Styling Sizzle with Multi-Feed Newsletters

Since its inception, FeedBlitz has been automatically converting single RSS feeds into formatted, indexed, tracked email marketing newsletters. There are services – such as FeedBlitz’s RSS service and Yahoo Pipes – that allow multiple feeds to be merged, blended and spliced into one, so it’s also easy to munge multiple feeds into a single newsletter.

But the problem with splicing is that it merges and mixes all the source feeds into one unified feed. While that’s fine for many applications, what if you want to have a single newsletter, structured with distinct sections? Or what if you want to build a mailing with email widgets in the sidebar, such as special offers, or your most recent tweets, or your playlist, or your latest photos or videos, all without having to manually edit the template all the time? You can’t do that with a single feed – whether spliced or standalone – and simple templates.

Or, rather, you couldn’t … until now.

One Newsletter, Many Feeds, No Extra Work.

Because – surprise! – now you can. Power users can use the advanced template editor to include multiple feeds in a single mailing, producing significantly more complex and visually appealing (yet still fully automated) marketing communications.

Well, ok, there’s a little extra work, but only what’s needed to re-jig your template. Once that’s done, it’s all automatic from then on.

How It Works and How to Test

The magic is done by the inclusion of a new custom tag in the advanced template editor, called <$Feed$>. I’ll run through some examples in this post, and so if you want to play along you’ll need an advanced template to experiment with.

If you don’t currently have an advanced template, a great way to create one is to use the easy template editor to create a basic layout, and then flip into the advanced editor so you can roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty with the tags. If you want to test advanced templates safely without affecting production mailings you can clone your existing newsletter at Newsletters / Settings / Clone Newsletter. Cloning copies everything except subscribers, so you can experiment safely. Once you’re done you can simply copy and paste the advanced template you’ve built back into your main list.

The <$Feed$> tag is briefly documented in the legend area under the advanced editor; the advanced editor itself is available at Newsletters / Settings / Advanced Email Template Editor.

Adding Multiple Feeds to your Template

Say you want to build a newsletter with multiple sections, each section sourced from a distinct feed. For example, you might have a classroom newsletter built from the teacher’s blog, but you might want to include the latest from the PTA and the principal as well. Or you’re a realtor, and you want to include an industry news feed or the latest from your firm’s mortgage broker in your mailings. The new tag helps you set this all up.

Before you start, you will need to know the RSS feed for the other content sources you want to add in.

Assuming you want your main content up first, you need to find your last <$BlogPosting$> tag. Place the cursor where you want the new content to go and type in:

FeedBlitz is the only RSS to email service that allows you this flexibility and power. Try it out today at Newsletters / Settings / Advanced Email Template Editor.