Why Email Is Still a Big Deal

16 Feb

Earlier this week Devon sent me a couple of great question through the Worms In the Fridge Facebook page. She wanted to know what the difference is between subscribers and followers. Devon also wanted to know why I chose email subscribers as one of my goal metrics.

Why email is a big deal to bloggers

The difference between email subscribers and followers in general is that email only counts people who are receiving your new posts in their email inboxes. A follower could be anyone who is following you/ your blog through Twitter, Facebook, Google+, social-network-of-the-day.

The reason that bloggers tend to be more concerned with email subscriber count than a general follower account is that email is much more targeted and as a result there is more focused interaction with email than there is with social media posts. Think of it this way, I follow 10,000+ through social media, but I only have a few blogs that I will allow into my email inbox. I see every post from those blogs that are in my inbox whereas I don’t see every post from the blogs that I only follow through social media.

Subscribing to an RSS feed is the middle ground between following on social media and subscribing through email. Think of it this way, you might be subscribed to an RSS feed through Feedly or Flipboard, but do you always read every post? Or even every headline? For most of us the answer to those questions is no. But you’ll probably always at least look at the subject line of an email.

The email service that I use, FeedBlitz, includes tools that allow me to see if the email was opened, if the person clicked-through to the blog from the email, and a bunch of other interesting metrics. FeedBlitz isn’t the only service that does this. Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, and many others also include those kinds of metrics.

The reason that I use use FeedBlitz is that it also publishes my RSS feed for me. I don’t trust Google not to shut-down FeedBurner (they’ve pretty much abandoned it for the last eighteen months) so all of my RSS feeds are published through FeedBlitz. FeedBlitz has reliably delivered the emails from Free Technology for Teachers since 2011. FeedBlitz offers tiered pricing based on the number of email subscribers you have with plans that start at $1.49/month (affiliate link). RSS management is free with all FeedBlitz email plans.

If you’re reading this in your email inbox, thank you. I take it as a tremendous compliment when someone goes through the sign-up process to receive my new posts. I’m picky about what I let into my email inbox and I’ll hazard a guess that you are too. We’re all inundated with email messages. So when you say, “yes, sign me up to get email from you” that is a big deal to me.

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  • Matt Miller

    I totally agree with the power of the email subscriber. I created an opt-in incentive (a free ebook) and have seen my subscriber list grow. In turn, when I publish a new blog post, I’ve seen my day-of-post page views increase a lot as well.

    Blogs in my inbox are sacred for me too. I receive two: Worms in the Fridge and Chris Brogan (based on your recommendation).

    • richardbyrne

      That’s a great strategy. I did something similar with Twitter a year ago. I used “pay with a Tweet” to get people to Tweet when they downloaded a PDF I made.

  • iTeachTeachersTech

    How does email subscriptions work with Google Adsense? I have a couple of adds on my blog, and hopefully, sometime down the road they’ll actually generate some revenue 🙂 With only a total of 1680 views, I’m not going anywhere fast. How can email subscribers help? Thanks!!

    • richardbyrne

      That’s a great question and one that I had for a long time too. In fact, I couldn’t see the connection so I ignored building an email subscriber base for a long time.

      Here’s the thing about Adsense, unless you have 100,000+ pageviews/month look at it as the second or third or fourth source of earning potential. Unless you have time to update your blog many times per day, it is very hard to build-up enough pageviews to make Adsense profitable. The far more profitable approach is to look at building your blog as an on-going advertisement for the expertise and services that you offer. One paid workshop/ presentation (even if it is a subcontracted event) will pay you more than you’ll make in two months of Adsense revenue.

      You can try putting Adsense into your emails too (FeedBlitz supports this). I tried it once but people really didn’t like it and I stopped after a couple of days.