Archive for August, 2007
One of the latest trends in e-publishing is that more and more publishers start using RSS in order to enhance deliverability of their email newsletters or readership of their web sites.
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication (someone will say Rich Site Summary). In plain words it is technology that enables publishers to deliver their content more effectively to their visitors or members of their email newsletters. Even today not many people use RSS to track their favourite places on the Web. RSS is very important in delivering content online and many companies want to have good solutions that they can provide to their users. That’s why recently Google bought Feedburner for around 100 million dollars.
If you want to be informed everytime there is a new article on eMarketingBlog.com you can add this link in your RSS reader: http://feeds.feedburner.com/emarketingblog
Here are some interesting facts about RSS usage.
- Forrester Research announced in September 2005 that six percent of consumers use RSS feeds once a week or more, compared with 2 percent in 2004.
- Only 9% of Americans have a good idea and 65% are not sure what RSS feed is – according to a research made by Pew Internet & American Life Project published in July 2005.
- 6 million Americans get news and information fed to them through RSS aggregators – according to Pew Internet & American Life Project research announced in January 2005.
More and more email publishers start implementing RSS in their Internet marketing mix because they are aware of the fact that average deliverability and open rates are not as good as several years ago because of spam problems and email overload. Deliverability is very much affected by your email marketing software. However, even with email marketing software that has high deliverability ratio you can be quite sure that your deliverability is never 100%.
Many legitimate publishers are faced with problems that their emails can be blocked by ISP filters and this won’t happen using RSS to deliver your content.
You can use RSS not only if you publish your email newsletter. You can use it if you have a web site, as well. For example, if you have a section with Internet marketing articles you can make a RSS feed so anyone who subscribes to your feed will be automatically notified when you add new articles. This way you will have repeat visits.
There are some debates on email vs. RSS. It can’t be viewed that way. Internet marketers have to use all available tools, technologies and channels to deliver their content. So they should use email, web site and RSS to deliver their content and communicate with their target audience.
Process of RSS content delivery is simple. You have to create a RSS feed. RSS is actually a XML file. You can see its structure if you enter it in your browser. Good thing is that you don’t even have to know to make an RSS feed “by hand” because there are several tools that will do that for you.
As with any other software and services you can choose whether you want to use desktop RSS generation software or hosted online RSS generation software.
If you want a desktop feed service good choice is FeedForAll at http://www.feedforall.com (fee-based, one-time fee) while if you prefer hosted web-based services you can check services like http://www.nooked.com (free and fee-based options), http://www.myrsscreator.com and http://www.press-feed.com (free and company subscription).
Also, you can try free services at http://www.2rss.com and WebReference.com:
As we have mentioned above, RSS is usually standard feature of all blog services so you won’t need additional tools for RSS in case you are a blogger. One of the free blog services that have good RSS support is b2 Evolution http://www.b2evolution.net.
If your RSS feed isn’t online you will have to upload to your web server first. If you visit web sites that offer option to subscribe to RSS feed you will probably see RSS feed address that looks similar to http://www.yourdomain.com/rss.xml
After that anyone who wants to get your content via RSS will have to copy this address to their RSS/News reader. The most popular RSS readers are http://www.newsgator.com, http://www.feeddemon.com, http://www.rssreader.com. http://www.attensa.com.
So this way people who want to get your content won’t have to give you their email addresses. RSS is pull-based technology so that means that visitors need to get the content and you can’t send them. That’s why they can’t get unwanted messages, same way when you use double opt-in for email subscriptions with a difference that using email newsletter you *send* your content and using RSS technology your members *retrieve* your content.
When you want to add new content you will upload it on your web site and add a new description to your RSS feed. Usually, publishers include only a brief description in your RSS feed with the appropriate link on their web site. However, you can include complete articles in your RSS feeds. This way you can publish your email newsletter on your web site and place the RSS. This way your subscribers will be automatically notified when you publish a new issue.
If you are email marketer it is recommended that you place a RSS button (orange is standard colour for RSS button) below your subscription form so that your visitors be aware that they can get your email newsletter in RSS format, too. Anyway, if you offer RSS, your orange button has to be highly visible on your web site, to be “above the fold”. You can also include where you will give a brief explanation about RSS and music video auditions.
