Where’s my audience?

A dog searching for his crowd among sheep, wondering where's my audience?

You’re posting great content regularly, you’re enthusiastically promoting your site on all the top social channels, while diligently reading and following all the How to Blog Like a Rock Star articles and checklists you can find and yet…. your emails have low open rates, even lower click-through rates. Your list ought to be growing – but you can’t be sure as you seem to be losing subscribers as quickly as you gain them, and there’s not a lot of social sharing happening for your posts or emails.

This cycle can leave you feeling exhausted, defeated, and wondering if any of this is even working! You begin to doubt yourself as a leading figure in your craft, an expert in your field, perhaps even your basic knowledge on the subject. Nobody seems to care. You’re casting such a wide net and doing everything under the sun possible, how could things not be going better than they are?

Breathe. Pause for a moment, because there is your answer – you’re casting such a wide net. You’re not trying to reach your audience; you’re trying to reach everyone’s audience.

Speaking to Someone, Not Just Anyone

This is a common misstep when it comes content marketing and blogging, believing that trying to reach as many people as earthly possibly and relating your content, service or product to anyone who could possibly be reading is the best way to grow.

Take a step back and look at what is truly happening when casting such a wide net:

  1. Your content is filled with generic terms and language to appeal to everyone.
  2. Your time is divided between a plethora of social channels trying to promote everywhere possible.
  3. You’re building a list of subscribers ranging from semi-interested to somewhat-interested to possibly super-interested (but you aren’t quite sure), instead of a list of people who are expressly interested in your scope of content.

Imagine creating content as if you were speaking directly to your ideal reader or client. You need not worry about everyone and everything else as you’re able to block them from your thoughts and focus on only that one person. You would be more genuine and authentic, your language would be better defined, your subscriber list would be full of people interested in what you have to say, and your email metrics would improve as a result.

This way of thinking can be an adjustment, but the transition is not impossible. Start by finding your audience, then adjust the net you’re casting. Everything else? Just noise. Junk it.

Finding Your Audience

Once you decide to speak to your people, you’ll begin to see open rates, subscription rates, and click-through rates increase. Your content will be more focused, and your language will match that which they speak. To get started in finding your audience, ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I know about my ideal reader? Write out everything you can about them. Their estimated age, occupation, relationship status, what their possible hobbies are, what are their annoyances, what do they get excited about, and so on. Make note of anything you can think about your reader. This is called developing your reader (or client) persona. Some sites will be extremely specific and have 1-2 personas, while others may have 3-4 personas (we at FeedBlitz have 4 core personas, in case you’re wondering).

  • Where else on the internet do my readers hang out? Once you have a clear picture of who your ideal reader or client is, you’ll be able to find out where else on the internet they spend their time. What websites do they follow? Could you offer a guest post to one of these websites? Are they active on forums? If so, which ones? Create an account and participate in the discussions, offering answers and insight.

  • What social channels are they using the most? This can be a HUGE time saver for you. If it turns out your audience is more focused on LinkedIn and Facebook, focus more time and energy here as opposed to Snapchat or Pinterest. Knowing this can also show you which channels you need to invest more knowledge into learning, instead of expending so much energy trying to cover your bases on every.single.social.channel.

These questions are a starting point for you to find your audience. Once you know where they are, you can then focus on ways to promote your content directly to these individuals in the manner which they prefer most.

Bonus Tip: Start by surveying your current readership and subscribers. Draft a simple online survey with some of the questions above and ask your readers to complete it. This will give you a good look at who is currently interested in your content, and offer a starting point for seeking out new subscribers in your audience.

*Offering an incentive for completing the survey such as a discount code or free pdf download is a great way to encourage subscribers and readers to answer your questions.

Focusing on What Matters

Don’t worry about casting the largest net, concern yourself with casting the right net and watch your metrics start to increase. No more wondering if your content marketing and blogging are working. Rest easy knowing your focus is on those who are already interested in your content to start, focus on creating high-quality, valuable content which provides a solution to their problems, sit back and watch your metrics rise to new heights.

If you have questions on finding your target audience or anything else related to email marketing, simply send our team an email to support@feedblitz.com. You can also chat, check out our Help Forum, or give us a call at 1.877.692.5489. Our Support and Sales Desk is available Monday – Friday from 9 am to 5 pm EST.

Stressing over what to write next? There’s a solution for that.

Calendar with various colored pins, noting different posts on different days.

