Creating Feedburner Newsletters with WordPress

Loved Ami’s concise explanation of using Feedburner (Google) for a bulk emailing newsletter. Just wanted to share. Also, I’ve added instructions on how to modify WordPress to use the “thumbnail image” option in your newsletter.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010, Ami wrote the following post:

So, you are looking for a free alternative for bulk mail sending services like constant contact, aweber, mail chimp or icontact? You want to send emails to a bulk list of addresses? Did you think about how handy Google’s free Feedburner can be as a reliable bulk email sender? When I mean bulk email sending, I don’t mean the type of mails we receive with “cheap Viagra deals” or any similar spam mailers. I mean, a professional double opt in newsletter sending. I will guide you through how to use Feedburner to send bulk emails, but first let’s learn some of the basics.

Yes, Feedburner can be used as a free newsletter sending software, subject to few limitations. There are pros and cons of using Feedburner as a bulk mail sending tool.

Pros of Using Feedburner as a Newsletter Sending Tool

High deliverability. Feedburner newsletter comes with Google’s endorsement, so it is highly unlikely that major ISP’s send your email to spam folder, if you send it through Feedburner. A common problem faced by most email marketers is, delivering their email to the inbox of the target customer. With a Feedburner newsletter, you can rely on relatively higher success in delivering the email right into the user’s inbox.

Double Opt In List Managing Facility. When a user sign up with your Feedburner newsletter, they have to first enter their email actively, and then verify the email by clicking on a verification link. This called “double opt in” mailing. You can download this mailing list into an excel sheet if you want, and use it in a different bulk mail sender as mail chimp, constant contact, icontact or aweber.

Deliver Adsense directly to the inbox. Yes, if you have Google Adsense, you can insert your Adsense ad panels inside emails, if you use Feedburner to send your newsletter.

It’s free! The best thing about using Feedburner to send bulk emails is; it comes at a price of $0.00. If you use any of the major bulk email sending services, you will get a free quota of 500 emails maximum. But with Feedburner, you can send unlimited number of emails, for a cost of almost nothing.

Cons of Using Feedburner as a Bulk Mail Sending Tool

Lack of customization. Well, if you need sophisticated templates, complex styles etc, you probably need to go for a paid service to send your newsletter. Because, with Feedburner you can do only a limited customization to change the way your newsletter looks like.

Not an auto responder. Feedburner cannot send automatic replies to your newsletter subscribers.

How to Use Feedburner as a Bulk Email Sender?

First you have to create a double opt in mailing list to send your email. Remember that, if you already have an email list; there’s no way that you can start sending bulk emails to that list straight away with Feedburner. You have to convince those people to sign up once again through Feedburner newsletter service, and verify their account. You can use a paid bulk mail sending service for just once, and invite your list members to sign up with your new newsletter.

This is how to start building your newsletter list, with Feedburner.

First, create a new blog with a working RSS feed. Even if you already have a blog, you have to create a new one. You can use either Blogger or (both are free) to create your new blog site. This new blog will be the “back end” of creating your newsletter content.

After you create your new blog, go to your Feedburner account and burn a new feed. Follow the usual steps in burning the feed.

Go to the “Publicize” tab in your feed’s dashboard, and look for “Email Subscription” link. Click on it, and first activate the service by clicking on “Activate” in the bottom part of the page.

Then copy and paste the HTML into your personal blog, website or any other web page on which, you are targeting to collect subscribers for your newsletter.

Now you have to click on “Communications Preferences” section under “Email Subscriptions”, and customize the content of your activation email.

Hit “Save” after the above changes, and then move on to “Email Branding” section. In this section, you can customize how your newsletters subject line looks like. I suggest, you to keep “${latestItemTitle}” as the newsletter subject line. If you do so, you can then easily change the subject line of your newsletter, without having logging into Feedburner account again. Simply by putting a heading for your blog posts, which are to be sent as “Newsltters”, you can change the subject line. For example, you can use a standard subject line for each newsletter like “XYZ Newsletter for January 2011”.

