blog newsletters

Does Your Blog Content Wither and Die? Revive It!

By Justin Premick

Recycle ContentIf you’re one of the many smart bloggers who also build their email lists and deliver a blog newsletter, I bet you put a lot of effort into creating high-quality content.

Often, that valuable content is timeless, but only appears on the most-viewed part of your blog – the homepage – for a short time. Other posts push it off into your homepage and into oblivion.

This is frustrating – after all, other subscribers could benefit from this content, right? Even if they sign up days, weeks, months or years after you first published it?

Fortunately, with a simple email marketing tactic, you can resurrect your content from the depths of your blog and keep it in front of your ever-growing, ever-changing audience.

Turn Your Blog’s Best Content Into an Automated Email Newsletter

There’s no reason to put all that hard work into creating great content, then get just one round of clicks, comments and other actions from it. Why be satisfied with that?

Much of your blog’s content isn’t only relevant at one particular time. And to borrow from an old NBC slogan, if subscribers haven’t seen an old post, it’s new to them.

Get that old content out to them and make it fresh again!

Create an Autoresponder Campaign For Your Blog in 3 Easy Steps

1. Identify Your Best Content

Go through your old blog posts and figure out which ones are the truly high-quality ones that all subscribers need to see, even if they’re years old.

2. Turn Each Post or Group of Posts Into an Email

There are a handful of ways to go about this:

  • The fastest, simplest way is to just copy and paste your full post content into an email, style as you see fit (if necessary) and save. No introduction, no conclusion, just the post as a standalone.

    I don’t necessarily think this is the best solution for everyone, but it’s far better than doing nothing – and if you’re really too pressed for time to do more than that, then at least do that.

  • Copy and paste a compelling excerpt from your article, add a link to read the full post, and then add a brief introduction and conclusion to the email.

    I like this method because it encourages clickthroughs, but you may find that including the full post is better.

    Either way, including an intro and conclusion is a good idea because it gives you a chance to build context and continuity into the series of emails you’re sending.

  • If you have two or more good posts on a topic, write an email that combines the ideas in those posts and links to them in context (this is something you might be doing with blog posts already).

    The more posts you have on a topic, the less you need to write.

    In fact, if you have say, 10 posts on a topic, you could write a simple introduction (“a lot of our readers want to learn about ______ because ______, so here are our most useful resources about that”) and then just provide a list of links to those posts.

3. Add Your Emails To Your Follow Up Series

Once you have your emails together, create them as follow up messages.

As you create each one, think about how much time you want to pass between those messages and schedule accordingly.

Remember, new subscribers will also be getting your new posts (right?), so spacing the emails too close together could be overkill, especially if a subscriber gets your new posts and your old posts on the same day.

  • One way to get around this: deliver your follow up messages only on a certain day of the week – a day when you don’t send your regular blog newsletter – using Autoresponder Send Windows.

    For example, if you normally email your latest post/s to subscribers on Tuesdays, you might tell us to only deliver your follow ups on Fridays.

    That way, you could deliver these emails as automated weekly tips without sending subscribers 2 emails on the same day.

As you create more quality posts, you can either continue adding emails to your follow up series or edit your existing ones to work those posts into the emails you’ve already created.

Examples of Email Campaigns That Do This

  1. Darren Rowse shares how he did this for his site
  2. In our recent video interview with Ramit Sethi, he talks about doing this for his site

  3. At AWeber, we do this in some of our own email campaigns.

    For example, if you join AWeber and subscribe to our customer training series/newsletter, you’ll see some emails that take posts from this blog and rework them into email messages designed to expose you to educational content that you might not have ever seen otherwise.

Do You Revive Your Blog’s “Oldies But Goodies?”

What results have you seen from doing this? Any tips on this for the rest of your fellow readers?

Share your thoughts on this post!

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RSS to Email: 3 Tips To Get You Started

By Justin Premick

RSS to EmailMore bloggers than ever are converting RSS to email to connect with a wider audience. (Are you one of them, too?)

Now that the idea that RSS and email can and should coexist has taken hold, what can bloggers learn from the email marketing world and use to make RSS to email (even more) worth their while?

RSS to Email Tips

While this is by no means an exhaustive list of things you can do to make the most of RSS to email, hopefully these tips will form a list of best practices we can all build on to better engage our blogs’ email readers.

