How to Let Blog Readers Choose Their Email Frequency

In the comments of a post discussing our recent FeedBurner integration, Mike Hill asked a great question about email subscription options:

“The scheduling would be more useful if it can be setup by the subscriber, not by me as the publisher. Is that a possibility with any subscription services on email?

To me, this would be far more useful to my readers than me picking when to get it. I’d even consider subscribing some of my blogs on email instead of RSS if this was available.”

View this comment on the original post

While creating a signup form that gives subscribers an unlimited number of frequency options would be tough to pull off without making the form look awkward and intimidating, it’s easy to offer them a couple of different options.

All it takes is a little HTML know-how and a few minutes to set up an extra list or 2.

First, Create 2 Lists

In this example, we’re going to give our blog’s email subscribers the option to sign up for daily emails, or weekly ones.

First, let’s create lists for each of those subscriptions. I’ve named mine blog-daily and blog-weekly. You’ll need to choose different names, but you’ll probably want to follow a similar naming scheme.

2 Lists Shown

(Need to learn how to create a list? See the Getting Started section of our Knowledge Base.)

Next, Set Up 2 Blog Broadcasts

Now, you need to create 2 nearly identical Blog Broadcasts (one in each list).

The only difference? You’ll schedule emails for your daily list to be sent daily, and the ones for your weekly list to be sent weekly.

Daily Posts (list blog-daily)
Daily Posts
Weekly Posts (list blog-weekly)
Weekly Posts

Now, Set Up Your Web Form

Note that our Web Form Generator has changed a bit since this blog post was written. Take a look at our knowledge base for updated instructions.

Create a web form in one of the lists. It doesn’t matter which one, because we’re going to edit the HTML to let our readers pick which list to subscribe to.

Need help creating a web form? We’ve got a Knowledge Base entry on that, too. :)

Once you’ve created/saved your form, get the HTML for it:

Form HTML

Note that we use the HTML in the lower box, not the JavaScript in the upper box.

We’re going to let our subscribers choose daily or weekly posts from a radio button.

Find the line of HTML in the form for the box where subscribers put their Email Address:

<tr><td >Email:</td><td><input type=”text” name=”from” value=”” size=”20″/></td></tr></td>

Just beneath it, paste the following:

<tr><td align=”center” colspan=”2″>Send Me Posts:</td></tr>
<tr><td align=”center” colspan=”2″><input type=”radio” name=”unit” value=”blog-daily“/> Daily <input type=”radio” name=”unit” value=”blog-weekly“/> Weekly</td></tr>

Replace my sample listnames (blog-daily and blog-weekly) with your daily and weekly lists.

Finally, delete this line of HTML from your form:

<input type=”hidden” name=”unit” value=”blog-daily“>

and publish the form to your site. You’ll get something like this:

Form With Radio Button

Whenever subscribers fill out the form, they choose how often they want to hear from you, and the form adds them to the appropriate list (in this case, to get daily emails or weekly ones).

What If I Have a Message I Want to Send Everyone?

No problem — just create a broadcast and use our send to multiple lists feature to get in touch with all of your blog’s email subscribers.

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Justin Premick is the former Director of Educational Products at AWeber.

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25 Comments

  1. Wonderful to know. This was a concern of mine but that resolves it.

    One curiosity I have is how you recommend handling subscribers for your list vs. your blog. In other words, do you typically set up your Blog Broadcast as a separate list from your, say, "product subscriber" list so that if someone unsubscribes from the blog they at least remain on your product list?

    If you do this, and were to subscribe the user to your Blog Broadcast automatically when he subscribes to your product list, can the radio value option be passed to the Blog Broadcast list at signup?

    That must sound confusing.

    2/15/2008 9:51 am
  2. Ryan, that doesn’t sound confusing at all. I have the same problem.
    I was just thinking of a monthly or quarterly ‘digest’ of my blog posts for my non-blog newletter subscribers and the subscribers of my ecourse.

