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!

Email Marketing 101, Part 3

How to Start with Email Marketing

Honestly: Don’t over think it. Sending blog updates by email is not only great, but also very much good enough “ you’re saving your blog’s subscribers the time and effort to remember to go back to your site. Your content is already great, and now people have invited you to send it to them whenever you write. That’s what they want; so go ahead. Give it to them.

Here’s how you get started:

  1. Choose a reputable, supported email service (because nobody wants to end up being labeled spammer, right? Right). Behave well, always (ALWAYS) use dual opt-in, and respect privacy (i.e. don’t share your email subscribers with anyone else).
  2. Depending on your platform and service, add an email subscription form for your site. At FeedBlitz, we’ve found the best approach is a combination of subscription forms:
    1. Above the fold in your sidebar or masthead / top banner on all pages.
    2. Between posts and comments on post pages.
    3. Using a respectful popup once you’re sure of engagement.
  3. Create an incentive to deliver extra value to visitors. It helps convert them to subscribers.

For popups, proof of engagement (which is where it’s OK to interrupt and say “you’ve been here a while now, would you like to hear from us by mail?”) would be the second or later page view of the session, and delaying several seconds (10+) to allow the visitor to start reading the page.

The reason why forms between posts and comments work is the same thing: Engagement. If the visitor has read your post and is now at the comments, they’re clearly interested. A form there has a great chance of capturing that interest and turning the visitor into a subscriber.

Incentives need to be relevant to your target visitor. They don’t need to be a massive amount of work to create. They can be sweepstakes, or a simple 1 page checklist, or a simple guide or even an e-book.

Tomorrow, I’ll wrap-up the series with tips on consolidating your email marketing success.

[This is the third article of a short, four part series on Email Marketing 101. Click to visit part 1 - why? - and part 2 - when?]

Email Marketing 101, Part 2

When to Start Email Marketing

In the previous Email Marketing 101 post, I talked about why email marketing is vital.

Today I’ll talk about when – when to start your email marketing efforts.

Good news! It’s a one word answer:

Now.

No, I’m serious. Don’t delay because “I’m not big enough” or “I don’t have enough traffic.” You simply don’t know when and which subscriber will be the one that buys from you, spreads the word about you, or invests in you.

Look at it this way. As you start out, you’re building pages; thinking about SEO; looking at analytics. You’re generating traffic to your site. Every time you don’t give a new visitor the chance to subscribe, you’re losing the opportunity to reach them again. All that traffic is simply going to slip through your web site’s electronic fingers and be gone.

While you delay, how many visitors have you missed out on? Hundreds? Thousands? More? All of them could have become a subscriber, willing to be educated, persuaded, converted by you. But they’re not.

Without email, they’re lost to you, possibly – no, probably – for ever.

Don’t be that site. Don’t let all the visitors you’ve worked so hard to get, get away. Don’t miss those opportunities.

Instead, find a way to have your visitors say “I like you. I really, really like you” by having them subscribe to your list (remember, email engagement is at least 20x better than Facebook).

The when, then, is NOW.

Tomorrow, I’ll talk about how.

[This is the second article of a short, four part series on Email Marketing 101.]

Email Marketing 101, Part 1

Why Email

When you think about building your site for the first time, you’re probably also thinking about your Facebook presence. After all, that’s where the people are, right?

OK, that makes sense at a superficial level. But there are two problems with emphasizing platforms like Facebook instead of your own site and your own list:

  1. Facebook owns Facebook. Building your online presence on someone else’s digital turf which they adjust to please themselves (and not you) is risky.
  2. Facebook stinks for engagement.

??Stinks” “ a bit strong, you say? Well, according to http://www.michaelleander.me/blog/facebook-engagement-rate-benchmark/ a very good engagement rate on Facebook is 1%.

One percent. That’s it. Most posts do much, much worse.

In other words, 99% of your Facebook fans simply don’t see the post, on average. Ever.

Of course, Facebook wants more people than that to view your post. And, of course, they want you to pay for that. Hello, business model.

Email lists, on the other hand, don’t stink. An average an email update, by contrast, should expect to have a typical open rate around 20%. That is at least 20x better than the best typical un-promoted Facebook post.

Put another way, email delivers twenty times more engagement than Facebook.

Often better.

Thought-provoking, huh?

Meanwhile, let’s get back to point (1) “ the wisdom of building your business on someone else’s turf. With email, who owns your email list? Why, you do. Not Facebook. Not Google’s search engine. You.

With email, you’re not engaged in digital share cropping: http://www.copyblogger.com/digital-sharecropping/

What that means is that you can take that list wherever you want – and do whatever you want – with it.

Your email list frees you from third party sites, like Facebook, deciding you need to pay now to reach the same people tomorrow you reached for free yesterday.

Tomorrow, some thoughts on when to start with email marketing, if you haven’t already begun.

[This is the first article of a short, four part series on Email Marketing 101.]

.@Wistia videos now supported in FeedBlitz emails

Video in email is a pain. Unless you’re an HTML5 guru and only want your emails working on iOS devices, video just plain doesn’t work in email.

FeedBlitz has long supported video providers such as YouTube and Vimeo and more, by automatically converting videos from these systems into thumbnails that work great in email.

Today, we’ve added up-and-comer Wistia to the list of supported video services. So if you are on the FeedBlitz web site, what you see next is a Wistia corporate video in their video player. If you get this via email, however, you’ll see a thumbnail instead.

Neat!