One of the tools that has become central in my own blogging is Aweber. I won’t rehash all of the reasons that I use Aweber but essentially it’s a tool that enables you to allow readers of your blog subscribe to it via email. I use it mainly as a tool to deliver weekly newsletters on my photography blog (I outline some of the benefits of newsletters for blogs here).
Aweber allows you to deliver three kinds of email updates to readers:
1. Broadcasts – this is the tool I use to deliver my newsletters. They require you to manually write up a newsletter and then select a time for it to be delivered.
2. Blog Broadcasts – I don’t use this but it’s a handy tool for allowing you to send automated emails to subscribers based upon your latest posts. Essentially it takes your RSS feed and turns it into email. You can set it to go off automatically at certain times of the week or when a certain number of posts tick over.
3. Follow Up Messages – these are essentially autoresponders or sequences of messages that you send out at predetermined intervals after a subscriber signs up. This is what I used to deliver the free/beta version of 31 Days to Build a Better blog. People signed up and then I set up a sequence of 31 emails to go off every day after they subscribed until they got to the end of the 31 days. I also use this on my photography site to send out periodic special newsletters (see this post on how these drive a lot of traffic to my blog).
A New Feature for Follow Up Messages
Over the weekend Aweber announced an update to their Follow Up message service that makes it a heap more useful.
Previously with Follow Up messages you could only set them to go off at daily intervals. You could choose to send emails at any interval you had no control over the times that they went or over whether they went on certain days of the week. That’s now all changed.
Now you can set daily intervals but you can also set other conditions including times and days of the week.
For example – you can choose that emails will be delivered between 9am – 3pm but only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays. There are quite a few ways that this can be handy. Aweber list a few examples:
- Look at when subscribers are opening your emails and/or clicking your links (the Opens over Time and Clicks Over Time reports will show you this) and adjust your send windows so your messages stand out at the top of the inbox during those times!
- Run a weekend sale – schedule one of your follow ups to only send on Friday mornings!
- Are there certain days and/or times that you know are bad for your subscribers? Use send windows to avoid sending during those days/times!
Another one that I am loving is that when you send two types of emails to readers (ie a weekly newsletter and some autoresponder messages) you ideally don’t want them to hit your subscribers inbox on the same day of the week. Now I can make sure that the autoresponder messages only go out on Monday, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and leave Thursdays and Fridays for the newsletters.
This extra feature won’t be useful for those of you not using auto-responders but for those that do it’s a very handy feature from Aweber.