Need a FeedBlitz API Key? Permission Granted

FeedBlitz API key generation has now been made automatic; the prior manual approval process has been eliminated.

Meaning: You can use our API keys in third party integrations without delay.

Implication: More uses for FeedBlitz’s APIs are coming soon.

Access: Log in to your FeedBlitz account, it’s under My Account | API Keys in the left sidebar.

Restrictions: None beyond the requirement that you must be a premium FeedBlitz publisher.

By the way: If your current API key appplication was still pending under the prior policies, simply cancel it and then generate a new key.

CASL – A Quick Guide and the Death of Single Opt-In

CASL – the Canadian Anti-Spam Law – takes effect tomorrow, July 1st, 2014.

There’s a lot of fluff and BS floating around, and since there is no enforcement to date, there’s no real guidance from the authorities nor case law to follow. As far as email marketing is concerned, though, what CASL enforces is full-contact permission marketing, with an “implied consent” grace for where there is an existing communications relationship. OK, so what does that mean in practice?

CASL In a Nutshell

As we see CASL, it’s like this (remember we’re not lawyers, but we are passionate about best practice):

  • If your emails are all acquired by dual opt-in, you’re GOOD! Carry on!
  • If you’ve been mailing the list for some time, you have implied consent, you don’t need to reacquire permission for existing subscribers.
  • If you are a subscriber to an existing list, you don’t have to email the list owner or their email service to demand permission. If you want it, you’re OK.

Where does it get murky? Well, all those shady practices which you ought not to be doing anyway just got a whole lot riskier.

  • Do not buy or rent lists. Ever. This was true before now, but now it’s EXTRA true, because million dollar fines.
  • Don’t use third party services to acquire email addresses.
  • Email appending looks really risky going forward, don’t do it. h/t copyblogger for that one.
  • Don’t add someone to your list who: Gave you a business card / is a LinkedIn contact / was an attendee at a conference you sponsored.
  • I’d be really uncomfortable if you run promotions or competitions, such as on Facebook, where you acquire unvalidated email addresses.
  • Single opt-in? No. No. No.

CASL is the Death Of Single Opt-In

Why? Because there’s no proof of permission, that’s why, which is what CASL is all about. I’d argue that acquiring email addresses and mailing them via single opt in is now fundamentally illegal under CASL and a massive business risk. Without verification and confirmation of the would-be subscribers intent, you can’t say you have permission. You just have an email address. And so you fail the CASL sniff test. Period.

Single opt-in could even be used maliciously to add a third party Canadian email address to your list, with the purpose of having them sue you when you bulk mail them.

Likely? Eh (hehe, it is a Canadian law), probably not. Possible? Maybe.

I’ve heard publishers complain that they “lose” subscribers in dual opt-in because not everyone completes the process. That’s the whole point. Someone who puts their name into a form on your web site is NOT a subscriber until they confirm. Put another way, you want people who want to be on your list on your list, and you don’t want people who don’t want to be on your list on your list (read that a couple of times, it actually makes sense). Not everyone who starts the process completes it because they’re just not that into you. And that’s OK.

Single opt-in cannot provide the proof of permission that CASL demands.

CASL requires PROOF.

So: If you haven’t already, make sure you’re using dual opt-in. Stop shady email acquisition. Embrace best practice (it’s called “best” for a reason, people). And then, relax. You’re going to be fine.

Bots Behaving Badly and your RSS Stats

Seems that a rogue bot (it shows up in your RSS metrics as “experibot_v”) has been busy this weekend, and has artificially inflated RSS subscriber tallies. So panic (or rejoice, depending on your mindset) not: It’s not real eyeballs and we’re fixing everyone’s metrics to eliminate it from your results.  I’ll update this post as when this task has been completed.

Update: 2014-06–30 10:30 EDT: All fixed up!

FeedBlitz: Rewind the Week – Golf Gadget Edition

FeedBlitzBy Phil Hollows

It seems like plenty of people are wandering around in the mornings a little bleary-eyed these days.

I suspect one thing: These lovely, long summer nights.

When the sun stays up so late, it’s hard to bring yourself to start thinking about bed, right?

Ok, it’s either that, or heatstroke.

Either way, it’s perfectly understandable.

Well, it’s another morning. And it’s time for another FeedBlitz: Rewind the Week.

So, let’s dig into some of the news you may have missed! [Read more...]

Monthly Mailing Metrics: Surprised? I Was

We recently quietly added a new feature to FeedBlitz for our email publishers. It’s a summary analysis of all yor mailings for a given month — you can access it via your mailing list’s dashboard and clicking the highlighted link in the Mailing Metrics tile.

Click to enlarge
Monthly Subscriber Metrics

It shows basic subscriber stats for the month (here are FeedBlitz News’ for June 24 so far); and summary metrics – sent, opens, clicks, bounces, unsubscribes, complaints, etc. – for the month.

It’s pretty interesting to look at it, because these data allow you to figure out whether any given mailing did better or worse than average. That’s neat.

But where the surprises – and I did find unexpected results – are found is in what FeedBlitz does next for each mailing you sent in a given month. Given all your mailings, and depending on your list’s configuration, FeedBlitz will tell you for any given month which mailings were:

  • Most and least opened (driven by subject lines)
  • Most and least clicked through (call to action / content driven)
  • Most and least engaging (driven by click to open rates)
  • Least popular (i.e. generated the most unsubscribes)
  • Most spammy (i.e. generated the most complaints).

