Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My Blogging Sisters - Are Your Readers Mad at You?

They might be...

I've been researching RSS feeds to prepare for my Google Reader Webinars and I've found some interesting things out there in the cyberworld. Here are two.

#1 - RSS Readers, like Google Reader, are becoming much more popular than email subscriptions because of their ease of use.

#2 - Do you know the number one reason that people unsubscribe to a blog's feed? It's because the blogger has elected to publish a "summary only" feed - meaning pictures and full content are not included in the feed, and the reader is forced to click to the site to see the content.

These readers are angry. The abbreviation "PITA" (pain in the...) came up quite a bit in the articles I read.

Remember - we are in a visual occupation. Art has to be seen, not read about. Make a splash in the reader and you've done what you wanted to do when you started blogging - connected with people who love what you love.

The bottom line is, the purpose of an RSS reader is to aggregate content. If people wanted to click to individual sites, they wouldn't have switched to a reader.

In an article on searchengineguide.com, Stoney deGeyter says

" What? Your summary feed doesn't have headings, boldings, bullets or anything else that catches my eye? Well, you better hope that your first few sentences really grab me. And I mean I really have to be convinced to click through. It's a mental thing really. I don't mind clicking if I know I want to read something, but not if I just think I might want to read it. The summary may be partially convincing, but not totally. I'm then forced to move away from my primary screen to another screen because I think I might be interested. You're making me think too hard.

Countless times, after reading a summary, I've been on the edge. I think I'm interested, but not entirely sure. Do I click or do I keep scanning available blog posts. Sometimes I opt for the former, wishing I opted for the latter. Now, more times than not, now, I opt for the latter. If the summary isn't entirely convincing I won't click."

The biggest misconception about RSS readers is that they do not "count" towards your site statistics. This is the reason most people put a summary feed rather than a full feed into their feedburner.

Not so. There are numerous ways to track ALL your site statistics. So if that is the reason you are potentiallly losing subscribers - there's still time to fix it. Here are just a few ways to get stats.

1) Feedburner. Most of you burn your feeds with Feedburner. It provides detailed statistics about the two types of subscribers you have - those who subscribe in a reader, and those who subscribe via email. It's updated daily.

This even shows you which RSS readers they use, and the nice pie chart shows you how many of them are subscribing via email vs. a reader. Since mine is about half and half - I certainly wouldn't want to alienate half of my readership by not providing a full feed.

If your interest is in advertising on your site, you can provide these reports to potential advertisers on demand. So any service you're using to track just clicks on your website, is doing you a disservice anyway. You're not getting the whole picture - for example, people who saw your content in a reader and DIDN'T click. So don't hang your readership on clicks.

2) Google Reader - set up a Google Reader account and subscribe to your own feed. After a few weeks, look at one of your posts inside reader and click "Show Details". You will see this handy dandy bar graph of your average number of posts - how many subscribers you have (via Google Reader) and a 30 day view of how many posts you had, and how often those posts were read.

Good stuff there. You will also be able to see how your post looks inside a reader and adjust if it's not reader friendly.

For example, I used to use a blue background that exactly matched the background on my blog because it made the photos pop out. However, in the reader, my cards with a weird blue border around them in a sea of white just looked ghastly. I wouldn't have known that if I weren't subscribing to my own feed.

3) Google Analytics - I love this. Like all Google products, it's free, and does heavy duty analysis on your site. For example, the dashboard gives you a great overview by whatever time period you choose. Total visits, where they come from in the world, what percentage of your visits are new vs. returning, etc. Critical info. Free.

Enough geek talk. This is just three ways to get site stats. There are a billion more. Don't lose your readers over statistics.

I'll leave you with this - the Stampin' Up! Statement of the Heart.

I do believe that this is the real reason all of my blogging buddies blog, whether they are with Stampin' Up! or not.

I think we are all teachers in our heart of hearts, and we love that fun moment when someone learns to do something they're proud of - that moment cannot be replaced by any other endeavor - it's wonderful.

So I hope you have a great night and that this information was useful for someone or saved you a reader!

Back later with a card.

6 comments:

  1. Lydia - let me add this to your thoughts.

    1) I made it through about the first five paragraphs or your post before I bailed - way too much text for me. I would have much rather this been five days of shorter posts than one big long one.

    2) When I use google reader I use "List View" so not only does your first paragraph need to be good - Your Title needs to be better. If the title grabs me, then I click through.

    I am a bloggers worst nightmare, but I bet I am not alone. I subscribe to over 100 blogs - Some with over 20 posts a day - I don't have time to read everything - only what grabs my eye as I peruse the list view.

    Happy title writing!

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  2. I totally agree! I check most blogs with google reader from my ipod touch while nursing my baby, and don't take time to click to websites. TOTALLY agree.

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  3. Great subject. I totally agree. I now use google reader and TOTALLY love it. I can glance at new items without clicking on all the sites I like (probably close to 75 right now) and if I really really want to say something like now I click on it and read it and leave a comment.

    I have to agree though with one of your comments you lost me about 1/2 way through to much information for one post I don't like the ones that go and on and on I rarely read those.

    Curious to see what others say and will probably like this post on my blog. good food for thought.

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  4. From one geek to another, I did read the whole thing! ;-) I also just set up Reader and subscribed to my own blog, just to look at the graph, so thanks for the tip!

    Oh, and I have a lot of text on my blog, too, because that's how I am...I like to tell a story behind how a card came to be. It's MY blog, and that's how it is. JMO.

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  5. Amen! I was just talking about this with my coaching group. I can't be bothered to click to see their website - show it to me right away or I'll go elsewhere! (That doesn't mean that I NEVER click for the site, I definitely will if it's something I'm interested in!) I've even emailed people and suggested that they change their feed settings. Some did it right away, others said that they would rather have people come to their site to see everything. Ummmm...not me! :) And I'm sure not a lot of other people too! *Stepping down from the soapbox!

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  6. Great article. As someone who reads close to 700 blogs on a daily basis, when I'm backed up, I skip the summary links. However, I've heard from some of the bloggers that post like this that they did it for bandwidth issues. They were simply having too much traffic on their site. I guess that's a good problem to have!

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