What’s the difference between feeds and emails and newsletters?

This is a very common question that I receive. There are usually several ‘subscribe’ buttons on websites.

Some of them include:

These are the icons that are commonly misunderstood:

  • email sign
  • RSS subscribe
  • lots of buttons saying “Subscribe” or “Go”

#1 Email Envelope Icon

This can mean 2 different things. It can EITHER be a link to a contact form OR it can be a direct ‘click on this to email me’ icon. It is programmed to open up your email editor and create an email.

#2 RSS Icon

Ironically, this is the easy one. This always means one thing – it is a feed link.

It will link to the site’s feed which is an easy-for-machines-to-digest version of the content.

To our eyes, the RSS feed will look like jumbled English. That is why we usually use a “feed reader”. There are literally 100’s of feed readers although they are not very popular any longer. The one you’re probably familiar with is bloglovin’.

There are lots of uses for your feed though. The feed is what your email marketing company uses to ‘read’ your new posts and send them to your subscribes. Lets address that next.

Blogs Via Email

When you want to send an automated version of your blog to readers, we set that up using your feed and your email marketing company. The email marketing company sends the blogs out to your readers.


Newsletters are what you are most familiar with – these are the manually created pieces of content that you send through email to your subscribers.

These are intended to be different from Blogs via Email. Newsletters serve an entirely different purpose. When someone has subscribed to your content, they’ve effectively volunteered to have a conversation with you. What you do next makes a big difference in that user’s experience with you and ultimately their loyalty with you and ‘life time value’ in marketing terms.

Further Discussion

Now that you know what emails and newsletters and feeds are, discover how to use Email Marketing to grow your blog!

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One Comment

  1. Since I have two websites (and two main interests as a reader), I read my feeds via email whenever it’s offered, because as you said, my feed reader is so full. I’d like to set up a newsletter to readers of my travel site. Want to write an article on how to do it? 😉

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