Back in February I noticed something interesting; my daily feed readers had caught my daily traffic. That got my attention, so I started spending a lot more time analyzing my feed statistics, and a lot more time analyzing Feedburner. I quickly found that Feedburner has a ton of great features that every blogger should be using to deliver, optimize, and track their content.
1 - Burn a feed. Just sign up for a free account, give your feed a name, (http://feeds.feedburner.com/YourBlogName) and there you go. And once you burn your feed.....
2 - Add subscriber buttons to your site. You can add a generic RSS button, or choose from dozens of others such as ones for Google Reader, Netvibes, Bloglines, etc. Just pick the button you want, your blogging platform, and Feedburner gives you the HTML code! And readers are more likely to subscribe if you offer a button for the reader they are already using and familiar with, so it helps to give your readers a few options here.
3 - Track your subscriber stats. This is where the fun starts! Feedburner lets you see how many people are reading your feed each day, where they are coming from, what browser they are using, what type of feed reader they used, and many other stats. One advantage is that you can tell which feed readers your readers are using to access your feed. For example, I started out having just a generic Feedburner chicklet, plus one for Bloglines. But I started tracking my feed stats, and noticed that many people are also accessing my feed by reading it through Google Reader, Netvibes, and NewsGator, so I added buttons for those readers as well.
4 - Consolidate your feed tracking if you have a Blogger/Blogspot blog. If you have a Blogspot blog, this is big news. Feedburner has added the ability to redirect all your blog feeds to the one you burn with FeedBurner. The advantage to doing this is that you can get a much more accurate view of how many subscribers you have, and how they are reading your content. I did this a few weeks ago and my reported number of daily feed readers almost doubled. FeedBurner's blog has the skinny on how to make the switch.
5 - Give your readers the ability to subcribe to your feed via email. This is a great way to give your readers another option for receiving your content. Many people that are interested in getting your feed in their inbox probably aren't able to read your blog on a regular basis, and want to use the email option to stay up to date. FeedBurner offers a handy little form you can add to your blog, and then lets you see exactly who is subscribing to your feed via email, and how many times the feed is being read each day via email. I added this back in April, and am now up to around 35 subscribers. Doesn't sound like a ton, but over a month's time, that's over a thousand times my feed is being read via email that might not have otherwise. As always, the more options you can give your readers to let them read your content on THEIR terms, the better.
6 - Track your visitors and site stats. Feedburner also lets you track how many visitors your blog is getting and where they are coming from. Just add some simple code to your blog's template, and you are good to go. The package isn't exactly the most robust I've ever seen, but if you just want to get an idea of how many people are visiting your blog and want content they are looking at, this does the job just fine. Also, Feedburner just made several of its stats services free, that they previously charged for.
7 - Add Feed Flares. These are great to give your feed a level of interactivity with your readers. You can add flares that display how many comments the post has, how many Technorati links, let your readers email you, etc. Flares are also available to let readers add your post to Del.icio.us, Facebook, Digg, and other social sites.
8 - Put a Headline Animator in your emails and on your blog. This is a neat little feature that you can add to your emails and blog that gives your blog's name and scrolls the title to your latest posts, with a link to them. It also has a subscriber button for the feed. I haven't started using this feature yet, but it seems like a great way to promote your posts in your email sig.
9 - Track item use. This lists you see how many times your posts are being viewed, and how many times readers are clicking through to the blog. As with other stats, you can customize it to look at daily, weekly, monthly, and all-time results. A good way to see how popular your posts are, and could suggest which ones readers want to click on to read the comments.
10 - Link/Photo splicer. This service lets you send links you have added to bookmarking sites such as Del.icio.us, and photos from sites such as Flickr. Both your bookmarks and photos will be merged with your blog feed.
The bottom line is that Feedburner has so many great features that they are bound to offer some that any blogger can find value in. And their recent acquisition by Google has already brought about some great changes for bloggers. If you're ready to get serious about optimizing your blog's feed, Feedburner has all the tools you'll need.
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Tags:The Viral Garden, Marketing, Feedburner