A Real Simple Solution to the Death of Google Reader

A Real Simple Solution to the Death of Google Reader

Reader Comments (93)

  1. I respect the intent of the article, but attempting to change or coerce customer behavior is almost never a good idea. And almost always fails. Hence the Twitter feedback you encountered. If your readers use RSS or Google Reader, then I would encourage content creators to proactively recommend alternatives to Google Reader. Personally, I’ve found Feedly to be a 5-second xfer solution that works well. In fact, I wish I had made the switch earlier, as the social sharing mechanisms for it are actually superior to Google Reader.

    • You can’t coerce anyone to do anything. But you can “invite” them into your email channel. What would make it worth their while? What additional incentive would make them allow your content into their inbox while others are excluded?

      That’s the spirit of what’s being said. We’ll likely talk more about this approach as we get closer to drop dead day for Google Reader. 😉

    • Kevin, agree on feedly. I switched today, and it was very easy.

      And the idea here is not to coerce customer behavior. It’s to offer solutions to the problem and let people choose the one that works best for them. A lot of people will like the security and certainty of email, especially right now, but they may not consider it an alternative if not reminded that it is.

    • I’ve been enticed to sign up for many e-mail subscriptions by free guides/info/etc.

      However there is a difference between signing up and continuing to read the e-mails. I find myself quickly unsubscribing from e-mail lists because consuming the information just isn’t as easy as RSS is. These e-mail subscriptions are much more likely to get swept into the “sales/spam” group of e-mails I purge regularly from my inbox. RSS makes is much easier to casually consume the information and stumble upon some interesting tidbits I would have missed by scanning e-mail subject lines. (I came to this post from Google Reader).

      • But the other side is valid as well — it’s very easy to ignore a site in your RSS feed. Capturing & holding audience attention is a huge challenge for all online publishers, but interestingly, email subscribers are usually quite a bit more responsive (among the bloggers & publishers I know, anyway). Which suggests that for many (not all, of course) readers, email is the more engaging option.

        No knock on RSS — it’s a fantastic technology for a lot of users.

    • I completely agree with with Brian. If my only alternative is email I either dump or bookmark. I’m not a super regular reader of RSS but it’s my go-to place for research. And frankly, I go through my emails on a daily basis and 90% of them get dumped without ever opening them. I don’t want my email box filling up. I’ll read when I want to read.

      I took the suggestion of ?? blogger and seamlessly switched over to Feedly from Google Reader. It takes a bit of getting used to but I’m thrilled the transition was painless.

  2. This is an effective rejoinder to the “email is dead” contingent. But I’ve got more than enough email – too much, in fact – to handle now.

    I will likely set up (or update my existing accounts) on several alternative RSS readers and see which one(s) work best for me going forward.

    The real customer loss in the death of Google Reader is the synchronization it offered – the ability to add feeds to whatever tool you happened to be using and have them automatically show up in the others with no additional effort.

    That capability will soon be gone, and we’ll definitely be worse off for that.

    But we’ll adapt. We always do.

    • Thanks David. There certainly is a faction of people who have a drawbridge closed and maybe eveb a moat around their email. 🙂 These folks, like you, simply want another RSS alternative. Feedly smartly created an internal project, named Normany, to synch with the Google Reader API that makes it a 10-second transition. Will others follow suit?

  3. I have 201 RSS feeds and because they’re there when I want to read news and because I get the standfirst until I elect to go deeper, I can and do read those feeds.

    Email on the other hand comes in the middle of whatever I’m doing and I have to handle it being in silly formats and taking up a lot more time per entry.

    So while it works for you, I question the idea that it is a simple solution for everyone.

    • William, your perspective is shared by many. And that’s a big part of the point: email will not be a right for all. In fact, it will only be right for a small percentage. But the benefits of an email relationship for both the content creator and the consumer are good enough that it warrants the effort to make the timely suggestion. It just shouldn’t be the only one. 😉 Give the RSS alternatives as well for those who desire them.

    • I have a similar number of RSS feeds for similar reasons. I have feeds that have content added hourly, through to feeds that get updated once in a blue moon. For me, RSS is the best one-size-fits-all means of accessing niche blogs, local media outlets, international mainstream media outlets, google news alerts and more.

      The subscribe-by-email option has always seemed – to me – far more beneficial for the producer than for the consumer. Maybe it’s just me? My email contains – as far as I can help it – messages that are actually to me.

      • I think it just depends on the person. For some, email is the best way to consume particular kinds of content from particular sources. As a publisher, of course, the goal is to get into that select group of your reader’s because they WANT you there.

