Your email signature sucks and how to fix it
For as long as I have been getting handed business cards I have never understood peoples fascination and focus on them.
For as long as I have been getting handed business cards I have never understood peoples fascination and focus on them.
When it comes to advertising brand or product then it is necessary to be familiar with social media marketing or trends in the latest marketing strategies.
I’ve been reading articles for years from various internet marketing gurus about the importance of email list building. The consistant message I have always heard was: “The money is in the list“.
On my first blog, while I had a mailing list, I didn’t use it effectively. I only used the blog email list to deliver my latest posts via email to subscribers. When I started this blog, one of my goals was to more effectively use my email list and provide my subscribers with unique value and content just for them.
Three years later, I still haven’t done that, but that will change very soon. Preparing for that change, I elected to move off of Feedburner. I’ll explain why below, but if you’re using Feedburner, migrating to another service is something you should be doing as well.
Given I was a “noob” to email list building, I started off using the same email list service I used on my first blog, Feedburner. Calling Feedburner an email list service is probably a bit of a stretch, but it does get the basics done. I even recommended Feedburner as a good starting point for list building in my Start a Money Making Blog series.
The great thing about the Feedburner’s email subscription service is that it’s simple to set-up and easy to manage. Feedburner is perfect for someone starting out and learning. As your list grows and you learn more about how to effectively use your email list, the limitations of Feedburner become apparent. The turning point for me was wanting to be able to send out a monthly newsletter that would summarize my articles for the month and include exclusive email only content. I also wanted to be able to immediately share special offers with my subscribers as they became available.
Feedburner, while great for automatically emailing your latest updates from your RSS feed, was not a good fit for doing anything beyond that. The other big concern I have with Feedburner is it’s future. There is a great deal of concern across the web on whether or not Google will continue supporting Feedburner. Google had a significant Feedburner outage a few months back and it took them days to get it resolved. Additionally, the Feedburner interface hasn’t been touched in a long time. These are all signs that Google isn’t giving it much attention to Feedburner, and most likely won’t.
I decided I didn’t want to risk it. Given my additional needs and the questionable future of Feedburner, I started looking at other options. Fortunately, I discovered two much better options very quickly and migrated to one of them.
Within minutes of searching and reading a few articles, you’ll begin to see one name mentioned above most others, AWeber. AWeber is an outstanding email and list building service and AWeber has established themselves as the premiere provider. I spent a great deal of time reading over their services, and even signed up for their special “1 month for a $1 offer” (affiliate link) to try it out. AWeber was great. They offer outstanding quality of service, and more options than I could probably ever learn.
But, I didn’t go with AWeber. Why? Well, as I’ve mentioned on here before, I’m a bit frugal. I don’t earn a great deal of income from this blog yet and until I do, I don’t like spending money (confession – even when I do make lots of money, I don’t like spending it). AWeber is a great service, but it costs $19/month or $228/year. AWeber absolutely seemed well worth it, if you have the money, I don’t right now.
I continued my search. Another list building service that I consistently saw being mentioned and talked about was MailChimp. The great thing about MailChimp (other than their completely epic site design) is that for email lists under 2000 subscribers and if you send less than 12,000 emails per months, their service is free. The word free has this unique ability to completely capture my attention, and thus I signed up for MailChimp to try it out.
Saying I was impressed would be an understatement. MailChimp is incredibly easy to use and their site design is probably one of the better ones I’ve seen. They also slip in some pretty funny jokes and puns throughout the user interface, which is hilarious and fun.
Using their “wizards” I quickly created a few new campaigns, lists and played around with their email designer and available templates. They have lots of prebuilt templates and customizing them or even creating your own email template from scratch is really pretty simple. They also many pre-built sign-up forms as well that can be easily placed on your blog. When you sign-up, they also send you an email series that walks you right through the process of getting started with MailChimp and using their service. I found these really helpful.
