A few weeks back, I posted an article on the value of autoresponders, and when some of my clients and readers were hesitant about investing in the monthly fees, I put together a list of free alternatives. In the time since, I’ve noticed that a lot of people are still reluctant to invest in an autoresponder, so I’ve been testing out options to see which ones work the best. Testing on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook Fan Pages, and most recently with Feedburner, it seems that Feedburner consistently outperforms the other options, though this will vary from person to person and from niche to niche. Feedburner, therefore, seems like the best option for those who can’t afford an autoresponder. I would still encourage folks to sign up for an autoresponder like Aweber, but for those who are just starting out and don’t have the capital, Feedburner may be your best optionl. Before signing up for it, it is important to understand how it works.
WHAT IS FEEDBURNER
Feedburner was launched in 2004 by Dick Costolo, Eric Lunt, Steve Olechowski, and Matt Shobe and was designed as a way for internet users to aggregate the websites they were most interested by creating their own personal news feed. Users sign up for the service, and when they go to specific sites, the add sites whose content they find interesting to their personalized new feed. This creates a kind of news feed that is akin to one you might see on Facebook, but one that is limited to specific content that the user selects. If a reader enjoys the content, they can subscribed, and new posts from that website will pop up in their news feed, giving those sites repeat traffic.
There are several benefits to installing a Feedburner link on your site. One, it makes it easy for visitors to subscribe to your site; all they have to do is click a button. This is actually a little bit better than an autoresponder because it is a quicker process, and you don’t have to worry about getting a bunch of bogus e-mail addresses in your autoresponder (over the course of a few years, phony e-mail accounts can be expensive, though setting up a confirmation e-mail can eliminate this issue). It is free, so you can build a kind of client list without having to pay for it, and Feedburner will handle sending out the e-mails for you, so that whenever you have new content, you don’t have to put together an e-mail yourself. Also, if you struggle with the handling of an autoresponder, and some people do, it eliminates the need to do this. It also gives readers the safety of knowing that they won’t be getting unexpected junk mail. Many readers don’t sign up for autoresponders because they don’t know if their e-mail will be given to other marketers. Since many people build client lists and trade them with other marketers, a reader who signs up for one website might soon be getting junkmail from other websites. Having the option to simply sign up through Feedburner allows them to get regular updates to your site, but also lets them maintain their anonymity. Whether you have an autoresponder or not, adding Feedburner to your site is likely going to improve your traffic.
Though there are some great elements to Feedburner, I would not rely on it exclusively. The first issue is that not everybody has Feedburner. Every internet user I know has an e-mail address, so regardless of who is visiting your site, they can drop an e-mail in an autoresponder. If all you have is Feedburner, then only readers who use Feedburner can sign up for a subscription. When it comes to e-mails, Feedburned does save you the burden of writing e-mails, but they have automated e-mails, meaning that you can’t personalize them the way you would if you were writing the notification. Likewise, because you do not have the e-mails, you cannot send promotions to your subscribers, though you could write a post about a promotion, which Feedburner would then send out. Also, because Feedburner is sending out your notifications, you don’t get an opportunity to develop a dialog with your subscribers the way you would through e-mail. Having an autoresponder also lets other online entrepreneurs know that you are legitimate. If somebody is looking to do business with you, they want to see that you are legit. They want to see that you have your own domain and hosting, your own shopping cart, and that you are savvy enough to know the value of an autoresponder. It’s just like walking into a boardroom wearing a suit; people will take you more seriously than if you are wearing a t-shirt and jeans. It isn’t always fair to judge somebody by their appearance, but people do it all the time, and they will do it when they visit your website. Making sure you leave them with a good impression is going to help with your conversion rates, so, in this respect, having Feedburner instead of an autoresponder could hurt you.
I’m a big fan of Feedburner, and I suggest that everybody include it in their market strategy. It is a popular service that hosted over a million feeds for over 500 000 publishers, and because it was acquired by Google, it may see increased use in the future as Google is known to incorporate its new acquisitions into other services. There are some who think the services has too many issues, and others who see a number of added benefits. Ultimately, the key is making sure you have a diverse stream of traffic coming in. I still find the autoresponder to be the most efficient way to bring in repeat traffic, but Feedburner can be extremely useful as well, and if you look up at the top of the page you are reading right now, you will see that I have it included here. However, like any method for generating traffic, you don’t want to be too reliant on it. Use social networking sites to generate followers through Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook, install Feedburner, and most importantly, get an autoresponder. If you can’t afford one now, Feedburner is a great alternative, but ideally you want both.
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