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.]

Superbowl XLIX: On Luck, Preparedness and Execution

[Bear with me -- this isn't a sports piece]

Wow – that was quite the game. As a Patriots fan living in New England I was very, very vested in the outcome, and I’m obviously happy with the result.

But it was a darned close call.

As those last few plays unfolded, there was the amazingly lucky catch that put the Seahawks at 1st and 6. Then, out of nowhere, New England got “lucky” twice: Firstly, when Seattle tried an unnecessarily high risk play just to waste time, and secondly when the rookie intercepted the ball, effectively securing victory for New England.

Three pieces of incredible luck.

Actually, no. Not at all. There was very little luck involved, in fact.

Let’s start with that catch. The ball left the receiver’s hands and flew up. The only “lucky” part was how the laws of physics combined to move that ball. The part that was NOT about luck was when the receiver caught and held on to the ball as it came down again.

That was not luck; that was his job.

That was training, preparedness and exemplary execution under pressure. (It also stank for the Patriots, given this looked like it was going to be a case of deja vu all over again.).

Seconds later, it was 2nd and goal – Seattle was one yard away from (and had three plays to effectively secure) the win.

Luckily for the Patriots, the Seattle coaching team made an unexpected call because New England had prepared well and sent out the team best designed to stop the play that everybody, everybody, expected Seattle to run. All that planning and preparedness paid off for the Pats, because it unnerved Seattle so much that they decided to “waste” that play, with tragic results for their Super Bowl hopes. Was that lucky, though? No. That was well executed defense — and at that very moment the mind game was won by New England.

That was not luck; that was New England’s job.

The ball game, however, was still in doubt. Until a rookie defender intercepted the wasted play and effectively and unexpectedly secured both the ball and the game for New England. Training. Practice. Perfect execution.

That was not luck; that was his job.

Seattle ultimately failed to execute at the critical juncture, and that cost them a place in the history books – and, sadly, has likely earned Pete Carroll a place in US sporting infamy.

Luck, though, had precious little to do with it.

Why write about the last seconds of something as ultimately ephemeral as this game?

Because it is a fundamental tenet of mine that luck favors the prepared.

All the luck – good or ill – on display in Arizona in the last few seconds of that game was nothing of the sort. It was preparedness, execution and a display of exceptional fortitude (or its sudden loss) under the kind of pressure none of us mere mortals will likely ever feel in our own lives. And it all came together on national global TV.

So. In your business and your marketing and your life, are you prepared?

Will you execute well when the time comes?

Are you the one who’s put in the time and effort and reps to seize the moment when it presents itself?

Will you be the one everyone else sees as “lucky”?

Because it is not about luck.

This is YOUR job.

SumoMe Now Works With FeedBlitz

Some of you have been asking what’s a good list building plugin or tool. I’m happy to announce that SumoMe now works with your FeedBlitz account.

Why is this exciting?

The SumoMe WordPress Plugin has three list building tools:

  • Smart Bar
  • Scroll Box
  • List Builder (popup).

Each of these tools is available from the Sumo Store which you will find after the plugin has been installed on your site.

Here is a brief screencast that demonstrates how to add SumoMe to your WordPress site, where to find your FeedBlitz API key, and how to add that to SumoMe to get started growing your list.

SumoMe’s basic apps and tools are free, upgrades are available.

Added Bonus: SumoMe loads asynchronously and won’t slow down your site. This is always something to keep in mind when deciding which tools are best for you and your goals. Slow page loads can trash the user experience and adversely impact your site’s search rankings.

Remember, if you have any questions, our support team is happy to help and we’re always adding to our Knowledge Base.

If you’re using a different form manager or pop up that we support, like Popup Domination or Gravity forms, we’ve got information on them, too.

On Resilience … Or, Welcome Back, Amanda

One of the joys of being in a small, tightly knit company like FeedBlitz is that, as colleagues, we grow close to each other.  We share our triumphs and joys; and we circle the wagons when the going gets tough. In reality, on balance, 2014 was more tough than not for the FeedBlitz crew.

Of course, like any community, we don’t often share the hard times publicly.  We struggle, we manage, we support each other, and with luck nobody on the outside notices. Nothing unusual, really, in that.

There are, however, some things — even the tougher ones — that are very much worth noticing.

And so it is today.

Today, we welcome Amanda Henson back to work in our customer service organization after spending most of 2014 fighting breast cancer. You can read about her journey, her resilience, her reality, on her personal blog.

Resuming normal work is a hugely important milestone for Amanda in her recovery; a major step in reclaiming normality.

Although her treatments are not over, today that step has been taken. With which, I think, enough said from me.

Except for this:

Welcome back, Amanda. We’ve missed you. We’re so very glad you’re here.