Why I Chose FastMail Over Google Apps

Blogprefect has always been lacking dedicated email services. One particular criticism I have for BlueHost is their frugal offering in this regard. I went in search of an email provider who could hand my needs in the best possible way.

This will only benefit you if;

  • you have a self hosted website and need to use emails with your domain, e.g. Joe@JoeBloggs.Biz
  • plan to use a paid email service rather than the numerous free options available

Why I Chose FastMail Over Google Apps

Affiliate note:

Throughout BlogPrefect’s history I have remained neutral by not introducing advertising or being in the pocket of any corporation.

This article contains an affiliate link. By clicking on this link you are under no personal obligation. I have recommended this service through a positive response from using it myself. To be transparent my view may engender bias. In order to provide balance, an alternative option is available to view on my blogging friend’s website; Ahmad Imran at ReasonToUse.com. There are other alternatives out there for you to find.

I’ve decided to offer an affiliate link on this service for two reasons:-

  1. Bloggers need a dedicated email service if the host provider does not provide one. Email is essential for networking and social activity. Many hosts provide a basic email system but it can be difficult to setup and work effectively.
  2. I wish to try and supplement some of the running costs of BlogPrefect.com. These costs have been increasing over time. By clicking the link and signing up for services you provide me with aid in providing you content. I appreciate this form of contribution.

Note: A trial version is available.

 

What is FastMail?

It is a mail service provider. If you are familiar with Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail, you’ll know exactly what it is and what it does.

FastMail1

Why is FastMail Different?

  • There is no clutter from advertising.
  • The look is cleaner and sharper and does exactly what it says on the tin.
  • This system is silky smooth.
  • Fastmail is fast.

 

How I Use FastMail

I specifically wanted a secure way of viewing all of my emails including those from my domains. I  have started the steady process of moving the email I want to FastMail.

The major benefit of using this system is using my domain’s email!

 

It Isn’t All Plain Sailing

Note: there is some tech-speak in this run through. If you are not familiar with the back-end of your hosting service and are afraid of code don’t worry!

Disclaimer/Words of Caution: Before amending your DNS MX records ensure you have recorded the original settings in case you make a mistake and need to reverse changes made. When coding, it is always wise to make a backup/restore point where the system was working, prior to making changes (it will be difficult to steady the horse after it has bolted). FastMail and your Host may indicate that the changes made in these records are “highly visible” and should be conducted out of peak viewing hours. The change will take time and you may have further work to do if the changes made were unsuccessful. Whilst the information supplied by FastMail’s help section is comprehensive, it doesn’t address specific Domain Hosts and their unique settings. If in doubt, don’t carry out.

 

Nameservers

I decided to leave my “Nameservers” where they were and simply point my MX records to FastMail.

FastMail provide their own domain hosting but I didn’t want to switch.

MX Records Via the DNS (Host Side)

The MX records are a little tricky to set up if you are a novice.

I will be creating a guide for BlueHost users on how to change your settings. There are other useful guides for other hosts.

The change took a while and I had to make sure I was typing in the right code for my DNS. You get to your DNS records via the Cpanel.

MX record amendment requires one element to be edited and a new element to be added.

Domain Security: DKIM & SPF (Host Side)

In addition to setting up the “name-engine” portions of the MX records (Host Side), you have to set up a DKIM Signing Key and an SPF record.

The DKIM signing key is to prevent other email recipients from being spammed by your email. Consider it a wax seal on the envelope. The SPF record helps in a similar way for the IMAP protocol. These records are added as txt instructions. In BlueHost’s case an SPF record was already present so I modified it with FastMail’s details.

Most of this is copy and paste. Simple stuff. A few dropdowns and you get the right detail.

Confirmation

I left the system to switch over night. BlueHost indicated that it would promulgate the changes in 4 hours.

After aligning all the cogs, FastMail sent a confirmation message to say that my Domain was ready to rock. All I had to do next was setup my aliases.

Alias Must Haves (FastMail Side)

Two aliases that you should have at the start are abuse and postmaster. You can then go crazy on the aliases. Obvious choices are;

  • First Name
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Support
  • Inquiries
  • Ideas

 

Give FastMail a Spin

I’ve rattled on about this service but ultimately the proof is in the pudding. Why don’t you give it a try? You get a limited account for 1 month to try out the system and see if you like it. $40USD a year isn’t bad in my book.

>>>>C L I C K  M E<<<<

In Closing

This is only a very brief view of FastMail so far. I’ve only just started using it and in order to give a rounded opinion I’ll be returning in 3 months time to let you know more on my thoughts about the system.

I am looking forward to writing a more detailed guide mentioned above for BlueHost users on how to set up your records. It is super easy when you know what you are doing. At a later date I’ll also make a guide for subdomains.

In the meantime, please feel free to share this, make a comment or get in contact with me. I am now even more available through headboy [at] blogprefect [dot] com and via Twitter.

 

Image Credit:

Featured Image derived from FastMail.com, used for Illustrative purposes. The FastMail logo is copyright of FastMail Pty Ltd.