Clicking on the mailing in each category takes you to the detailed metrics for the highlighted mailing. And boy, was I surprised by what I found. I’ll share June (so far) and last month’s for this mailing, FeedBlitz News.

Here’s June so far (click to enlarge):

Analytics - click to enlarge

Ignoring my fairly dismal open rate, which I should really work on, the surprise here was that the terms of service change garnered the most opens, given that we don’t have that many affiliates. Clearly that’s a program I should be talking more about (noted). It was also the least popular, in that it generated the most unsubscribes (perhaps I should talk less about it?! Argh! Nothing is simple … nobody said interpreting the analysis would be easy).

The most engaging mailing this month (so far) has been the one about our improved mobile UI. That makes sense, I’m glad to see it there. The shocker? That our guest post on blog subscriptions vs. traditional newsletters, on an email marketing firm’s blog, generated the most complaints! That’s a real head scratcher, right there. File under: Go figure.

So how about last month, then? Switching the drop down to May and here’s what I get (again, click to enlarge the image):

Click to enlarge

A “Rewind the Week” mailing was the most opened — yet that doesn’t help me at all with subject lines, since the least opened was the identically titled post from two weeks before — and, again, industry commentary about an email topic proved the most unpopular. Y’all are a tough crowd, apparently.

Just, wow. Surprising? Yes. At times, confusing? You betcha. Fascinating? No doubt!

What will you find in your results? Check out your mailing list’s dashboard, click through to the monthly metrics and explore.

Facebook Outage Reminds of Platform Folly

I know I’ve written about this before, but this morning’s Facebook outage serves to remind business owners of “platform folly” — or what Copyblogger calls “digital share cropping.”

Which is to say, platforms come — and they also go. Facebook and Google change their algorithms, their terms of service, or simply go down. And even when they’re up and running, we all like to complain about the unfairness of their algorithms.

Enough already. Cut it out!

If you are relying on a single third party platform for your business, you are taking a massive risk. This morning reminded us all of that.

There are exactly TWO business platforms that aren’t controlled by a third party. They are:

  1. Your web site;
  2. Your email list.

Your web site is yours and you can move it from hosting service to hosting service. So if one hosting service changes the rules, you simply move on. Your web presence is portable and not platform dependent.

The same is true for your email list. It’s portable, and you own it.

If the Facebook outage had been extended, how much trouble would you have been in?

Exactly.

Build your list, own your audience, move your traffic to your web site. It’s the only way to reduce your platform dependence.

 

FeedBlitz: Rewind the Week

FeedBlitzBy Phil Hollows

Each of us have rough weeks from time to time. Weeks you feel like you can’t get caught up on your to-do list. Weeks when you feel like you just dropped the ball—at work or at home.

But, the important thing is to pick yourself back up, reassess what you did, and try to find a new path forward.

I’m wondering if that’s how Dr. Oz is feeling after this week. The popular surgeon and TV personality who was originally launched into the public eye on The Oprah Winfrey show was basically chewed up and spit out on Capitol Hill this week.

He was called in front of a senate panel and shredded for shilling weight loss “miracles” that simply don’t pass scientific muster.

It was a bad week to be Dr. Oz, that’s for sure. But a bad week for Dr. Oz did inspire the theme of this week’s FeedBlitz: Rewind the Week—we’re going to look at where technology and health collide.

And hopefully we’ll all come away feeling a little bit better than Dr. Oz. Let’s get started! [Read more...]

FeedBlitz: Rewind the Week

FeedBlitz

By Phil Hollows

It’s time again to rewind the week and look back at some of the stories you may have missed—this week’s theme is “location, location, location.”

Because even though we live in such an always-on, connected world, where we are physically still really matters.

Where you live. Where you work. Where you play.

Maybe where you take off on a relaxing summer vacation … on a beach somewhere, or exploring a cool new city?

I’m getting a little wistful here, maybe it’s jealousy over all these kids getting started with their summer vacations!

Without further ado, let’s take a look at a couple of the news items that caught my eye this week. [Read more...]

A More Mobile-Friendly FeedBlitz

You know, I think this smart phone and tablet thing might not be a fad after all.

Or: We just released a new version of the FeedBlitz application web site which is a whole lot more friendly to mobile users. This is especially true for our clients using iPhones and iPads, as the site was pretty crappy (can I say “crappy” in a blog post? Oops) on iOS until today (vertical scolling – or lack thereof – was a major issue, for example).

We hope you enjoy the freshly updated mobile look and feel! Point your mobile device to www.feedblitz.com/f to begin.

FeedBlitz: Rewind the Week

FeedBlitzWe made it through another week! Well, almost.

We still have Friday to get through, but the heavy lifting’s certainly done.

I, for one, am ready to get away from the little glowing screens (as much as I love them) and enjoy some fresh air and sunshine. I recommend you do the same, but not until you’ve caught up on some of the tech news of the week.

That’s why we’re here, to help bring you some of the interesting news of the online and digital world so you can be just a little bit more knowledgable heading into your weekend.

This week, three stories caught my eye. And because it’s always good to get the bad news out of the way first, I’m going to start with a story that made me cringe *just a tad* before I move onto a couple of tidbits that I’m a little more excited about.

Here we go! [Read more...]