Last year I talked a bit about blog subscriptions. At the time, anyone subscribing to my email list did so through the FeedBurner service — bought by Google in 2007 but stagnating ever since.
FeedBurner’s free to use, but it’s limited, there’s no support, and I thought it might disappear taking my email list with it, so about six months ago I switched to AWeber.
Here are a few of the benefits.
Boosting subscribers by 1,000%
Looking at the stats from the first two months with AWeber I was getting about two or three new email subscribers to davidairey.com each day. The same as when using FeedBurner. With AWeber I was able to change things slightly, and for the next four months I offered subscribers a free chapter from my book. Now I get about 20 daily sign-ups. Over the course of a year that’s the difference between 700 new subscribers and 7,000, so offering an incentive works. With your own mailing list you could give away a free ebook, a free font download, useful resources, etc., and all taken care of automatically after some straightforward setup.
Setting a schedule
I’m able to choose how often newsletters are sent, on what days, and at what time. With FeedBurner, if you blog daily, your readers are emailed daily. I think that’s too often. I’ve set my current broadcast to send every two weeks, but there’s an option to send only after a specific amount of content is published, where subscribers get an email as soon as there are five or ten or however many new posts. It’s a nice alternative and I’ll probably change to that, meaning less frequent emails but with more content.
Creating follow-ups and tracking what readers do
I’ve thought about using AWeber’s autoresponders to create a class for students. I’d prepare the content in advance (text, images, video), choose the delivery schedule, then let it run automatically. Something to plan.
Another advantage over FeedBurner is the ability to customise the welcome message, so I can signpost a few pieces of popular content from my archives that are unlikely to have been seen by new visitors.
The analytics are a great feature, giving reports on things like these:
- Track where on your website readers go after they click a link
- Track what time of day readers open emails and click links
- Send emails to specific subscribers based on what they’ve clicked in the past
- Split test different versions of your newsletter to see which works best
- See how different sign up forms are performing to maximise subscriptions
Tracking the clicks tells me what content subscribers are most interested in, and that can help give direction for future content.
I wasn’t keen on the template sign-up forms, but this guide helped a lot with the styling.
There are other companies that handle email marketing, such as Campaign Monitor, iContact, and MailChimp, which seems particularly popular. There’s a free option with MailChimp if you have a small amount of subscribers, but you can’t set autoresponders unless you pay, and that’s how I got a ten-fold increase in subscribers. AWeber’s competitors could be just as good, but I’m more than happy with my choice.
It’s just $1 for the first month. Cancel any time. More info on the AWeber website.