Making the Most of Feedblitz: Creating a Basic Autoresponder

Email AutorespondersSo, you’ve taken the time – and possibly spent the money – to create an ebook that knocks the competition out of the park. The marketing and social sharing of the ebook was a success.

Hundreds of people (fingers crossed!) have downloaded your free ebook – or even better – have also signed up to your blog, and in doing so, have provided their email addresses, as is the norm in the digital marketing and blogging space.

What do you do now?

Enter, the autoresponder. The FeedBlitz autoresponder ensures you’re keeping your audience interested, yet not ‘over spamming’ them. It allows you to touch base with your audience with targeted emails, and keep them interested. And it allows you to do this without adding a ton of extra work to your plate. [Read more...]

Content to Cash: SEO, Email and the Sales Funnel

SEO – search engine optimization – is the name for the tips, tricks and techniques used by web sites to get themselves listed higher up the search engine results pages (a.k.a. SERPs). Many people, themes and plugins put a great deal of effort into SEO, building on their blogs and content sites to entice online searchers to their sites.

Email list building is the flip side of SEO. Once the visitor arrives at your site, you need to keep them there as long as possible, and ideally capture them as a subscriber to your list. Without the subscriber or other lead capture elements on your site, all your SEO is doing is generating drive-by traffic that’s not working for you. [Read more...]

FeedBlitz Users Speak: Crawl – Walk – Run for Rowperfect

gone_rowing_sign (FB)Today’s post is from the good folks at Rowperfect UK.

Rowperfect got introduced to FeedBlitz through its marketing agency, Creative Agency Secrets. The initial attraction of the service is the single monthly fee for all our mailings plus the ‘set-and-forget’ nature of the newsletter created out of the blog RSS feed. As a growing, small business, we really love good value for money and marketing automation tools.

Growing up into the FeedBlitz Features

The team settled down and began exploring the higher features – the first one that caught our eye was the ability to send out autoresponders.  Our first one was an extension of the welcome message for new subscribers. We learned about how autoresponders wok and started putting in a few more articles. Mainly we want people to see the incredible archive we’ve built of informational blog posts for the sport of rowing. Our readers now get one message a month, automatically. And we’ve built three more expert autoresponders on niche topics – coaching, rigging and coxing.

Treat Different Customers Differently

Our work this year has been around spitting out the mailing list into different user types so each gets customized content suited to their interests. When new readers join we use custom fields to identify their rowing club and individual interest area.

The challenge here is by telling our readers about the new newsletters, we are reminding them that they can unsubscribe. This has caused a small anxious rush of blood to the head as readers unsubscribed from the main list without re-subscribing.

We are choosing to follow up each of these individually with a message encouraging them to pick an alternative list to join. We’re sure custom lists are an advantage for readers and so part of our work now is highlighting in a weekly blog post what’s going on in each of the separate lists so readers can see what they’re missing.

Planning for our FeedBlitz Future

Despite being FeedBlitz customers for over two years, we are still finding new features that fit with our marketing plan and within our budget.

  • Using former subscribers to recruit custom audiences in Facebook
  • Integrating parsers into our shop checkout
  • Random reader draws for prize winners in our monthly free prize draw

We found out about Custom Audiences in Facebook – where FB matches user profiles against your existing newsletter list and shows your status update/advert to people with similar profiles. We tested this by downloading from FeedBlitz all the unsubscribers’ addresses – did you know that FeedBlitz holds onto all subscribers details in their mail list, including those who no longer receive your news? We think this is really powerful.

Parsers are waiting to be actioned – but we want to email folks with an up-sell offer driven direct from FeedBlitz so someone who downloads a free e-book is immediately emailed with a discount offer for a paid one.

Random subscriber draws are just great – no chance to cheat with FeedBlitz – you choose to select one random subscriber, and that’s what happens. We send out a free prize each month and this always has a little tingle of fun about it….. who will win? Even we don’t know.

We’d love to hook up with other FeedBlitz users to share tricks/techniques and expertise. Shall we all join the FeedBlitz Publishers Linked In Group?


Shopping Cart Integration / Email Parser Policy Change

The FeedBlitz email parser integration that enables subscribers to be automatically added to one of your lists has been modified since we launched it. If the list you are adding to is an autoresponder, FeedBlitz will add the subscriber and activate the autoresponder automatically. It doesn’t feel right to make them go through dual opt in in this case just so you can say “thank you.” 

If the list the parser is attached to is a standard mailing list (newsletter, blog powered or otherwise), dual opt-in will still be required.

Tying it All Together – Beefing up FeedBlitz Autoresponders, Part 3

In the first part of this three post autoresponder series I announced the following new features for FeedBlitz’s autoresponders:

  1. Custom landing pages for autoresponder subscribers;
  2. Custom confirmation emails;
  3. Event rules and triggers;
  4. New “On completion” event trigger.

