Here’s the end of FeedBurner’s email services announcement on a Google Developers blog.
What do you do now? By when? How? And what will it cost?
Here are seven steps to help you work it all out – with minimal disruption and without forcing your subscribers to sign up again.
Step One: Recognize you have until July 1st (at least) to figure it all out.
So at the time of writing (April 14th), that’s 75 days away. This gives you time to plan a transition – and the larger your mailing list, the more important planning your migration will be.
Google also says that FeedBurner emails will stop “starting in July.” That might end up being later than July 1st, but that isn’t very precise either. We think it’s safest to plan that no emails will be sent by FeedBurner from July 1st onwards.
Step Two: Don’t download your emails just yet.
Or at least, you can, as a backup, but there’s more work to do than just that download. That’s because:
- Your FeedBurner subscription forms are still collecting email addresses.
- Your future FeedBurner mailings may still cause unsubscribes and bounces.
In other words, any download you make now will be out of date pretty quickly.
It also means that FeedBurner email going away is a whole lot more than downloading your email subscribers. You need a place, an email service (known as an email service provider, or ESP) to put them, so you can still get your word out to them after FeedBurner email is finally shut down forever.
Put another way, downloading your email subscribers is basically your LAST step, not your first.
You will have to be able to log in to your FeedBurner account, however, to download your subscribers. This might not be possible for you. Maybe the account was started by someone else years and years ago, and the info has been lost. Maybe the “migrate to Google login” didn’t work out or happen. Either way, now you’re stuck. If this is you, it’s a bad news, good news situation. The good news is that there are ways to encourage your email subscribers to move. The bad news is that they will have to re-subscribe. We at FeedBlitz have a lot of experience with this, so contact support for help.
Step Three: See this as an opportunity for you.
When you switch from FeedBurner to a FeedBurner alternative, you’ll quickly discover that there’s more that you can do with a modern email service. So this is a chance to do more – to make the most of your emails to your subscribers while still delivering the ease and power of automated RSS email campaigns that build your newsletters for you.
What you do NOT want to do, if you’re used to FeedBurner, is settle for just a so-so RSS blog to email solution. If you settle for a service that doesn’t have RSS to email in their DNA, it will ultimately make a lot more work for you to get your mailings out. Make sure that you can get both the automated production and bulk email delivery you want – and that you’re used to.
So your most important criteria are going to be:
Can my FeedBurner replacement email service deliver RSS emails at least as well as FeedBurner?
- Daily updates at the time and time zone of your choosing.
- Basic branding with logos and colors.
- The ability to optionally truncate your posts and provide a custom call to action.
That’s a bare minimum, though.
Can your FeedBurner alternative do more than FeedBurner could?
But what more might you want to do, if you could? Here are some things to think about, just for your RSS emails alone:
- Schedules other than daily: Do you want posts delivered ASAP or a weekly digest on Mondays? How about three times a week? RSS email services can do that now.
- Topic / Tag / Category segmentation: If you could filter what’s sent out by how you categorize or tag it on your post, what might that mean? Could you make mailings more focused to your readers by offering topic-based mailings?
- Personalization and Segmentation / Custom Fields / Groups: How about capturing a subscriber’s name and personalizing their RSS emails. Or grouping subscribers based on what event they came from, or their interests, or behavior (e.g., Adding someone who’s bought from your e-commerce store to the “Customers” group).
- Better branding and cool RSS templates: Would you like a more sophisticated look to your RSS emails? Do you want them to render well on multiple email apps and mobile devices? Would you like more control over activation emails and forms? What if your new RSS to email service could extract featured images and move them to the top of your post, so your mailings became much more interesting than an emailed version of your blog.
- Would you like to monetize your RSS mailings? The old FeedBurner Ad Network (FAN) was discontinued by Google shortly after they acquired FeedBurner, cutting off a revenue stream for FeedBurner users. Did you know, however, that you can put ads in emails? And that they can work really well? If your website has ads, then an RSS to email service that can help make you money by adding ads to your emails as well could be really (and literally) valuable to you as an extra income source. In a related vein, if you use affiliate links in your emails, is your email service OK with that? Not all are, so check that out if that’s one of your content monetization strategies.
- Video in email: If you have a YouTube channel, or use Vimeo, or embed a Facebook video in your blog post, do you want that to appear in your emails as well?
- Reporting, analytics and metrics: Your next email service should be able to tell you how well your mailing did. How many times it was opened, clicked through, and (most importantly) who did that. What can you gain if you could discover which of your posts really worked for your email subscribers and which weren’t so great? How would that help your business?
- Easy subscriber management: Can you import? (FeedBurner couldn’t.) Can you export, group, manage, merge, tag and more? Can you set actions and triggers to change what a subscriber sees based on their activity?
- Smarter truncated posts: If you use truncated posts in emails to drive traffic to your site, would they be better if they were more than a block of ugly text?
- Funnels and autoresponders and automation: What could you do if you could send your new blog subscribers a thank you note. Or a thank you gift, as an incentive? Or start a sales funnel to encourage them to buy from you, or attend an event? Is there an API, or links to services like Zapier, to integrate your RSS emails with your other services?
- Single vs. Dual Opt-In. I’m a big fan of dual opt-in; but single has its place too. How would you like your new provider to handle that for you?
What more could your Feedburner replacement do with email that Feedburner could not do?
Aside from some of the opportunities above, there are non-RSS email features that you might want to consider.
- Send bulk email without an RSS feed. In other words, a traditional, manual newsletter.
- Funnels and autoresponders. (I already covered these above)
- Follow-up emails. So you can (re)send an “In case you missed it” email to your blog subscribers who didn’t open your email – and a follow-up to those who did.
- Cherry-pick from your blog. Send an email powered by your blog, but build it by hand from the posts – giving you the best combination of automated email creation with complete manual control.
