You’re Losing Subscribers, Here’s How to Get them Back

Today Glen Allsopp a Personal Development blogger at PluginID shares a great technique for capturing lost subscribers to your blog. You can subscribe to his blog here.

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:

blvd.jpg

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:

outgoing-links.jpg

And then BAM! I instantly remembered the little area of Feedburner where I noticed that I’ve been losing subscribers, lots of them.

Lost Subscribers

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.

feedburner.jpg

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:

feedburner-2.jpg

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:

pluginID.jpg

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.

Glen Allsopp writes on the subject of Personal Development at PluginID. You can help him help you by subscribing to his feed, here.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. You could also add in the email to unverified subscribers a note to check the “over zealous spam filters.”

  2. Surender says:

    Thanks Dareen,
    I will follow your guideline.I lost 150 readers in 2 months.

  3. Thanks Darren! I owe you big time for your recommendation of BLVD Status…I just signed up and now have another more efficient way to look at who is viewing my blog.

  4. Thanks for these tips, Glen. I just checked and found a couple handfuls of unverified subscribers. This is a great marketing opportunity.

  5. Glen, I only have the RSS button for people to subscribe without their email. I use aweber honestly because of shoe and chow and that I can offer an ebook. (its going to be put up shortly. Am i able to do the same with feedburner?

  6. Jesper says:

    There are several benefits from this advice:

    1) New subscribers

    2) Personal contact to your audience <– Great opportunity

    3) Knowledge about sign up problems

  7. Jamie Harrop says:

    Excellent post, Glen.

    I’ve been considering doing this recently after seeing several who were not verified. I always stopped myself from doing it because I wasn’t sure whether I would just be annoying the people.

    But with that said, if I entered my email address to subscribe and then didn’t verify it, I’d expect and welcome an email asking if the site author can help.

    I think I’ll email my unverified subscribers now. :)

    Thanks!

    Jamie

  8. I think this is great advice. Indeed, there are email addresses with unverified status for my blog on feedburner. I will give it a try.

    http://www.littlestomaks.com/about/

  9. Shafar says:

    I didn’t much cared that ‘Unverified’ subscribers earlier. Thanks for the tips!

  10. Edge Girl says:

    Nice to see your efforts paying off. I check my stats periodically and notice a few here and there but thank you for the clarification and follow up idea.

  11. Wayne John says:

    Great advice, I’m off to check my own stats now. Maybe you could also enlighten us as to why Feedburner seems to fluctuate wildly day to day with the subscriber numbers. One day I’m at 75, the next day I’m 60, the day after that, I’m at 70. Seems to swing too much for reality…

  12. I have to say that this method isn’t very effective, seeing that I’ve tried it more than once and never got a replied.

  13. I’m not morally opposed to FeedBurner – but with the constant upgrading and changing I’m doing with my journal, I think that FeedBurner somehow lost communication with my feed and my subscribers weren’t getting their updates – so I took back control and lost a lot of people who had the FeedBurner address…so I just sent out an email to everyone who had ever left a comment on my journal to advise them of the change – I’ve seen a dramatic increase in subscribers and participation since then.

  14. Thanks for the tip! I’ll be sending an email out today!

  15. ShriNagesh says:

    I’ve never heard of blvdstatus. Looks like an amazing tool to try. And thanks for the tips on subscribers.

  16. saleel says:

    Incredible Post!! It gives a clear insight on the importance of getting Feed subscribers and maintaining them.

  17. BLVD Status rocks and I’m definitely going into Feedburner on this one, great tips :-)

  18. PT says:

    Great tip. I just sent an email to about 30 people on my unverified list. About 6 came back as bad addessed. Here’s hoping I pick up at least 10 from the remaining 24. That would put me over 500 subs, which is a huge goal for me. Thanks, again!

  19. Toma says:

    Hi,

    Thanks you esp for the bldvstatus.com . I didn’t knew about it. My feedburner shows an average number for subscribers. I can’t see exactly what there e-mails are, or maybe I can’t see it.