  4. I have a feeling Google is trying to persuade publishers and readers into using Google+ INSTEAD of RSS tech.

    Kill Feedburner and publishers will look to social networks to spread content … Google+ being one of the most beneficial in terms of increasing exposure. Kill Google Reader and readers will depend on social networks to consume content … Google+ being the most beneficial for publishers, and thus the most fruitful for readers.

    I’m not sure about this one, but it seems like Google+ would become more popular and provide Google Search all sorts of insight Google Reader does not.

    • That exuberant sound you hear is Demian Farnworth rejoicing at your idea. 🙂

      You make good points. Elements of FeedBurner and Reader can be seen as redundant with the features provided by Google+. And if removing the two can nudge more folks into more full adoption of Google+, it would fit right into Google’s apparent plans for G+.

      • I agree. Although, I’ll miss my reader, if I’m honest the reader stands between me and being more social. I read through primarily “looking” rather than interacting. You’re doggone right it is convenient to have all my posts neatly arranged and accessible. But I think google will have an alternative which works more efficiently if you are using the plus tools. They are in a sense moving us “out” of email into social. Look at facebook. Many have facebook email but they get their feeds to their friends right on their facebook page. As far as those not on google, I think that is going to change as google android dominates the hardware scene. If anything, now I would try to get the bloggers I like to join my circles. (Therein lies the challenge)

    • Agree with you. Google is trying to use their monopoly in promoting Google Plus. As Morris mentioned Google Plus already has made some features of Feedburner and Google Reader useless. Let’s see how things turn out. More importantly Google Reader was associated with a particular era and now we are watching the last days of this era and beginning of a new one. Hope you guys remember Digg also used to be a popular news sharing service and at one point there were rumors that Google is going to buy Digg.
      The point is both sites were tools to manage all of news in one place and with rise of social media you can get most of the news without using a service such as Google Reader.
      After reading this news at Marketing Land I’ve already switched to feedly and also installed feedly app on my android phone. The only thing I want to say is that Feedly is far superior than Google Reader and I feel feedly is going to be a genuine and worthy replacement of Google Reader

      • And to bring it all full circle, Digg is apparently now developing the “Google Reader replacement.” I wonder if they’ll develop it, build a HUGE following of loyal users, and then change everything about it one night. 😉

  5. Underrated lesson here, wish I would have had this mindset from day one (I’m sure most bloggers feel the same).

    And you just know Feedburner will be on the chopping block eventually!

    • Yes, that is the major follow-up opinion today. FeedBurner’s goose appeared cooked long ago, but as today’s Tech Crunch headline says, Reader being shut down is another nail in FeedBurner’s coffin.

  6. I admit the feed that comes through my email gets deleted to clear the box. A friend of mine recommended Feedly as a reader. I actually like the format better than Google.

    • It depends on the feed for me. I only use email subscriptions for the ones I REALLY like. Which is part of the point. In a time of uncertainty, give your readers the opportunity to declare that they love you that much. It will be a positive for both parties.

  7. Email should not be the first response. People who use Google Reader use it for a reason–for me, it is to keep my inbox clean and quickly read as many blogs in as little time. I just moved to feedly, and I like it alot. If there were no alternative, I just wouldn’t subscribe to blogs. I would have to visit their site. NO MORE EMAIL!

    • Opponents of email are vocal (and I hear you, I get too much email too), but bloggers who provide the opportunity to subscribe via both methods report that their email subscribers are consistently much more responsive.

      RSS is a great tool for many, but you want to make sure you’re providing both options.

  8. No way do I want more email coming into my boxes. And no way do I want that same email coming in at random times throughout the day. I’ll be moving to Feedly.

    • Glad I offered it as a solution. 🙂 it’s a good option. The majority of people seem to be going that way. They were ready to take advantage.

  9. Did anyone else notice that the date in the first paragraph, May 13, hasn’t arrived yet? Jerod, I think you meant to write March 13. Kind of funny that no one else commented – guess they’re too fixated on the topic itself. “)

  10. Am I the only one who noticed copyblogger predicting the future in forecasting the selection of a new Pope exactly two months from today on May 13?

  11. Even as a blogger I’ve never used Google Reader or any type of RSS subscription. I’m not overly keen on the idea of content coming in all the time, having to read through it.

    If someone has a blog worth reading; helpful content, etc. People will visit it direct (heck, I’m not even subscribed to ProBlogger and I visit it everyday). That’s my view on it.

