

Is Gmail About to Wreck your Email Marketing?

What you need to know

Google has announced that, starting next month, they will reject email that purports to come from Gmail, but isn’t sent by a Gmail server.

How this might affect you

If you use a third party email service, like FeedBlitz, to send your email updates, AND your from address is a Gmail domain (e.g. mysuperduperblog@gmail.com), then your emails will probably not get through, unless either your email service or you change something.

What you need to do this month

If you’re with FeedBlitz, nothing! We will take care of this for you, and your email will get through, just as we did when Yahoo and AOL implemented the same policies in 2014.

If you are not with FeedBlitz, and you send emails using a Gmail address, you need to change your sending address. Ideally to one that better reflects your brand (such as me@mysuperduperblog.com). If you have a hosted web site, most site hosting packages come with at least one email address. Use that!

If you are with FeedBlitz, we recommend you do this anyway, not because your mail won’t go through (remember, we’re taking care of this for you), but because it’s better branding.

Do I have to give up using Gmail for my business?

Absolutely not. You can set up Gmail to pull from other email accounts (it’s in Gmail’s Settings, on the Accounts & Import tab).

What’s going on?

Google is helping curb spam by changing their DMARC policy. AOL and Yahoo did this in 2014. Basically, they’re saying to inbox providers, if you can’t prove that the email really came from Gmail, don’t accept it. Why? Because spammers use fake Gmail addresses, but they don’t run through Google’s servers. Spam sent this way fails DMARC authentication, and because Google’s policy will change to “reject” next month, most modern ISPs will not deliver it. Result: Much less spam for you. Hurrah!

This is a Good Thing.

BUT… legitimate email, such as your newsletters and blog updates, sent by email services like FeedBlitz that have been using your Gmail address will now get blocked, because that email won’t authenticate as coming from Gmail (which is true; it’s coming from us). FeedBlitz will automatically change the sending address where necessary to ensure your emails do in fact get through (and your replies will reach your Gmail account, so that’s OK too), so no FeedBlitz publishers or subscribers will be affected.

But if you’re not with us (you should fix that ;) ), you need to check with your email service provider (ESP) – and probably change your sending address.

Let’s Talk Branding for a Moment

Many (far too many) bloggers use <theirsite>@gmail.com as their email address when their domains are at <theirsite>.com. You’ve ponied up for the web site, have your branding just so, and then … oof. Let the ball drop at the email address. It’s not a huge branding fail, but ceding control of your business’ email address to Gmail could just get very sticky, starting next month.

So, go on. Finish the play on your branding with your email address. Update your mailing list’s settings.

Incidentally, if you’d like to find out about how you can extend your own domain’s email authentication to your FeedBlitz mailings, you can, using SPF and / or DKIM. It’s easy to set up, provided you have access to your DNS (domain name) settings.

FeedBlitz: Your New Artisanal Email Service Provider

Here at FeedBlitz we have been behind-the-scenes busy to create something really great for you. After months of analyzing our dream journals, vision boards, planning, designing, re-grouping and focusing on pure synergy within the dynamics of our mission, we are finally ready to reveal to you the next quantum leap in humanized, customer-centric email marketing.

The Moment of Fruition

The dew was glinting in the early morning sunlight, my diffuser gently humming next to me, when the epiphany dawned. Haven’t we always wanted to do more, be better, connect more with our audience, yet still revere the sacred space that is our subscribers’ inboxes?

Yes. Yes, we have. With the clarity that only my inner child could divine, I knew it was time to evolve, transcend what we do here at FeedBlitz. We needed to become … more. It’s no longer enough to continue to be the best automated email marketing solution around.

We needed to create a transformative experience. Take a fresh look. Re-evaluate our comfort zones. To not only deliver your message but also recreate that sensation, the one which courses through my veins and invigorates my spirit like the first sip of an early morning matcha tea before my children arise from their slumber, for every subscriber opening their hearts to your content’s ineffable enlightenment.

I found myself yearning for a truly honest, organic, fulfilling email marketing experience.