MailChimp seemed to have all the basics that I needed. I figured there was really nothing for me to lose. MailChimp (affiliate link) was certainly better and far more flexible than Feedburner. I signed up for MailChimp, and for those of you that subscribe via email, you probably noticed the format change in December. Heh, you also might have noticed a few glitches I had as well….but we won’t dwell on those 😉
Shameless promotion time – If you aren’t currently an email, subscriber – I’d encourage you to sign up! Again, I’ll be offering some exclusive content, including a new eBook I’m working to email subscribers only. You can sign-up easily just under my picture in the upper right. Yes, the homely looking picture…
I don’t want to mislead you, I am in no way an expert on either product just yet. I am getting to know MailChimp pretty well, but still have lots to learn. AWeber I have used and I am familiar with it, but I don’t know all of the ins and outs. But, given what I do know at this point, I thought it might help to compare AWeber to MailChimp for you – just to give you a basis for making the decision that’s right for you.
One item I’d like to address: There is a false rumor floating around in the internet that MailChimp doesn’t allow affiliate marketing. This is simply not true.
In any case, both services are flat out awesome and provide great quality of service, support and flexibility. The features and money you have available should drive you to which decision is better for you.
You can sign-up for MailChimp here and AWeber here. Both of these are affiliate links – hope that’s ok. If not, no problem: You can find MailChimp here, and AWeber here.
If you followed my Start a Money Making Blog series, and you’re currently using Feedburner – In an upcoming article, I’ll walk you through how to migrate from Feedburner to MailChimp. Don’t worry, moving over is really easy and I learned a few tricks (the hardway) that will really help you out.
For those already using an email service: What are you using and why? Add a comment!
One of the more popular articles in my Start a Money Making Blog series is the article on how to set-up Feedburner. The article teaches you how to set-up set-up Feedburner for RSS and email. While the article does teach you how to add a link for email sign-up, it doesn’t go into the details on how to add a Feedburner email sign-up form to your blog. Adding an actual sign-up form to your blog, rather than a link is one less step for your visitors and can result in a significant increase in email subscribers. This article will show you how to add a Feedburner email subscriber form to your blog’s sidebar.
Before we dive into the details of adding a Feedburner email subscriber form to your blog, let’s talk about a question many of your may be wondering: “Why Feedburner vs. AWeber?”. For those that may not know, AWeber is the defacto standard for email marketing. AWeber excels at building email lists and sending out emails to those lists, including your daily posts. AWeber is absolutely the platform you will want to migrate too at some point. The problem? AWeber is $29.00/month. Well worth it, if only if you have $29.00 per month to spend.
I tend to be on the frugal side, and I always strive to have my blog pay for it’s own services. I’ll be migrating to AWeber very soon, but Feedburner has served me well for almost 2 years. While basic, it gets the job done.
I’m going to assume you’ve previously followed the steps in my how to set-up Feedburner article. If so, you already have email set-up and working. Of course, you’ve subscribed to your own feed to confirm it is working right? If not, go ahead and do that right now…I’ll wait.
Oh, you’re back, good! Now let’s get that Feedburner email form added to our blog’s sidebar. Here’s how:
While certainly very basic, your visitors will now be able to subscribe to your blog via email using the form. These types of forms convert far better than the previous link we had. If you know a little HTML or CSS, I highly recommend styling it a bit so it blends into your site a little better. Also, one of the first things I do is remove the “Delivered by Feedburner” at the bottom. You can do this by editing the widget we just added, and removing the following code from the code you copy and pasted from Feedburner:
<p>Delivered by <a href="http://feedburner.google.com"target="_blank">FeedBurner</a></p>
I highly recommend you test out your form to be sure it’s working at this point. If so, we’re done. If it’s not working, just walk back through the steps to be sure you did everything completely. Pay particular attention to the step where you copied the Feedburner code and make sure you got all of it.
There has been a great deal of speculation by bloggers recently about the future of Feedburner. Feedburner recently had an issue where it showed zero subscribers for almost a week, and Google recently make the Feedburner APIs no longer available.
Is Feedburner dead or dying? Honestly, I have no idea. Google hasn’t announced any plans for it’s demise, but on the flip side they really haven’t done much to it lately either. I intend to continue using it for as long as I can. When it’s no longer available, I’ll consider other options like FeedBlitz.
Given Feedburner’s questionable future though, I am mitigating my risk a little. I take a weekly backup of the email addresses for my subscribers. I’ll not only use this as the starting point for AWeber when I make the switch, but it also provides me a little protection in the event Feedburner just goes belly up one day.
