Hitting publish on one of the best pieces of content you’ve ever written—or hitting send on the greatest email ever—feels completely amazing. You step away from the computer feeling strong, accomplished, ready to tackle the next project head-on. ...

Hitting Send with Confidence, not Concern

Woman confidently sending her email with FeedBlitz

Hitting publish on one of the best pieces of content you’ve ever written—or hitting send on the greatest email ever—feels completely amazing. You step away from the computer feeling strong, accomplished, ready to tackle the next project head-on. Later, though, when you return to your computer to check how your mailing did, you discover that even with your phenomenal content, barely a fraction of your list has opened it, with some subscribers writing to complain that they never even received it.

We don’t need to dive into how disheartening this moment feels, or how utterly infuriated or disappointed this discovery leaves you.

The culprit here can be poor deliverability. If your emails are rejected by your subscriber’s mail servers, they will never be seen as they don’t make it to the mailbox. This is one of the many reasons why we continuously work to ensure the highest deliverability rates possible to all of our publishers. This is our top priority at FeedBlitz, because the last thing you should ever concern yourself with is whether or not your emails were delivered!

What is deliverability?

Deliverability is exactly what you’d imagine it to be: the ability to deliver. In email marketing, it is the ability of your bulk email service provider (ESP) to deliver your emails effectively to the mailboxes of your subscribers. All major ESPs operate on what is called a deliverability rate which shows the amount of emails able to successfully be delivered at any given time. Since our inception, FeedBlitz has consistently operated on a 99.75% or higher deliverability rate for our publishers. We do NOT play around when it comes to this number and guard our systems fiercely to ensure it stays at or above this percentage.

Why does a high deliverability rate matter with your bulk ESP?

The higher deliverability rate of your bulk ESP, the more likely your emails are going to reach your subscriber’s mailboxes. According to Cisco’s 2017 Annual Cybersecurity Report, 2016 showed the highest rate of SPAM since 2010. A whopping total of 65% of all emails sent in 2016 were spam. 65%! That’s an insane amount of spam being sent out to the world. It’s no wonder Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are cracking down when it comes to who they will accept email from and who they block.

Our mission as your ESP is for your mail to be accepted by ISPs. To do that we continuously show ISPs our sending servers are trusted, reputable senders of high-quality email. As a result, the emails we send on your behalf are delivered to your subscribers’ mailboxes.

Doing this involves many moving parts. These consistently applied policies include requiring dual opt-in for everyone, and how we manage imports. There’s also the technology and operational side of things. We check our ability to send to major ISPs from all servers we use every 180 seconds. We send emails using our own dedicated servers. We use third party monitoring services, track every list from every publisher 24 hours a day to make sure that subscriber interactions follow expected norms, and we establish and maintain our domain and IP reputations. And then you have DKIM and SPF authentication (also known as sending authentication settings, monitoring DMARC, integrating with Feedback Loops (FBLs), and much more. That may seem like a lot of tech talk, but the good news is it’s a lot of tech talk that you don’t have to think about.

FeedBlitz sends millions of emails each day. All this attention to detail and quality behind the scenes is the reason we hold a consistent 99.75% or better deliverability rate on your emails. In two words? Worth it.

Quality Counts

These practices for safeguarding our deliverability rate aren’t something new we’ve recently implemented. Dual opt-in and import validation aren’t simply formalities. We don’t view our excellent deliverability as an added bonus feature, reserved for certain special clients or big lists only. It’s the very heart of what we do for everyone: Continuously protecting and differentiating your emails from the influx of SPAM mailboxes receive, getting your emails to your subscribers.

What’s the point in sending an email if it isn’t even making it to your subscriber’s mailbox? There isn’t one.

Should you have any questions regarding deliverability of your emails, please do not hesitate to send our team an email at 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.

 

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.

 

Safeguarding your SEO: Google and Pop-Ups

Closing out an ad on a mobile phone.

As a blogger or website owner, you know what happens when Google makes an announcement and how it can adversely impact your site’s rankings. In August of 2016, the big G announced it will begin penalizing websites for “intrusive interstitials” (aka pop-ups) on mobile sites in January of 2017.

Google has stated that sites with too many or aggressive pop-ups on mobile platforms will be penalized in search results. We agree with his sentiment, we’ve long suggested the use of respectful pop-ups that allow for your readers to engage with your content before asking for a subscription. This move by Google is to reduce the number of pop-ups your readers will need to go through when viewing the mobile version of your site. Removal of these pop-ups, whether they be ads or subscription forms, will improve the reader’s experience of your site on a mobile device.

To protect your site and its rankings, FeedBlitz HQ has implemented a code change to accommodate this update from Google. This code change will prevent your pop-ups from appearing at all when your site is in mobile view. (Don’t worry, it won’t affect your pop-ups on a desktop or laptop device!) An automatic update for new pop-ups moving forward, you can take action now to address and update the current pop-ups.