Why You Must Build Your Email List Sooner Rather Than Later

As part of Blog Prefect’s Email month, I am covering email lists, the most obvious and important element of an Entrepreneur’s arsenal. It is also one of the trickiest elements to master.

Previously I looked at an email list’s importance for blogging.

And here’s the part where I feel like a fraud.

The truth is my email list is not exactly thumping with noise right about now. If BlogPrefect’s email list was a disco, there would be some very unhappy owners wondering why the beer stock numbers haven’t changed in months. My other blog doesn’t even have one yet.

“You are doing it wrong!” I hear the big wigs cry.

Which is exactly why I’m the guy to cover this.

Why You Must Build Your Email List Sooner Rather Than Later

Why You Must Build Your Email List Sooner Rather Than Later

Blogging Marketing Mix in Detail

Blogging has a marketing mix. It’s not like the pick and mix sweet buffet that many children rot their teeth on. We are getting into the business suit now boys and girls, so listen up.

  • Q: What then, dear Headboy, is a Marketing Mix?
  • A: Exactly what it says on the box. A mix of marketing avenues.

What Types of Marketing Exist in a Blogging Market?

Social Media Referral

Your efforts here either repays through organic (unpaid), or paid links. Social Media provides light returns for high effort expended. In the early days where your numbers are small, the gains and click-through rates will be weak.

The disproportionate nature of such returns forces the need to boost through with paid advertising either to gain following to further reap, or simply to sow. Law of attraction wins out where high visible reshare and like factors spool the viral engine to success. Prepare to explode on the launch pad in the early days grinding for traction in a bloated market of competitors.

Advertising (by means of a third-party)

There are a number of locations where you can gain access to advertising. Adsense is one but there are others.

Each agency uses virtual billboards and technology to follow the target demographic around the internet.

As long as you know what you are promoting and what kind of audience you want to attract, everything is golden. If you are not all that sure, prepare for losing money hand over fist.

Possibly the only reason you’d be tempted to go this way is if you have a product and a marketing budget. If you are a standard opportunist without that budget then this option is unlikely to be for you.

Many blogging entrepreneurs start out with no product to market. They instead move to attract a following so that they can design a product to meet that market’s desire.

The problem is that bigger competition has most likely already got it covered so you will have to do something truly unique or outstanding in order to make a difference.

Developing unique qualities takes time that many Entrepreneurs don’t have the patience for.

Backlink

Through interlinking between blogs of like topic backlinks are established. Unfortunately backlinks don’t provide as good a return as they used to and Google doesn’t measure these links as favourably. Backlinks are not without drawbacks despite how useful they can be.

Backlinks were cracked down on because black-hat creators went too far in trying to artificially boost their traffic. These over optimisations were penalised in algorithm changes made by Google.

SEO – Search Engine Optimisation

Search Engine Optimisation makes the titles and content used for each post look attractive for the search engines. This includes; Keywords and their density, quality of the article, the authority of the website, the ranking of the page on a search engine and a number of other nefarious criteria.

SEO is a dark art and a science. The process is influenced by algorithmic filtration and the illusion of fairness.

Direct

Email marketing and Bookmarks feature as direct traffic. Email marketing goes directly to the inbox of the recipient and provides an unadulterated link back to the blog. A bookmark sits on the browser and takes the reader directly to that page.

Out of the Mix, which would you pick?

Direct is the best choice and here’s why.

  • You already have permission.*
  • You hand deliver your audience the destinations you want them to look at.
  • Your viewers are motivated by a relationship with you and your work.
  • You can self-promote without penalty.**

* If you abuse that permission by hitting your viewers with anything that isn’t directly relevant, you may lose the audience.

** The audience can punish you if they don’t like what you are promoting by choosing to ‘vote with their feet’.

Reach

This term is market-speak for the total number of people you can reach. Your reach is only “Potential”. As I make reference to many times, you cannot get 100%. You won’t even get 10%.

Your grasp of your audience in most of your other forms of marketing is restricted by the platforms that provide you that reach.

Why?

These media corporations want your filthy lucre. In translation, filthy lucre stands for money or more business suit and tie; advertising revenue.

The fat controller wants to provide a better service to the audience therein is motivated to be aggressive on stamping out synthetic marketing unless it is paid for.

If the fat controller can throttle you back to a portion of your audience they can sell you on advertising to the rest and to those outside your sphere of influence.

No Limits

There is no limit on reach in your marketing list. The only true limit is the number of people you have in that list. This means that you can send an email and everyone on that list receives it. It does not mean that everyone on the list who receives the email will open it but I’ll go into that in the limitations below.

Email Lists Are Evergreen

This means that as long as you’ve reached a decent subscription count that remains stable in gains vs losses, you are going to generate a constant stream of predictable traffic to your blog and to your website as a whole. This helps boost up your figures to Google who will score you higher in authority which means you will get more Search Engine traffic in those articles that are well placed.