Introducing Artisanal Email, from FeedBlitz

And so. We’ve completely reinvented ourselves. Realigned our corporate chakras. Listened to the drum circle of our hearts beating in time with the thrum of our message deliveries. Artisanal Email, from FeedBlitz, will expand your subscribers’ consciousness, well beyond the veils of each one’s computer screen, smart phone or tablet.

This revolutionary new path to email marketing fulfillment not only breaks out of stale industry standards, it also simultaneously restores that vintage feel your grandparents would recognize. If your grandparents had had computers and email, back in the day. And if they had? Their perfect email service provider would look, well, a lot like Artisanal Email, from FeedBlitz:

  • Our new data centers are exclusively powered by renewable energy sources, including solar, wind and methane sourced from our unique industrial-scale KQCP (kale / quinoa composting plant).

  • Our latest servers have been hand-reared from motherboards in free range, certified-organic server farms. Always cage-free, their fans are free to spin without constraint. We never use antibiotics on any of our servers. Ever.

  • Emails from our publishers will be requested through our system and then typed one letter at a time on an antique Underwood typewriter, meticulously scanned into the FeedBlitz interface, then distributed into the Universe with the highest of intentions.

  • We will also be offering a Letterpress upgrade, for those who want a truly tactile email marketing experience.

  • All testing and authentication policies, including our DMARC records and DKIM headers, are now cruelty-free, never tested on animals, and are conducted from a place of pure love and light.

  • All email templates and subscription forms moving forward will be hand crafted with the finest materials, using only the purest of pixels to highlight and enhance your branding impact.

  • Every email’s background will be constructed from pure iHemp(tm), for that rough-hewn on-screen sensation which only an archaic, obsolete form of simulated paper can properly provide.

Email Transcendence

These enhancements and many more are what you can come to expect from the newly acclaimed FeedBlitz.  As your Artisanal Email Service Provider, know that our mission is to create much more than mere ordinary, mass-produced, soulless, industrial email marketing messages transmitted through the interwebs.

No. Artisanal Email is different. A loving, dare we say intimate, fully enveloping email experience. The essential oil of your online presence. Your content marketing spirit animal. The tiny house your list can live in, knowing its carbon footprint is minimal and in ethereal balance with the elements.

We are more than your email service provider. We are your neighbors, your counselors, your gurus. FeedBlitz is your Artisanal Email Service Provider.  And that is a relationship which will last for multiple lifetimes.

* No animals were harmed in the creation of this blog post, and trained blog whisperers were on call for the duration of its editing.

P.S. Lest our push to provide a more crunchy granola email solution has upset you, we ask that you take this piece with the sense of humor, fun and smiles with which we wrote it! No offence was intended …. Happy April Fool’s Day to all!

-•-

Easy enough for a blogger to set up in seconds, powerful enough for sophisticated corporate email campaigns, FeedBlitz is an RSS, Email and Social Automation Tool to take your email marketing to the next level. Visit us online to learn more or start your 30 Day Free Trial!

Your RSS and Email Ad Options Just Got Better

FeedBlitz exists for several reasons:

  • To simplify email marketing for bloggers and business owners;
  • To save you time reaching your audience;
  • To help you generate more revenue from your online presence.

In support of that last mission, unlike other email services, we have a built-in ad network (think of it as “Adsense for Email and RSS feeds” if you like) that enables you to passively generate revenue from every email that you send, and every post in your RSS feed. These are unique capabilities that only FeedBlitz offers. The best day of every month, for me, is the day when I send our publishers their ad income payments. (We are also affiliate marketer friendly, which is important to a great many of you.)

To help you monetize your feeds and mailings better, last year we introduced the “marquee” ad unit, which sits atop your mailings if you opt in to our email ad program. The marquee is very successful; it’s far and away our most successful ad unit. It was a little limited, though, as it was only available to our email clients, and was restricted to only appearing at the top of a mailing.

