This first part of a three part series of posts has been contributed by Brian Armstrong of Breaking Free (read more about him at the end of this post).
Most bloggers have heard that providing an email subscription option is a good idea.
The reasoning goes that most internet users don’t know what RSS is, and don’t care. Just ask your parents! They need another subscription option, and email fills that role beautifully.
By the way, I believe we as bloggers have ourselves to blame for the RSS confusion, but I’ll save that story for another day.
Today I’m going to give you an overview of what RSS-to-Email services are out there, and help you pick the right one for your blog.
As a side note, I have yet to find a perfect RSS-to-Email service that does everything I could possibly want. I believe a real opportunity exists for one of the services below to step up and really meet the needs of this market! If I could find a service that did all of the following I’d be in heaven, as would many bloggers:
- Flexible Scheduling
- Import subscribers without requiring another opt-in
- Some basic support (by email, or a forum for example)
- Subscribers count in FeedBurner stats
Without further ado…
It was only natural that Feedburner, with it’s dominance in the RSS arena, would offer an RSS-to-Email service. It turned out to be a breeze and is a excellent, if rather basic, service.
If you already have a FeedBurner account, just click “publicize”, “email subscriptions”, and then “activate”. You’ll have three options but just stick with the standard FeedBurner for now (FeedBlitz is discussed below, and RMail is so basic that I wouldn’t recommend using it over FeedBlitz).
Their emails actually look quite professional by default, and new subscribers will count toward your Feedburner stats which is great.
Only two things disappointed me about FeedBurner. The first was that the only scheduling option was “once per day”. In my own tests, I’ve seen that emailing users once per day is too much and will leave you with a fairly high unsubscribe rate. People’s inboxes are already packed (which is why they need RSS, but alas…) and you will get a handful of emails from people saying “stop emailing me!” if it’s once per day, even though there is an unsubscribe link at the bottom.
While once per day is too much, once per week is probably not enough. Some top marketers that I’ve seen send out messages once every few days (every three days is probably ideal), which I assume is based on extensive testing. The bottom line is that I’d love to see more scheduling options from FeedBurner.
The second gripe I had with FeedBurner is that I was not allowed to import subscribers. Their official policy is that they review each request on a case-by-case basis. It took about a week to get a response but my request to import a fairly small list of 600 or so was denied, stating that it was too big. Based on this limited information, I have to conclude that importing is essentially not allowed for all but the tiniest of lists (they never asked for proof of double opt-ins or anything of that sort so I don’t think it would have helped)
I understand why they have the policy (to avoid problems with spammers) but at the same time this is a major disadvantage. Your only option is to email everyone on your list asking them to re-subscribe to your new list, which has a very low success rate. Expect to have your list cut in half.
Even people who WANT to receive your content will ignore or delete that type of email. Remember, your readers don’t know or care about double opt-ins, single opt-ins, and the can spam act. Nor should you expect them to. From their point of view you are just bothering them. They found your content emails interesting but they don’t feel like filling out more forms.
- Simple to set up
- Allows basic branding by uploading your logo
- Subscribers count toward your Feedburner stats
- Decent support by email (responds within a few days)
- No scheduling
- Can’t import subscribers
Bottom Line: 4/5 stars
FeedBurner is a good solution for anyone who doesn’t have a current subscriber list to import and wants to get something setup quickly.
About the author:
Brian Armstrong is a entrepreneur who achieved financial freedom working for himself at age 23. If you’ve always wanted to start your own business and work for yourself, check out his website on how to start a business. You can read interviews with self made millionaires where they share the secrets to their success, and learn how to start your own business for under $100. Check it out: http://www.startbreakingfree.com/