Wednesday, March 16, 2011

WotW: Email subscriptions

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Good Wednesday! Today's topic comes to us from Judy of Cranberry Morning who wrote:
Hi Lu,

I am wondering if, in an upcoming blog post, you might address the issue of a subscription option on our blogs.

I had the e-mail subscription option on my blog, but then took it off when I realized that people who subscribed by e-mail were not seeing any of the sidebar images (which include my SoapnSuch store and my
Second Chance - A Tale of Two Puppies book). Also, they were simply replying to the email rather than commenting where other commenters would be able to view their comments.

Is there an advantage of putting an e-mail subscription option on my blog? or is it only an advantage to the subscriber?

I appreciate all the useful posts you write to help us bloggers navigate through the Slough of Blogdom.

Thanks so much,

Thank you, Judy, for submitting an AWESOME question! And for reading faithfully every week. :) And, dear readers, if you have likewise awesome questions (even if you might doubt their awesomeness) -- please leave me a comment or drop me a line at

Now, on to Judy's question: What's up with the whole email subscription thing?

Let's look at this in an age-old format: the pro-con list.

The PROS of offering an email subscription:
  • Your blog (potentially) reaches more readers because it is available to them in a different format -- and one that they may prefer. 
  • You have another (potentially) fun stat to look at in your Feedburner account.

The CONS of offering an email subscription:
  • You miss those hits to your blog because people are reading only in their email accounts instead of coming to your blog.
  • Readers don't see the contents of your sidebars, or click on any of the links in your sidebars (such as sponsors). 
  • It takes readers a few extra clicks to come and leave a comment, so they may not leave a comment or, as Judy said, they may just reply to the email they received instead of commenting.

Does that list sound familiar? It should, because it's pretty much exactly the same as the pro-con list for allowing a full feed on your blog. Actually, this whole topic is a sister topic to that topic, so rather than reiterate everything, I'll give you the nutshell version:

Offering an email subscription is a service to your readers -- not necessarily to yourself and your blog. It's just another way to cater to your readers' wants and needs.

Subscription options are one of the few blog topics where I will say that the Golden Rule isn't the first and primary rule, because only offering your blog in the format that you prefer best means that you may be missing out on a substantial amount of readers who prefer to receive their blog updates in another format. (The main formats, in my estimation, are direct reading on your blog, via a feed reader, and via email, with Facebook and Twitter as two additional but probably not mandatory formats.)

So, even though an email subscription may not be as convenient for you as a blog author in terms of getting what YOU want (page hits, comments, sponsor clicks, etc), it's a good idea to offer one anyway so that your readers can get what THEY want: your blog delivered to them in their preferred format.

But, as Judy pointed out, readers who receive your blog via email aren't seeing any of the sidebar content and they often miss out on the comment conversation by either replying directly to the email or by not coming to the blog to see the comments. These are the same concerns that crop up with a full feed subscription, and, again, the solutions are similar (read the extended version of these tenets here): 

Encourage your readers to subscribe to your blog (via feed or email subscription) by posting meaningful and relevant content regularly.

Encourage your readers to support your sponsors by including a sponsor on individual posts.

Encourage your readers to visit by referencing and linking to other relevant posts or features of your blog in your posts, such as a similar project or a post on a similar or related topic.

Encourage your readers to comment by giving them easy opportunities to give you feedback -- ask a question or seek an opinion. (However, you probably want to limit how many questions you ask and opinions you solicit, however, at the risk of becoming a needy must-have-validation type blogger.)

Most importantly, however, encourage your readers to comment by being yourself and responding to comments.
So, now you want to set up an email subscription for your blog? I'll show you how. :)

First, log into your Feedburner account. If you haven't set up a Feedburner account and burned your feed yet, follow these steps to do that first and then come back.

Now click on your blog's feed title and then click the Publicize tab:

Select Email Subscriptions from the menu on the left.

Click Activate... and.... dun dun! Your blog now has an active email subscription that you can personalize and tell your readers about.

Under the Email Subscription link in the left bar of your Feedburner account, now you'll see four new sections:

  • Subscription Management: subscription widget and link codes to copy to your site to publicize your new email subscription option.
  • Communication Preferences: change the "from" email address, personalize the subscription confirmation email.
  • Email Appearance: personalize the title, logo and email fonts/colors for your messages.
  • Delivery Options: set the timezone and daily message delivery time.
And, just like with your blog's feed, it's a good idea to subscribe to your blog's email subscription. This just occurred to me today (yesterday, by the time you read this), but I still think it's a good idea. :)

Happy email subscribing!

Lu (or Lorene if you prefer) is the mom of one squirmy boy and the wife of a singing and dancing elementary teacher. She is the proud author of this weekly Wednesdays on the Web (WotW) segment here on Housewife Eclectic and spends the other days of the week blogging about crafts and whatever else comes up at just Lu.
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