In the second post, I talked about our AWeber-compatible email parser capability, enabling simple third party shopping cart and form integration.

This last post shows you how to tie them all together. Here’s the scenario:

  • You want to thank your store’s purchasers with a coupon and then a three part “how to” series;
  • At the end of the series you want to add them to your full mailing list (so they don’t get too much mail while they’re in the autoresponder)
  • You want to do this with minimal unsubscribe or spam complaints.

Here’s how.

  1. Create your autoresponder and define the sequence of articles;
  2. Create a custom landing page on your site where you deliver the coupon on your site, and tell the autoresponder about it;
  3. Set up an trigger event on the autoresponder to subscribe people to your main mailing list on completion.
  4. Use the custom confirmation (the dual opt-in activation) email to tell people that there’s a coupon waiting for them and all they have to do to get is to click the confirmation link.
  5. Set up the parser for the autoresponder to watch for notification emails from your shopping cart, which kicks the whole process off.

What happens is this.

  1. The visitor makes a purchase from your store – hooray!
  2. The parser picks up the notification from your shopping cart, and sends the opt-in confirmation email to the subscriber.
  3. This opt-in email is the one you customized, telling the user about the goodies they are going to get if they click the activation link.
  4. The user confirms, and two things happen:
    • The first email in the autoresponder sequence is sent.
    • They are sent to your custom landing page to pick up the offer.
  5. They get remaining articles in your series over the next few days.
  6. When the last one goes out, the “completion” event occurs, subscribing the user to your regular mailing list, where you can build upon the trust you’ve already created between you and the buyer.

Not much work to set up, but what you get at the end is a powerful, fully automated email marketing solution that builds trust with – and who knows, maybe some extra revenue from – your new purchaser.

Shopping cart and popup integration – Beefing Up Autoresponders, Part 2

Autoresponders are often used to thank people for subscribing to your mailing list, or to launch multi-step drip marketing series, or as standalone email courses sent to subscribers. These are easy to set up because all these features are inside the FeedBlitz service.

But some of the best uses for autoresponders is to add a new subscriber when they’ve done something outside your email service’s ecosystem, such as when they buy from your online store or when you use a third party popup or widget to solicit new subscriptions.

FeedBlitz has now been extended to easily support third party shopping carts and other third party lead generation products for your site. 

Introducing Email Parsers

Available at Newsletters - Settings - Email Parser and Responders - Email Parser, the approach we’ve adopted will be familiar to anyone who has used AWeber. Better yet, the approach will work with any third party shopping cart, widget or plugin that supoprts AWeber too, so integration is a snap. Unlike them, however, you are spared having to learn about regular expressions to make it work. Phew!

Here’s a sample FeedBlitz email parser screen:

FeedBlitz generates a large, random email address (hidden in the screenshot above) for you to put into the AWeber integration’s “list email address” field in your shopping cart’s email service settings. Since the email is a address, it will come to us.

When the email arrives, it is processed by the parser assigned to that address. You can tell it how to detect whether the inbound email is (a) genuine and (b) the kind of email you want to process (so you can differentiate between, say, a sales notification and a shipping update). If you don’t know what these values are, you can use the email forwarding function (set to “Always”) to get all the messages the parser receives sent on to you; you can then see what it’s getting and edit it appropriately.

Then you tell the parser how the data you want to grab appears in the body of the mail itself. One per line, or PayPal style, or comma separated etc.  The parser splits up the inbound email, and then looks at the matches you specify to figure out information such as the buyer’s email address and their name.

When a parser’s trigger matches the settings, it will create a pending subscription, populate the relevant custom fields with the data it finds, and invite the subscriber to join the list (yes, we enforce double opt-in, because it gets us better deliverability – it’s a good thing).

You can set the email forwarding value to forward you the mail the parser receives. So, for example, for new email parser addresses you want to use with PayPal, set the forwarding to be “Always”, tell PayPal to use that email address, and when PayPal’s confirmation email is sent to the parser it will be forwarded on to you. You can confirm using the link in the email, and then go back to the parser and change the forwarding setting (if you like) to keep the noise down.

Finally, once defined, a parser can be used by any of your lists or autoresponders. The email address the parser listens to is what changes on a list-by-list basis. You cannot change the email address from the long random value which FeedBlitz assigns, and this is by design. It makes the inbound email address fundamentally unguessable and therefore highly resistant to spambots. Spammers are bad. We don’t want to help them add junk to your list, which a short changeable inbound email address risks.