    I am still puzzling how to avoid double send-outs because newsletter and ecourse subscribers can be in both lists, but must not. Also they can be subscribers in my daily blog-broadcast already.

    Do I make things more complicated than it is?

    2/15/2008 10:16 am
  3. This is a great option. Wow! Quick question, how can I rename my currentl blog list so that it reades blod-daily? Do I do it in the blog broadcast form under messages?

    2/15/2008 12:33 pm
  4. This is a great feature that I didn’t know existed. Thanks for pointing this out and shall be used shortly on our CudaMail Blogs.

    2/15/2008 12:51 pm
  5. Hi Justin

    I think one option people would appreciate is an additional method to move from one list to another, so if someone subscribes daily, and decides that weekly would be more appropriate, it is somehow intuitive.

    2/15/2008 1:09 pm
  6. Ryan,

    I recommend setting up a separate list for your blog newsletter.

    For example, we run the newsletter for this blog independently of our other lists, since people are signing up to it for different information than say, our Test Drive subscribers.

    That way, people have the option to sign up to one or both (and in fact we recommend the blog to our Test Drive subscribers), instead of having to sign up to both or neither.

    Now, whether you hold separate signups for each list, or use an automation rule to offer your blog newsletter as an added bonus for signing up to your other list, is really up to you. I think you can make good arguments for and against that.

    Hannelore,

    If you’re sending the same exact content to multiple lists, use our "include lists" feature to check off which lists you want to email (we’ll automatically deduplicate the broadcast so people only get one copy each).

    If you’re not sending exactly identical content in both messages, but highly similar content, decide which message you want to go to people who happen to be subscribed to both lists. Send that one out. Then, before you send the other one, use the "exclude lists" feature to suppress the appropriate subscribers so they don’t get both messages.

    More on including and excluding lists.

    Adriana,

    Your listname has to be unique. I used blog-daily and blog-weekly as examples here, but your own listnames will be different from that. Try an abbreviation of your blog’s name, followed by -daily or -weekly.

    Andy,

    One way to get at that is to use 2 automation rules – one to unsubscribe someone from the weekly list when they subscribe to the daily one, and another one to unsubscribe from the daily one when they subscribe to the weekly one.

    You’d include something in the footer of each list’s Blog Broadcasts saying "Want to get daily (weekly) emails instead? Fill out the form here (link to opt-in page) and choose daily (weekly)."

    It’s a bit of a workaround but quite manageable. In the meantime, I’ll check with our developers about the feasibility of something like what you’re suggesting.

    2/15/2008 2:08 pm | Follow me on Twitter
  7. Thank is really useful for me. I was going to ask this exact question. I am starting a blog soon and I was allready starting to worry about how I was going to do this.

    Thanks

    2/15/2008 5:11 pm
  8. Now that I know this is possible with Aweber it brings up an additional question…

    Could you use a check box option instead of the radio option so that people could choose to subscribe to multiple lists at the same time?

    For example:

    option one:Weekly Ezine
    Option two:Monthly Ezine
    option three:automatic blog updates
    option four:Special Promotions

    subscriber one chooses option one,four
    subscriber two chooses option one,two,three
    subscriber three chooses option four

    If yes,

    Would the new subscriber need to verify each new list that they are added to if a double opt-in process is used or would they only need to verify all the subscriptions with one email confirmation?

    2/15/2008 11:29 pm
  9. Great article!

    Question for you..

    Your example shows a form with 2 options the user can *choose between*.

    Is it possible to set something up where the user can choose yes to multiple options, essentially signing up for multiple lists?

    Example,

    We use a dynamic rss feed to syndicate or vehicle listings. We have a feed for each manufacture and each specific model.

    We want a user to be able to choose, from a checklist for example, to subscribe to more than one vehicle rss feed (aka blog broadcast) at the same time.

    Possible? Thanks!