OK, here goes…

  1. Start With a Plan.

    A number of articles I’ve read on “emailing for bloggers” (like this one) set this as the first thing you should do.

    And no wonder. This is step #1 for any successful email campaign.

    After all, if you don’t know why you’re converting RSS to email, you’re going to have a hard time convincing anyone to sign up, let alone deliver the kind of value that will effectively engage your readers.

    Ask yourself: What is the goal of my email campaign? How will I know if I am meeting that goal?

    The answers to these questions will help shape decisions about what content to include in your emails, how often you will send emails, and other tactical questions.

  2. Decide How Often To Email (and How Much To Send In Each Email)

    Frequency and scheduling aren’t typically the first things you should think about for your email newsletter.

    However, with a blog I recommend thinking a bit more about them at first – especially if you have an established blog, or if you post frequently (if you haven’t gotten to that point yet, you might be better off focusing on creating content and getting potential subscribers to your blog).

    And it’s important to think about how much content to send in each email – you don’t want to overload subscribers, but you want to make sure there’s enough to make opening and reading your emails worth their time.

    Ask yourself: Will I send an email every time I have a new post? Once every few posts? Once a week? How much content is appropriate for one email? How many emails per week/month will my subscribers want to get?

    The answers to these questions will help you decide how often to schedule your emails.

  3. Define Why People Should Subscribe

    One of my favorite lines (as anyone who has come to a webinar knows) is “Nobody wakes up and says, ‘Gee, I’d sure like to sign up for some email today.'”

    If you don’t give people a good reason (better yet, several good reasons) to subscribe, well… they won’t subscribe. Even if they love your blog.

    Sometimes the selling point is the simple convenience of being notified about new articles on your blog. Or only getting notified once a week instead of every time you post.

    Other times it’s getting something of value that non-subscribers don’t – this tip was offered by a couple people when I asked for RSS to email tips on Twitter:

    Replies to my Twitter query

    Whatever your “hook” is, clearly define it and then come up with a few (2-4) simple phrases or sentences that sell visitors on subscribing.

    These will serve not only as headlines for your signup form, but also as calls to action to help you get more subscribers faster.

What’s Your #1 RSS to Email Tip?

If you blog, and convert your RSS feed to email, I (and the readers of this blog) would love to hear your best-loved tip on using email with blogs effectively.

You can either share your tip here or reply to me on Twitter – your tip just might make it into a future RSS to email post here…

AWeber-Twitter Integration Now Works With Blog Newsletters

By Justin Premick

Twitter Your Email NewslettersJust a quick note to say that the Twitter your email newsletters tool now works for Blog Broadcasts, too.

So you can now use AWeber to convert from RSS to email to Twitter – and get your message out to your audience even more easily than before! :)

Also, we fixed an oversight where personalization tags were being included in some tweets – so now, if you personalize your email subject lines with say, {!firstname_fix}, that field won’t appear in your tweet.

Enjoy – and don’t forget to follow AWeber, Tom, Sean and Justin (me) on Twitter!

Podcasting and Email Newsletters: Presentation at PodCamp Philly

By Justin Premick

Last weekend, Tracey (our Director of Customer Solutions) and I attended and presented at PodCamp Philly.

While it’s not an email marketing event per se, it gives us an opportunity to learn about and discuss complementary media and marketing technologies and tools. (Plus it gives us a chance to get out from behind our computers and talk to local business owners and publishers in person.)

Just like last year, it was a great event with a lot of quality discussions on web publishing and building communities.

To give you an idea of what went on at the event, below are some of my notes from the event, as well as my presentation slides.

Email Newsletters and Podcasting

In the discussion, I aimed to point out that while email often gets denigrated in discussions of new media publishing, it still has an important role to play (not least due to its continued widespread use).

The discussion then turned to how bloggers and podcasters can incorporate email into their communication strategy, as well as some specific content/tactic ideas.

RSS Subscribers:if the slideshow embedded below does not appear, click here to view it on our site.

Interestingly, most if not all people at the talk were already on-board with the idea of incorporating email into their blogs and podcasts – they were mostly there for the tips!

So we spent a lot of time on the last handful of slides, talking about content ideas.

Do you have any other suggestions for email content? Share them in the comments!