In analytical terms, you will see a gentle spiking pattern based on the days that you see your content posted. Email lists generate that predictable traffic you need each time you push out an article you spent valuable time on.

When I say predictable traffic

It will be predictable within a range. The truth is you never get 100%. It just doesn’t happen. What can be predicted is that you will get a healthier share of engagement than you would from simply publicising your post on social media or hoping that somebody stumbles upon it via a Search Engine. I’ll go into this in more detail below.

Limitations

Whilst big wig bloggers do speak about the email list as a ‘panacea to all ills’ there are some limitations and hiccups to email lists:

Diminishing Returns

You are not guaranteed to get every member of your email list open and perform the actions you want every time you post. The “open rate” can be a small percentage of the whole. Having said this, potentially the engagement factor is higher in an email list than on a social media site. Regardless, if you have a tiny list you are only likely to capture a percentage of your list each time.

Click rates, those people opening your emails and deciding to take action, are less than the open rate. You may have readers who take no action.

In fact, your list can go through some decay over time leading you with these types of subscriber.

  • Leavers – Subscribers who up and leave.
  • No open – Subscribers who never open your emails, either sending them straight to delete or just leaving them to pile up like your unfulfilled dreams.
  • No action – Subscribers who never click links in your emails.

Subscriber Attraction

Motivating subscription is tough. When you’ve built your list but nobody shows up. Remedial action requires you to perform extra marketing activities to capture those followers and it isn’t that easy initially. You can use a weight of number strategy later to encourage more attraction to a list. My free guide to making guides provides another insight into how bloggers can capture readers through offering an incentive.

Funky Fresh

Automation doesn’t always work. Humans become bored after a certain length of time. This is why big wig bloggers and prolific brand owners modify their approach over time. Freshness in presentation is important but hard to quantify. Sometimes it is more of question of “How long can I leave it until it starts looking tired?” which is likely to be the wrong attitude.

Filtration

HTML based emails get blocked by spam filters or placed in promotion inboxes. Running an RSS feed may not be the most effective way to go as a result. The problem is, do you have time to go manual? Creating a manual email to your list takes longer and doesn’t have the benefit of as much interactivity.

Email List Providers Cost Money

The service isn’t free. Except Mailchimp which starts out free but will eventually cost when you hit a subscription/email threshold. Free options will not provide you the flexibility of the professional alternatives which burdens you with a demand on your ROI (Return on Investment).

Having a drain on your rations from the start puts you under the cosh. You could argue that at least the money you pay to gain reach is transparent but you’ll be left to claw it back.

Why Start Now?

Reason 1

It is going to take you a while to figure out the best way to present your email offering so it is better to have everything tested even if it means that some of your early subscribers have a rough experience.

Reason 2

Your audience is your most important asset. Email provides a good way of retaining that audience as long as you continue to satisfy their needs.

Reason 3

The strength of the incumbent members of your niche is increasing by the day. New entrants are also popping up on a daily basis. Barriers to entry in entrepreneurial endeavours on the internet are very low. (It does take a considerable length of time to make a healthy profit for a green initiate however). You will need to start collecting a loyal audience.

Reason 4

It is an essential part of your marketing mix.

Reason 5

It can be low maintenance. The minimalist approach works well with email marketing.

 

In Closing

The sooner you start, the sooner you start to learn and adjust. It is going to be horrible at first but eventually you will find ways to attract and retain your audience. Email subscribers are not an asset you should leave to gather later.

If you have found this article useful or feel it could use something more, feel free to leave a comment.

You can contact me on twitter @blogprefect or through the contact page

Image Credits

Featured image from Pixabay by werner22brigitte

The Importance of Email Lists for Blogging

There is no hard and fast rule to setting up an email list other than gathering a list of emails from willing participants and providing the audience with what they need. In this article I go into detail of the issues surrounding setting up any email list that you intend to use for blogging and some of the inherent problems a green blogger will have along the way.

The Importance of Email Lists for Blogging

Managing subscription and moreover the act of retention is an element of the marketing mix that many big wig bloggers cite as a critical element to their current success. Many smaller scale bloggers also swear by the power of the mailing list.

So Why Is It SO Important?

Attracting people to your site is hard enough as it is. Keeping those people is even harder.

Capturing your audience is important because your audience may form a small niche of very specific interested parties. If you are able to hold onto that kind of audience member, you can hope to predict the kind of reach your articles, advertising and products might have.

Email subscribers are those audience members who agree to be updated with new information at a time you specify. They are the audience you can rely on more to be receptive to your new content.

But an email subscription audience does more than just read your posts.

The Audience Can Provide Vital Feedback

Email has always been a method whereby concerned citizens can target you individually and let you know something is not working in confidence. There are many instances where a person might prefer to approach you privately to take care of an issue and explain in detail, rather than announce it to all.

You can pass out an audience survey. You might not get a 100% response rate so you may have to re-target those who didn’t respond.

