RSS vs. E-Mail: It’s No Contest, E-Mail Wins … For Now
As I mentioned in a prior post, there’s a study out that shows only 11% of blog readers use RSS and 2/3rds of them don’t even know what RSS is. For Bloggers trying to build a subscription base of readers that’s not good news. It means that on average only 1 out of every 9 visitors to a blog is going to be able to subscribe to a blog via RSS. Unless you have another option to regularly reach such readers, they are going to be left out in the cold.
As it happens, there is another option and that option is none other than good old reliable e-mail. While e-mail may not be as sexy as RSS, you can bet that close to 100% of blog readers will have an e-mail account and know what it’s used for. Indeed, given the almost ubiquitous reach of e-mail and its “push” nature, one might argue that if you are really interested in reaching your users, you should probably make e-mail the preferred means of subscribing to your blog. That may sound like heresy to some in the blogging community, but I’d be willing to wager that the read rates for blog posts sent via e-mail are probably much higher than those that are simply made available via RSS, not to mention that fact that e-mail subscriptions apparently reach the 90%+ of Internet users that don’t use RSS.
Up until recently, it seems as though one site, Bloglet, had a monopoly on enabling blogs to offer e-mail subscriptions to their posts. By many accounts, Bloglet is a somewhat unreliable service and with little or no customer service. But it was the only game in town, so basically everyone used it. Recently a few new RSS to e-mail services have emerged including Feedblitz and RSSFWD. I myself have switched to Feedblitz and, like several others who posted recently, have been very happy with the switch.
All that said, over the long term RSS will triumph as e-mail subscriptions to blogs do not scale well and RSS will become much more ubiquitous and user friendly (thanks largely to MSFT’s decision to embed RSS into Vista), however in the short term I think it’s hard to argue that e-mail isn’t a far more accessible and practical way of allowing the vast majority of readers to subscribe to a blog.
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