It’s 9 o’clock the night before your readers are expecting your latest post to arrive in their inboxes, promptly at 9 AM tomorrow, and you find yourself staring at a blank screen. The blinking cursor is a reminder words are waiting, seemingly impatiently, to fill the screen in front of you, and you’re drawing a blank. You have no idea – or maybe too many ideas – about what you’re going to write for tomorrow’s blog post, but all you know is you have to deliver something. The pressure is on, and the clock is ticking away.

Pause for a moment, take a deep breath and know that nearly every single blogger on the internet (including the one writing this post) has been in your position at some point in their journey.

Stress over not knowing what to write, the feeling of dread as a deadline is inching closer and closer, and let’s not forget feeling disorganized and not having it all together. We survived and you will too! Whether you are a lifestyle, craft, small business or even an experienced full-time blogger, sometimes we all find ourselves at a loss of what content to create.

What would happen if you sat down at your computer and instead of staring at a blinking cursor, drawing a blank, you knew exactly what to write, when to write it, and didn’t waste any time second-guessing yourself over it? Dream scenario, right? Completely! However, it’s not as far-fetched as it may at first seem.

Multitudes of people turn that dream into a reality each week by using a Content Calendar. This isn’t a tool reserved for large corporations or professional bloggers who have a team of writing professionals behind them; a content calendar is used by bloggers, writers, small business owners, marketers and more across the globe.

Can a Content Calendar really make my life easier?

Simple answer: Yes. This is more than a list of ideas tossed around on sticky notes and random pieces of paper, or posts you’d like to write someday. Not to be confused with an editorial calendar which often only highlights monthly or quarterly themes for publication, a content calendar is a compiled list highlighting the topic of your next post, expected post date, working title, any running notes you may have for it, and whatever else information you deem necessary.

These are just a few of the benefits you’ll reap from having a content calendar:

  1. Organize your thoughts, ensure your posts are on-topic and relevant and have one space to track any notes, research links, ideas and even image thoughts you have.  A content calendar takes all the scrap pieces of papers, sticky notes scattered about, or random ideas floating in your mind and houses the information in one place.

  1. Eliminate hesitations or questions over what to write about. Late night idea searching and blank pages, be gone! Open your content calendar, scroll down, see what’s next, and get to writing. The cursor won’t know what happened.

  1. Easily group or ungroup your posts. Some bloggers prefer to have monthly themes while others prefer to intertwine different themes throughout the year. Use your content calendar, identify post themes then group or disperse as preferred, allowing your content to easily flow from one post to the next. It’s seeing the bigger picture of where you want to take your blog right there on your computer screen!

  1. Post quality content, consistently. No more procrastinating because you don’t know what to post. No more throwing in an off-topic post because you’re all out of ideas and pressed to hit publish on something. Your content calendar outlines what needs to be written and when which allows you to focus on producing quality content consistently. Not only does this boost your peace of mind, but your readers greatly appreciate the consistency, too!

  1. Connect your social media and email marketing to your content calendar and Boom! everything is working cohesively together. Blogging, social media, and email marketing should be collectively moving you forward towards achieving your goals. This allows you to see an even grander view of the direction you’re taking yourself and your business.

Tools to help you get clear and get organized.

The beauty of a content calendar is you can create one to fit your exact writing style and editing needs. It can contain as much (post title, theme, reference links, image notes, post date, status, etc.) or as little (a working post title and target post date) information as you’d like.

If you’re looking to keep it simple and flexible, check out Google Sheets or even Google Calendar. Use as many columns and tabs as needed in your Sheet, or simply create an event with notes and a reminder in your Calendar. Here at FeedBlitz, we use Google Sheets for our content calendar, with our posts carefully lined out with extensive details and an extra tab for additional post ideas.

Should your content go through a series of individuals before it’s published, look into an online service such as Trello or Asana. This task and project management software applications allow you to easily track the progress of your content and see what is coming down the pipeline next.

Regardless of how you choose to create and maintain your content calendar, the most important point is to make this year the year you get down to business and implement one! By doing a bulk of the brainstorming and planning up-front, you’re able to create a clear action plan of where your content will take you over the next 6-12 months. Are you looking to offer additional mailings to your subscribers, create a sales funnel or even begin selling your first digital product? Working with your content calendar will help to free time to focus on taking the next step of your blogging adventure. Channel that time once spent stressing, worrying and dreading over not knowing what to post into brainstorming new content or building your targeted list.

