Open Letter to Feedburner: Please Make the Subject Line of Email Subscriptions Dynamic

By Daniel Scocco

Dear Feedburner,

Your services are really outstanding. The customization and compatibility features that you add to our RSS feeds are priceless. The same can be said about all the detailed statistics that you make available for the publishers.

Sometime ago you also announced that you would be able to deliver our RSS feed to the e-mail address of our readers. That was a very good addition to your tool belt, after all we know that the majority of people are not familiar with RSS.

There is just one problem with it, though. Right now the subject line of the e-mails that get delivered to our readers is static. On my case, they are all titled “Daily Blog Tips.” Sure, this tells the subscriber where the e-mail is coming from, but it doesn’t tell them anything about the content that is being delivered.

Our society is characterized by short attention spans, so many readers will just skip our e-mails if they don’t know what they will find inside. Secondly, some subscribers might try their luck by opening it, only to get annoyed by a story that they were not interested in the first place.

I even checked your company forums to see if there was any workaround for this issue, but looks like there are none.

So please Feedburner, give us the ability to create dynamic subject lines for our e-mail subscriptions. It is really a missing cherry.

Monetize Your Site




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33 Responses to “Open Letter to Feedburner: Please Make the Subject Line of Email Subscriptions Dynamic”

  • Andrew Banks

    I’ll second this!

    There needs to be some kind of consistency in the emails on a mail by mail basis so users can define rules to move certain emails into specific folders.

    How about “Blog Title > Article Title” as a start?

    I have the same issue with a number of podcasts I use where their title is “Edition1, Edition 2” etc… It doesn’t make them memorable and doesn’t entice me into listening to them.

  • Ritu

    Hey Daniel, excellent point. Like you said most people havea short attention span and we do like the scan the subject line.

    I think if feedburner could automatically detect the title of the post and use that as the subject while sending out emails would be awesome.

    My 2 cents!

  • tojulius

    I agree and sign the letter!

  • Sheila

    Great letter…I hope they listen.

  • Daniel

    Yeah, I could be wrong but I don’t think it would be difficult to grab the post title and use it in the subject line.

  • Anthony Lawrence

    I also wish they’d do something with sub-feeds. I’d love to be able to give Feedburner one feed and have them break it up into sub-feeds based on tags I would provide. Or if they can’t do that, at least understand that I have related feeds and let me manage them as a group when I want to.

  • Andrew Banks

    Anthony – could you do something like that with Yahoo Pipes?

  • Chad | Free eBook

    They don’t put the post title there? That’s just negligent on their part – you think “Blog Name > Post Title” would be the first thing you’d think of if you were writing the code for that.

  • Guilherme Nascimento Valadares

    Excelent, Daniel! The email could have the title of the first post in it.

    Still automated, but much better.

  • Andrew Banks

    After speaking with Daniel, I’ve created a Facebook group so we can get some momentum behind this.

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=8637068073

    Please pop over and sign up, pass the word around and see how many people we can get behind this.

    Once we’ve got some support we can push this in the direction of Feedburner and see if we can make a difference.

    Thanks

  • Steven

    I agree. There are very few options for FeedBurner email. It would be a huge improvement.

  • Jacky Supit

    But what if we have more then one post in a day?
    Let’s say there are 3 posts in a day, should the title be like this “BLOG TITLE -> POST #1 TITLE WHICH IT MAY BE LONG, POST #2 TITLE WHICH PROBABLY PRETTY LONG TITLE TOO, AND POST #3 TITLE TOO, WHICH MAY CONTAIN.”

    but this is a good point anyway.
    thanks Daniel

  • Meraj Khattak

    Agreed and Sign the letter.

  • Free Traffic

    I agree and sign the letter!

  • Sharon Rosa

    Agreed! I might actually *use* e-mail feeds more often then.
    Jacky has a good point, though… maybe the title could be something along the lines of “Blog Title » Post #1 Title & More”? Heck, even “Blog Title > 3 New Posts” would be an improvement over just “Blog Title.”

  • Ruchir

    Yes, it would be helpful if you published only a single post in a day but it would become problematic if you published multiple posts and moreover, are you really willing to customize the subject line for every post you write?

  • cpTIMES.com

    I totally agree, Daniel.

    I’ve been wanting Feedburner to do this for a while — Feedblitz already does it, but I like Feedburner better…

    Let’s hope they enact your suggestion.