Meeting and Listening to Debbie Weil at PodCamp

In addition to presenting, Tracey and I had the opportunity to sit in on a number of quality sessions.

In a couple of these, Debbie Weil (author of The Corporate Blogging Book) discussed executive blogging and critiqued a couple of blogs live.

Justin Premick and Debbie WeilOne of the most interesting points she made – that the success of a blog isn’t best measured by the number of comments or the sheer amount of traffic that it receives – applies quite well to email marketing, too.

We often get caught up in judging our email marketing success by those things that we can most easily track over the shortest period of time. Opens, clickthroughs and yes, even orders are important, but they don’t fully determine the value of your email campaigns.

That’s an important idea to keep in mind when building an email marketing program for the long haul – it helps to keep us from getting too promotional too often (and driving away subscribers who feel there’s not enough value in our emails) rather than building the relationships that drive repeat customers and referrals.

Debbie was also kind enough to give us a copy of her book and chat about email marketing for a while (thanks!).

Double Your Blog Newsletter Readers: Expand Beyond Your Blog

By Justin Premick

In the previous three posts on doubling your blog newsletter subscribers, we’ve talked about:

Today, let’s take a step back from these online and email marketing tactics and look at how you can grow your blog newsletter away from your website.

Blog Newsletter Grower #4: Find Outside Subscribe Opportunities

In the past week, how many people have you talked to face-to-face (either in a business or casual setting) where your business came up?

What about on the phone? Anyone?

You have ample opportunities to ask people to subscribe to your blog newsletter, even when they’re not on your blog!

For example, near the end of each of our live webinars we ask attendees if they’d like to subscribe to our blog newsletter. We import the folks who say yes shortly after the webinar ends.

Since we started offering the blog newsletter to webinar attendees, we can directly attribute an increase of 15.97% in our readership – that’s a lot of potential readers we’d have lost out on if we didn’t ask them to subscribe!

Where Can You Find These Outside Subscribe Opportunities?

Here are a few possibilities:

  • In Person

    Whether it’s at a trade show/conference, a Meetup, your office, or any other appropriate setting, “face time” is a great time to offer up your blog and newsletter.

    If you exchange business cards with someone, bring up your blog in the conversation and ask for the subscribe. Write his/her response (“yes blog newsletter” or “no blog newsletter”) on the back of his/her card, so you know who to import and who not to.

  • On teleconferences, webinars, training calls, etc.

    If you provide value on the call, attendees/callers are likely to want to get more value. Where better for them to get that than on your blog?

    Your webinars/conferences/etc, like your blog posts themselves, are sales letters for your blog.

    Put the effort into making them great, ask for the subscribe, and watch your blog newsletter grow.

  • In your email signature

    There’s no law that says you have to put your site’s homepage in your email signature (well, unless you work for a company that mandates it).

    Your blog, or even your blog subscribe page, may be a more useful landing page for people clicking from your email signature, and may lead to more subscribers.

    This isn’t likely to bring in as many people as the other tactics discussed here, but every subscriber counts, right?

  • On articles or guest posts you write for other blogs

    Typically, when you write an article (either for an article site or a news publication) or a guest post on another blog, you’re allowed a signature at the end of your article.

    Just as you should add subscribe opportunities within posts, you should give people who read your articles and guest posts the chance to easily join your blog newsletter too.

  • Other business communications

    Do you ship physical products? Take a recent post (or highlights from several recent posts) and print a one-page insert that exposes customers to your blog and encourages them to subscribe.

    Do you give away or sell digital products (such as ebooks/whitepapers)? Include references to your blog and blog newsletter on the “about” section or in the footer of each page.

    Can customers/readers reach you by phone? Mention your blog in your outgoing voicemail message, or in your phone menu.

Opportunities Are Everywhere… Take Them!

In reality, there’s an infinite number of ways you could translate “expanding beyond your blog.” These are just a few of the ways you can get more blog subscribers outside of having them find your blog on their own.

So let me close this 4-post series with a reminder: there are always opportunities to grow your blog newsletter. Keep your eyes open for them!

Do you promote your blog and blog newsletter in other “outside” situations like the ones mentioned today?

If so, where and when? What have you found to be effective? Share your experiences below!

Double Your Blog Newsletter Readers: Encourage Sharing!

