This is the second part of a three part series of posts on different RSS to Email Solutions. You can read Part 1 which reviews Feedburner’s system here and a review of Zookoda and Aweber here. This post has been contributed by Brian Armstrong of Breaking Free.
FeedBlitz is a paid service that you can tie into FeedBurner (although they are entirely separate companies). Your FeedBlitz subscribers will count toward your Feedburner stats.
Unlike FeedBurner, they offer more extensive scheduling and customization of the emails, plus importing an outside list of subscribers is a little easier. But the fun stops there. I’ll explore each feature in a bit more detail.
I was excited to see that FeedBlitz had more scheduling options than FeedBurner, but I was a little disappointed after I actually tried it. It is not true scheduling in the sense that you find in most applications (Outlook Calendar, Google Calendar, etc) because it isn’t flexible at all. It basically give you four options: email immediately when posts are made, once per day, once per week, and once per month. As stated above, this is not the type of flexibility I was looking for that would allow me to make a post say every three days, or Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It is nowhere near as good as Zookoda’s scheduling, for example.
Second, I tried FeedBlitz’s email customization. While it is very flexible, it’s not necessarily easy to make something that looks good. After about an hour I managed to get something basic that included my logo and looked ok, but it never looked quite as good as even the basic FeedBurner email that you get by default. It was a little frustrating to say the least, but if you were really a pro (or hired one), you would probably appreciate this level of flexibility.
Importing subscribers was a little bit easier than in FeedBurner. Instead of emailing all users to ask them to opt in again, they email all users asking them to take action only if they DON’T want to continue. The difference is important because if someone ignores the email or deletes it, they will still be on the list. They don’t have to be proactive. You’ll still see a certain percentage of people unsubscribe, but not nearly as many as if you asked them to opt-in again.
One thing I found particularly annoying though was that it wasn’t clear to me that FeedBlitz was going to email my entire list after I imported them. It showed a sample email on the screen, but I thought they were suggesting I send that out, not that they were about the send it for me when I clicked “next”!
This brings me to perhaps my biggest gripe with FeedBlitz: it is quite possibly the worst user interface I have ever seen on a website, ever.
That is a big statement, and I’m being a little bit dramatic, but in all seriousness it is confusing and very difficult to use. I frequently found myself lost, arriving at screens totally unexpectedly from different links, and unable to perform basic tasks. Some functions are buried four levels deep in strange pull down menus, there are a handful of bugs, and a wide variety of UI conventions are mish-mashed together. The FeedBlitz team really needs to read some books by Alan Cooper.
I don’t mind paying for a service if it delivers, but even FeedBlitz’s payment system was flawed. Just the sheer number of options was bothersome: Free, Pro, AdPro, Turbo, and a mysterious Newsletter Edition, each of which had different features. I don’t know if I’m allowed to change my logo in the AdPro or Turbo version, and found myself just wishing they had made it one price for the “paid version” which came with everything. When it came time to cancel my subscription, even that didn’t work when their website form had a bug, and I had to call support again.
Overall I would have expected more from a paid service. There was no option to include additional fields (like the subscriber’s first name) which is free in Zookoda, and while it was possible to get a support rep on the phone by leaving a few messages and waiting, I received no responses to email inquiries.
- Offers customization of emails
- Easier to import subscribers but still contacts them
- More scheduling options, but not true scheduling
- Support (sometimes)
- Subscribers count in FeedBurner Stats
- Confusing user interface
- Costs anywhere from $5-$20 per month
- Annoying payment options
Bottom line: 2/5 starsWhile FeedBlitz had the right idea offering customization and scheduling, their poor implementation makes it tough to compete with services like Zookoda which offer the same features (and more) for free.
Part 3 of this review will cover Zookoda, and AWeber.
About the author:
Brian Armh3 is a entrepreneur who achieved financial freedom working for himself at age 23. If you’ve always wanted to start your own business and work for yourself, check out his website on how to start a business. You can read interviews with self made millionaires where they share the secrets to their success, and learn how to start your own business for under $100. Check it out: http://www.startbreakingfree.com/