RSS technology evolves so that now you can measure how many RSS subscribers you have, you can get a click-thru ratio of each RSS feed you have, popularity of each RSS, to personalize your RSS, you can place ads like Google AdSense or Pheedo in your feeds etc.
When you have your own RSS feeds you should promote them. We can recommend you to make a My Yahoo! and My MSN account and to list your feed URL there. When you place Yahoo! and MSN buttons (with links below) on your web site you can expect to be indexed much faster than usual.
To list RSS feed on My Yahoo!, after you have created your account click on “Add Content”. After that you will see large “Find Content” field and on the right an option “Add RSS by URL”. Enter your RSS feed URL and click on “Add To My Yahoo!” button. In order to enable your readers to place your feed in their My Yahoo! you have to place Yahoo! button (you can put that “Add To My Yahoo!” button but in smaller format) and link it to this link
If you want to add MSN button on your web site, place a MSN button with this link
You can also use useful services like Syndic8, Pingomatic, Pingoat, FeedShot to promote your web site and RSS feeds to the most popular blog and RSS search engines. Also, useful site if you publish blogs or RSS feeds is FeedBurner.
For all eMarketingBlog.com blog readers who understand Serbian (Croatian, Bosnian etc) I want to announce that I’m gonna have a webinar about online advertising on Wednesday, August 29th at 16h. Price for webinar is less than 25 Euro, duration is 1.5 hour and you can watch the webinar wherever you live on the planet (as I said, it helps if you understand Serbian ).
You can find more info about this webinar if you click here.
As some of you know, I live in Belgrade, capitol of Serbia. Recently, Serbia became tennis force in the world (Djokovic, Jankovic, Ivanovic in top 5)
Ex-yu or Adria region is not so big but there are some interesting web sites. I would suggest you to check out great series on ReadWriteweb about top international web applications. There you will find some info about Serbia (I believe you heard about the author of that artice) and you will also find info about Croatian web market.
In case you are a international or domestic media buyer and you are interested to find some good places to buy ads I can suggest you to check out the list on RadanPro where you will find top lists of sites in Adria region based on Alexa ranking.
In this region there are several web sites in Top 1500 list by Alexa: in Serbia those websites are B92.net (I work in B92), Burek and Krstarica, in Croatia those web sites are Google.hr, Net.hr, Index.hr, Blog.hr, Smokva.com, Tportal.hr, in Slovenia it is only Google.si but the Najdi.si was once the most visited and still most profitable local web site.
In this market except with some examples like MojPosao, still no real 7 figure buy-outs like for example in Hungary with IWIW web site or in Romania with eJobs.ro web site. Soon, I believe there will be several million dollars buyouts in this region, too.
It is good to come to this market and invest in some web sites, price is still low and soon it will be much higher.
Choosing your web hosting provider is the next logical step after you have registered your domain name. However, it is not easy to find the right web hosting deal. There are many companies that offer web hosting services. If you make a search on Google for the keyword web hosting you will get more than 100 million results!
If you want to have a successful online presence you need to have reliable web hosting. Your web site has to be always online and accessible. Otherwise, you will loose clients and prospects. Let’s compare this with a traditional business. If you have a shop in “offline” business name of the shop is your domain name and business space and infrastructure is your web hosting. Imagine a cafe that don’t have electricity once a day for one hour or a fast food service where there is only one employee instead of four!
WEB HOSTING TYPES
You have to choose your web hosting deal depending on type of your site. You won’t choose the same web hosting deal if you have a personal web site, web site for email newsletter subscription and archives, e-commerce site or web forum. There are 4 main web hosting: virtual (shared) hosting, dedicated server, collocation server and reseller hosting. The two most used are virtual (shared) hosting and dedicated server.
Virtual (shared) hosting is the situation where many web sites reside on one web server. This is the cheapest web hosting because many users split the cost for web server. You can find quality virtual hosting from $100 per year.