By Justin Premick

Double Your Blog Newsletter ReadersThis is the 3rd of 4 posts on how we doubled our blog newsletter subscribers. Be sure to read the other ones on putting signup forms in posts and creating a subscribe page.

Today’s tip is applicable to email marketing in general, but deserves bloggers’ attention because not all bloggers are experienced email marketers, and they’re more likely to miss this idea.

Plus, it’s so obvious that you might overlook it.

If getting more readers without spending on paid traffic or doing some SEO appeals to you, you’ll appreciate today’s tip – because this tactic gets you subscribers without relying on Google.

Blog Newsletter Grower #3: Get Readers To Share Your Newsletter With Others

Your blog targets a certain group of people with a similar need or interest… right?

And even if you only have a handful of subscribers, each one probably knows at least one or two other people who share that need or interest… right?

So… ask your current subscribers to share your blog!

When they expose your blog to others in your target market, you’re likely to get new subscribers – who then share your blog with other people in your target market…

The ensuing “snowball effect” can bring you an avalanche of subscribers:

36.5% of our active web subscribers come directly from links in our emails!

That Snowball Starts With a Single Snowflake

Blog Newsletter Share SectionSome word of mouth phenomena are completely unexpected and organic.

But most of the time, it helps to give people a little nudge.

To the right, you can see a section that we insert into each issue of our blog newsletter. (Click it to see where it sits in our emails).

It gently encourages readers to pass the email along to someone they think would benefit from it.

When someone gets the forwarded email, they can read the article as if they were a subscriber, and they have the option to subscribe via the link in the email.

The subscribe link goes to our blog’s subscribe page – another reason that you need to create a subscribe page for your blog.

Why Use Simple Email Forwarding?

Some of you might wonder why we encourage people to forward the email directly, rather than use a “send to friend” function.

A few reasons to encourage forwarding:

  • It’s easier – people know how to use email. There’s little chance for confusion compared to “send to friend” forms.

    (Don’t believe this? Check out what social network GoodReads had to say about why they use forwarding instead of “send to friend”)

  • It’s more accurate – most email programs will auto-suggest contacts as you type them, saving time and reducing misspellings.
  • It’s more likely to be opened – your subscriber’s email address is in the “from” line of the forward.

    What do you open first, emails from people you know or emails from 3rd-party services?

Next Up: Taking Your Blog Growth Offline (That’s a Good Thing)

Believe it or not, not all blog newsletter marketing happens online.

In the final post in this 4-part series, you’ll learn how we gain readers offline, and discover a few ways that you can, too!

Until then, start encouraging your readers to share your newsletter!

RSS Subscribers: know any bloggers who could use some more subscribers? Send them a link to this post and encourage them to subscribe by email or RSS!

Double Your Blog Newsletter Readers: Build a Subscribe Page

By Justin Premick

Double Your Blog Newsletter ReadersThis is post #2 of 4 in an ongoing series on how we doubled the number of people on our blog newsletter. You may want to start with the first post before reading this one.

In Part 1 of our discussion of blog newsletters I suggested you “think of your blog posts like sales letters for your blog, with each new subscriber as a successful conversion.”

Today, let’s continue that discussion, and highlight another tactic that is an especially easy “win” for anyone with some Internet or email marketing experience.

Blog Newsletter Grower #2: Create a Dedicated Subscribe Page

If your blog’s posts are like little sales letters for your blog, your blog’s subscribe page is even more of one.

Your blog does have a subscribe page, right?

You’ll notice that many successful bloggers do, and with good reason – it gives you a great opportunity to “sell” people on the value of your blog.

How Will People Get To This Page?

Some people will get there from another post or page of your blog (provided you give them the opportunity).

Link to your subscribe page from near the signup form in your sidebar. That way, people who aren’t sure if they want to subscribe can see why they should before taking the plunge.

Others will get there from links in:

  • Guest posts you write for other blogs
  • Comments you leave on other blogs
  • Your blog newsletter itself(we’ll talk more about this in a later post)

Also, if you’re not going to put a subscribe form at the end of a post, put a byline with a link to your subscribe page. This can be an effective alternative to the embedded form, and it’s far subtler.

Why Bother?