Not any more! We have now extended marquees to help you make more with every post:

  • Marquee ad units are now available for RSS feed advertising (they are also now the default RSS ad unit);
  • In-content marquee ad units are now available as an email ad option for publishers opted in to our email ad program.

Put another way, the much greater revenue potential of the marquee ad unit is now available everywhere and to everyone in FeedBlitz’s ad network, not just the topmost slot in emails.

New RSS Ad Options

Previously, the only option for RSS ads was “on” or “off” – and all you got was a 300 x 250 rectangle. Now, the default is the marquee, with the option to change back to rectangles if you wish. Marquees are wider, and a little deeper, than the rectangles they’re replacing, but they have a MUCH better revenue profile, and leave less ugly white space off to the right. They also re-size responsively in FeedBlitz emails.

If you want to make more from your FeedBlitz feed, you don’t have to do a thing! If you want to change the ad setting back to rectangles, go to your feed’s dashboard, click settings, and then hit the monetization tab:

Email Ad Options

If you’re using our ad network for email (or want to!), go to the “Ad Revenue Share” section under “My Account” in the left side bar. There you can change the insertion settings to use marquees instead of your current choice. You can do this without having to have the top marquee enabled, so you can benefit from the greater revenue marquees offer and still keep your logo front and center.

Simply your Email, Save Time, Make More Money

It really is that simple! We’re proud to be able to extend our support for bloggers running businesses with these new ad options. If you’d like to learn more, start a trial today, or contact FeedBlitz tech support for more information.

Twas the Email Before Christmas…

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
No systems were mailing, not even in-house;
The inboxes were logged by the admins with care,
In hopes that no spam soon would be there.

The users were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of no unreads danced in their heads;
And my boss in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled the servers for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the router there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my cube to see what was the matter.
Away to the laptop I flew like a flash,
Tore open the login, and pulled up the dash.

The page on the browser of the new-opened window
Gave a ten thousand foot view of the systems below,
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his emails they came,
And he whistled and shouted and called them by name.

Now Mail From! Now, Sender! Now Reply-To and IP!
On, SPF! On DMARC! On Sender ID!
To the top of the inbox, the most important of all!
Now send away, bounce away, forward away, all!

As segments that before the wild RBL fly,
When they meet with a filter, reroute far and wide,
So up to the server the missives they flew
With news of Star Wars, TFA, R2D2.

And then in a twinkling, I heard on the disk
The content filter evaluate each message’s risk.
As I reviewed all the logs to see what was found
Down the network St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in code, from header to footer,
And his HTML code styled, responsive do-gooder,
A bundle of attachments he had flung on his back,
And he looked slightly compressed as he unzipped his pack.

His GIFs, how they twinkled! His stylesheets, so merry!
His colors were like roses, his headlines in cherry!
His droll little logo was drawn like a bow,
And his background – so legible – was white as the snow.

The stump of a certificate, he held in his teeth,
And the authentication, it encircled his header like a wreath,
A good reputation, servers whitelisted by many,
His sender score high, to other vendors’ green envy.

Base 64 encoded, plump, with reference to “self”
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.
A DNS lookup, checks based on the head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread,

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the inboxes, then turned with a jerk,
And laying a finger aside of his nose,
Giving a nod, back delivered receipt rose.

He sprang to the packet, to his bytes gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he pinged out of sight
“Happy Christmas to All and to All a Good Night!”


From all of us here at FeedBlitz, we wish you the very best for a joyful holiday.

Phil

Subscribe By Text / SMS Now Available for Your Lists – And You’ll Love the Price

Every FeedBlitz email publisher now has access to a free, configurable, subscribe-by-text capability.

Yeah, we did that. Because we love to see our publishers be successful and grow. Because we want using this to be a no-brainer.

With many publishers doing in-person events, seminars, streaming videos, webcasts and more, we wanted to find a way to simplify the subscription process and make it more immediate. Rather than ask people to subscribe to a URL, you can simply have them text a code you define to the FeedBlitz subscribe by text number, and they can subscribe from their phones. It’s easy to start, fast to finish, and a fabulous call to action for any slide, periscope or talk you give.

