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Website Tip: Offer Visitors the Option to Subscribe to Your Blog Via Email

Feedburner logo

Do you blog? If you are like me, you are always looking for new and effective ways to engage your website visitors. If you maintain a blog on your website an excellent technique is to offer your visitors the choice to sign up for your blog via email. Once implemented, each time you write a new blog post, an email will go out to everyone subscribed to your blog containing the full contents of your blog post. For many people this is a more effective way to consume your blog content that coming back to your blog every time. They get it right in their email in-box.

Setting up a system like this is actually pretty easy to do using a service like Feedburner, which is free. The main steps are as follows:

  1. Set up a Feedburner account and configure it for your blog
  2. Embed a form on your website for people to sign up

If you work with a web developer, they’ll be able to implement step two fairly quickly once you complete step one. If you don’t work with a web developer, Feedburner does provide a little bit of info on their site about embedding the form which may work for you if you are used to working on the technical side of your website. The simplest solution is to post a simple link to a Feedburner signup form on the Feedburner site.

Setting up your Feedburner account isn’t hard, but there are a few specific things you need to do to enable the email signup capability. I’ve listed all the steps below along with screen shots so you can set up your account efficiently. Note there are lots of additional options available to you in the Feedburner system that you might enjoy exploring on your own including some fairly robust statistical tracking of your blog subscribers, how many opened the emails, how many clicked on links, etc.

Here are the 12 essential steps:

(These go quickly, really)

Step 1

Important: be sure to be logged into Google using the Google account you want to associate your Feedburner setup with.

Go to http://feedburner.google.com, and enter the URL of your blog, or even better, the URL of your blog feed. If you have a WordPress website or blog and your blog URL happens to be mysite.com/blog, then most likely your feed URL is mysite.com/blog/feed. Try viewing our raw feed by clicking this link: /blog/feed and you’ll see what a raw RSS feed looks like. Don’t worry, if you can’t find the URL for the blog feed the URL for your blog itself should work just fine in most cases.

Note in the screenshot below I just put in the URL for my blog itself since you’ll know that for sure. Click the Next button.

Step 2

If you entered your blog URL this may be the next screen you see. Which selection you make really doesn’t matter. Unless you have a reason to make a different selection I’d recommend the “RSS 2.0” option.

Step 3

On this screen you can edit the title of your blog as it will appear in Feedburner, as well as edit the vanity URL of your Feedburner feed.

Step 4

This is just a confirmation screen. Click “Next” and move on.

Step 5

On this traffic stats screen feel free to check the boxes for additional statistics if you want to. You can also get to these settings later if you don’t want to think about them now.

Step 6

After clicking “Next” on the stats screen, you’ll see this screen. Click the “Publicize” tab. What we’re after are the settings to enable email subscriptions, which are a little further down the trail…

Step 7

Once on the “Publicize” tab, click the “Email Subscriptions” link on the left.

Step 8

We’re finally at the right screen – I’ve outlined in green boxes the things you’ll see when you know you are in the right place. Key step here, click the “Activate” button.

Step 9

This next screen is where you’ll find the HTML code your web developer will want to embed a “Subscribe to our blog via email” form. Cut and paste the code as indicated and send to your web developer, or embed it yourself if you know how to do so. If you don’t note that just below the code area is a button “Preview subscription link” – click that and copy the link that you can embed yourself anywhere on your site like any other link. That link will take visitors to a form on the Feedburner site for them to sign up for your blog via email.

Step 10

The final three steps let you configure the emails that Feedburner will send out on your behalf.

“Communication Preferences”: This lets you tweak the one-time confirmation email visitors will receive when they first sign up for your blog. Feel free to edit things to suit your style. Click “Save” to save your changes.

Step 11

“Email Branding”: Lets you edit some design aspects of the email subscribers will receive each time you make a blog post. Scroll way down and click “Save” to keep your changes.

Step 12

And finally, “Delivery Options” lets you select your time zone and the two-hour window in which you want the email version of your blog posts delivered. This is actually a great feature as people will come to expect your blog via email within this window of time and that consistency will pay off in the form of more email opens.

That’s it! Your Feedburner feed is all set up and as soon as you embed the signup form or link on your website visitors can start subscribing to your blog via email.