My E-mail Alerts are More Popular than My Webfeed (Survey Results, Part 7)

(NOTE: This is part 7 of a series exploring the results of the 2004 CONTENTIOUS Reader Survey, which was completed by 157 respondents as of Aug. 18, 2004. See the complete index for more survey results. Additional results will be published in future entries.)

Question 7 of the 2004 CONTENTIOUS Reader Survey was:
Do you receive the CONTENTIOUS webfeed or e-mail alerts? If so, which one?

Here’s how the 157 respondents to this question answered:

  1. 44%: E-mail alerts
  2. 28.7%: Webfeed
  3. 17.8%: Neither
  4. 9.5%: Both

Here’s what those numbers mean…
n unabashed webfeed evangelist. As such, I would have loved it if the percentage of respondents who get my webfeed at least equaled the percentage of e-mail subscribers. (If you aren’t familiar with webfeeds, read my webfeed tutorial.)

However, I’m not disappointed by these numbers. Bear in mind that most CONTENTIOUS readers, being content professionals rather than geeks, probably had little or no information about or experience with webfeeds prior to learning about them through CONTENTIOUS. (I say that based on a number of reader comments, which I’ll be covering in more detail later in this series.) Therefore I consider the fact that more than a third of respondents subscribe to my webfeed (counting the 9.5% who receive both) substantial progress on the webfeed-evangelism front.

Still, I don’t want to downplay the crucial importance of e-mail alerts for this publication. I actually go to a fair amount of trouble to produce those weekly alerts, and I wouldn’t do that without a good reason.

At this time many people (especially non-geeks) simply prefer e-mail alerts. They are comfortable with that medium, and it’s possible that they either have not yet tried or do not like webfeeds. That’s OK, webfeeds are not for everyone. As a publisher, I feel it’s my duty to provide whichever communication channels my audience wants – within the realm of feasibility, of course. In fact, I suspect that many of the people who reported using both may be experimenting to see which channel they prefer.

The popularity of my weekly e-mail alerts probably explains why 51.6% of respondents report that they read CONTENTIOUS weekly. (See Part 2 in this series.)

I was intrigued that nearly one-fifth of respondents (17.8%) receive neither form of fresh-content announcement from CONTENTIOUS. I’m assuming that these people either visit my blog rarely, or they’ve bookmarked it in their web browser and occasionally remember to check in.

I know that for myself, if I don’t subscribe to some form of announcement channel (preferably webfeed) for an online venue, I probably won’t remember to stop by again no matter how much I liked it. A bookmark alone doesn’t give me any indication of ongoing content value. This is why I subscribe to so many webfeeds. (Here’s my feed list.) But again, everyone has their own style of using the web. It’s a useful reality-check to see statistical evidence of those different styles. I don’t want to fall into the trap of assuming that most people use online media the way I do.

After all, a reality-check is the whole point of doing a survey.

(NEXT: Part 8: Readers suggest new topics)