And yes: It’s completely free to anyone with a FeedBlitz list. Other standalone services charge $19 a month for just this text subscription service. You get it here at FeedBlitz as part of the package, even if you’re a legacy user, or paying us our $1.49 minimum, or in a trial.

Easy Setup

We’ve already created a set of default codes for every list in FeedBlitz, to get you started.

To see them, click into the Subscribe-By-Text Builder on your list or autoresponder’s dashboard. You’ll see something like the screen below:

Free Subscribe By Text

There’s one numeric code – that is your list ID; you can’t edit that. Otherwise, you can change the codes already assigned to you by editing them here. You might want to make them make more sense from a human perspective, for example; add punctuation, better reflect your brand, or reflect a specific campaign / event. You can tell if they’re OK by the little icon.

You can also add as many new codes as you like, too. When one you want is available, click the “Add New Code” button; it goes live when the whole form is saved. So in the screenshot above, I’m trying to add “AVC” – but that code’s already taken.

You can even customize the text message FeedBlitz first sends to people texting in your codes.

Try Subscribe-by-Text Today

Super simple, easy to set up, instant gratification for you and your audience. What’s not to like? Give it a try!

P.S. It also works internationally!

Don’t Fear the Gmail Reaper. Or, A Word About the Winnowing

If your list got a little smaller recently and gmail accounts are the ones that are AWOL, you’re in good company – and there’s no need to panic. Gmail has been cleaning house, tidying up and removing idle accounts, or ones that are used in spam farms. They’re doing everyone a favor, and there’s no need to fret, because the accounts they’re removing were junk anyway.

All of us in the email ecosystem – recipients, mailbox hosts, publishers, ESPs (email service providers) like FeedBlitz – have a vested interest in keeping spam and junk out, and ensuring that email that ends up in an inbox is legit. We all have our responsibilities. The inbox hosts – e.g. Gmail, Yahoo, AOL – have theirs too. Most of the time, one would imagine that much of their focus is on filtering inbound spam out. That was the goal behind Yahoo’s and AOL’s DMARC policy changes a year and a half ago.

But they also worry about email that they send, and spam emails that ask for replies which go to accounts on their systems. What some spammers do is use cheap labor to create many free accounts on these systems, then sign up for mailing lists using dual opt-in to legitimize them, because look, a human did this! … and then they use these accounts to email junk, or as the inboxes where you’re invited to send your social security number, claim your Nigerian windfall, etc. You get the idea.

These accounts are otherwise typically idle and don’t behave like real people. The inbox hosts periodically remove them as they show up in their anti-abuse scans. So yes, they were dual opted-in by a human to make them seem real; but in fact they’re not real, weren’t paying attention to you mailings, and weren’t clicking through to read your content. They’re just online chaff, and it’s good to have them winnowed out.

When an ISP does this, they’re making the Internet a safer place by removing opportunities to run email scams; they’re saving you money by reducing the size of your list automatically (assuming, like FeedBlitz, you’re not charged for deleted subscribers); and generally making everyone’s lives better by increasing the quality of the mail streams we send.

ISPs taking responsibility for spam accounts on their systems is a Good Thing and should be welcomed, even if we subconsciously calibrate our online ego by the size of our mailing lists (don’t, BTW; open rate is a much better metric).

Panic not, then. And if you have concerns about a particular address on your list, please do drop a note over to FeedBlitz support. We’re happy to tell you about a subscriber’s activity, verify their deliverability and much more. We’ve earned our Sender Scores (96-99, thank you very much), after all.

Happy Labor Day! Support resumes Tuesday, 8 September

In observance of the U.S. federal holiday (and our need to cook with fire and slather things with barbecue sauce), FeedBlitz’s offices are closed today, Monday, September 7th. We’ll be back, bright eyed and bushy tailed (and possibly a little heavier) tomorrow morning. If you have a support question today, please email support@feedblitz.com – we’ll get to you first thing tomorrow.