    • Sam, thanks for providing an alternate viewpoint. You (and even me 4-5 months ago) would not have been in the target audience for this post. Google Reader being here or not has not effect on you. Which is good for you! But a lot of consumers – especially the types who frequent blogs on topics like content marketing – are subscribers. For those folks, now is the right timing to lend a hand.

  12. What a brilliant idea — email! Thank you. But as you’ve pointed out Jerod, many folks won’t want to do that. The people who’ve used and loved (sob) Google Reader use it for a reason. They have lots of feeds. They don’t want yet more email, because they get too much of it.

    I admit I panicked when I heard that GR was no more. I took to Twitter to find out what was happening to Reeder, my favorite GR app. They’ve promised a fix, so I’m hopeful they’ll create one.

    • Angela, there are definitely people who do not want anymore email … but there are others who a) do, or who b) might look at this as the time to reshuffle the organization of their content consumption. Offer options, let the reader decide.

    • People who use it love it. I know I do. That’s why the outcry was so fast and furious last night. But people will adapt, of course, There are plenty of alternatives. Many won’t consider the inbox, but a few will appreciate the stability an inbox connection provides. Now is the time to suggest such a connection.

  13. If you use a desktop client such as Thunderbird you can set it up as a feed reader as well. I’m pretty sure other email clients will have this option as well. Then you can chose when to read just like you do with Google Reader. In the mean time I’ll be offering a read by email list in addition to my newsletter.

    • “In addition” is so powerful — it lets your audience connect with you in the way that works for them. We’re definitely fans of offering both options.

    • The RSS feed still works — it’s what your audience reads that feed on that’s changing. Reader was hugely popular, so your RSS audience will need a new platform to read you on.

  14. I think Evernote should jump on this opportunity to add a RSS reader to their offering. By adding information aggregation to their information storage abilities they would have a really nice setup.

    • That would be cool, and many of us are already in Evernote all day as it is. Going to be interesting to see who steps up & evolves to be the power player(s). It’s a much smaller number of people who read by RSS, but my guess is that they’re disproportionately influential.

  15. The idea of asking or suggesting e-mail as an alternative is, for me a non-starter. I put myself in other people’s shoes… mostly because they are very like my own: I immediately thought: “do I want to get an e-mail update in my inbox for every item I used to read on Google Reader”? My immediate response was “Hell, no!!” – way too much e-mail to go through already.

    I will, instead, suggest alternatives such as Feedly.

    • May I gently suggest that you’re putting them in your shoes instead of the other way around? Happens all the time — we make assumptions about our audience based on our personal preferences and we’re not always correct. I watch myself on that one all the time.

      Look what we did with this post. We offered alternatives. A bunch of people signed up for the email option. What would have happened if we didn’t try it out?


      • My inbox is stuffed with email 24/7 like everyone else and I have far less time than last year (baby + setting-up from scratch, a free-range chicken farm (labour intensive at first), but I don’t dare make the mistake of deleting Copy Blogger email on the rare occasions that I actually get online to check email because when I have read Copy Blogger email it is realistic and provides me with real value – reliably. I don’t want to have to take a chance on some interesting, fast, new stuff from some source that has not shown me that they put-out value over the long-term in an easily digestible format. I’m just frustrated that I don’t get to read all the valuable Copy Blogger email as soon as it hits my inbox.

    • As a very broad rule of thumb, content publishers tend to be much more RSS-friendly than content audiences. Options are a great thing to offer — let people choose the channel that works for them.

  16. I get only a few blogs by email, yet I’m subscribed to 70 blogs and industry blogs (or more) via RSS. I’ll be keeping my email inbox less cluttered and using Feedly — thanks!

  17. This announcement has me wondering… what exciting new feature will Google be releasing to satisfy the existing needs of their Google Reader users? Perhaps such a feature will be tied to Google+ Authorship and some how connect to the advancement of the Author Rank algorithm?

    Copyblogger Media is so leading edge. Thanks for the perspective.

    • Joshua, it’s a great thought to have. Many are suggesting that Google already has released the replacement for Reader … and that it’s Google+. This may just be one more way to focus peoples’ attention there.

  18. “When you subscribe to a website via a third-party RSS reader, you’re at the mercy of that third party. But when you subscribe via email, you’ve created a direct relationship with the publisher.”

    Or you could, you know, subscribe to the publishers feed and create a direct relationship that way.

    Do people understand how RSS works? Or did Google’s consolidation of feeds through Feedburner confuse everyone? RSS is a direct relationship with the publisher, if they expose the feed to the public (and most do). One action item for website owners is to re-assert control of their feeds, to publish them themselves instead of through Google/Feedburner.

