By now, if you've been following this short series on RSS, you should have a firm understanding of:
- What RSS is
- What it means to be an RSS publisher
- How to locate your RSS feed
- How to sign up with feedburner
- How to add a feedburner subscription form into your sidebar
If you happened to miss those first 2 posts, you can click below to review:
In this 3rd and final post of this series, we're going to get into detail about improving your RSS subscriber count, analyzing your Feedburner statistics, promoting your email subscription, and how to add options into your blog posts.
First... Analyzing Your Feedburner Subscriber Data
If you recently subscribed with Feedburner, you may not have a huge subscriber base to speak of (and that is ok). RSS subscribers are notoriously hard to build and keep.
Here is a screen shot of what your Feedburner subscription page looks like:
Notice, the bulk of subscribers are through email. This is extremely common, as it's the easiest way to subscribe to your feed.
Now lets look at "item use" within the side bar. This will show click activity within your feed for a set amount of time. This is a very interesting way to see which of your posts are the most popular, and what activity happened within your feed and when.
Most of the stats within feedburner are self explanatory. What I want to really point out is the fact that these stats are separate from any other website tracking statistics you may have access to.
For example... you typically use Site Meter or Google Analytics to track your visits, referrals, etc. But now that you have a Feedburner feed, you can also track stats on your RSS feed. This is hugely important. The point of offering people the RSS susbription options is to allow them to read your content on their own terms. They may sign up once, and never return to your site again even though they are a loyal reader to your blog through email.
So just keep in mind that the feedburner stats are something you're going to want to keep your eye on along with your regular analytics in order to get an accurate picture of who is actually reading your content.
How to Promote Your Feedburner Email Subscription Form
Next I want to go over a few ideas for promoting your Feedburner email form. In my last post I went over how to add the feedburner form into your ActiveRain sidebar, and hopefully you were able to install that properly.
You've probably noticed by now that the html form I showed you last time isn't compatible in many places. You can't place it into AR posts, and you can't place it in your email signature. Unfortunately, there are many places you can't place an html form. But, the good news is that you have other options.
Just because you don't have a nice form to give to people doesn't mean you're out of luck. At this point, I think it would be helpful to point out where you can get a hyperlink to your email form. A hyperlink has ultimate versatility. You can attach it to a banner or button, you can put it in your email signature, you can create a text link... you can use it just about anywhere.
But, to get the link you need, you'll have to follow a couple steps.
First, navigate to your Feedburner feed. Mine is at: http://feeds.feedburner.com/CRENARBlog
Then, follow these steps:
Make sure to hang on to this link. Bookmark it, write it down, whatever... just don't lose it. You'll want to use it later.
Now, let's just create a simple link in our AR blog post that allows people to subscribe via email...
Pretty simple so far right? Remember, you can take this link just about anywhere to allow people to sign up via email.
In my opinion, your email subscription tool is one of the most powerful in your entire arsenal. You should be promoting it religiously everywhere you leave a footprint online. You can even promote it offline if you have the means. I had a student that sent out blog announcements to their SOI offering a free $5 Starbucks card for the first 50 email subscribers. It was a great way to build awareness and get new subscribers.
In the last part of this post, I want to review a few tips for building your subscribers.
Tips on Increasing Your RSS Subscribers
- Write Great Content - Ok, ok... it's not earth shattering, but you have to have a solid base to work from. If you write bad articles, building a subscriber base will be excruciatingly difficult.
- Write Consistently - This was found to be one of the number one reasons why people UN-subscribe from a blog. Lack of consistency will kill you. Even if you can only realistically write 2 posts per month, that's better then setting a 1 post/day precedent, then not writing for 3 weeks.
- Give Some Incentive - People like free stuff. A gift card can work well, but if you're working on "the cheap", try offering a free e-book to subscribers. If you promote it right you'll create a great value, and build your subscribers at the same time. If you really want to get advanced, you could offer exclusive content in the feed itself. This would create a sort of "secret tips" feed that only your subscribers can see. There is a post here on how to do it.
- Don't Just Promote It On Your Blog - If you're like most bloggers, you probably have a pretty large online footprint... Social Networking, Forums, Bookmarking, Social Media... these are all places where you can promote your feed. We typically use our websites as a signature, but why not our RSS URL's as well?
- Publish a Full RSS Feed - It's tempting to want to publish a truncated version of your feed to try to drive traffic back to the site, but it rarely works like that. What you end up doing is just making people mad. This was listed as the 3rd most popular reason why people UN-subscribe from blogs.
- Place an RSS Icon in a Prominent Place - This is an easy one, but you'd be suprised how much it can help.
- Seek Out People that Didn't Confirm - One of the frustrations of Feedburner is that it's a double opt-in system. It' good for protecting spam, but sometimes people will try to subscribe but never confirm their subscription. These people are listed in your Feeburner account. Simply email them again asking them to confirm their subscription.
- Stay on Topic & Don't Overpost - These were both popular reasons why people UN-subscribed from blogs. If you write a mortgage news blog, don't write about what you had for breakfast. No one cares. And if you're a prolific writer, try to keep it down to 1 per day. Each post you write should be very high quality. If you have too much to say try using Twitter as an outlet...
- Write Great Content - Um... did I already mention this?
Well, I hope by now that you have a firm understanding of what RSS is and how it can become a very powerful tool for promoting your blog.
If you have any questions about anything I covered in this 3 part series, please comment!
This is the part of the post where I ask you to subscribe to MY blog!! ;-)