Tracking RSS Feed Subscribers

This question came up today from a client – how many active RSS feed subscribers do we have currently? That had me stumped – I hadn’t really thought a lot about tracking active subscribers before. If one person is asking that means that others may soon do the same so I decided to do a little research and see what was available or even possible.

From what I’ve been able to find so far is that there really are not a lot of options/services to track this type of thing at present. Here is a summary of what is currently possible:

  • Tracking requests of the RSS feed / XML file. Generally this has to be done from the server logs because you cannot tag the RSS feed directly with JavaScript. You could track how many people click to access the feed directly through the site (most likely new subscribers), but this still cannot know if they remain active or not.
  • 3rd party redirects like FeedBurner or FeedBlitz will track this information for you, however they redirect to their own URL. This has the negative consequence of losing the traffic benefits of having an RSS feed in the first place.
  • 3rd party solutions like Pheedo and SyndicateIQ have built solutions for tracking this kind of data for you, for a price.

With as ubiquitous as RSS feeds are these days that there would be more tracking options, especially in the higher-end web analytics solutions. I am hoping that they are considering adding such features in the future.

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