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Blog Reading Tips for Email Subscribers

Fear My BlogI have used FeedBurner to manage this blogs RSS feed from the minute I set up this blog. An interesting quirk about FeedBurner is that it can’t tell me (because it doesn’t know) who signs up for my RSS feed via a feed reader. It could tell me when someone signs up, but it doesn’t and I probably wouldn’t want it to anyway. It could, but doesn’t, tell me when someone signs up via email and that might be cool, right now I just have to check my stats regularly to see who’s subscribed. But what it does do, is it does tell me when someone unsubscribes via email. I’m not sure what the logic is here but the result is a little saddening. I am occasionally informed that I lost a reader that I probably didn’t even know I had. This is sad but not horrible because I don’t have a typical blog.

I don’t have a “typical” blog because typical blogs get more traffic from Facebook than they do from Twitter. I get more from Twitter. Typical blogs have more readers that subscribe by email or come to their site directly (via a bookmark or by typing in the blog address directly) than subscribe by RSS feeds. Most of my readers subscribe to the RSS feed. But I do get my share of you reading via email. To give you an idea, about 5% of my total subscribers, subscribe via email.

I don’t know why most people subscribe to my blog in the first place and I don’t know why they unsubscribe. I can guess but I don’t know. I have noticed a trend, though, in when people unsubscribe via email. Here are the two trends I’ve noticed:

  1. I get most of my un-subscribers shortly after I have a post that get’s lots of pickup: What I imagine happens here, is I get a spike in new visitors for whatever reason and several of them like what they read and they subscribe. Then a month or two later, they realize that they don’t like the rest of my posts and/or I post too often, or they don’t like Lego, Star Wars pics. (The last one seems highly unlikely, because who doesn’t like Lego, Star Wars pics?)
  2. I tend to get people unsubscribing when I post several times in one day: I have a pretty regular cadence here of 3-5 posts per week, more like 3 than 5 and I usually only post once a day, although sometimes I post twice in one day. This usually isn’t a problem. But the way email subscriptions get pushed out, if I post mid-morning, then late afternoon/early evening and follow it up with an early morning post the next day, email subscribers could end up with 3 posts clogging their inbox. This proves too much and they unsubscribe.

So in an effort to help out my loyal email readers.

Blogs Are Not Email.

For the first several years of my own blog reading, I tried and tried in vain to get my clients and executives to get out of email, but I have finally relented and come to accept that for some of you email works very well. You have your systems, folders and rules. You have a deep relationship with Outlook and have no reason to give it up. My best advice to you is don’t treat blogs like email. GTD doesn’t apply the same way to blogs as it does to email. You don’t have to read them all. It’s okay to delete half of the posts without ever reading them. The problem with this approach is that many of you are probably on corporate email and have a limited number of  space for email. My recommendation is to set up a folder in archive, on your PC - not the network, that all blog posts get forwarded to, bypassing your inbox.

Get The Best of RSS and Email.

You may or may not be hip on RSS. You may not even really know what it is and that’s okay, but I do promise that RSS is a wonderful tool if you take a little time to get to know it.

Here are two articles by Microsoft on how to subscribe to RSS if you’re using Outlook 2007 or Outlook 2010. This works very much like email but allows you to do so anonymously (no one ever sees your email address) and it’s kept in a separate folder from your email.

Email is Still Important

Email, despite the bad rap it gets (even from yours truly) is still a very powerful tool - when used appropriately. Some may remember an effort I made to do a physical newsletter. It was a total failure. Too much work. I sent out one and that was it. I am determined to pick up the effort as an email newsletter later this year (once I get settled in after the move) and have even set up a page for people who would like to receive the newsletter. As with all things here, I make no promises but promise to only do something if I think you will find value in it.

Got Tips?

For the 5% of my email subscribers that I wrote this post for, many of you are the real pro’s at email management. Do you have any tips for managing your blog reading via email? I’d love to hear them in the comments.

Special thanks to @JessFlynn for the awesome “Fear My Blog” T-Shirt. It started as a joke, years ago and I don’t even remember the context but she had this shirt made for me and I love it.

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About Tac

Social media anthropologist. Communications strategist. Business model junkie. Chief blogger here at New Comm Biz.

  • http://www.layeredbyte.com/ Holden Page

    I remember your newsletter idea, after the first one  I always wondered if you would send more. Obviously not :)

    I think that idea was solid though Tac, and could’ve added some really awesome value to your readers. Not to mention that is really valuable information for you. I do realize that would take a lot more time than I, or you, would be willing to put in. Writing down all those addresses is not the best thing to do in the world.

    Pursue the e-mail newsletter though. I know I pay much more attention to my email than my RSS feed. My email = my online life. If I am willing to give you my email address to hear more of your thoughts revolving around this blog, that means I am willing to pay a lot of attention to you. Much more so than most people.

    I think a lot of people think along the same lines. 

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com tacanderson

    As always, thanks for the input Holden. The time was one killer of the physical newsletter idea but then StickyBits pivoted their product making what I was using it for a little more difficult and that proved the final nail. Stay tuned for the email newsletter and thanks for signing up. 

  • http://www.layeredbyte.com/ Holden Page

    Love the term, “pivoted.” The new buzzword of the month :D Looking forward to seeing what you have in store.

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