To make a backup of your Feedburner email subscribers, do the following:
What are your thoughts on Feedburner? Think it will hang around for a while or is it on the way out? Have you made any changes to your blog as a result of the uncertainty?
Photo by: GabrielaP93
One of the set-up options many new bloggers miss as they aren’t aware of it is Feedburner. Feedburner augments your RSS feed and allows you to track the number of subscribers to your RSS feed along with email services and numerous other features. Before we jump into setting up Feedburner, let me explain what RSS is, as this is a confusion point for most new bloggers. If you’re familiar with RSS, just skip to the next section: What is Feedburner?
RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and is basically a technology that allows visitors to your blog to “subscribe” and receive updates whenever you publish new content. Updates are received by RSS Readers that the subscriber uses. Basic browsers such as Internet Explorer and Firefox comes with built in RSS readers. My personal preferred RSS reader is Google Reader when I’m on my MacBook, and FeedlerPro on my iPad.
Some of you maybe asking: Why use RSS versus just visiting the website directly? Good question and here are a couple of reasons/advantages:
WordPress by default comes with an RSS feed, it’s your domain name followed by /feed, so for Side Income Blogging, it’s http://sideincomeblogging.com/feed. The problem with this default feed though is that WordPress nor RSS provide a way to tracking statistics about your RSS subscribers though. Things like how many people are subscribed and did they click through to your website. WordPress and RSS also don’t provide any additional capabilities on top of your RSS feed, like formatting and advertising.
Feedburner to the rescue. Fortunately, Feedburner does. Feedburner not only allows us to track our subscribers, but it provides numerous other functionality to compliment our RSS feed. Feedburner is a definitely a must have for every blogger. Feedburner initially was it’s own company and quickly grew due to the fantastic capabilities and features offered. Google acquired Feedburner a few years back and added one really nice feature, Adsense integration. You don’t have to worry about that right now, but this will become an important part of your income stream later.
Feedburner works by “wrapping” or intercepting your blogs RSS feed. When you set-up Feedburner, it will ask you for your blogs feed address. Feedburner will consume your blogs feed and provide you with a special Feedburner RSS URL. This is how Feedburner is able to track subscribers and give you special abilities. Feedburner works as a “middle man” of sorts.
With that in mind, let’s get Feedburner set-up and configured.
Feedburner set-up is pretty easy:
One of the really nice features of Feedburner is that it not only enables RSS subscriber tracking but also adds the ability to email your post updates to subscribers. This is something you’ll want to set-up as well. This will give your readers the option of subscribing to your site using both RSS and EMail. In order for email subscriptions to work, we’ll have to set-up the email subscriptions option. Here’s how:
Your subscription links should be very visible and easy to find for your readers. I highly recommend added them to the very top of your sidebar. If you’re using the Thesis theme, here’s how you can easily do that:
That’s it, you should now have a basic subscribe widget on your blog. Make sure you confirm everything is working by clicking on the links. I would suggest subscribing to your blog both to fully verify the links are working and so you can monitor your feeds to ensure they work going forward.
One last step. What if someone visits your feed URL directly or uses an RSS Reader that automatically pulls your feed? Well, the problem is that both of these would most likely use your /feed URL to pull your RSS feed. This will bypass Feedburner and make your stats inaccurate. Fortunately this is easily solved by using a plugin called FeedBurner FeedSmith Extend. This little plugin will redirect any access to your /feed address to your Feedburner URL, basically forcing any subscriptions to use your Feedburner feed. Slick huh?
Here’s how to install and set it up.
Now let’s test it to make sure it’s working. In your browsers address field, enter your blogs URL and add /feed on the end. Again, for Side Income Blogging (as an example) it would be: http://sideincomeblogging.com/feed. Press enter. You should be redirected to the Feedburner subscribe page. If not, follow the instructions above again to make sure you didn’t miss something or miskey the address of your Feedburner address.
That’s it! Your blog is now fully Feedburner enabled. We’ll explore some of the more advanced features of Feedburner later, but for now just enjoy watching that subscriber number slowly grow!