You can include self-promotional material. In so many other locations where you advertise you might come across anger and discontent from those who see you self-promoting on a regular basis. Mailshot is different.

You can cross promote which is another large benefit. Say you’ve been working on a book elsewhere and you have a fair idea that a proportion of your audience might like that item, you can email your list about it. If you segment your audience by filtering those individuals by certain topics they respond to, you can have a higher chance of success in attracting the right people to the right place.

At Sign

Drawbacks With Mailing Lists

There are some notable drawbacks with mailing lists.

Setting up a list can be a science.

The list requires a fair amount of tweaking. It is not advisable to send out too many live environment tests otherwise you will upset your mailing list subscribers.

Getting your audience to initially sign up can be difficult.

With a blog (with the exception of a paid subscription membership) the audience member has no ties. They can dip in and dip out when they like. When a casual passer-by becomes a subscriber their attitudes change. They will have expectations.

 

Concerns for a potential subscriber:

  • Concern 1 Privacy. Will you abide by keeping details private?
  • Concern 2 Frequency. Will you spam me?
  • Concern 3 Quality. Will what you provide in email satisfy me? I.e. Not ads.
  • Concern 4 What’s in it for me. Is there something I get that is more valuable than me just going to your website on a regular basis?
  • Concern 5 Can I easily unsubscribe. Because I’m going to do this for a trial and if I don’t like what I see, I’d like to know that I can drop out whenever I choose.

 

These 5 concerns are commonly what your subscribers will consider before making that decision. In order to cajole the fence sitter, you have to provide information that sets that person at ease.

Your Own Privacy

Believe it or not, email is a two-way street.

As a list owner, you have to display your business address at the foot of each email, which for many bloggers is their home address.

Why Is That Problematic?

For the same reasons that the subscriber doesn’t want to receive spam, you may be targeted to receive unsolicited snail mail.

People know where you live so if you manage to upset someone, they know where to find you. That could have very real problems to you such as stalking, property damage, abuse and identity theft.

Unfortunately it is non-negotiable. By law you are required to provide your address so as to prove that you have no intent to abuse. This issue came about due to the spam that entered people’s inbox considerably during the earlier days of email. Now there are robust measures to track down spam and to prosecute those who make flagrant abuses. Spam still gets through.

Terms of Service

You are bound by rules by the mailing list provider, these rules vary from provider to provider.

Reading the small print is something we commonly overlook but it is worth investigating this from time to time to ensure that you are not making any breaches.

In Terms of Maintenance Fees and ROI

Certain providers are expensive at first. Your ROI or Return On Investment is not guaranteed.

Whilst email is heralded as a major tool, some organisations charge considerable monthly or annual fees even at the basic levels of traffic. It may be difficult to commit to a service where you are uncertain of what capability you have.

Big Wig Bloggers may try to convince you that signing on the dotted line will easily pay you back but it is not guaranteed.

Methods of Attraction Lose Effectiveness Over Time

Often it can be hard to strike on the perfect incentive to encourage subscription. There are certain individuals who you will never reach this way regardless of what you try.

In June, I wrote a guide on how to create free guides. A free guide is a common but effective way that Big Wig Bloggers lure subscribers.

Ebb and Flow

Losing and gaining are uncontrollable elements of your list but there are events that can trigger extremes.

An important thing to consider is that you are not likely to keep everyone happy all of the time.

You can certainly do a better job of providing variety but email list subscribers are an external factor who can be affected by stimuli beyond your control.

Each subscriber is a unique individual.

Segmentation (by means of placing certain readers in categories) can help you manage to a degree but you will have some individuals who don’t conform to the norm.

The only constant in management of mailing lists is unpredictability.

Control is an illusion.

Extreme #1 Something Stupid you Wrote

It happens. People say and do stupid things. Sometimes you might commit the crime in ignorant bliss and other times through choice. The important thing to remember about blogging is that you own every mistake and you have to pick yourself up from it.

The technical phrase in Formula 1 racing is “damage limitation”.

Have a bad start to the race and you could end up at 9th position from 1st. The damage limitation comes in racing back to 3rd. You don’t have the speed to win but land some good points for the rest of the campaign. You know that it was the best you could do from a bad situation.

It may not be obvious what happened and might drive yourself mad trying to discover why internally.

Pro Tip: Ask why they left. You are likely to get an answer from at least one person. It might not be what you want to hear but at least you can keep the rest of your crowd happy by mitigating the damage.

Change might not always be required. You might have to accept that these leaving individuals don’t share the same values you do and in order to stay true to your niche, or your space in that niche, you need to cherish those values.

Extreme #2 Something Epic You Created

This is what everybody wants. Some viral hit or some campaign that worked this time. What is more important is not determining how this flood came through the gate but more how to look after these newcomers.

Then you look at how they arrived and try to replicate that magic formula in work committed in the past and to drafts not yet published. Sounds easy doesn’t it. It’s not.

