Building Your Business with RSS & Email Subscriptions Phil Hollows CEO FeedBlitz.com
What You’ll learn today• The difference between RSS and email subscriptions.• Why offering subscriptions – and email in particular – is more relevant today than ever before.• TEN POWER TIPS to build a better list, faster.
About Phil Hollows• Author of “List Building for Bloggers” e-book.• Founder and CEO of FeedBlitz, the premium FeedBurner alternative.• FeedBlitz sends: – Over 1 billion updates a year. – on behalf of more than 160k lists. – for over 72,000 bloggers!• FeedBlitz gets your word out via email, RSS, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and IM.• Clients include: Seth Godin and Copyblogger
What is an RSS Feed?• An RSS feed is a way people can subscribe to your blog.• Your content is pushed to subscribers.• Readers need an RSS reader to subscribe.• Your blog will have an RSS feed, and that’s pretty much all you need to know, technically.
What is an Email Subscription?• An email subscription is a way people can subscribe to your blog. e.g. a newsletter• Your content is pushed to their inbox.• Subscribers need an email app.• There are plugins and services to help set up email signups for your site.
What is the Difference between Email and RSS? Benefit Email RSS Push to readers Email app RSS reader Subscriber data Email address The user’s reader Branding Unlimited Post only Post optional “Blast” the list No End user tracking Yes No Personalization Yes No Autoresponders Yes No Mom can use it Yes No Portable Yes No
Why Isn’t Email Deadin the Age of Social Media? Email is the most powerful, effective and relevant subscription option that exists today.ATTENTION is the Name of the Game
Why Isn’t Email Dead in the Age of Social Media?November 2011
Why Isn’t Email Dead in the Age of Social Media?November 2011
Why Isn’t Email Dead in the Age of Social Media?November 2011 Via http://smedio.com/2012/05/11/why-social-media-is-yet-to-destroy-email-marketing/
Are You Wasting Your Site’s MOST PRECIOUS RESOURCE?“I get ten times more response to my blog from my email subscribers than I do from anyone else.” Seth Godin
Email Marketing is Better for Bloggers• Full branding.• Activity tracking.• Committed subscribers.
Email is the Essential Componentof Hub and Spoke Content Marketing • While all the other elements of your work are important and probably cooler than email… • … if Facebook went away tomorrow, what would keep your blogging business alive? Your list
Easy Tips to Grow Your List Faster The keys to email marketing success are permission, relevance and timeliness.
List Building – Basic Tips• Learn from the leaders.• Have a clear subscription form above the fold.• Use social proof if you have it.• Incentives work.• Brand, baby, brand!
Make it Easy to Subscribe• Can your visitors find your subscription form? – Is it on every page? – Do visitors have to scroll? – How many clicks before they enter their email? – Is it linked to by an inscrutable icon? – Does it appear after less popular subscription methods?• Remember, you are not your audience!
Don’t Do this…• The email icon is after RSS – But RSS is less popular and unfamiliar to most visitors• The email icon is unclear – Mail me? – Subscribe? – Forward to a friend?• There’s at least one extra click to get to the form itself
Better, But…• The email icon is now the first to be seen. – The most popular, subscription type is first. – But it’s still ambiguous!• The visitor still has to click to get to the subscription form.
Best!• There is no ambiguity• There is a concrete call to action• There are zero clicks to get to the form• Other sharing options are still there
Power Tip #1 Make Your Subscription Form Visible• Move it “above the fold.”• Don’t hide it behind a confusing email or RSS icon.• Count the clicks before you can enter your email address. – Get that count down to ZERO.• Don’t skimp on proving permission.• Subscribe to your own mailings.
Power Tip #2 Social Media Cross-Promotion• Add your favorite social media options to your mailing.• Facebook tips – Add your email service’s Facebook app. – Ask for subscriptions when you post.• Email is the original social network! – Make sure “email to a friend” is enabled in your mailings.
Power Tip #3 Add Incentives• Reward subscribers for joining your list.• Make the reward visible!• Ensure your incentive is relevant.• Use an autoresponder or custom landing page to deliver the reward.• Reward current subscribers with bonuses to help with retention.
MoneySavingMom.com Example• The incentive is prominent: Above the banner!• It’s highly relevant to the site’s audience.• It takes subscribers straight to the CAPTCHA page.• Post-activation pages take the new subscriber back to the site.• Results: Monthly net list growth has doubled.
Power Tip #4 Make the most of offline events• Create a sign-up sheet for your seminars.• When you exchange business cards, ask if you may add to the list.• Use QR codes to link to event URL and subscription forms.• Add links to printed collateral, t-shirts etc.
There Are No Shortcuts• Don’t add subscribers who did not give you their explicit permission.• Don’t bury permission in terms of service etc.• Don’t import from a list you don’t own. – Not from your spouse, BFF or CEO.• Don’t import from an unrelated list you do own.• Never, ever, EVER buy lists. – They will contain spam traps. – You will be blacklisted.• Don’t spam your LinkedIn contacts. The instant you add *just one* email address to your list without permission, you are a SPAMMER. So, if you’re not sure, don’t.