    2/16/2008 8:48 pm
  10. Colin I checked out your terra imports site. Has to be one of the more effectively executed "2.0" dealership websites I have discovered. Looks like you might be using Kayako for your support system too, yes? Would be interested in connecting with you. You can view my LinkedIn profile here – http://www.linkedin.com/in/rgerardi. Hope to hear from you. -Ryan

    2/17/2008 2:42 pm
  11. Mical and Colin,

    Signing up to multiple lists by checking them off is not supported at this time.

    You can use an automation rule to have all subscribers who sign up to list A also add to list B; however that would not be based on them checking or not checking a box on the signup form.

    2/18/2008 8:35 am | Follow me on Twitter
  12. Hey Justin…

    Does AWeber have any immediate plans to implement a multiple list signup process, or can we twist your arms a little to look a bit more closely at this as an option?

    From the point of view of making it "easy" for our customers… if we in fact do have multiple offers – i.e. e-course, newsletter, and rss feed for example – it makes sense if someone can sign up for all of them at the same time if they want to… otherwise it’s hit the back button, check a different box, resubmit and verify email address multiple times.

    3/4/2008 4:51 pm
  13. Hi Stephen,

    Ow! My arm! :)

    I can definitely see the value in that, and it is a feature we plan to add.

    Two reasons it hasn’t been added yet:

    * It’s actually quite a big project as it requires an extensive rewrite of our web form signup script.

    * Our Development Team is working on several other "very big" projects right now and we want to get those out and live as quickly as possible.

    3/5/2008 10:32 am | Follow me on Twitter
  14. Thank you – both Mike Hill and Aweber – this is exactly the ‘fix’ I needed :-) Perfect!

    4/24/2008 12:24 pm
  15. I haven’t tested it, but it seems like this would also be possible to do with the JavaScript file if you edit the end of the .js file with these modifications and then saved a copy of it to your own host to embed in your site instead. Can anyone verify this either way?

    11/2/2008 2:46 am
  16. Tim,

    I’m sorry, but I’m not sure what modifications you’re referring to. Can you clarify what you mean?

    11/5/2008 9:17 am | Follow me on Twitter
  17. Yeah, I just opened the javascript file that Aweber generates for the form, copied all the code to a new .js file on my computer and modified the code at the very end with what was explained above in this post for the HTML version of the form. Then I saved the js file, uploaded it to my host, and called for that javascript file in my blogs footer.php instead of the one that AWeber generates. Works fine for offering users the option of subscribing to a daily email or a weekly one.

    11/5/2008 10:38 am
  18. Tim,

    I see what you mean now.

    That’s definitely something you can do (in effect it’s the same as using the raw HTML we provide for the form instead of the JavaScript), but I suspect that most people aren’t comfortable creating/editing .js files.

    Good thinking, though… thanks for sharing!

    11/5/2008 12:53 pm | Follow me on Twitter
  19. tom

    Just wondering once i’ve done this, how to copy the blog broadcast exactly to the new ‘weekly’ list?

    1/11/2010 7:56 am
  20. There is so much with aweber that I haven’t even looked at yet. Blog broadcasts etc. It is just so confusing, so thanks for the excellent guides.

    3/12/2010 3:49 pm
  21. In the example the html output is in tables but in my html output uses "divs". I suspect there has been an update since this guide was 1st published.

    Can you update the intructions for "div" html output?

    5/8/2010 5:10 am
  22. Thanks for this tip! Unfortunately, the code provided isn’t equivalent/compatible with the current HTML code automatically generated & therefore the radio buttons don’t appear properly.

    I have limited HTML knowledge, but enough to do as instructed & place the respective new code where I want. I get the separate choices for Daily / Weekly, but within the radio buttons I get rectangles & the respective “values” showing up on my sign-up widget :-(.

    Any suggestions?

    5/17/2010 3:03 am
  23. JC,

    The Knowledge Base entry on adding a field that lets you select a list should help.

    If that doesn’t resolve the issue for you, give us a call and we’ll be happy to assist.

    5/17/2010 12:34 pm | Follow me on Twitter

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