Extremes aren’t that common. What will occur, if you are pushing out content regularly, is an ebb and flow. Small gains, small losses. People will leave because they have moved on. Some people might join but only stay a short while to see what they can get. Others might have been there a long time, stopped opening emails for months and finally decide to go. Some individuals might unsubscribe-subscribe to get your next free giveaway.

Opt-in

Should not strike fear in your heart but there are many ways to go about it.

The most traditional methods are by either using the sidebar to the left or right of the screen or by adding it to the article template at the foot.

Sidebar & Article Body?

Because they are so obvious and are overlooked by most visitors, they aren’t very conducive to successful signup.

A sidebar signup is more effective if it scrolls with the screen as a reader moves down the page, otherwise by the time the reader has reached the bottom or a point where their interest fades, the signup has already disappeared and they’ll have to take an extra action to scroll to the top (which they don’t).

Footer Opt-ins are only useful if the reader reaches the end. Period. You have to be sure that the article you crafted is a diamond. An additional option is to embed a simpler Opt-in before the fold, the fold being that invisible line where a reader will take their first scroll action to “read more”. The only problem with a before the fold opt-in is that the reader hasn’t read enough yet to decide if you are worth it.

More Invasive Methods of Opt-in

There are some more invasive methods of Opt-in. Some can work better than others, some can damage views. The damage is done in terms of making a negative impression with the individual you invite in. There are some people who take extreme umbrage to adverts. On YouTube, Adblock Plus is so widely used by viewers that YouTube have had to launch YouTube Red to shore up the loss in advertising revenue.

Takeover

This kind of Opt-in is activated almost instantly after the reader has clicked into the website. An Opt-in will be the only window they can click on where the goal option will be highlighted more prominently than the cancel action.

In my view they are annoying and tick me off on most sites where I come across them. They are as welcome as an old pensioner flashing her sagging boobies at me (and as off-putting). You may feel differently, you may defend this type of Opt-in and you are entitled to your opinion. I personally think they suck. In my own dealings with them, they make me far less likely to return to a site where they are in operation because I know I’ll be stopped before I read.

Delayed / Strategic Takeover

Rather than the more blatant big brother, the delayed Opt-in simply works on a preset timer. After 3-5 seconds of reading, the Opt-in will kick in. The strategic version only triggers when a reader has reached a certain point or hovered over a certain element such as the close or back button. The latter option is not so bad – it at least gives the reader a chance to evaluate what’s on offer before being bashed over the head for an email address and inside leg measurement.

Leadpages Popup

Leadpages Popup 2

Why I Dislike These Forms of Opt-in

My personal reason for disliking it is that it feels a bit heavy-handed. Not giving me the time to check out whether I actually like what I’m reading is of concern. I need time to determine whether what you are cooking is tasty or tasteless. Another problem is that if you are already using guilt to try to position me, you are starting off on the wrong foot. I am deeply cynical of the type of salesman who needs to guilt people on “what you are doing wrong”. If we are already doing something wrong, we’ll go find a solution, we don’t need to be reminded of our current ineptitude.

I liken this Opt-in and its variants to the Egyptian shopkeeper routine. They are the kind of person who will sit in the door frame of their shop. It doesn’t welcome you in. More off-putting is the thought of not being able to leave if you don’t want to purchase something. It doesn’t build trust. It definitely builds friction.

These heavy-handed marketing techniques work better for those who already have roaring business. These kinds of operators are looking for readers to be decisive because their time as a supplier is precious, they already have buyers to satisfy so they can afford to be blasé about upsetting some of the little guys and gals along the way. Top tier is where this operator hangs their hat; if you have to ask how much it is, you don’t want to buy it.

Split Testing comes in useful for Opt-ins

It can be useful to determine what design, and words that accompany those designs, move the audience most. Opt-Ins and associated lead pages are big business. One of my over-mentioned Big Wigs, Pat Flynn, has a large amount of money invested in LeadPages. As you can guess from the term “lead”, the system uses set methods of psychologically tried and tested methods to get a passer-by to signup.

Steps To Complete

An important mention is the amount of actions it takes to sign up through an Opt-in. You can have a single action signup which simply accepts the details that someone enters.

A two-step process normally consists of a single button which transports the reader to a different page (hopefully open in a new window) where they fill out their details then submit.

What is important to remember is that the list provider may demand some form of first time authentication such as clicking on a supplied link to the new subscriber’s email account. All of the steps are manual and requires the user to approve the process at the end stage. This process can add additional steps to what was otherwise a simple task.

Options for segmentation can be introduced at this stage so your reader can be entered into a main catch-all type list, then be added to niche interest lists at their own choice. This does mean operating more lists but it can be helpful when providing users with the right information.

So other than sending emails out, what else do I do with my mailing list?

Analysis: Two Types

There are two types of highly valuable analysis you can do with email lists.

The first is through analysing open rates. You can tell what titles are working. Open rates are simply a ratio of emails sent to emails open. Most list suppliers use the terminology of campaigns when talking about lists you setup. A by-product of open rate analysis is telling you who your most engaged subscribers are, which may provide insight on how to better structure your articles to have a wider appeal.

