Feeds have definitely been the choice of syndication in recent times, whether it is for blogs or other websites. Feeds allow syndication without need for duplication of the content, and enable single source publishing. A content once published can be automatically syndicated without making duplicate copies.
However, feeds are fairly new technology, and definitely not as old as emails. There are lot of people out there who still use emails and are reluctant or might have I-don’t-want-to-learn-new-things-attitude to accept feeds as the syndication format. Email is ubiquitous, everywhere, convenient. As a publisher or content provider, you are at a loss if you cannot reach out to these people because you might be losing important audience. As a reader, you are losing out on lot of content, definitely. Email subscriptions are also useful to woo the readers who use pagers, mobiles or PDAs without an Internet connnection. Most of them have an email address nowadays. To bridge this gap and extend the single-source publishing to emails, there are certain services which provide email subscriptions to feeds. We will look at some of them here.
FeedBlitz offers free services to both, the publishers and the readers. For publishers, it lets enables adding email subscription to the website which has a feed. The publishers can put up a convenient email subscription form on their website. In addition to this it also provides statistics and insights into the readership.
For subscribers, it provides a central place for email subscription to different feeds. A daily digest of all the feeds is sent out to subscribers. This is useful to people who cannot keep a tab on frequenet updates on feeds and do not have Internet access all the time. The email is a consolidated summary of the feed updates.
It also offers a paid service where publishers can customize the format the emails to add logos, graphics, promotions and the readers can choose to have an email per feed instead of one single digest.
FeedBlitz also provides a widget for Typepad users.
FeedBurner has partnered with FeedBlitz to provide the email subscription service to its members.
RssFwd is another service offering similar features. It polls for updates in feed every two hours and sends an email with the feed content if there is an update.
R|Mail stands out in addressing handheld email clients. The FAQ answers some questions for one-way pagers and provides a mobile subscription form where the mobile’s email address can be used.
In my opinion, this is a big advantage of providing email subscription. People with pagers, mobiles that do not have Internet access can get notified about update on the website, or optionally get the content.
Squeet, in addition to the features mentioned for others, provides some finer control for the readers. It provides features like pausing a feed subscription and three different subscription types:
- live (each entry in feed as separate email)
- daily (a full digest of all entries in a feed)
- weekly (a full digest once in a week)
An email is sent only if there is an update to the feed content. It also supports a “Send Email Now” action which will send an email containing all content of the feed.
FeedLinx does more than email subscription. It is primarily a service that track status of items in a feed across machines, aggregators. It generates its own addresses for feed subscriptions which can be then used in other feed aggregators. However, it also supports email forwarding. An email is sent every 15 minutes and only if the feed is updated. It also provides good control over scheduling of email forwarding, which in effect provides multiple subscription types.
All the above services support both RSS and Atom feeds.
Here are some additional links:
Technorati tags: email subscription, feedblitz, rssfwd, rmail, feedlinx, squeet
Copyright Abhijit Nadgouda.