A couple of months ago Mike Arrington posted a plea to the blogosphere for more email syndication services for blogs. Mike didn't like the overly orange branding of Feedblitz, but more to the point he noted that blogs still need email. Now I'm about as big an RSS advocate as you'll find on the Web, yet even I recognize that a lot of people don't use RSS - and until Microsoft embeds it into Outlook are unlikely to. I'm sure there are a number of people who would like to subscribe to my blog, but haven't done so because they're not interested in or intimidated by three letter acronyms and "news readers". Well email syndication is for those people - perhaps also for folks who don't like the information overload that RSS brings (it's still an issue in '06, despite the growing number of filter options).
Overview of the email syndication space
I agree with Mike that FeedBlitz is an eyesore. But it seems to be leading the pack currently in the 'blog email notification' space:
Other such services I've found include:
I'm sure there are others, but my intention with this post isn't to do a Frank Gruber and compare a bunch of services. I'm really after the 'next generation' email notification service - and two apps have come across my virtual desk recently which look promising in that respect.
Zookoda - compelling feature set
Zookoda is an Australian company that offers a range of email notification services, primarily email newsletters and "recurring broadcasts". The Zookoda team describes it as "web-based email marketing application designed specifically for bloggers". The best thing about this service is its powerful set of functionality, together with its flexibility. For example: a lot of non-RSS readers may not want to receive notification of every single post from your blog, but a weekly email newsletter with all the highlights may be just what those users need. Zookoda enables that and it also has reporting, which is a key feature for a 'next gen' email notification service to offer and especially relevant to marketers.
I spoke to Zookoda co-founder Nick McNaughton and he told me their user uptake is going very well (he provided me with the figures to back that up, but asked me not to publish them). They have a lot of great development plans too, which again I can't divulge. But what he did say for public consumption is that Zookoda is aimed at "publishers who are blogging to a non-technical audience" - that's where he thinks the target market is. I also think it's useful for a blog like mine, which is technical but probably has a lot of readers who mainly want to keep track of media trends - or of me personally (e.g. family and friends) - and so are not necessarily RSS junkies. An email newsletter may help me attract more of those readers.
To get started with Zookoda, check out this tutorial. It's a fairly lengthy process to get an email newsletter up and running. I'm still working on it, so I haven't yet published mine. The Zookoda blog has case studies.
Yutter - simple yet hits the spot
Another interesting new email notification service is yutter (weird names must be a prerequisite for these services!). Yutter is currently in beta and they're still working on advanced features like analytics and OPML support for importing/exporting.
What I like about Yutter, even at this very early stage, is that it's very simple to use and the interface is a joy to behold (unlike the much-maligned FeedBlitz). Also it's good to know that Yutter emails will be counted in my Feedburner stats.
Although it's early days for both Zookoda and Yutter, they look to be very promising email notification services for blogs. Zookoda has a compelling feature set and one which I anticipate a lot of uses for, but their challenge will be to create a simple interface for it all. Yutter is a simpler feature set, but so far I'm encouraged by the neat interface and RSS/Feedburner compatibility.
Watch this space! I'll update my progress on both of these services - and please feel free to comment on your experiences or if you know of other promising email syndication services.