Will I lose subscribers when leaving FeedBurner?

For email subscribers, the answer is no. In fact, you will probably get more activity from your mailing list after you move thanks to FeedBlitz’s better deliverability and smarter post truncation. FeedBlitz has a migration wizard that automatically pulls your confirmed FeedBurner email subscribers (and recent subscriptions awaiting confirmation) and imports them into your FeedBlitz list; it’s very quick and there is next to no effort on your part. There is NO need for your email subscribers to opt in again, since FeedBurner uses dual opt in to confirm subscriptions – all importees are imported active and ready to go.

For your non email RSS subscribers it isn’t quite so simple if you want to leave FeedBurner altogether. This is because your feed separates the subscribers from you; apart from your email subscribers, it is impossible to know who they are (which is why RSS-driven email is in many ways better than growing your pure RSS subscriber count, but I digress). For these feed-only subscribers who are subscribing directly to the FeedBurner feed there is a migration process, outlined below.

FeedBlitz has a wizard that automates most of the RSS feed migration steps – click here to start it; or find out more about the process here.

To determine how many feed-only subscribers you have, subtract your email list size from the total FeedBurner circulation figure. The result is approximately how many pure feed subscribers you have, and it is this readership that will have to go through the migration process.

Before going through that process, though, if you’re OK with leaving your RSS only readers at FeedBurner, you can leave them there. There’s no requirement to abandon FeedBurner for your RSS readers if you prefer no to. There’s also a “half way house” solution where you can use FeedBlitz’s RSS services, but then have FeedBurner use your FeedBlitz RSS feed as its source. That way you can take advantage of FeedBlitz’s social media and advanced feed splicing features, consolidating all your metrics at FeedBlitz, while using FeedBurner to serve the rump of your feed only subscribers.

If you want to leave FeedBurner completely AND your readers are subscribing directly to the FeedBurner URL, you have to make your RSS only readers switch to using FeedBlitz. If on the other hand you have a redirect in place (e.g. your subscribers subscrbe to www.yoursite.com/feed and that URL redirects to www.feedburner.com/yoursite ) then you’re OK, no readers will be lost – all you have to do is change the redirect, which is beyond the scope of this article.

So, if your non-email feed readers are subscribing directly to your FeedBurner feed and not via a redirect, here’s what you have to do:

  1. Use the FeedBlitz migration wizard at the RSS tab to create a FeedBlitz version of your FeedBurner feeds.
  2. Optional but recommended: set up redirects or a CNAME alias so that when subscribers switch they are subscribing to a feed URL on your domain.
  3. Customize and test your new feed until you’re happy that it is working the way you want.
  4. When you are ready to quit FeedBurner, go back to the feed details in step (1) and replace the feed URL there with the URL for your FeedBlitz feed.
  5. Verify that your FeedBurner feed is now picking up its articles from your FeedBlitz feed (If you don’t want to abandon FeedBurner altogether, stop here. You’re done!)
  6. To migrate your remaining RSS readers over to FeedBlitz, go to FeedBurner and click “Delete Feed…”
  7. IMPORTANT: Check ON the “30 day redirect” box.
  8. Click the scary “Delete Feed” button.
  9. Make sure your autodiscovery links and other feed widgets are now using your FeedBlitz feed.

You can automate many of these steps at www.feedblitz.com/f?FeedBurnerMigration

At this point FeedBurner will automatically redirect requests to FeedBlitz for 15 days (not 30; I know, I know). After the first 15 days FeedBurner will simply serve a single post saying that the feed has gone for the next 15 days, and give the new feed URL. Your feed only subscribers MUST update their feed readers in this 30-day time frame to stay subscribed. Some won’t; either because they’re not paying attention (in which case they aren’t really a subsciber, are they?), or because they don’t want to subscribe any more and this will give them an easy out (ditto).

You can (and should!) encourage people to update their readers during this period by blogging (and tweeting and facebooking etc) about the change when it’s made, after the 1st 15 day deadline, and at 30 days when FeedBurner stops serving altogether. It will help improve migration.

So what you end up with at the end of the process is a better feed with a very high quaity subscriber base of your engaged feed subscribers as well as a more robust, customizable and supported feed and RSS to mail capability.

And remember, you’re not the first to do this! Although the process can seem daunting and scary, it works. If you need help or support or guidance, don’t hesitate – contact FeedBlitz support by email, phone or using the Knowledge Base forms. We’re happy to help.