Still not sure if a content calendar is worth it? Picture it this way; it’s 9 pm the night before your post is set to be sent to your email subscribers tomorrow morning at 9 am. Instead of staring at a blank screen and taunting cursor, you’re laughing with friends, relaxing with family, or even knee-deep into a Netflix binge. You’re not stressed, though, you can totally do whatever you choose, because you followed your content calendar and finished your post over an hour ago.

Now we don’t know about you, but that’s a trade we’d take any day.

If you have questions on creating a content calendar or anything else related to email marketing, simply send our team an email to support@feedblitz.com. You can also chat, check out our Help Forum, or give us a call at 1.877.692.5489. Our Support and Sales Desk is available Monday – Friday from 9 am to 5 pm EST.

How to Change the Language of Your Emails

Working with Language in the ATE

The language of your mailings is ultimately determined by the browser settings of your viewers, however, should you wish to manually set the language of your mailings you can do so using the Advanced Template Editor.

Select your mailing list – choose I want to… Change… Template Design and ensure you have switched your template to the Advanced Template Editor.
From here you will be able to easily change the language of your newsletter as well as whether the text reads Left to Right or Right to Left by working with the below buttons:
Screenshot of Advanced Template Editor and Icons to change Language
If you have any questions, simply send an email to support@feedblitz.com, or you can chat or give us a call 1.877.692.5489 Monday – Friday, 9 am to 5 pm EST. We also have plenty of great support available 24/7 in our online Help Forum and YouTube channel!

Demystifying Your Sending Schedule

Hand placing mail in a mailbox.With your automated RSS-to-Email mailings you are able to set a specific sending schedule. This will affect what time your subscribers receive their emails as well as how many emails are including in your mailings, should you post multiple times a day or week.

To help clarify the differences in our various scheduling dates and times, we created the below list with detail on expected delivery and article inclusion:

Once a Day: You will be able to select which 3-hour time block in which you would your mailing to be sent. This mailing will include all new posts since the previous sending window.

Weekly: Select the day of the week and the time of day you would like your automatic mailing to be sent. This will include all new posts since the previous sending window.

Pro Tip: If you post often and offer a daily mailing, it is also a great idea to offer a weekly version for those who prefer to receive all updates in one email as opposed to multiple emails.

Monthly: Similar to Weekly Schedule, however, you will be able to select the exact day of the month an update is sent.

Express: Expect an email to be sent within 30-45 minutes of a new post going live on your site and being detected by our system. This is ideal if you do not post multiple times a day, on a regular daily schedule, or if updates are time-sensitive.

ASAP: Posts will send immediately. In order for this sending schedule to be activated, your must have PubSubHubbub enabled in your feed.

On Demand: This is a manual sending schedule and no automatic mailings will be sent to your subscribers.

Many publishers test their sending schedules to see the impact on their open rates. Should you alter your schedule to test open rates, we recommend only doing so every 3-4 weeks or so to gather proper metric data as well as to not alarm your subscribers with frequent changes.

If you have any questions, simply send our team an email at support@feedblitz.com, or you can chat or give us a call 1.877.692.5489 Monday – Friday, 9 am to 5 pm EST. We also have plenty of great support available 24/7 in our online Help Forum and YouTube channel!

Working with Audience Segmentation

Not all emails are created equally, and not all emails are created to be sent to everyone. Working with Audience Segmentation in your Newsflash mailings allows you to hand-select those who will and will not receive particular emails.

To begin, create your Newsflash. From the text editor, you can select the Audience Inclusion tab or the Audience Suppression tab as shown below:

No matter which mailing list started the Newsflash, these tabs allow you to include and exclude subscribers from all of your lists, as well as working with Segments (such as those who have not opened for a certain period of time, for example) or any groups you may have in place.

Bonus tip: Using Groups to segment your list can help you further shape your audience should you have Custom Field-Specific Groups in place.

If you have any questions, simply send our Support Team an email at support@feedblitz.com, or you can chat or give us a call 1.877.692.5489 Monday – Friday, 9 am to 5 pm EST. We also have plenty of great support available 24/7 in our online Help Forum and YouTube channel!

Increasing Video Click Through in Email

Watching Video on a Table

Video is an incredible tool to have on your site as well as use with your email marketing. If your email is set to send automatic RSS-to-email notifications and your post contains a video, our system will show the video’s placement in the post, linked to the embedded post on your site.