Dedicated server represents a hosting where company lease the whole web server from web hosting company. That web server is located in the web hosting company. Dedicated server is the right choice for company that doesn’t want to share there server with other users. Dedicated server can be managed and un-managed. In the first case web hosting company will take care about setting up and constant updates and upgrades of your web server while you will have to do that in the second case. Advantage of this type of web hosting is that you can completely accommodate your web hosting to your needs. Also, dedicated server is the only logical choice for web sites with lots of visitors. Because of costs for a dedicated server that start from $100 per month, usually this hosting is chosen only by companies which take their Internet business very seriously.
Collocation server is similar to dedicated server. Difference is that company doesn’t lease a web server. They place their own web server in the web hosting company. Also, company has physical access to their web server while it is not the case in using a dedicated server.
Reseller hosting is targeted to companies that want to start their own web hosting business.
Useful web site where you can find a web hosting that will fit your needs is http://www.webhost.thelist.com
FACTORS YOU HAVE TO CONSIDER
You have to take several factors in consideration in order to be satisfied with your web hosting.
Web space is determined by the type of your site. Certainly, if you want to have a web site with basic information about yourself and your work without using web applications that 50 MB of web space will be enough. On the other hand, if you want to have complex e-commerce site with several thousand products in your database or web site with members, you don’t have to take anything less than 1 GB.
Bandwidth represents data that has been transferred from your web site and that include graphic details, images, banners, files for download etc. Content is very important for planning your bandwidth. For most sites, 10 GB monthly bandwidth is more than enough while for some other sites like desktop wallpapers sites bandwidth can be often even several hundred GB per month.
Up-time or visibility
Up-time or visibility represents time expressed in percents that show how much is one site online. Don’t be fooled because someone guarantees for example 98% up-time because it is not enough. You don’t have to take anything les than 99.7%. Believe us, that difference is very big. Useful site checking your up-time is http://www.netmechanic.com
It is important to know what you will get in your web hosting package regarding email accounts. Will you get only a so called catch –all forwarding which means that all emails sent to email@example.com will arrive to your email address or you can set-up email accounts for several users? For how many? Is it for 5, 10, 100 or unlimited email accounts? Also, it doesn’t hurt to check do you get a so called POP3 email address (“real” email address), web mail or both? Having a POP3 email address you will be able to check your emails using your favourite email client and web mail enables you to check your emails at any place that has computer and Internet connection.
Server type, tools and control panel
The two most often used hosting are on Unix-based or Windows platform. That fact has for the result program languages, databases and scripts that you will be able to use. On Unix-based platform, usual choice is PHP language in combination with MySQL while on Windows platform ASP or ASP.NET language in combination with SQL Server. You have to check do you get a database in your package and how many. Today, modern web site has to be database-driven.
Also, it is recommended to be informed about tools that you get in your web hosting package, no matter if they are applications for web statistics, file manager and things like that. Best solution is if you get a cPanel along with Fantastico. Using Fantastico, marketers without technical knowledge can install most popular web applications within 2-3 clicks.
Technical support is one of the most important things in choosing your web hosting, especially if you are a marketer without technical knowledge. You have to be sure that your technical support will answer your emails within 24 hours. This is not only important for choosing your web hosting company, it is important to literally any company that sells products and services, for example software company.
Some companies are so well organized that you will receive response from them within 1 hour! You can get an image about your future technical support about the way they can be contacted. Is it only via email or they have a support phone, too? Do they have a toll-free number? Do they have trouble-ticket system? Also, very important thing is their working hours. Do they provide technical support only during their working hours from 9 to 17 or they offer 24×7 technical support? The best way to see how professional they are is to make a list of questions, contact them and – wait to get the answer.
It is a common practice that web hosting and software companies have Testimonials section where you can read recommendations from their happy customers. Don’t rely only on that section. Many web hosting companies offer you to see their portfolio of web sites that they host. Contact several webmasters and ask them about what they think about their web hosting provider. Very useful thing in finding best web hosting deals and recommendations is to visit popular web forums like http://www.webhostingtalk.com and http://www.sitepointforums.com
You see that there are several factors that influence in choosing your web hosting package. You have to be aware that like with everything else, when we come to web hosting you usually get what you pay for.
In this article we will give you several tips that can help you in improving your open and click-thru rates.