You can use a logo of size 200 X 200 for your newsletter. (Remember, you cannot use a wide header image, like most of the standard newsletters. Instead, you will have to limit a square shape logo on top right hand side corner of your email template.)

You have the option of changing the font types and sizes for your newsletter.

Next, move on to “Delivery Options” and set the best time zone for your readers to receive the newsletter.

Now you have finished setting your free newsletter-sending tool with Google Feedburner. Use your marketing tactics, to build your subscriber list. As motioned above, if you already have a list of contacts, you have to use a paid service at least once, to invite them to join your new newsletter.

When You Need to Send Out a Newsletter

All you have to do is, simply logging into the “special blog” you have created as the “back end” of your newsletter. Use the WSIWYG editor tool in that blog, to design your newsletter’s content. This might be a collection of posts from your blog during past week, and few links to some other stories. You might have some stories to share about a special deal from your business. Create your newsletter content, as a blog post and hit “publish”. Depending on your time zone preferences, your newsletter will now be delivered to your subscribed readers.

How Can This Be Different from Using Feedburner Email Subscriptions for My Blog?

Technically, there’s no difference. It’s only the way you are going to use the tool. For example, you may post several times a day/week on your blog and each blog post might have it’s own style and appearance. But when you use Feedburner as a newsletter sending tool, you have to standardize certain things, such as the subject lines, tone and style of writing, sizes of images used in posts, etc. Most probably, you will be sending one newsletter per week; so you have to hit “publish” on your blog post, on the day on which you want to send out your newsletter.

How to Insert Google Adsense into My Newsletter?

If you have enabled “AdSense for feeds” for your new newsletter feed; your ads will automatically be trailing on your newsletter content.

That’s all on “how to use Feedburner as a free email sending software”. If you can think of more creative ways of using feedburner or any other free services; drop me an email or leave a comment below. I would like to listen to your story!

( the above was Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe at 5/04/2010 12:26:00 AM )

Changing WordPress to Accommodate Your Image

Here’s where I differ with Ami… I think you can use different images and aren’t limited to a 200×200 pixels image only.  Use this method with your WordPress Blog(website) RSS feed and with the Feedburner RSS feed. Make sure you have a Feedburner account with google, Images are limited but you can add a featured image to your “newsletter” (blog post). By default this featured image (thumbnail) will not be shown in your RSS feed unless you add some code into your functions.php file. Note: Make sure you put this code inbetween the <?php  -all the code plus this new code- ?>.

Download the TXT file

Above is the code to add to your functions.php file on wordpress to get your “featured images” to show in your RSS feed. Type this into a text editor. Log into your admin dashboard of your WordPress blog. Then find the Appearance section in the left menu and select Editor. On the far right you will see a “functions.php” file so click on that. Then in the big main screen section in the middle go to the bottom and add the abive code. Then copy and paste this code at the end of this file on a new line. The “SAVE” (or update).

Determine the Size of your Featured Image

The first example above will add a featured image with “thumbnail” size and it will be shown from the left side of the post, but you can change it.

Where the code say… get_the_post_thumbnail( $post->ID, ‘thumbnail’ change the word ‘thumbnail’ to ‘medium’, ‘large’ or ‘full’. A ‘full’ size will show the original size of your image so make sure your images are sized correctly (for full about 600px wide and low resolution 72dpi). Small, medium and large are percentages of your full-sized image.

Styling (Locating) the Featured Image

By default in the first example, the code places the image to the left side of your newsletter. You can change which side it is on by changing the ‘float’ code line. To move the image from left to right (make sure you use the quotes), change the float code in the example from ‘float:left; margin:0 15px 15px 0;’ to ‘float:right; margin:0 20px 20px 20px;’  .

If you are using a large or full image and want to center it, then use the following code. You will need to delete the code pertaining to float because images will be too large to fit ‘next’ to your text. See the code where that have happened.

Download the TXT file

Then “Save” or update the functions.php.

Hope this is helpful to you and hey it helps to save a little money this way by not having to pay for your monthly newsletters!