    I don’t want more email nor do I want to manage subscriptions or inbox filters. RSS isn’t going anywhere. It was around before Reader and it will survive it.

    • Yes, we understand how RSS works. I was a strong advocate for RSS in the early days of Copyblogger, and I came out of a pure email publishing background.

      Turns out, I was wrong. So were many others. RSS never went mainstream, and that’s exactly why Google is killing Reader.

      Now, that doesn’t mean RSS is not important to you (and me, for that matter). But don’t think that other people think like you on this issue, because in the broader sense, it’s been demonstrated that they don’t.

      People pay attention to email. Many tend to ignore their RSS subscriptions, to the extent they use it at all.

      • I would be interested in the data you have to support what seems to be a generalized statement. I think people pay about as much attention to email as they do to banner ads and commercials. they are there….but are they really doing anything for anybody’s bottom line? I would also be interested in finding out where you are actually getting relationships from? Are your emails creating relationships, or are folks coming from your feed to comment here? There is a difference between people opening emails and actually engaging with content creators!

        Maybe the issue isn’t trying to force people out of a really good way to get content. Maybe the issue is that people need some training on what a feed is and how it will help them navigate through the MASS of content out there to engage with content that matters to them. NOT something you can do with email. Email is a one-way conversation.

        Pinterest is a new way of viewing content the same way we would want folks to view it with feeds and it is OVERWHELMINGLY successful. Do you think it would be nearly as successful if it were sent as emails (that somebody else culled) and you could simply pin the 15-20 items in that email that somebody else defined?

        • Open rates and click thoughs are what we have with email, which show we have much higher than industry average engagement. RSS gives us none of that, not even an accurate subscriber count.

          As for “training on what a feed is and how it will help them,” I was an RSS advocate for years. See this:


          And once again, “inviting” someone to use email is not the same as “forcing” someone. I don’t understand the defensiveness.

  19. Great article to tackle down google reader and a great alternative to offer our valuable customer, Though nobody means nobody can guess the behaviour of his/her readers, but i strongly believe that rss readers are more than intrested in our work, they just love our work and ourself, thus their requirement must be kept on the top priority.

  20. Interested to know how CopyBlogger deals with alerting/updating subscribers to new content on the site. Are you only using AWeber to consolidate links to new blog content in emails or is the site itself sending out emails to subscribers automatically when new content is posted?

  21. I am really disappointed that Google Reader is being retired. I use it every single day. Yes, there are alternatives. But I like G Reader. It’s a comfort thing for me. Disappointing news.

  22. Love your Flogging Molly Reference.

    I am a reader, not much of a content creator. You would wonder why your blog is in my feed then? I lead an in-house communications/web/design team and I find your posts extremely informative.

    However, I would never – ever – ever – read an email subscription of the same content. In reader I can use my ‘j’ and ‘k’ keys to scroll through my 100+ new items each morning and only focus on the items that are relevant to me. Done in about 10 minutes. If those were all emails I had to open up, it would be overwhelming and I would most certainly unsubscribe from 99% of those subscriptions. Which would leave both me and the content creator in the dust.

    I caution you on recommending this tactic to your readers…I just don’t think it’s as effective.

    Not to mention, to me …. emails = marketing. blogs = information. whether that’s truly in the eyes of the beholder or not, I don’t give nearly as much attention to my “junk” email as I do my feed.

    • I just don’t think it’s as effective.

      In most “normal” industries (other than tech and social media “experts”), RSS use is negligible. Email still rules for “valuable” information, which I think the article was expressing. It’s not about sending junk, it’s about amazing content.

    • The point is simply to give readers options and to take advantage of timing opportunities where people are most likely to consider options. Many will not take the email option. No problem. Some will. And once they have chosen to let you into their inbox, the onus is on you, the publisher, to deliver great content that drives engagement.

    • Angie, honest, we weren’t the ones who canned Google Reader. 🙂 We get that email isn’t a good way for you to consume content, but as it turns out, it really works for a lot of readers. We’ve been observing them for years, and we talk with other bloggers every day about issues like reader engagement.

      RSS + reader is a wonderful technology, but most people just never took to it. For the bulk of readers, it’s email vs. not subscribing at all. And for those who do prefer RSS, there are options there too.

  23. It may seem like a good solution to move RSS readers over to your email list, but this overlooks the reason why people subscribed via RSS in the first place – convenience.

    Additionally, subscribing through a 2nd RSS function (and learning a new reader) is time I can allocate to doing something else more suitable for my fans. I may have to pass on RSS right now.