The second analysis type gives you an idea of your marketing makeup. Important criteria including age ranges, genders and other vitals that compose your core readership, will be revealed. You can determine trends that should aid in focusing on specific groups.

The ability to analyse how well your post did and who is reading it is golden because Search Engines aren’t as expedient for certain activities as feeding an audience with what they need to read. You can think of your mailing list as an evergreen tree that will provide views all year around regardless of how you are ranking.

Not everyone is going to read every post every time you create a new entry. Sometimes what you’ve written won’t be what that person is interested in or they are otherwise preoccupied elsewhere and miss it that week. For whatever reason don’t expect everybody to be engaged with you all the time. Open rates aren’t sexy big numbers (unless you are very special or have a tiny group of super fans).

What To Do With Repeat Inactivity?

You will get a cruise ship full of subscribers who have dropped off the reading radar eventually. There are certain ways to deal with the situation and it is your choice at the end of the day but I’d recommend the following:

  • Identify a list of inactive readers (most list providers will give you analytics to generate that list).
  • Place these inactive readers into a new list.
  • Send an email on that list requesting that the reader re-affirms their subscription, set a deadline and request a returned email response.
  • Send out 1 further reminder to those who have not responded before the deadline.
  • When the deadline is reached, terminate/delete all inactive users from the list.

There are different degrees of lurking so it is important to give some readers the benefit of the doubt before you cut them dead. Lurkers aren’t a bad thing because lurking individuals can swing back to the engagement fold if properly stimulated. They may just be busy at the time.

Many individuals may simply either stop because the content has no meaning to them anymore, it gets lost amidst all of the other content they receive on a daily basis or the email address may not be used anymore. Whatever the reason, these inactive readers are now dead to you, in the nicest possible sense. What you will be left with is a hearty serving of engaged readers and a fresh platform to continue.

You can also put together an exit survey which may help simply define what other problems may have led to the reader leaving.

Another Reason To Prune The Inactive

Some list providers charge you for the volume of emails you send and the number of individuals in a list. Therefore, it is a good rule of thumb to keep that list lean and active.

Ways To Improve Your Service

A good way is to see what other people do with their list. Join a few lists to see how your competition layout information. Remember that not everything will work for you in the same way. Each blog is unique. It doesn’t stop you trying a few ideas.

 

In Closing

  • Mailing lists are your window to direct interaction with a collection of your hardcore followers.
  • Mailing lists are valuable because they take a long time to grow but have far more potential to feed direct traffic to your site.
  • Mailing lists should be started earlier rather than later.

 

Share Me Please

I spent a long while on this article for the benefit of humanity. Please share me to the world.

I can be found over at twitter and you can email me directly at headboy [at] blogprefect dot {com}.

 

Image Credit

Featured Image from Pixabay by JackMac34

LeadPages Opt-ins courtesy of Leadpages.net, used for illustrative purposes only.

 

End of Month Traffic Report January 2016 – June 2016

FordMustangUnsplashWelcome to 6 months of statistical roundup for BlogPrefect.com. Normally I would opt to publish this kind of post monthly. Due to a low post count over the past couple of months I felt it better to roll up the period into one big analysis.

As you will see later in this article, April and May were difficult months for the site, owed entirely to inactivity. June recovery month has been firing on all cylinders trying to recover lost ground and has definitely shown an improvement overall.

June was a particularly happy month owing to BlogPrefect’s 3rd birthday. I made sure that I celebrated this time.

USA stats over the past 3 years

The date of publish is July 4th, Independence day in America. Whilst BlogPrefect does cater to a worldwide audience, statistically North Americans make up the core of my monthly views, hands down. Everyone is welcome here but I’d just like to stop a moment and look at my biggest supporters in 3 years.

USAViewPercentage2013-Mid2016

USAViewStats2013-Mid2016

Data from 14th June 2013 to 20th June 2016 *Note that 2014 figures are exaggerated owing to a advertising campaign run predominantly for the USA audience during February of 2014.

A big thank you to all Americans, whatever state you are from! I hope you have a happy Independence Day. 🙂

The shackles are now off!

I handed in my final project on the 25th May. This means that I can dedicate more of my time to taking care of business on my blogs and I’ve identified a lot of areas to focus on.

If you have been a long time viewer of blogprefect.com, or more specifically the stats presented in this long-term feature, you’ll know that I’m not a big player yet. I haven’t been able to commit as much time as I’ve truly wanted to, due to being shackled by my University study. Study and real life has eaten into my progress considerably as I work a full time job and often have a lot to juggle. Now it has become a great deal easier.

Knowing where to focus has not been an easy task. There are so many areas that need to be tweaked that I need to look at the whole strategically. For the month of June I targeted the theme of “Restart” as I felt it was a topic worth exploring.

Shout Outs

I have two shout outs to make this period for people who have been inspiring to me over the past 6 months.