So, we’ve introduced easy to use, well behaved, AWeber compatible (at least as far as the shopinig cart or popup is concerned), easy to use parsers. Another form of API you can use at FeedBlitz, and one that anyone who’s set up a shopping cart plugin, PayPal button or Cafepress store can manage. Now you can thank your buyers with drip emails, thank you autoresponders or coupons off their next purchase.

Tomorrow: How to tie parsers and the autoresponder features I mentioned yesterday together for a sweet, effective retail autoresponder solution.

Beefing up FeedBlitz Autoresponders – Part 1

Autoresponders – a predefined sequence of emails that go out to subscribers – have long been a part of FeedBlitz’s offerings. Most folks using FeedBlitz, however, don’t make the most of them. While that’s OK, it means that many of you are missing out on one of the keys to making your blog a financial success.

Autoresponders are used by the most successful organizations and online marketers – especially those wanting to boost their affiliate earnings – to automatically market and sell to their audience on an unattended basis. Done right, autoresponders can become your blog’s personal ATM. I covered autoresponders in this post in my List Building for Bloggers series, and I’ll be talking about them a lot more in the coming weeks.

Today, though, I’m going to tell you what we’ve been working on here at FeedBlitz to make our autoresponder program more appealing for bloggers who want to focus on more aggressive monetization and making their blogs financial successes. There is much to talk about, which is why I’m splitting things into multiple posts. Here’s part 1.

Extending RSS to Email Newsletter Features to Autoresponders

In the responder tab (v3) or the autoresponder’s settings page (v4), we have enabled the following features that were previously available only to automated newsletter production (blog to mail):

1. Custom landing page redirect for directly subscribing readers

Many monetization approaches have web site visitors subscribe directly to an autoresponder instead of to your general mailings list. If you want to build your list this way, you can now tell FeedBlitz where to send new subscribers once they activate instead of using our default thank you page. You can use the page you specify like you can its equivalent for newsletters: Recycling popular content, delivering incentives or rewards, etc.

2. Custom confirmation email text

You can now customize the “click here to confirm your subscription” email for autoresponders, again when the subscriber subscribes directly instead of triggering the autoresponder via a subscription to a regaulr newsletter.

3. Event rules and triggers

List automation was previously available for newsletters only. List automation events are triggered when a subscriber subscribes, unsubscribes or (this is new and only for autoresponders) when the autoresponder sequence completes.  This last feature allows you to grow your list by having visitors subscribe to your autoresponder offer or campaign, and then add them to your regular mailings when the autoresponder wraps up. Doing this ensures that only one list at a time is mailing a new subscriber (first the autoresponder, and then your normal list), reducing the risk of excessive unsubscribe rates that you might run by having both lists (newsletter and autoresponder) mailing the user concurrently.

Further, we’ve modified event trigger functionality for all lists, such that if any trigger on any list adds a user to an autoresponder, that autoresponder will fire off the first message in the list. It didn’t work that way before, which was an oversight. Oops!

Automatic for the People

(OK, yes, this is a reference to REM’s breakup annoncement yesterday. I’m a fan.)

What this means to you is that FeedBlitz’s autoresponders are now as rich in terms of core functioanlity as their RSS to email newsletter bretheren. 

Better yet, as they like to say on late night cable TV ads, “But wait, there’s more!”

And indeed there is. But that’s for the next post.

Introducing List Automation, Triggers and Events

Autoresponders on steroids! Bloggers and publishers with multiple lists now have a great new capability to help manage their lists at Newsletters / Settings / List Automation, Triggers and Events.

Whenever a subscriber-initiated subscription or unsubscribe takes place on a list, you can automatically have FeedBlitz update other lists for that subscriber based on that action. That action can be to unsubscribe them from a different (or all other) lists, or to add them to another existing list.  Similarly, if the subscriber unsubscribes, they can then be removed from (but not added to) other lists, or unsubscribed from all other lists.  It’s a simple point and click interface, and you can create multiple rules for the same event on a list; so a new subscription to List A can add a user to List B and also at the same time remove them from List C.

Rules are fired by a subscriber activating a subscription via the dual opt in process, unsubscribing from an email, or using the FeedBlitz subscription self-service pages to stop or re-enable a subscription.

Triggers and events don’t cascade. So say you set up a rules such that activating a subscription on List A subscribes the user to List B, and another rule for List B such that activating a subscription to List B adds them to List C.  When a user subscribes to List A they are only added to List B; List B’s rules aren’t triggered (so in this example the user is not added to List C).

Most importantly, rules cannot be used to override a subscriber’s wish to opt out. You can’t use a rule to subscribe someone to a list they’ve already unsubscribed from.

So, instead of being limited to just one autoresponder on activation, you can now use multiple responders for a single list.  For example, you can define a generic “thank you” autoresponder attached to all lists, and then also a list-specific autoresponder that attaches to a given topic-centric newsletter.

