At a certain point in the life of your blog or website, you might feel the need to connect with your readers almost immediately through email. Even though many users might subscribe to your feeds and use their own readers for your RSS feeds, there might be a certain group who would prefer the content straight in their respective emails. Out of the numerous email subscription services for your website, FeedBurner, which has been taken over by Google since its inception, is arguably one of the best out there.
WordPress has its own feeds, but it does not provide any special services. FeedBurner is a feed management service. It has a lot of features which allow webmasters to monitor traffic on their feeds, set up email subscriptions, customize their feeds and even monetize them using Google AdSense.
To use FeedBurner to offer email updates to your readers, you first need to setup your blog’s feeds in FeedBurner. Then, you need to generate the code for email subscriptions, which you would need to put in your website. Once the code is live, your readers would be able to subscribe to your website’s updates by email.
Setting up FeedBurner
First, you need to use your Google account to login to FeedBurner. On successful login, you would need to add your website’s feeds in your dashboard. In general, the link to the feeds of your blog is www.yoursite.com/feed. You can verify it by going to the link in your browser. Although it’s basically an XML file, some browsers like Firefox show it in a well formatted page.
If you have successfully linked to the feed of your blog, FeedBurner would ask you to provide a title for your feeds and also provide a customizable feed URL. Once you provide a customized URL for your feeds, your feeds are live.
After successfully setting up your feeds, you need to activate the email subscription service, which is provided as a free service. To do so, you need to click on the publicize tab on the top, and select the Email Subscriptions service from the list on the left. Click on Activate to activate the service. You are shown the following message on successful activation of email subscriptions.
As you can see, the same page also contains the code that you need to place somewhere on your website to show the form which your readers can use can subscribe to your feeds by email. You need to copy the code in the text box and paste it in your website to make the email subscription form available.
Adding the Email Subscription Form
In WordPress sites, it is best done as a text widget placed on the sidebar. To do so, go to Appearance > Widgets and drag a “Text” widget to one of the sidebars on the right depending on where you want to place the item.
We choose the main sidebar here. Click save after pasting the code. The form looks like the one shown below.
You can change the styling of this form by editing the code that you pasted in the sidebar. This step, however, requires some knowledge of HTML and CSS. Do note that the code snippet takes care of the width by its own and takes up the full width available to it.
Another step that you might want to do after setting up the email subscriptions is putting a redirect from www.yoursite.com/feed to your FeedBurner URL. This helps in keeping track of your users and monitor them on your FeedBurner dashboard. You can set it up using the FeedBurner plugin for WordPress.
To view your statistics, login to your FeedBurner account and select the required feed. The detailed statistics are available in the “Analyze” tab. Statistics aren’t available until a few hours to a few days of setting up your feed, so If your feed is new, you probably won’t be able to use this section right away. However, if you have a few subscribers already, it would show you statistics.
FeedBurner is a wonderful service which is provided free of cost and just ignoring it’s utility is really difficult. We hope that this post helped you in setting up email subscriptions for you website and help you connect to your readers in a better way!