However, if you are sending a Newsflash email there is a simple and highly effective technique to increase video click throughs to your site or to the video on a platform like YouTube. As opposed  to sharing a “See the video now!” link, insert a screenshot image of your video with a faux play button added to the center.

Screenshot of a video showing the play button.

If interested, your reader will attempt to press the play button on instinct. With this image hyperlinked correctly – be it to the post on your site, a different site or video sharing channel – your subscriber will have completed the action you desired for them to take. You’ve just created a visual, video-specific call to action for your Newsflash emails.

If you have any questions, simply send our team an email at support@feedblitz.com, or you can chat or give us a call 1.877.692.5489 Monday – Friday, 9 am to 5 pm EST. We also have plenty of great support available 24/7 in our online Help Forum and YouTube channel!

Removing Instagram Captions in Your Mailings

Image of a vintage camera

Your FeedBlitz template is capable of pulling the three most recent Instagram photos for your subscribers to see. This is a great way to cross promote your brand, while broadening the views of your photos, without the hassle or worry about algorithm changes within the Instagram app.

With your three most recent photos, the template also pulls the captions of these photos. If you tend to post longer captions or use multiple hashtags in your captions, this can take up an increased amount of space in your template.

To easily remove Instagram photo captions in your email template, you will need to remove the <$BlogItemTitle$> element located in the Instagram section of the template. To do this your template will need to be in the Advanced Template Editor.

In the ATE, scroll down in the template to your Instagram box. This is where you will remove the tag  <$BlogItemTitle$> to remove the captions of your photos:

This will remove the captions while leaving the photos visible and still linked to your Instagram account. You can easily apply this to captions on your other social channels as well, should you wish to remove captions for your Pinterest, YouTube, Etsy, or Shopify feeds.

If you have any questions, simply send our team an email at support@feedblitz.com, or you can chat or give us a call 1.877.692.5489 Monday – Friday, 9 am to 5 pm EST. We also have plenty of great support available 24/7 in our online Help Forum and YouTube channel!

How to Socialize Your Emails

Man and woman looking at a tablet and sharing a laugh.

When integrating your email marketing into your overall marketing plan, it is essential to consider the intersection of social marketing and your emails. At FeedBlitz, there are three main areas to integrate your social media marketing with your email marketing. You can work with all three or simply focus on one at a time, whichever suits your audience best.

Autopost to Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn

All publishers have the ability to autopost new updates to Twitter, Facebook and/or LinkedIn.  This feature can be enabled by selecting your site from the site dashboard and choosing: I Want To…Set Up a New…Social media posting. You will be able to select which channel you would like to initiate or edit from here.

Pro Tip: With Twitter, you can automatically add hashtags to each post. This is a great feature if you post with one major focus, i.e. #emailmarketing, #DIY, #glutenfree, etc.

Not only does autoposting reduce the need to manually post new updates to each individual channel, it can add to the frequency of  your posting when used in conjunction with manual posts in order to reach a broader audience.

A few important notes on autoposting:

  • Within the publisher dashboard, you can only connect one account from each channel. If you would like to add a second account to autopost updates, check out the steps in this Quick Tip on how to do that!

  • Autoposting is not on the same schedule as your automatic mailings. Posts are sent to social channels once it is picked up in your RSS feed, so within 30-45 minutes of the post going live on your site.

  • When your social accounts are linked to your FeedBlitz account, the number of followers are counted in your total audience found on your site dashboard. You are not charged for these followers, only unique, active email subscribers.

Add your Social Icons

When we  talk about adding social icons to your email template, there are two different ways you can do this.

  1. Make your posts shareable by adding social sharing icons to each post. Your posts now are incredibly simple for your readers to instantaneously share without needing to visit your website first. You can able social sharing icons to your posts through your FeedBlitz RSS feed. Select your RSS feed then choose I Want To…Change…Per-post Sharing as seen below:      Screenshot of How to Add Social Sharing to RSS Posts

  2. Add your social icons within your email template. Our EZ Template Editor is designed to easily add your social channels as well as change the icons themselves if preferred. *Note: We recommend changing the icons to match those on your website for branding consistency! The location of your icons can determine the response of your readers. If your focus is to increase your social audience, place the icons towards the top of your template will increase this likelihood, however, if this is not a priority, you can add these icons to the bottom of your template.