  • Inge

    I’d like to broaden the discussion. Having a website in Dutch, I have no choice but to accept that they don’t offer emails (and no subscription form, nor any aftercare for subscribers) in Dutch. I’m pretty confident that I’m loosing potential subscribers there – and hence, Feedburner potential customers (both directly as indirectly).

    I love the idea of having my rss and email in one place, which is Feedburner, and that’s why I continue using the email newsletter. The fact that I can’t change the language is irritating and incomprehensible beyond understanding.

    Oh, and not being able to change the send frequency is another one. I’m sure that daily caters 90% of the users, but I would still like to experiment with other sending schemes.

  • Andrew Banks

    Some good points there Inge.

    The language issues is an obvious point but by no means a quick thing to fix, even for someone of Google/Feedburner’s size. This appears to be a straightforward business decision from their perspective.

    Where can they get best returns?

    a.) Developing a site in one of the most popular worldwide languages and then progressing further into these markets?
    b.) Investing in a language they don’t speak natively and trying to market an existing product into territories they don’t have experience within?

    I’m saying I agree but you can understand the reasoning.

    As for the email subscriptions, could subscribers not be given one of four options:

    a.) Email when a new article is posted
    b.) Email me a daily summary
    c.) Email me a weekly summary
    d.) Email me when a new comment is posted

  • Daniel

    @Inge, good points. If you have many email subscribers (or potential ones) perhaps you could experiment with Aweber, which its much more customizable than Feedburner.

    The downside, as you mentioned, is that it will split your subscribers into 2 different places.

    @Andrew, yes I think these options for delivery frequency would be a good addition.

  • Udi Tirosh

    Good call, Daniel.
    I would also suggest not re-sending emails if the content has changed.
    Or at least giving the feed owner the choice of re-send or don’t-re-send.

    – udi

  • Teresa

    I agree completely – I spent some time looking for this option and just couldn’t believe that it was available. C’mon Feedburner!

  • David Peyton

    Feedblitz does it well–but not as well as Feedburner would do it. The latter have nicer emails. But the former deals with the problem of multiple posts quite well. However, it would be nice to have the option to send each post out in individual emails.

  • Alan Cooper

    I agree too. And the problem of multiple posts is easily handled by FeedBlitz. If I didn’t prefer the cleaner and less intrusive layout of FeedBurner I’d just go with FeedBlitz and have done with it, but I keep hoping that FeedBurner will address the issue. I really don’t understand why they are so intransigent about something that should really not be hard to implement. It’s almost as if they are deliberately stonewalling like a child that refuses to do what it has been told even though it really wants to.

  • Frank

    I too just Googled about this problem and found this post. Feedburner really SUCKS when it comes to this.

    And their excuse is “well what if you have multiple posts” Hello! That isn’t a tough hurdle.

    Add a checkbox that says In the even of multiple posts:
    “Show earliest post” or “Show last post” or “3 New posts from Blog.XYZ”

    I did read about one hack that I thought I would tell you all about… this guy changes his Blog title EACH TIME he writes a new posts. He wants people that you can easily forget to change it back… but I thought I would share that.

    Please let us know when they catch up to Feedblitz (or buy them)

  • David Peyton

    Any updates from FeedBurner on this?

  • Marketing Ninja

    They said that they were working on this in a post on the FeedBurner forums:

    http://forums.feedburner.com/viewtopic.php?p=59995

    It’s another one of those dreaded vague promises with no specific deadlines, but at least they are aware of the issue.

  • Ryan

    I wholeheartedly agree! This should have been a feature from day 1.

    It’s omission is not only glaring, but almost embarrassing. What’s really frustrating is nowhere in the Google Group support forum does anyone seem to have an answer for this.

  • binaryday

    From the blog post and all the comments, I am assuming that the issue has not been resolved by feedburner yet. I have put together a simple wordpress hack that will solve this issue. Check it and let me know your views

    http://binaryday.com/2009/01/31/stop-boring-your-feedburner-subscribers-with-static-email-subject-lines-make-feedburner-subject-line-dynamic/

  • Luca

    I agree completely!
    I hope that the up-guys in management will listen to this and make the change…

  • medyum

    Excelent, Daniel! The email could have the title of the first post in it.

    Still automated, but much better

    Medyum

  • Nick Aster

    I’d settle for having a date-stamp in the subject line. Anyone know if that’s possible?

Comments are closed.