You may have spotted that I migrated my email subscriptions from Feedburner to my Aweber account. This was not a decision I took lightly. FeedBurner has a lot of advantages, not least it is free and automatic, but most importantly, I didn’t want to lose anyone.
That said there were problems with FeedBurner and no solutions forthcoming.
Many people had complained that my email subjects never changed so they would often ignore them or have to open them up to see if they were interesting. I have had a ton of people tell me they unsubscribed for that reason. FeedBurner doesn’t have any features that enable you to customise or personalise the content of your email. (Update: You can now add unique subject lines in FeedBurner emails).
Another big reason is Awebers unparalleled delivery rate. They are ultra strict with members, they have an absolute zero tolerance for spam, even with what other email services consider fair game, such as adding people from business cards and such. Because of this more of their emails get through.
While I had a hacked solution to delivering my free ebooks via my feed, having an immediate email delivered right to your subscribers inbox is a much better experience.
Auto-responders are terrific tools for developing an ongoing readership. They allow you to drip out valuable content over time, on full automatic. This is something you just can not do with feed systems and less flexible email services.
The bottom line for me was deciding if I was going for the “high score” game, that is a larger feed count, or if I wanted a truly engaged audience. It was a no brainer for me, a smaller and more interested readership is my goal. 100,000 people who couldn’t care less wouldn’t help me one bit, neither will 1 million clicks. I need more than just eyeballs, I need you to read and value what I write. For email folks, that starts with you opening my messages!
I often say how important it is to listen to your audience. Many of you were telling me how daily was too often, so I added a weekly option. You also said you didn’t want to have to supply your email address to get my flagship content ebook so I added the download link in my feed. Now email subscribers get the ebook on the web page after confirming subscription.
So now there are two ways to subscribe to this blog
Moving E-Mail Subscribers to Aweber
Moving my list would not have been possible without the help of Marc from Aweber. He told me exactly what I needed to do and held my hand all the way. This is another advantage of their service, you actually (shock) get support.
I needed Marc’s help also because I didn’t want my list members to go through having to sign up again, or even confirm. They had opted in and confirmed once, had I needed to you to do all that over again I would have stayed where I was. The strict policies worried me but it turns out they will make an exception if you can prove everything is above board. Marc had to log into my feedburner account though, that might be a trust step too far for many people.
After Marc confirmed how many active subscribers I had, I set up my list and changed my signup forms. As my members wouldn’t receive regular emails until everything was switched over, I put a single autoresponse message in place warning about the delay.
Next I exported my FeedBurner emails and imported into Aweber. I added a column of data containing the number 2, which was to tell Aweber that these people start on the message 2 in the autoresponse sequence, skipping the message about delays in delivery.
My next step was setting up Blog Broadcast. If you use your FeedBurner feed url then your subscribers still get included into your feed count total, which is nice. As of now I am still tweaking, but soon I will tick to allow the emails to go automatically, just like with FeedBurner. You can also select days and times to send, so you have way more scheduling and frequency flexibility.
For my email template I gave up on the Aweber editing tool and instead copied my FeedBurner email look and feel to maintain familiarity, pasting it into the editing box using the plain “classic HTML box” text area source code view so as not to have any code changed.
You might have gathered I am so far very pleased with my Aweber experience and I am sure you would be too. If you have more than a few hundred subscribers I would seriously consider it, you don’t know how many messages you are sending that are going unread.