How to Update your Pop-up

To do this you’ll simply need to complete the following steps:

  • Navigate to your lists SmartForm Editor. You can find your SmartForms in the dashboard of your list by clicking the “I want to button” and selecting “Subscription Forms & links”. Select the form you would like to work with, then click the green Design button in the upper right. This will take you to your SmartForm Editor.
  • Look at the top of the left pane and click the Code tab, then select Popup.
  • Adjust the pop-up’s settings to your preference and copy the code. Remember, we recommend letting your reader engage with your content before firing the pop-up. Click Update Pop-Up Code and copy it to your clipboard.
  • Replace the current pop-up code on your site with the new code. Usually, your current pop-up code is in a text widget at the bottom of your sidebar or if you have a widgetized footer, it could be there.  Don’t forget to click save after replacing your old code with the new.

 

And that’s it! You’ll be in line to protect your site from possible interstitial penalizing by Google.

If not a pop-up though, what else can you do?

Consider adding a subscription form in a sidebar or the footer of your website. These forms will still be present and non-intrusive when viewed in mobile. Another option is to work with a top bar through one of our integrated apps such as SumoMe from AppSumo or OptinMonster. This will place a subscription form bar at the top of your website, and will be in prime view for new readers.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our Support Team via 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!

 

Guest Post: Getting Smart with SmartForms

Creating products and features to help our publishers thrive is our mission here at FeedBlitz HQ. After being contacted by today’s guest blogger and told of her great success using our SmartForms, we were more than happy to feature her on the FeedBlitz Blog. Read on for how this publisher used our SmartForm Subscription Forms to increase her signups and her sales!

I’ve been a FeedBlitz client for about 8 years, and while my business as a full-time author and writing coach has changed drastically since I first read Phil Hollows’ Listbuilding for Bloggers and signed on, it’s been awesome to discover that each time I need a new feature, FeedBlitz already has it in place.

Coincidentally, FeedBlitz’s recent “Growing Your List” blog post series launched around the time I hired a consulting firm to restructure my business and redesign my website. While the firm’s professionals worked behind the scenes on tech details far outside the bounds of my skill set, I was able to keep pace on a parallel track using FeedBlitz’s blog to grow my list and increase accessibility to my blog, seasonal newsletters, and income-generating autoresponders.
When restructuring my business first began, it was hard not to feel overwhelmed – I confess to getting lost down the rabbit hole of business webinars, lunch hour online chats about IT features beyond my understanding, and even enrolling in a few e-courses that just weren’t right for my business needs at the time. But one take-away from all that self-guided learning was that everyone seemed in agreement about at least one thing: getting a person’s email address via a pop-up form on your website would be essential for continued, successful online marketing and engagement.
Cue, Feedblitz’s blog post on SmartForms, which I’d been aware of for quite some time but hadn’t yet made time to understand. Within minutes of creating the form, I had a customized template set to my liking, and within hours, new subscribers were signing on. Thanks to additional blog posts in FeedBlitz’s series, I also understood I ought to offer an incentive to folks for sharing their email address, and thanks to pro tips from folks like Janelle at Zen Courses, I was finally starting to understand that my archive of over 2,000 blog posts in 10 years was a gold mine waiting to be upgraded, shared, re-linked, and properly tagged.
So I customized my SmartForm to match my new branding, then tied it to a brief autoresponder that starts with a free downloadable PDF titled “Top 5 Tools that Changed My Life as a Self-Employed Writer.” My list doubled in two months and continues to passively grow every week, slow and steady. Some of these subscribers were readers who had followed my blog for years, and had simply never seen or opted to enter their email address into the sidebar widget I used for subscriptions. Now—they’ll never miss a post, AND I can assure they get “first dibs” on discounts or limited time offers I only make available to this select group.

“My list doubled in two months and continues to passively grow every week, slow and steady.”

More importantly, new visitors to my site get to meet me first and foremost through the positive experience of a free PDF. They opt-in, so there’s nothing SPAM-like about it, and after a few messages from me about what I do, plus links to several free trials, the autoresponder finishes. They don’t hear from me again until my seasonal newsletter goes out, and click-through rates on those have also doubled.

How does it all add up, you might wonder? SmartForms helped me expand my audience, first and foremost, and that’s priceless. They also help me gather key information about my clients and audience, via custom fields. But more than all of that, this self-running feature helps me generate income.

Because of the positive experience folks are having getting a free PDF and a tasteful, SPAM-free set of emails linking them to free trials they’re interested in, eventually a handful of those subscribers become paying clients. And it all started with the SmartForm…

Katey Schultz is an author, writing coach, and founder of Maximum Impact: Precision Courses for Writers, Artists, & Trailblazers. Learn more at www.kateyschultz.com.

Thank you, Katey, for taking the time to talk about your experience with FeedBlitz SmartForm Subscription Forms. If you are a FeedBlitz Publisher and would like to share your experience and possibly be featured on the blog as a Case Study or Guest Post, please send us an email and let’s get the conversation started.

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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!

 
 
 
   
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