Firstly I’d like to thank Ahmad Imran for his continued support. Ahmad often provides a great sense of balance of thought to my articles and I know that he’ll always provide me with a view tempered with insight and pointers. I enjoy our continued conversations and look forward to continuing a relationship with Ahmad long into the foreseeable future.

You can find Ahmad at www.reasontouse.com and via Twitter at @reasontouse

Second is Eli Seekins. Eli is another inspirational writer who has some great ideas on his blog and is a very inclusive, energetic character. I look forward to connecting more with Eli. I am particularly envious of the resource page he has set up so I recommend you go and check that out.

I was recently asked to provide some sage thoughts among some other practiced hands over on launchyourdream.com. There are indeed 143 Fatal Mistakes New Bloggers Need to Avoid.

You can find Eli at launchyourdream.com and via Twitter @eliseekins

For the month of June

I’d like to thank two newcomers to the comments:-

Tony from UsefulPCGuide.com

Marty Rogers from Trooxy.com

How You can Contribute and Appear in this Shout Out in Future

Through supporting me at BlogPrefect, you can provide valuable feedback or just have a great conversation with me. I’m always in search of ideas to cover so a suggestion for an article is welcome. I have no issues with giving credit where credit is due and community is an important element for this blog.

  • Comment
  • Share
  • Have a conversation
  • Make an actionable suggestion
  • Give me an idea for a post

Feel free to contact me on Twitter @blogprefect I can also receive email at Headboy {AT} Blogprefect {DOT} Com.

End of Month Traffic Report January 2016 – June 2016

It has been a long while since I last posted a monthly statistics report. The last was for December 2015. In their heyday I was publishing a traffic report every month but over time, as I got thinner on actual content, the reports were concatenated in order to not appear as the only piece of content each month.

I had a key issue in that one blog post was fueling the whole site’s traffic but it was not on topic. After removing that content, there was a catastrophic dip in overall traffic. 2016 is therefore measured as a big slide compared to how I’ve performed in the past but at least the content now is more relevant than it was before.

Dashboards

Dashboards are my bread and butter for the traffic report. I opted to create these to make a quickly visible way of determining what has gone well and what has gone bad. The GAF definition below is important in that I run a segmentation. This segmentation will always make raw statistics from Google Analytics look bad but it is something I recommend that everybody generates when looking at their own data. Because I use computers with different IPs, I don’t tend to use a filter to remove my own pollution of views. I exclude the general vicinity of Crawley where I both live and work.

The Measures

The dashboard has 3 zones totaling 7 measures.

The “Meaningful” side provides me good pure data. I know that on this side I have some form of control. I can control how long my articles are which has an impact on ATOS or Actual Time on Site. I can reduce the total amount of old content people have to search and conversely increase the number of new content in my new measure of Old Vs New. Post Performers can be impacted by the level of social hustle I perform. The more and the better that hustle is, the better the overall score (however, there is a problem with this stat in that anything published towards the end of the month has little chance of becoming a post performer whereas the first post of the month has a much higher chance).

The “Uncontrollable” side is in the hands of the visitor. All three statistic sets on this side of the fence are entirely with the audience. The only possible way I could have effect on this is to broaden and engage that audience more.

The “Instinctive” centre line is much like a voice from the heart. “Gut feel” has no tangible value but is shaded by the measures and how I felt I did.

I always followup the dashboard with a simple analysis of referrals.

GAF Filter

January

Dashboard Jan16 vs Dec15

January stats start out well overall with good numbers in all of the areas. Post Performers whilst low, has not slumped from the previous month. Of particular note is the ATOS (Actual Time On Site) figure for the segmentation, which charts readers at 11 minutes 4 seconds – a good reading time.

Note: Old Vs New has been entered for the first time and I have decided not to compare it to December figures from 2015. Old Vs New counts the view count from old posts vs the articles posted that month.

JanREF16

Referrals saw an overall rise in numbers from December 2015. Bing has been making a bigger show than it used to. I like to see a spread of non-Google Search engine love. The only unusual referral is the Nintendo search result from Japan but I have a good idea why this is where it is.

Overall Search Engine results rule. No change to normal.

February

Dashboard Feb16 vs Jan16

February is where the 2016 decay starts. At this time I am deep into the final run down to my final degree module so my time is very much divided. The only saving grace is one post that does considerably better than the previous month.

ATOS has almost halved which is of concern and is linked with a page view crash of over a quarter from the segmentation.

FebREF16

Google search sees a shrink but there are a still a variety of referrals this month.

March

Dashboard Mar16 vs Feb16

March shows a period of warmth despite having a dreadful Post Performer. You have to bear in mind that this post performer was posted on the last day of the month.

Page Views in the segmentation were up on February but not in a barn storming sense. The same was also true for Visits Vs Visitors. Old Vs New was a proverbial “fait accompli”.

ATOS was better but not significantly better and nowhere near the start of the year’s level but was still a 2 minute improvement on February. I’ll take it.

MarREF16

There is now a noticeable shrink on referrals which has occurred for the 2nd month in a row. Search results still take the mammoth share.