That’s a lot of potential things to think about. It’s also a lot of potential for your business or organization that you can now tap into.
Step Four: Think about what you want from the company behind the service, as well as the product itself.
Feedburner was good enough for many bloggers. It was bare-bones minimal, and it was free.
So what would you like from your FeedBurner replacement?
- Technical support. All modern professional ESPs will offer support for most of their customers. Some may limit that support if they offer (and you use) a free version, so be sure you know what you really want from customer service as you consider what to do next.
- Subscriber import. Now you can collect emails at an event and add them to a list.
- RSS to email commitment. You don’t want to be forced to do this again, so how core is RSS to email to your new provider? Is it central to what they do or an afterthought?
- Compliance. Dirty little secret: FeedBurner wasn’t GDPR compliant. You need to be.
- Fees: What is the fee structure? Are there overages? Do they charge for active subscribers only or for “leads” – even if they’ve unsubscribed? Is there a free option, and – if so – what are its limitations? Can fees be offset by greater ad revenues or better targeting to improve product sales? In other words, make sure that the financial relationship you end up in with your new provider matches your business needs and goals. And if it doesn’t, understand your switching costs and alternatives.
- Large list capability and scalability. Got a list in the tens or hundreds of thousands? Millions? How well does your new RSS to mail provider handle that and, if it’s important to you, how quickly they can mail (say) the million people on your list. Do they encourage large lists to mail – or do they throttle you and charge extra? Large list owners otherwise happy with RSS to email need to be very sure of the business model.
- Deliverability. Can your next RSS to email service actually get the email through to your subscribers? How can you test that? Does it own its infrastructure, or does it use someone else’s cloud? (Or, in other words, are you effectively signing up for two email services, and are you OK with that?). What is your provider’s acceptance rate?
- Security. Is two-factor authentication important to you? Do you want to add users (your VA, perhaps), with role and scope-based restrictions?
- Authentication: Can you improve your ability to get past junk filters by proving the email is really from you?
Step Five: Prioritize
Having talked a lot about what you can do with a modern email service committed to RSS to email and blogging, what you need to think about is what’s important to you. Bare-bones features at rock bottom pricing? Or the chance to do more and grow? How do you see your usage now, and how might it change in the future, and who’s the RSS to email service that can handle that? What are you prepared to pay for that, and available support (or lack thereof)?
You don’t have to get too fancy here, but it certainly helps to write things down. Here at FeedBlitz, when we build requirements for a new project, we start by breaking them down into three broad categories, or priorities, numbered P0 (priority 0 – the most important) to P2:
- P0: Must have. If the capabilities here aren’t ready, it isn’t good enough.
- P1: Highly desirable. Not mission-critical, however, some of these options can be dropped if necessary.
- P2: Nice to have: We would like these ,but if they don’t make it in, it isn’t a big deal.
If you just make a list of your P0s to P2s it can really help you figure out what you need vs. what you want. It doesn’t have to be a fancy spreadsheet, it can be as simple as itemizing your needs as a series of bullet points. As a filter, it can make the difference between choosing the right next step, or having to revisit this all over again in a few months.
Step Six: Choose the long trial.
The thing is, there is a hard deadline here. In July, FeedBurner email stops. For good. You have to get this done by then.
By now you might be seeing that moving email services isn’t just a question of changing a form and importing subscribers. It’s complicated. It’s a hassle (you’ll see how much in step seven). It is not just a case of downloading your FeedBurner email subscriber and declaring victory.
You have at most ten weeks or so to figure this out. The last thing you need is to rush this, especially as it’s been forced on you.
So our take is this: Don’t be rushed by a vendor you’re evaluating. Let’s face it, the fact that you have to do this at all is an unplanned and likely unpleasant surprise. Do you have time to devote to this in a 7 or 15 day trial? Were you planning on blogging in this timeframe or not? Can you do the deep dive to evaluate the solution, company and customer service in just a week or two, given everything else you already had planned?
You’re already in a schedule squeeze (July!). Give yourself time to figure this out and make a good evaluation. If the company you’re researching isn’t flexible during your evaluation, imagine how they’re going to be once you’re locked in.
Step Seven: The Migration Steps.
Research and planning:
- Prioritize your current and future feature needs from your RSS to email FeedBurner replacement.
- Prioritize your business needs.
- Research RSS email vendors, start a long trial.
- Select your vendor.
FeedBurner replacement implementation:
- Replace every FeedBurner subscription form with forms from your new vendor.
- Replace FeedBurner subscription links with links from your new vendor.
- Replace any integrations with third-party forms, landing pages and services with the equivalent from your new blog mail provider.
- Double-check PDFs and printed materials for about-to-be-outdated subscription links and instructions.
- Run your new RSS blog emails in parallel to get rid of any wrinkles.
End your use of FeedBurner’s email services:
- Log in to your FeedBurner account:
- Export your FeedBurner email subscribers, and upload to your new service.
- Disable FeedBurner email to prevent future accidental email signups you might miss.
If you can’t log in to your FeedBurner account, then life gets more complicated – but we can help. More on this in a later post.
The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Finally: Why you should consider FeedBlitz as your FeedBurner replacement
If you’re worried about the end of FeedBurner email but LOVE the ease of RSS powered newsletters, talk to our support team (we won’t turn that into an unpleasant sales experience, I promise), or me – Phil Hollows – personally.
Did you know? FeedBlitz powered the original FeedBurner email service.
RSS to email is core to what we do because that’s how we got our start. We have the industry’s best RSS to email capabilities, are GDPR compliant, have outstanding deliverability, coupled with full local support, monetization opportunities, and no hassle no overages pricing. We love email. We love RSS. We love bringing them together. We invite you to explore this site and our knowledge base.