What Happens To RSS by Email If It’s Not Open?

RSS by Email is a great option to enable in FeedBurner if you’re trying to increase your RSS subscription base. If you haven’t turn this feature on already, you need to do it. Giving your readers more than one way to subscribe to your blog is never a bad thing.

In my post about my RSS competition with Shoemoney, I made the mistake of saying RSS by Email is always counted, even if the subscriber doesn’t check their email. I’ve since found out that this is not true. FeedBurner knows if a subscriber opens their email or not. They accomplish this by embedding a 1 pixel tracking image into the emails. If the subscriber doesn’t open the email by a set amount of time, the subscriber is removed from the RSS count.


The above is a screen shot of my RSS subscribers for yesterday. Out of the 15,424 subs, 4,646 of them access the feed via RSS by Email. However, when you look at my RSS by Email subscription management page, you’ll see I have a lot more subscribers.


In all, there are 5,357 people subscribed to my blog by RSS by Email. However, FeedBurner counted only 4,646 of them because 711 subscribers no longer check their emails and didn’t unsubscribed. By making sure subscribers open their email in order to be counted, FeedBurner gives a lot more accurate reading of the RSS count.

This is actually a very good thing because there was a service started a while back (when I wrote that RSS by Email was always counted) that offered to increase your RSS count for a fee. The service just subbed a bunch of fake emails to your feed so you can show a big number. However, that number will go right back down after a while because those emails are never opened.