Danger: Here be Popups• Popups work – but use with caution.• Don’t interrupt the visitor immediately.• Give them time to explore your site. – The longer they’re on your site, the more interested they are. – So the more likely they are to respond well to a popup invitation• Treat your visitors with respect before they sign up – So they’ll know they’ll be treated with respect after they’ve joined your list. – e.g. the FeedBlitz popup is on page 3, 10s delay
Pack the 1-2-3 Punch to Grow Your List 1. Use a professional email service. 2. Use a compelling, relevant incentive. 3. Make it easy to subscribe, including respectful popups.
Improving Engagement Or100,000 subscribers don’t count forsquat if only your mother is opening your emails.
Open Sesame• Build compelling subject lines and copy.• Reinforce your brand.• Write for your three different reader types.• Be imperative with your calls to action.• Repetition works. Subscribe to your own email updates. If you don’t like what you get, your subscribers probably won’t either. Fix it!
Power Tip #5 Use Compelling Copywriting• Use direct, imperative calls to action.• Reduce choices to reduce reader confusion.• Write short, snappy, SEO-friendly titles / subject lines.• Accommodate different reader types: – Have at least one image per post for visual readers. – Use headlines for scanners.• Fulfill the subject line’s promise.
Subject line Hints and Tips: Applied Psychology / Neuromarketing• Nasty out performs nice.• Don’t ask for the order. Tell them to give it to you.• Low numbers work well, especially odd ones.• Be urgent – Buy now, do it today, immediate download!• Use (but don’t abuse) the all-time classics: – “You are not alone” – “Did you get it?”
Power Tip #6 Check your Branding and Design• Ensure your “From” name and address is what your readership expects.• Don’t be redundant in your subject line.• Keep subject lines short – 35 characters for mobile phones in portrait mode. – e.g. Marie Browning, Requesting your Assistance becomes: Marie Browning, Requesting your Ass (!)• Test in gmail, with and without images enabled.• Fix problems with or avoid using: – CSS, background images, positioning. – Image descriptions, light text on dark backgrounds. – Text to image balance.
Unsubscribes are a Form of Engagement• Don’t ignore unsubscribes. – Someone saying “bye” is still telling you something.• It feels personal, but it most likely isn’t.• Spikes in unsubscribe and complaint rates may indicate: – You’re losing relevance. – You’re mailing too often. – You’re not mailing enough.
Engagement Killers• Broken images.• Boring content.• Burying the lead.• Ignoring the mobile audience.• Over-reliance on video and images.• Over-mailing.• Under-mailing.
Spam and Deliverability:Truth, Lies and Compliance
CAN-SPAM: Required Irrelevance• CAN-SPAM compliance is a legal requirement. – But it’s irrelevant for deliverability and inbox placement. – Being CAN-SPAM compliant does not mean your email isn’t spam.• But it’s the ISPs who decide where your email goes. – The primary driver is sender (IP) reputation. – Reputation is based on complaint rates, bounce handling and history. – Content filters come much later in the process. – CAN-SPAM compliance is not a criteria used by receiving ISPs.• Use a reputable email service• Always use dual opt-in
Engaging the New Subscriber Autoresponders and well-planned landing pages make the most of your new subscriber’s enthusiasm.
Power Tip #7 Set up an Autoresponder• Define a sequence of articles to send to new subscribers, e.g. 1. Thanks for subscribing. 2. Here’s a special offer for new subscribers. 3. Check out our top ten most popular posts. 4. Survey: How do you like the site? 5. Here are the first three chapters of my e-book 6. Join the e-book affiliate program. 7. …• At a minimum, say “Thank you for subscribing.”• End the sequence with a reward for staying.
Power Tip #8 Spiff Up Your Landing Page• Thank them!• Deliver any sign-up reward / incentive.• Offer more subscriptions to other content.• Add links to your best / most popular posts.• Ask for referrals.• Test and optimize.
Multi-list StrategiesSimple subscriber self-selection for content, location and schedule preferences reduce churn and complaint rates.
Choice is Good• Multi-list strategies reduce churn: – Subscribers self-select into a list that is right for them. – They’re therefore much less likely to leave it.• It’s easy to set up multiple lists from your blog: – Use tags and categories to focus content. – Use multiple schedules to accommodate recipient preferences. – Make these choices available on the sign-up form.
More from MoneySavingMom.com• Over 100 different lists. – Some filtered by topic – Some filtered by schedule – Some filtered by content• All built from the same blog.
Power Tip #9 Diversify with Multiple Lists• Offer different versions for different schedules if appropriate. – e.g. Express, daily and / or weekly digests.• Offer content-specific lists.• Decide how to offer them to readers.• Do you have user-driven searches and feeds? – Offer email subscriptions for search results via API.• Add the lists you create to your post-activation landing page.
What Next?• Make the easy changes first. – You’ll be wasting your time otherwise.• Pace yourself. – It can feel overwhelming, especially if there’s lots to do. – Take one task at a time, one day at a time.• Test! See how each change works for you. – See if you can improve, tune and tweak. – Don’t be afraid to roll a change back if it doesn’t work.• Please let me know how you get on!
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