In part 1 of my tutorial on moving away from feedburner, I discussed how to extract email addresses of Feedburner’s RSS subscribers. Whilst Feedburner is a great service, it is far more effective to build up an email list and use that to send emails.
However, one of the core features of Feedburner is the ability to use your RSS to send emails to subscribers. Luckily, with a bit of work, you can create a similar campaign using most mailing list programmes.This guide will talk you how to do it in Mailchimp, however you can create an RSS based newsletter using Aweber and many other email marketing services.
Why should you do this? Well it keeps your list “warm”. If you are providing readers with fresh content on a regular basis, they are more likely to respond to your emails asking for something.
Create a Basic Template
The first step is to create a basic template for your site. This should be done in something like Dreamweaver.
The only advice I can give is that it should be as simple as possible. Forget HTML5, and even CSS, you should build your email template using tables. I’d be tempted to not even use images.
The reason? There are hundreds, if not thousands, of email software applications out there, so by keeping the template as clean as possible, using HTML that as many systems can understand, then you will have your message understood by as many systems as possible.
I’d also recommend keeping the width of the template as narrow as possible. Somewhere in the region of 500-675 pixels is fine.
You must also use merge tags in your template. This will display certain aspects of your feed at certain points. You can see the Mailchimp Merge Tag Cheat Sheet here.
Create Your Campaign in Mailchimp
In Mailchimp, go to Campaigns > Create Campaign > RSS Campaign to open up the Mailchimp RSS Campaign dialogue. Simply specify an RSS Feed and a time when you should send your RSS feed emails.
Please Note:if nothing new is in your feed, then no emails will be sent. A good idea for most blogs is once a week or month.
Paste In Your Template’s HTML Code
Once you choose your recipients for your campaign and set up your campaign in the setup menu, paste in the code for your template created in Step 1. Simply select “Import Template > Paste In Code” from the options given and copy and paste in your template code into the box provided.
It is a great idea now to test your campaign. Make sure that your email looks fine and the RSS feed is being displayed correctly. When satisfied, confirm your campaign.
And That’s It!
Congratulations! You now have the functionality of Feedburner’s RSS to Email service, but you have control of the email addresses and can do so much more.
Any questions? Leave them in the comments below!