  24. I have used Google Reader but frankly, it always sort of overwhelmed me because it always fed me more blogs then I had actually signed up for.
    Lately I’ve been using Bloglovin’ (with which I get Coppyblogger) and it sends all the blogs that I subscribe to into my inbox and I can control the amount of emails I get. This works well now but as I start subscribing to more blogs it may get a little more intense and I may miss some content with so much coming into my inbox.
    I’ll look into Feedly and Hootsuite as another reader suggested, it’s nice to have options! And I agree with Greg who said that it would be cool if Evernote got on board since I’m also constantly on it.

  25. Email is a great alternative I agree but some of us are getting tired of having it clogged and would like to simplify it. While Email remains the best alternative for RSS, I also believe that people liking you or subscribing to you through social media channels is a gold mine as well. When you subscribe to a publisher, you see every post that publisher sends. More so, you go to the social networks when you choose to, Facebook, Google + and twitter alerts show up in their respective apps when the publisher posts something new. This helps users separate email from blogs. Which is why they chose RSS to begin with.

  26. Another alternative will be to start using a curation service such as Paperli or Scoopit and invite users to start following your ezine. Infact Scoopit have recently announced integration with Mailchimp so there is an added benefit if you want to start using email instead as you have suggested in your post.

  27. OMG. You wouldn’t believe the struggle I’ve had getting my inbox DOWN from 9,582 or so (who’s counting?) UNREAD EMAILS. It’s well under 1000 now, but the effort to keep my email subscriptions to a bare minimum is an ongoing one. So, sorry to be so blunt, but this is about the dumbest idea I’ve heard in a while. At least for me.

    Thanks to some of the other comments, I’ll probably take another look at Feedly, but in the meantime I’ve resuscitated my NetVibes account and have made it do service for my RSS needs. Not at all bad.

    • Patricia, I absolutely understand your perspective regarding email. Same for me, in terms of liming the junk. But I think you hit the nail on the head when you said: “At least for me.”

      As a publisher, you won’t convert all of your RSS orphans into email subscribers. You won’t convert most. You might not even convert 10% or even 5%. But you WILL convert some, because there will be people who won’t lump your email content in with the rest of the inbox crap. And these people will be stronger readers, maybe even customers, moving forward, and it’s a win-win relationship. That’s why the idea is just to offer the option. Let those who want it take it, and those who don’t – like you – move right on to feedly or something else.

  28. This article reminded me that email is still an option. As I move more to mobile communication, I find myself using email less and less. Studio Press templates provide great email gathering tools, though! I wonder why FeedBurner and MyYahoo aren’t more discussed. FeedBurner pushes MyYahoo. Google will continue offering FeedBurner, right?

    • Feedburner pushes any kind of RSS feeds, not just MyYahoo — it’s the most popular feed service out there. The thought is that Feedburner will be the next thing Google kills off.

  29. Yes! We can also use IFTTT to send RSS Feeds to services like- Instapaper, Readability, Pocket, Evernote Clearly or Gmail also. And the best Google Reader alternative is Feedly.

  30. How do I build an blog notice ’email signup’ like yours? I have customers that want to enter an email but the rss feed I have is generic. thanks for the help!

  31. I have to disagree. This solution isn’t simple at all. Blog readers don’t want to sign up for email updates, they want all their blog feeds in one spot via an RSS reader. Theres no way I’d want to sign up for emails from all of my feeds. It’s much better to view all your updated feeds in one spot… i’m looking into Feedly and The Old Reader.

  32. I tried to subscribe to several feeds through Feedly but couldn’t do so.

    Although I’m able to subscribe when I search the search bar of Feedly for new feeds and I click on “subscribe” from there but when I go on a website and click on its RSS reader I get an error message.

    Can anyone please help?

  33. Feedly has been my lifesaver on more than one of my sites. I too wish I had made the change long before being forced to look for alternatives.

    I really like (prefer) Feedly because of all the options. My site viewers can choose how they want to consume my content. I am already seeing positive results, many of my current readers have already made the switch.

    Even better, Feedly has tuts on how to change your users from Feedburner (also kaput, or soon to be). Though I opted to just notify members that they CAN make the change, if they want to. Heck, you can even connect to Google Reader from the Feedly home page. A no-brainer imo.

    Great post!

    • Thank you Shannon! I really like feedly as well. My only gripe is with their iPad app. It constantly dies on me when I click into a story to read. It must be the internal browser. Really hoping they fix that … and yes, I’d be more than willing to pay for the app if it meant they’d develop a consistent one!

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