    Great info and once again it all gets down to being human, paying attention to what happens around you and being Creative.

    Thanks

  20. Deceth says:

    Put a worm on the line and reel them back in! Nobody escapes. Not now, not ever.

    You’ve been warned.

  21. Deceth says:

    @ATLANTA WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER:

    Aweber has a lot more features and is a better option for managing your mailing list.

    But, Feeburner is free, Aweber is not. Feedburner is a better option if your site isn’t making 20$ or more a month to cover the costs of Aweber.

    I don’t recommend asking people to rejoin your mailing list often. But, i think its best to use FeedBurner at first, then switch to Aweber only once you’re site start makign money and your mailing list has gone over 100.

  22. Momma says:

    Some of the unverified email addresses in our lists are clearly SPAM addresses….. so, before emailing all unverified subscribers, you might consider that there is a reason some are unverified, as they are nothing more than SPAM email addresses…. This is true for 2 different feeds I have….

    Momma at Engineer a Debt Free Life
    http://www.engineeradebtfreelife.com/

  23. Jodith says:

    I recently gained over 100 e-mail subscribers from the Blogging Idol competition over at Daily Blog Tips, and I’ve noticed a bunch that never verified. I looked all over feedburner to find a way to resend the verification e-mail to them.

    I haven’t sent e-mails to these folks yet, but I’m planning to this weekend. I was thinking that one thing to add to the e-mail would be to add the feedburner address to their whitelist to make sure they get their verification e-mail if they try to subscribe by e-mail again.

    I’m thrilled with my subscriber increase. I had 26 on November 1st and increased it to 119 (not counting the unverifies). I followed some of Problogger’s advice about newsletter subscriptions, and I got a great response for such a small blog.

  24. Jodith says:

    For the person asking about feedburner numbers:

    The discrepancy comes from those subscribed to the RSS feed. It depends on who has checked their feeds that day. If 50 people are subscribed, but only 20 checked their feeds on Monday, you numbers would be e-mail subscribers plus 20. On the next day, if all 50 RSS subscribers checked their feeds, you’d have e-mail plus 50.

    What drives me crazy are the days when it lists me as having 0 subscribers, which it seems to do regularly *frowns*.

  25. How to Blog says:

    Thanks for sharing this, I had noticed that to about my subscribers. I wasn’t losing any, but i noticed a lot of my email ones weren’t verified, but i didn’t want to mess with it because i assumed that they still counted. If what you said is correct then that means they aren’t counting in my total. I’ll send an email anyway to make sure. Thanks so much.

    Jonathan

  26. Hugo says:

    That’s a great tip Glen! I’ve been using Feedburner for a while, but didn’t know I could actually see my subscribers email addresses. I looked and found quite a few were ‘unverified’, so I send them an email as you wrote.
    I hope they’ll subscribe to my feed successfully this time!

  27. Terry Krysak says:

    Great tip, I was wondering about my unverified’s over the last couple of days as well. Will email them as well.

  28. @Jodith- I don’t think it depends totally on who checks your site each day via RSS. There are quite a few blogs that have not posted for months, and their subscriber #’s don’t always drop to a # you would think would be email subscribers alone. I think it probably has something to do with it though. I have never read a good explanation of why feedburner #’s change so erratically as they do sometimes.

    Maybe Darren could do a post on how he thinks it works?

  29. An excellent way to follow up with unverified email subscribers!

    I’ve experienced this problem (unverified emails). At first I just assumed they decided to opt out instead. But then I followed up with two of them and they confirmed the subscription right then and there. Which only goes to show, a short warm follow up just might serve you well.

  30. Debo Hobo says:

    That’s interesting because the other day I was down by about 30 subscriber,-(yes, I know it is sad when that small amount is immediately noticed) huff, but the next day they were back.

    I think that was caused by a system glitch though.

