Updated March 11, 2016
FeedBurner provides a way for people to subscribe to your blog posts. (If you aren’t sure what that means, read my post about RSS and feeds.) Over the years, it has been one of the most popular services if its kind and is still used widely today.
Why I no longer recommend FeedBurner
Put simply, FeedBurner is outdated and its stats are often inaccurate. You can read more about why I moved on from FeedBurner and what I recommend instead in this post.
Having said that, there are still many, many people who use the service. If you would like to use FeedBurner, you can find their startup guide here.
The tips below were written when I was still using FeedBurner myself. As of this writing, they still apply.
1. How to export your FeedBurner email subscriber list
Email subscribers are much better than RSS subscribers. I recommend you aim to get email subscribers over RSS subscribers as much as possible.
I also recommend that whether you are moving away from FeedBurner or using FeedBurner actively, export and save your email subscriber list on a regular basis as it is not backed up for you.
To do this, login to FeedBurner and choose your feed title.
On the next screen, click on the “Publicize” tab then “Email Subscriptions” in the left column. Once you see a menu underneath, click on the “Subscription Management” link:
Next, scroll all the way down to the bottom of your screen.
The number you see next to “Total Subscribers” is your email subscribers only, NOT your RSS subscribers (RSS subscribers aren’t accessible). If you remember your subscriber numbers being much higher than what you see here, it’s probably because you are used to logging in and seeing the total subscriber count (both RSS and email subs). Remember, this is only email subs.
Okay, moving on.
Click on “View Subscriber Details” which should then give you the option to “Export CSV” underneath. Click on “Export CSV.”
Once you download it, save this CSV file in a place you’ll remember in case you need it later. For the time being, your emails should be sent out as usual. Hopefully you realize this since you do subscribe to your own feed and haven’t noticed it not being delivered, right? 🙂
Export and save this CSV file on a regular basis. If ever FeedBurner dies completely or you decide to move to another service, you’ll want this list to transfer to your new service.
- You can import a CSV file into a spreadsheet like Google Sheets or Excel. In your app of choice, go to File > Import.
- If you spend any time online, no doubt you will hear the importance of building an email list. The CSV file here is the beginning of your email list, but note FeedBurner does not allow you to send emails to this list manually. That is, FeedBurner’s only job is to keep track of when you publish a new post on your site (it does this automatically when after you’re set up) and send an email of that post(s) to your subscribers. If you want to be able to send one-off emails, other than your posts, you will have to sign up with an ESP (Email Service Provider). This is the one I use.
2. How to change your FeedBurner delivery time
I highly recommend you experiment with the time of day FeedBurner delivers your emailed blog posts to your subscribers. In the past, I have seen remarkable differences in the amount of traffic I get depending on the time my posts are delivered via email.
Login to FeedBurner and choose your feed title.
Click the “Publicize” tab, “Email Subscriptions” and then “Delivery Options” (left column). Choose a time from the “Schedule Email Delivery” menu.
- When you reset your the time, keep it there for at least a few days and preferably a week or more. This will give you a more accurate picture of the effectiveness of a particular time.
- Don’t assume that the default set by FeedBurner or someone else’s chosen time will work for you. All blogs are different and all audiences are different. Experimentation is key.
- Make a note to yourself to make this an annual, semi-annual or quarterly exercise.
3. How to verify your unverified FeedBurner email subscribers
When someone signs up to be an email subscriber of your blog, the process goes like this:
- They enter their email address in the appropriate form (get the code or the link to your form from the Publicize tab in FeedBurner).
- They are sent a verification email in which they are asked to confirm their subscription request.
- They click on the link in the email (or copy and paste the URL provided) to confirm.
- Once they do so, they’re signed up. They’ll get the next email that FeedBurner sends.
The problem with the sign up process
Sometimes one will enter their email address as in Step 1 above, but then never verify their subscription as in Step 2. In effect, the process was never completed and they are therefore not getting your emails.
Who knows why someone doesn’t verify their email subscription (they forgot, they overlooked it, they weren’t aware, laziness?), but the fact is, they were at least interested enough in your blog to provide their email address in the first place. Therefore, there’s a good chance they’ll follow through with a little nudge.
This is not a quick process, but could be worthwhile if you hate to see those almost-subscribers slip away.
First, find the email addresses of unverified subscribers.
Login to FeedBurner and choose your feed title.
Click on the “Publicize” tab and “Email Subscriptions.”
Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click “View Subscriber Details.” You’ll see the list of email addresses of your subscribers pop down. The unverified ones are indicated.
With unverified email in hand, send a short, friendly note explaining you noticed they hadn’t completed the verification process and ask them if they have any questions you can answer personally.
You can then direct them to look for the verification email they received from FeedBurner and follow the directions. If they don’t have it, they can resubscribe (delete their email address in FeedBurner before they do).
I wouldn’t go overboard here—a few sentences in your email would suffice—but it may be worth a shot. If they don’t respond, let it go and move on. Don’t bug ’em! The last thing you want to do is come across as spammy or desperate.
While FeedBurner price (free) and ease of use makes it attractive to many site owners, I don’t think it’s worth starting with it.
A good ESP will not only send out your blog posts as FeedBurner does, but will also give you the ability to send additional emails to your list. This comes in handy in many situations like promoting a product, providing exclusive content and more. Additionally, most ESPs are free when you are first getting started.