Last week I needed to satisfy a curiosity about whether more people used email or used RSS to subscribe to their favorite blogs. I set up a simple poll on PollDaddy. I wanted to get at least 100 votes since results generally stabilize and run consistent after that point.
As I suspected, Email beats RSS, though not by much in this small sample. I suspect the real stats are different since most of the people who took this poll are pretty savvy: they hang out online, they play on twitter and other online networking sites so skew towards an understanding of RSS. However, my experience with clients is that most have no clue about RSS and their blog audiences don't either. I think the real results (if I could find a scientifically conducted survey) would be closer to 80/20 Email to RSS.
I was surprised to see in the "other" category that someone said they subscribe to blogs on Facebook. Facebook actually pulls the blog's RSS feed in the Notes Application - if the blogger has it set up. And yes, that's certainly a legitimate way to get your blog updates, but in fact you're not really subscribing. If you're "friends" with someone who imports their blog, then you may see their posts.
What does this mean for you, dear blogger? YOU CANNOT IGNORE EMAIL OR RSS. If you only have one or the other option on your blog, you're leaving a lot of people out who may want to subscribe but either don't know how or want a different option. Offer both. I use Feedblitz for email subscriptions and use Feedburner to offer a "smart feed" that people can use to subscribe with their favorite feed readers. Feedburner also has an email subscribe form.
Any more thoughts on this issue or is it time to move on? :-)