A few months ago, I was messing around in feedburner and noticed something pretty drastic, I was rapidly losing subscribers on a regular basis. I bet that you are losing subscribers too, even ones that have signed up for your feed. Since this discovery I’ve been regularly ‘getting them back’ and I’m going to explain exactly what I mean today.
What brought me to remember this (and decide to do a guest post for ProBlogger) is a new tool I’ve been testing out called BLVD Status, it’s brought to you by a team of internet marketers and includes some awesome features. My favourite: live analytics.
So, on a normal day my blog was receiving quite a lot of traffic from StumbleUpon as shown in the screenshot below:
The panel for BLVD Status is very simple, giving you a brief overview of what is going on in your site at any one moment. I particularly like the outgoing links section to see where I’m sending traffic too, this also includes people subscribing to your RSS feed. I noticed quite a few of the StumbleUpon visitors were opting to sign-up for my email feed:
And then BAM! I instantly remembered the little area of Feedburner where I noticed that I’ve been losing subscribers, lots of them.
Firstly, if you aren’t using Feedburner then I highly recommend that you do. It comes with a host of features such as:
- Seeing how many subscribers you have
- Seeing where your subscribers are coming from
- Simple email subscription set-up
- A chicklet that lets you show off your subscribers (great for sign-ups)
- and much more…
Now then, once you’ve logged into your Feedburner account, click the ‘Analyze‘ tab then click ‘Subscribers‘ on the left navigation menu.
Next, scroll down the page to see your email subscriptions through Feedburner. You should have this enabled if you don’t as not everyone will know how to use normal RSS feeds, especially if you don’t have a tech savvy audience. I’m not sure if you get the same options if you use a different email provider within Feedburner, but if you go directly to them I’m sure they’ll be able to give you similar information.
If you click on that link you should then see a list of all your email subscribers. My site is quite new (~ 3 months old) so there are only 41 right now but every subscriber counts.
Once there, you should see a list that looks a bit like this:
Of course, I’ve blurred out the actual email address’ for privacy reasons, but your account will show them clearly. Now then, on the column on the right hand side you can see subscribers which are ‘unverified’. What this means is that the person has entered their email address in the box, and gone through the captcha process.
However, they have never actually confirmed their subscription which should have been sent to their inbox and therefore aren’t being ‘counted’ as a subscriber. If you have a big site, you might find quite a lot of people who are unverified, these are people who want your feed, but for whatever reason didn’t finish the process. Some possible reasons:
- They didn’t receive the email
- The email went to their spam box
- They received it but forgot to confirm
- They changed their mind (possible)
Getting them back
Luckily, all is not lost. Just because somebody didn’t verify their address, it doesn’t mean they don’t want to. It would be great if there was an option within Feedburner to re-send the activation email but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
However, you do have their email address so all I recommend that you do is send all unverified subscribers a quick, friendly email to let them know that they can try again, or ask if they had any problems. If you want some pointers on this, here is the email I sent:
If you are sending this to multiple people at once, make sure you add them to the BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) field of your email client so they can’t see each others email address.
The result: about 40% of people got back to me and said they had either not received the email or received an error when they tried. I simply took 10 minutes to enter their emails for them and they activated their subscriptions. For some bigger sites this might be a job that takes you a day, but subscribers are an important factor in any blog, and not something that you want to lose.
I would not recommend doing this more than once as you will annoy people, but check regularly for new people that sign-up but are unverified. Hopefully, you’ll get a lot more subscribers back that you actually (kind of) had before.