So more autaomtion for the power email marketer, from FeedBlitz, the leading FeedBurner alternative.

Smooth Embedding and Data Capture with New Subscription Form Options

Publishers now have not one, not two but three great new capabilities that they can use when signing up new subscribers to email lists and autoresponders or for lead capture.  They are:

  1. Easy embedding to host the form on your site;
  2. Custom field selection;
  3. Custom fields in subscriber notifications.

Easy Embedding

You can now embed the complete FeedBlitz form on your site with a single line of JavaScript. The form appears as if it is on your site (which, in fact, it effectively is), styled with your fonts, colors and other CSS goodness. No iframes, no extra scroll bars, no large white spaces - just fully functional and harmonized graphic design. It’s very neat, and all you need to provide is a page (it can be a simple “subscribe here” blog post if you like) to slam the JavaScript into. No programming, just copy / paste and you’re good to go.

With this capability the subscriber starts the process fully on your site, which makes their lives easier and keeps the eyeballs where they belong, and, if you set the activation landing page at Newsletters / Settings / Content Settings / The Basics, the entire dual opt-in process works through your site without any side trips to and without any jarring graphic design changes.

If you prefer to have the entire process on your site with 100% consistent look and feel, the embedding process is for you. Choose the embedded option from on the subscription form generator page for the code you need to copy.

Custom Field Selection

Custom fields (used for data capture, personalization and segmentation) are global to your account. If you had multiple newsletters or autoresponders you wanted folks to subscribe to, FeedBlitz always put up all the public custom fields available.

Now you can pick and choose!  The default is still all custom fields, but now you can also generate versions of the same form with different options.  So you can test how asking for optional or required data affects signups, simply by changing the custom fields selection and updating the form code.  Or, say you have a newsletter where you want easy sign up (i.e. no custom fields) and an autoresponder that sends a white paper to new subscribers (so you’re using it as a lead capture form).  For the newsletter, go to Newsletters / Forms / Subscription Forms and disable all the custom fields and update the form on your site with the code generated; now FeedBlitz will only ask for the email address.  For the autoresponder you can leave it at “All” (at Responders / Subscription Forms) and the lead capture code will collect all the data you require to capture (and then reward) that lead.  

Now you have all the flexibility you need – and, yes, it works completely with the new embeddable form highlighted above.

Custom Fields in Subscriber Notifications

Unless disabled, FeedBlitz emails you when a subscriber joins or leaves the list. Now, if you have custom fields defined, all the subscriber’s custom field data will be included in the notification message sent to you. Even if the form they used didn’t contain any custom fields, FeedBlitz will send the custom field data it does have if the subscriber gave it to us as part of a prior interaction with your list(s).  It will also include any hidden custom field data you added to the subscriber’s record.

So there you have it – greater flexibility, better user experience and more relevant notifications.  And it’s only Monday… quite the way to start the week!

AutoResponders Take a Step Forward

We’ve upgraded some of the FeedBlitz autoresponder features this week; seems like there’s a lot of interest in this area of our automated email marketing services all of a sudden. We’re not done with the work here, but the changes to date are worth noting if you’re an autoresponder fan.

1. You can now subscribe directly to an Autoresponder

Before, FeedBlitz autoresponders were designed to start only when a subscriber activated a “parent” newsletter subscription. That restriction has been lifted, so now you can use the autoresponder as a simple lead capture form, or the kick-off for an email course, without having to sign the user up for a newsletter first. There’s a new menu entry at Responders HTML Form Code to enable this. When a subscriber signs up they still have to go through our mandatory dual opt-in process, but on activation they’ll be sent the first autoresponder entry and then the rest in sequence.

2. Autoresponder subscriber import added

You can now import subscribers into your autoresponder, which you also couldn’t do before. As each subscriber is added to the list, they’re sent the first entry of the autoresponder which then continues in order. Imports to autoresponders follow the same strict requirements, including black list suppression and a mandatory opt out note and more, as required by our standard newsletter import process.

4. Auto branding of newsletter-triggered emails

For simple “thank you” or incentive reward autoresponders triggered by a newsletter subscription activation, the autoresponder will use the parent newsletter’s template, saving you the effort of having to duplicate a template just for the autoresponder. It also allows you to use the same autoresponder for differently branded newsletters and the autoresponder’s branding will be correct for whatever newsletter the subscriber joins.

4. Autoresponders only appear in the “Responder” tab

Before they could “leak out” into the Newsletter tab – that’s been changed. If you want to deal with an autoresponder, you have to be on the Responder tab, whereas our automatic RSS to email newsletters are only on the Newsletters tab. It eliminates a potential source for confusion.