1) Open rate
In order to your email campaign be successful the first necessary thing is that people open and read your email newsletter. Online publishing is very similar to traditional publishing. When you buy a daily newspaper, you probably don’t read everything. You don’t have that much of free time and not every subject is equally interesting for you. If you are a sports fan you will read the sport section but you might skip an article about latest movies . In most cases you will decide what you are going to read upon subject titles.
Same thing with email newsletters. One of the two most important factors that influence whether or not your subscriber will open your email newsletter will be your subject line. In order to have good open rates and click-thru rates you have to know your audience. Your message has to be well targeted.
There are several rules you have to follow in order to make effective subject lines.
Your subject lines should be short and snappy to get attention of your subscribers. Many people receive dozens of emails every day and some other people that have web sites and often make posts on different places like web forums, discussion lists, publish articles, can get more than 100 emails per day. So your message will have a very big competition in your subscriber’s inbox. Even if it is nickelodeon auditions 2011. That’s why your subject line has to grab attention of your subscriber. This doesn’t mean that you have to use usual spam techniques. On the contrary. Avoid using words FREE, GUARANTEED, Make Money Fast, Limited Offer and other get-rich-quick schemes words. Not just because of your subscribers. If you use these words it is most likely that your emails will never even reach them. Their ISP will take care of that with their spam filters. Also don’t capitalize every letter and don’t put several times exclamation. You don’t need to shout, people will “hear” you if you know how to “tell” them your message.
So your subject line has to be short and snappy, best thing is that you include one title from your articles in your subject line. It can be some breaking news or exlusive interview. People like to read breaking news or exclusive interviews that can’t be found anywhere else. Also, people often read how-to articles (for example – How To Choose The Right Email Marketing Software) or so called “number” articles (for example – 7 Tips For E-publishers On A Shoestring Budget).
Good thing is that you put your newsletter name in brackets, at the beginning of your subject line in order to be easily recognized from other emails in inbox.
Please bear in mind, that your subject line has to be consistent. What do I mean by that? Of course that you will change the title in your subject line but you have to find the best subject form and stick to it. For example:
[NewslettterName] Your Subject Title, Issue #x, Date
Don’t forget, in order to make effective ads and this apply to subject lines, as well you have to remember 3 words – test, test, test! You have to experiment with different models and find out which work best for you.
Beside Subject line, From field is another info that your recipients will see in their inbox. People have to trust you in order to decide to read your emails. You don’t open your doors to every person who knocks, don’t you?
If you are well-known person, trusted expert in your industry, for example some reputable Internet consultant and you are the only person that is involved in creation and publishing of the newsletter put your name in From field. If several people are involved in that process and if it is a corporate newsletter, use your company name.
Most important thing with From fields is that you don’t experiment with it. Choose one From field and stick to that. It is very un-professional that you often change your From field and beside that, in that case, your open rate will decline.
Useful tip is that you ask your subscribers to make a filter rule for your email newsletter, based on your email address, From field or some part of your Subject line. For example, they can put [YourNewsletterName] in a filter rule for your newsletter or your From field name so every time they get the email newsletter that matches that rule it will be moved to a specially designed folder, for example YourNewsletterName. So this way your newsletter won’t end in their Bulk folder. That is also one of the reasons why you should be consistent with your From field and subject line.
2) Click-Thru Rates
Clicks come once your email newsletter is opened. With good open rate you have finished only one part of the job. Now, your newsletter has to be well designed with appropriate content and concept, and most important, well targeted in order to have a decent click-thru ratio (CTR). You have to know your audience. You can increase your CTR if you put your most important articles and ads at the top of your email newsletters. Don’t write too long articles. It is better to write articles where you will list several tips. Also, don’t overload your newsletter with ads. People want to read useful things and not lots of ads.
Also, you know that a picture is worth more than 1000 words, so it is good that if you publish a HTML newsletter that you include photos that will be relevant to your articles and that are clickable. Click-Thru rates get higher if you give some value-added services to your subscribers. You have to make a good relationship with them. Treat them well, write useful articles, give exclusive discounts to your subscribers and they will show their appreciation.
Different types of email newsletters have different click-thru ratio. Click-Thru ratio is important, but it is not the most important. Just because many people click on your follow-up article or offer doesn’t mean that they will actually buy your software or service. In some cases, lower CTR can get you more sales than some good CTR. Think about that next time you start your email campaign.