You and I may be RSS junkies, but plenty of Internet users are not. The masses still dig reading e-mail. And sending it: many small business owners are more comfortable blasting their customers with e-mail than they are updating a blog.
Feedblitz, an established blog-to-e-mail service provider, is rolling out new capabilities that serve both readers and authors who aren't comfortable with blogs and RSS feeds. Like Feedburner, Feedblitz can convert blogs to e-mail feeds. In fact, Feedburner offers Feedblitz-powered e-mails to its users. But Feedblitz on its own offers a lot more customization options, including a solution that bypasses blogs and RSS entirely.
Here's a simple sign-up box, powered by Feedblitz:
As input, Feedblitz can slurp in an RSS feed, or publishers can create posts directly from the Feedblitz site, or, reportedly, by sending e-mails (I couldn't get the e-mail posting to work). Subscribers can then get these publications as regular e-mails, or as RSS feeds (as a bonus, the RSS feeds include links that will read your posts out loud), or as Skype, AIM, or Twitter messages.
Publishers have a lot of control over how people subscribe and what they get in their feeds. They can create feeds only made up of items that are tagged a certain way, and the feeds can be personalized with the subscribers' names or any other information the publisher collects when signing people up.
The system also gives publishers good branding opportunities (correcting an earlier TechCrunch criticism): your e-mails can appear to come from your own domain, and you can strip out Feedblitz logos on paid accounts.
A few things about Feedblitz need work, however. The publishing interface is painful. There are confusing form fields to fill out and the site's navigation is unclear -- very un-Web 2.0. Also, delivering feeds to Twitter and Skype is a parlor trick (who really uses Skype as a feed reader?). A better bet would be to allow subscribers to have their feeds inserted automatically into their social network pages on Facebook and MySpace. The company may offer these options soon.
Anyone who wants to make their information available to the widest variety of users should consider Feedblitz. It's a useful tool for marketers, and a decent way to convert a blog to an e-mail feed.
See also: Constant Contact.