Incorporate Your Social Content

Our publishers spoke, and our development team listened! Within all email templates is the ability to incorporate your Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Etsy and/or Shopify accounts. Doing so will pull the three most recent posts of these channels and display them in your mailings. There are many different possible benefits and reasons to do this, so we listed just a few:

  • Increase revenue within your Etsy or Shopify accounts by always having your newest products on display for your subscribers.
  • No more worrying about algorithm changes within Instagram when your subscribers can easily see what you’ve been posting.
  • Expand your audiences on these channels by introducing the content to your readers.
  • Link to a specific Pinterest board associated with your blog or product launch.
  • Capture audiences with your latest YouTube videos, enhancing your connection by incorporating visual and audible messages from you and your team.

It is important to know that pulling the three most recent posts from these channels also brings in the captions of these posts. If you would like to truncate or remove the captions of these images, send our Support Team a request, and we will walk you through the steps on how to do this.

Pro Tip: Do you find incorporating your social channels into your template creates too much content? Consider creating an automatic weekly newsletter with only your social updates! Think of it as a “What we’ve been up to around the Web!” update. Our team can work with you on setting this up as it is a great way to keep readers in the know, without overloading individual emails.

Working with all of the above are merely suggestions on how easily it is to integrate your email marketing with your social media marketing. It is our goal here at FeedBlitz HQ to make this integration as simple as possible.

While there is a fine line between over-socializing and under-socializing your newsletters, you will be able to determine the appropriate amount of social integration based on your unique audience. Spend some time testing what works best for you and your audience to find the ideal combination of social sharing, posting and integration.

If you would like for our team to take a look and offer suggestions on how to make your emails more social, just let us know! We’re here to help as the success of your email marketing is at the top of our priority list.

Questions on anything in today’s post or on any of our FeedBlitz features? Send our support team an email to support@feedblitz.com. You can also chat, check out our Help Forum, or give us a call at 1.877.692.5489. Our Support and Sales Desk is available Monday – Friday from 9 am to 5 pm EST.

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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!

Working with Images in Your Mailings

Woman looking at computer editing photo

Using images in your content can do wonders when it comes to increasing engagement. Many publishers will feature their main image with only a short line of text in their emails to encourage readers to click-through to their website. These images can really draw a reader back to your site, as long as they behave properly when converted to email.

All FeedBlitz EZ templates are responsive which accommodates a variety of image sizes. However, should you notice your images bleed outside the borders of your template, there is a simple solution to avoid this in future mailings.

Best practices encourage the use of images no larger than 600 px wide in your posts. Following this guideline  will ensure your images are transmitted correctly to your email template.

Be advised, however, that some email clients will show the original image size, regardless of the adjusted dimensions specified by your template or blog post. The best method is to adjust the images in an editor before uploading them to your post or email template in order for the desired image size to be shown no matter which email application is used.

If you have any questions, simply send an email to support@feedblitz.com, or you can chat or give us a call 1.877.692.5489 Monday – Friday, 9 am to 5 pm EST. We also have plenty of great support available 24/7 in our online Help Forum and YouTube channel!

How to Personalize Your Emails

Typewriter typing Dear Sir or Madame

Increase Personalization by Adding a First Name to Your Emails

If you’re looking to create a personal touch to your emails, adding the subscriber’s first name is a great place to start.

Before beginning we recommend brushing up on your Custom Field Knowledge and working in our Advanced Template Editor.

In order  to add  a subscriber’s first name to an email, you will need to have the custom field identified and switch your email template to the ATE.

In the ATE switch to the Custom Fields tab. Copy the Template Tag for your Custom Field to add to the template, above the <$BlogPosting$> tag as shown below:

FeedBlitz Dashboard showing how to add a first name

Should you only have Custom Field information for a portion of your subscribers, but plan to gather it for everyone moving forward, you can still include a greeting, with their name, while having an alternative should the field be blank. To do this, use the following line of information:

<$if FirstName$>Good morning, <$FirstName$>!<$else$>Good morning!<$endif$>

This is using an “if this, then that” scenario that if a First Name is present, it will be shown, however, if no value is assigned to the field, you are listing an alternative.

FeedBlitz Dashboard showing the inserted code for a conditional first name field

Using this condition works to prevent this from happening:

Email preview showing what appears when a first name field is entered without a condition.

A quick, simple way to personalize your mailings, you are able to add Custom Field information to your mailings as you see fit.

If you have any questions, simply send us an email at support@feedblitz.com, or you can chat or give us a call 1.877.692.5489 Monday – Friday, 9 am to 5 pm EST. We also have plenty of great support available 24/7 in our online Help Forum and YouTube channel!