  31. Lorna says:

    I wish this has been posted sooner. I was thinking about what to do with my unverified subscriber, so instead of sending them a reminder, I deleted their e-mails from my feed :(

  32. Glen Allsopp says:

    @Lorna – Remember to keep them in future ;)

    @Debo Hobo – That’s just normal feedburner fluctuations

    @Jesper – Great observations, thanks for sharing the added benefits

    @Wayne John – Darren covered that over here

  33. James says:

    Thank you SO much, this is very helpful! I never really understood what the unverified status acctually meant (I am clearly blonde).

    Thanks again for this insight….fantastic article.

  34. Glen Allsopp says:

    @the Blogoholic – I guess it depends on your audience and how you come across. The personal development niche is known to have a caring and happy audience so maybe that is why I had quite a lot of success

    @all – thanks for the kind words, and thanks to Darren for giving me the opportunity

  35. Vinayak says:

    Glen Allsopp,
    It’s a great tip! I did try it after Darren did a similar post on this subject sometime ago.
    But…
    I would like to point out:
    In case of reclaiming Unverified Feedburner Email Subscribers…the process of getting back those subscribers is actually quite tedious because same Email id can’t be fed twice into that form. An unverified users has to be first removed manually from the subscriber list before he/she can again send in the subscription request. So there’s a lot of coordination and effort required both from the Blog owner and more importantly from the Subscriber. And that often be asking for too much.
    Feedburner is still the best of its kind service but I think they should come up with a solution for this.

  36. Thanks for the great tips! I will definitely be checking my stats on that. : )

  37. Great information. I’ll be sure to keep a check on that specific part of feedburner now.

  38. Ali says:

    hanks for the tip! I’ll be sending an email out today!

  39. Leon says:

    Wow. Thanks! I needed that. I’ve lost about half of my subscribers. Now I love Feedburner even more!

  40. Indie Fan says:

    Not a bad play, but I tend to believe that if they don’t confirm, they may not be a targeted reader in the first place.

  41. Mario says:

    Thank you for this great post. I am glad to read it before I needed it :-)
    I just started my blog, so I hadn’t the ‘chance’ of losing subscribers yet. Thanks to your post I know how to prevent it in the future.

  42. Almost all of my 1500+ unverifieds — over 4 years of addresses — are yahoo, hotmail, gmail — i.e., probable bogies!

    Question:

    How far do you go back? And who do you eliminate from your requests?

  43. Takumi86 says:

    Alright thanks for the advice, i never open my feedburner so i never thought they could be this matter, thanks for letting me know about this

  44. Glen,

    Glad to hear you like BLVD Status we are hard at work to make it a viable solution for bloggers. One other feature that I love that has to do with RSS is you can set up your RSS feed url as a conversion point and track conversions to your RSS so you can see how many people came from stumble that day and actually subscribed compared to other referring domains.

    Great post

  45. Louisa says:

    Awesome timing on this post. Was just wondering today whether it would be OK to email people who hadn’t verified their subscriptions or if it was a bit of a no-no. Just sent the email off then! Thanks!!

  46. العاب says:

    well , this is a good way for getting subscribers back . though i’ve never undergone such experience & i wish i won’t .

  47. Minerva says:

    I have been doing what you propose since August of this year. I do it regularly once a month. But my results are not so good, I would say that less than 5% of them do subscribe again, and most of them subscribe but do not verify!!! (even if it is specified in the email that they should verify the suscriptcion ad that it might be going to the Spam)

  48. KP says:

    My ratio is damn high about 40% unverified due to email not reaching.I am developing a tool for it and in one or two days I will release it on my blog.

  49. gjperera says:

    I read through most comments and even searched and noticed that no one mentioned the fact that feedburner allows you to export that list to a .csv file which can be opened in Excel for data manipulation. This is great for small and large websites, you can run a mailing list from that Excel file. Hope this helps. Thanks for the great tip!