Newsletters on Blogs, Annoying or Open-minded?

Filed as Guides on August 21, 2008 2:00 am

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Oh my. David Peralty of XFEP is annoyed with e-mail newsletters that are just rehashes of the RSS feed. I publish one of those myself, and without the “special notes” David mentions, using Feedburner. David says:

You should be happy that I subscribe to your RSS feed rather than punish me by making me get the same information two different ways so that you look like you have twice as many subscribers.

Agreed, and some blogs most certainly push newsletters for no reason other than to pimp the subscriber count, like David reasons. However, there’s another thing to take into consideration. If you don’t push your e-mail newsletter, how will the RSS un-savvy of your readership subscribe to your blog?

The blogosphere tend to forget about those, the ones who doesn’t subscribe to 100+ RSS feeds, using Google Reader or Bloglines to keep it under control. There are a lot of people I have worked with over the years that just don’t want anything to do with RSS, which I’d say is because they haven’t seen the greatness of it all just yet, after all, they are journalists and researchers and it would definitely save them time subscribing to their sources via RSS. They should be the target audience of RSS feeds, but still some are opting out, unwilling to learn or just not interested in it, it doesn’t matter.

And then there’s the totally RSS ignorant crowd. They look at that button popping up everywhere, and they feel left out, and that in turn strengthens whatever negative feelings they might have for blogs in the first place. Most blogs doesn’t even tell the readership what that RSS icon is, how it works, how the reader could use it, they just slap it up there.

That same person probably subscribes to a few e-mail newsletters. That blog updates via e-mail signup form is a known functionality.

I’m pretty sure David Peralty knows that, his post is a rant after all, and they should be short and sharp. However, just so you don’t get it wrong: E-mail subscription offers are a great way to connect with the not so technical crowd.

You should take that opportunity, even if it just means that you’ll publish a RSS rehash with Feedburner.

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  1. By David posted on August 21, 2008 at 2:03 am
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    Yeah, it was short and to the point, but not as informational as this post, so kudos to you for that. I allow people to subscribe via e-mail as well rather than through an RSS reader, but recently a contest came up to which the winner will only be announced through the e-mail newsletter (which is mostly just an RSS distribution tool for the blog). I found that this was really just the blog owner trying to increase his RSS subscriber count through getting the same readers to subscribe both to his RSS in their readers, as well as using a contest to get them to sign up to his RSS e-mail newsletter. Shameful tactic to be sure.

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  2. By Bryce posted on August 21, 2008 at 4:01 am
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    I think it’s a good idea to have e-mail as an additional subscription option for your blog’s feed – but creating an e-mail newsletter as a way of doing other marketing/content is silly – that’s what your blog’s for.

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  3. By Stephen Downes posted on August 21, 2008 at 5:11 am
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    I’ve had the RSS version since 1998 (Netscape Netcenter feed number 31) and the email newsletter since 2001. My experience is that the email crowd is very different from the RSS crowd (and that there has been, over the years, a constant migration from the email newlsetter to the RSS feed). I don’t do it to inflate numbers (I don’t even count the number of subscribers I have in RSS, I just guestimate from my Google Reader stats), I do it to offer convenient alternatievs to reader.

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  4. By Andre posted on August 23, 2008 at 5:35 am
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    Hey David, I just ran a contest on the hyperlocal site that I run where I announced the winner through the e-newsletter only and I’ll say that the main reason I did it was to thank the subscribers. We announced the contest on the site because we’d already promised them that we’d do so but in looking back, the folks that read the newsletter are the ones that would take the time to learn more about the cause, so if we did it again, we’d probably only announce it via the newsletter.

    Our newsletter is primarily a listing of some of our articles (though we do try to make sure there are things that either haven’t been covered on the site or starting next week, more in-depth commentary that will not be on the site). The newsletter has an RSS feed, but most of the folks that receive it are not accustomed to using RSS at all, hence why we do the newsletter. We must remember that while we know that someone can follow us 10 different ways, most folks only know how to follow us one or two ways at the most. I had someone say describe my site as a weekly e-newsletter. She apparently never goes to the site except for when she gets her newsletter and clicks on the links to the stories. Plus, we have no way of tracking those RSS numbers anyway, so they kind of just float out there.

    We knew we wouldn’t get any many more folks signing up for the newsletter (we got 4) but we did know that we’d most likely be able to thank a long-time subscriber for their support of the site. In the future we may run some of our contests through the newsletter only where the folks who read the blog only would have no idea a contest was going on.

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