<obvious>Well, because you can get a lot of subscribers that way.</obvious>

All kidding aside, here’s a stat to chew on:

Our own subscribe page is responsible for over 30% of our active web subscribers.

Could you justify throwing away 30% of your subscribers? I sure can’t. But if we didn’t have our subscribe page, we could be doing exactly that.

If you’re swayed less by statistics and more by what other successful bloggers are doing, check out these subscribe page examples from popular blogs:

  • Problogger
  • DoshDosh
  • Copyblogger – Brian actually has 2 subscribe pages (the first offers RSS & email, and the other is dedicated specifically to email)
  • Chris Garrett – Chris throws in a freebie for subscribing… a good Internet marketing strategy that not enough bloggers use.
  • Tim Ferriss – I like Tim’s use of a list to sell you on subscribing. We do something similar at the moment on our own subscribe page, but he’s much more concise.

While not all these guys use AWeber to deliver their blog newsletters (although they should :)), they clearly know a thing or two about building successful communities.

Next Up: A Simple Way to Get More People TO Your Subscribe Page

The 3rd post in this series will discuss a tactic you can use to drive people to your subscribe page – without doing any SEO or running any advertising campaigns!

If you’re not already subscribed to our blog newsletter, you can get signed up below. That way, when the next post comes out, you’ll be the first to know!

Until then, your mission (should you choose to accept it) is to create your own subscribe page and get it linked up on your blog. The next tactic is far more effective if you have a subscribe page in place, so get started on yours today!

RSS Subscribers: know any bloggers who would benefit from these blog newsletter tips?

Share this post with them and encourage them to subscribe by email or RSS.

Want To Double Your Blog Newsletter Readers? Here’s The First of 4 Tactics That Helped Us

By Justin Premick

Double Your Blog Newsletter ReadersBloggers: are you taking advantage of every opportunity to get more subscribers?

As you’re no doubt aware, subscribers are an essential element of a successful blog. They read more, comment more and return to your blog more than more passive visitors do.

So it’s in your best interest to encourage people to become subscribers.

One way to do this is by offering an RSS feed. Another way that many successful bloggers advocate, is the blog newsletter.

Well, if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well, right?

Over the next few posts, we’ll share four tactics we’ve found effective in growing our own blog newsletter. In fact, they’re responsible for over 50% of our blog newsletter subscribers!

Blog Newsletter Grower #1: Offer Subscribe Options At The End of Posts

The idea behind this is that if someone reads to the end of an article (especially if it’s a long/detailed on), s/he must have been particularly interested/impressed with the content.

So why not see if s/he wants more like it?

Additionally, if you’re writing a series of posts on a topic, someone reading an early post in that series may want to be notified when the next post in that series is online.

How Many Readers Can This Get You?

Sample Post at End of FormWe’ve been experimenting with signup forms placed at the end of posts for a while now (example: our recent post on increasing opt-in rates via social proof – click the image at left to see that signup form).

What have we found?

Over 24% of web signups to our blog newsletter come from forms at the end of posts.

And we don’t even do it for every post! In 2+ years and 100+ posts on this blog, we’ve done this only a handful of times. And many of the posts we’ve done it on are nowhere near the main page of the blog anymore, yet the signups keep coming in.

Think of your blog posts like sales letters for your blog, with each new subscriber as a successful conversion.

Your sales letter won’t be effective if you don’t tell people what to do, right?

Ask for the subscribe!

Next Up: The Single Page Of Our Blog That Brings In Over 30% Of Our Subscribers

Adding this page to our blog was almost a no-brainer – so much so that we forgot to do it at first!

But once we did, wow… did it ever start bringing in the subscribers.

I’ll introduce you to that post soon. Until then, try out putting a signup form in your post itself. You might be surprised at the results…

RSS Subscribers: Know any bloggers (or anyone else) who could benefit from today’s post and more blog newsletter tips like it?

Encourage them to subscribe by email or RSS.

Thanks for reading and sharing!

Justin PremickJustin

How to Let Blog Readers Choose Their Email Frequency

By Justin Premick

In the comments of a post discussing our recent FeedBurner integration, Mike Hill asked a great question about email subscription options:

The scheduling would be more useful if it can be setup by the subscriber, not by me as the publisher. Is that a possibility with any subscription services on email?

To me, this would be far more useful to my readers than me picking when to get it. I