April

Dashboard Apr16 vs Mar16

April saw the deployment of the first sad face of the year. Referrals saw the heaviest dip alongside Old versus New. Work on the blog was suspended owing to Study work. It was unavoidable.

The truth is that I probably could have developed at least one post for this month and should have. I found it difficult even to check in with my blogging friend Ahmad Imran over at Reasontouse.com.

And you can guess that if the dashboard was bad, the referrals would be bad in unison.

AprREF16

The surprising statistic here was for Bing’s search. Backlinks and other social referrals were chronically missing this month.

May

Dashboard May16 vs Apr16

May without a shadow of a doubt is 2016’s worst month. The Page Views and Referrals numbers are at an all time low in line with a drought in content for 2 months. The only upbeat element was the fact that one of the measures was orange but the drawback was the only measure that was “not negative” was the least meaningful.

I could have countered this if I had some pre-written content for a rainy day period. As it happens I had nothing that was suitable for this dry spell. I finished my degree module on the 25th May by handing in the final assignment 2 days prior to the cutoff.

MayREF16

This is one of the lowest referral tallies in a long period. As can be seen, all data points towards search engine entry only. There are no social or backlink related referrals in this makeup.

June

Dashboard Jun16 vs May16

All green which was not without some hard work on my part to bring the numbers back from the cliff. I can’t rest on my laurels with these numbers. Whilst they are a return to form, overall, June is still low compared to January. I need to do better going forwards.

5 articles were posted during this month which meant that the Old Vs New category was bound to see a difference. Post Performer was good but I need to beat my current record which is 67, on a regular basis. These small numbers won’t cut it any more.

ATOS is much better with an 82% increase on May. This is definitely going in the right direction. Visits vs Visitors is double what it was so also a great achievement.

JunREF16

Referrals were an improvement but still way down on the peak from last year of 757. The 757 target is a lofty goal and one that I am not going to be able to bridge the gap for in a month. I could cheat, as I did in February 2014, buying traffic. I learnt that the returns were low quality and therefore low value.

Something else worth mentioning for June was the adjustment of views per visitor.

WordPress Stats for BlogPrefect.com Since August 2015.

WordPress Stats for BlogPrefect.com Since August 2015.

June has a much healthier Views per Visitor number of 1.71 on average. May at the floor of the data was at a meager 1.25 and the record lowest month for the year was March with 1.16. This gives June the bigger top hat.

Analysis

I think you can agree from how June came to pass that simply by stepping off the gas can be very damaging for blogging momentum. You can clearly see how in April and May where there was no content published that viewing figures shelved to the kind of numbers seen years ago.

Since returning to form with consistency, June has seen not only improved dashboard statistics but a 10% drop in bounce rate. It goes to show that if you keep hammering away at the issue eventually you’ll pick up to running speed then growth.

WPPostingActivityJanJun2016

Conclusion

It’s been a bumpy 6 months for the opening half of 2016. I hope to show a much more positive swing for the second half in which I can capitalise on a renewed amount of time available to dedicate to the ongoing projects I have in place. For the month of July I’m going to be focusing on the broad topic of emails.

I think that the most on topic article that covers the conclusion to this month is Blogging Momentum.

An important lesson is not losing hope. Some bloggers, after two months away, might look back at what they have to do to regain old ground and lose motivation. I hope to have proven that you can make a recovery.

Future Adjustments

June marked a turning point for BlogPrefect.com. In order to get the blog restarted I made a grand effort to produce articles every week in order to maintain an even-handed pace. I aim to keep the blog producing weekly posts from now on in order to maintain good forward momentum.

Posts are still not performing in line with the effort I spend in writing them. This is always a cause for concern. My ultimate goal, to see a positive step forwards in content production, would be to see each article cater for 300 views at minimum. As yet, I’m not sure how I am going to reach that target. In my June month, some of my articles have performed weakly and I’m sure that is in no small part down to the small following I have.

I need to reassess my marketing mix. Marketing for blogging is a rich tapestry of components. Big Wig Bloggers tend to win big by having complex chains of networks which work in unison to reinforce a tribe mentality within a readership.

I believe I also need to hustle more and as part of that I am reviewing some of my core tactics. An article is in the works that will drop in August about how I’ve hustled a 6% increase to my stats over June.

How To Contribute

Through supporting me at BlogPrefect, you can provide valuable feedback or just have a great conversation with me. I’m always in search of ideas to cover so a suggestion for an article is welcome. I have no issues with giving credit where credit is due and community is an important element for this blog.

  • Comment
  • Share
  • Have a conversation
  • Make an actionable suggestion
  • Give me an idea for a post

Feel free to contact me on Twitter @blogprefect I can also receive email at Headboy {AT} Blogprefect {DOT} Com.

Image Credits

  • Ford Mustang via Pixabay by UnSplash
  • WordPress stat images provided by WordPress Dashboard
  • All other images are the property of BlogPrefect.com