RSS has been around for a few years now, but because of the growing problems of e-mail content delivery, and because it provides many other business advantages as well, it is quickly gaining momentum. In fact, it’s just about everywhere now and it’s still climbing.
Even though most publishers today employ RSS intensively for both their normal publishing and marketing, there’s plenty of room for more on the market. Now is a perfect time to start publishing your own content in RSS.
What is RSS?
RSS (which stands for “Really Simple Syndication”) is a content delivery channel that allows you to easily deliver internet content to your target audiences, while eliminating a large part of the external noise and shortcomings of other delivery channels, such as e-mail. In short, RSS gets your content delivered.
RSS content is delivered through “RSS feeds” – simple files structured in a specific way [xml].
These files include some basic information about the RSS feed (such as RSS feed title, logo, description, URL etc.) and the actual content in the form of individual content items . These content items are individual stories or articles (usually just descriptions of articles actually published on the internet publisher’s web site), presented in a linear list .
Simplistically explained, RSS enables internet content publishers to easily deliver information about their specific content to end-users.
In a way, this can be best compared to e-mail content alert services, which send you an e-mail message every time content you are interested in is published on a specific web site, letting you know that a new article you are interested in is available on the Web.
What the User Needs?
In order to view your RSS content, the end-user needs to either download a special program, called an RSS aggregator, or use a web-based RSS aggregator through one of the web sites already providing this service free of charge.
An RSS aggregator is a special computer application that allows us to “subscribe” to RSS feeds, periodically reads those feeds to display their latest content, and let us view those same RSS feeds. Most blogs today (e.g. WordPress) provide this service out-of-the-box and you hardly need think about it.
Every time you update your RSS feed (add new content items to the RSS file), the user is notified by that through his RSS aggregator, making the content immediately available to him, without it having to face any SPAM filters and other barricades on the way.
What kind of content can you publish through an RSS feed?
MarketingSherpa.com, for instance, uses RSS to deliver their latest article summaries. Other web sites, such as the majority of news web sites, use RSS to del iver their news, just as it becomes available.
The key advantage of using RSS as an internet content publisher and marketer is that it actually gets your content del ivered to its destination, without many of the obstacles present with other content delivery channels.
Other Crucial RSS Uses
Delivering content to end-users is not everything that RSS offers.
- Syndicate your content through other web sites, thus generating more exposure, traffic and recognition. Using RSS, other web sites can easily publish your content and bring you more visitors. It’s easy, once you know exactly how to do it. Most don’t …
- Promote your RSS feed through various specialized RSS search engines and directories. These will generate even more fresh and high-quality traffic, the people that are actually interested in your content and your products. But do you know where to submit your RSS feeds to get the most exposure? There are more than 55 choices available …
- Use your RSS feed to increase your search engine rankings.
And there’s more, much much more …
- RSS, for instance, can be used to boost your affiliate sales. It’s a secret that few marketers know, even today. And of those who know of it, even fewer actually use it correctly.
- You can customize your feeds for your visitors, giving them exactly the content they want. And of course use that information to target your marketing messages to them …
- Using RSS you can create digital catalogues that deliver latest product updates to your customers, just as they become available. This is something that Amazon.com has started doing not long ago. And it’s actually quite simple and easy to do …
Because there are literally millions of people reading RSS feeds every minute, it goes almost without saying that this is an ideal channel for marketing as well.
Unlike email, there is no such thing as RSS spam. You add the Feeds you are interested in to your Feed Reader, and remove them anytime you choose. It is completely anonymous, and the publisher has no way of knowing who is reading – or of retrieving your contact information.
So, as a marketer – how can you benefit from this?
Assuming you already know RSS from a USER’s perspectivem everything from this point on will make a lot more sense.
You can syndicate ANY type of content through an RSS Feed. You don’t have to have a “blog” to have a Feed. Newsletters can be published via RSS. Even articles, product reviews, general updates – and of course, blogs – can be turned into RSS Feeds that are read around the world!
That said, a Blog platform (such as Blogger, WordPress or Moveable Type) is a super-easy way to set up and begin publishing your own RSS Feed. For example, you can publish your articles, categorizing them by both topic and date posted.
In addition to all of the Blog and RSS directories that you can use to help you promote your new Feed, Blogs are naturally search engine friendly. This alone is one very good reason to set up your own Feed!
If you promote your feed correctly, you can expect A LOT of exposure, highly-targeted visitors clicking through to YOUR website… and, of course, Inbound Links from those web pages to yours, which will boost your own search engine rankings.
The 10-Step RSS Marketing Plan
(sourced from Rok Hrastnik in RSS Marketing)
While RSS has certainly become well-established with most marketers, few are using it to its full advantage.
1. Develop your RSS marketing strategy
It all starts with a strategy that defines all the other elements of your RSS marketing plan. Developing your RSS marketing strategy consists of planning your RSS usage for each marketing function and integrating it with the rest of your marketing mix, and setting the goals for each of the marketing functions.
2. Start using RSS for business intelligence
Conducting business intelligence using RSS is the first step to improving your marketing overall. You will start by finding the right RSS Reader for you, define your business intelligence needs, find the relevant information sources, and implementing the right RSS business intelligence tools.
3. Plan your overall outbound RSS content strategy
Outbound communications using RSS are the most complex part of RSS marketing, with numerous choices available to you. During this step you will define your outbound communications target audiences, define your goals for each of them, decide on your RSS feed publishing model, define your RSS feed content and define your RSS feed content sources.
4. Define your RSS marketing requirements & select your RSS marketing vendor
Defining your RSS marketing technology requirements and selecting the appropriate vendor to supply you with all the features you need to support your strategy.
5. Plan your RSS content strategy on the content-item level
Once you have prepared your overall RSS content strategy you need to plan your RSS content-item level strategy, which essentially means getting the right content in place within the feed to meet your objectives. This consists of defining your writing style, defining the content item structure and defining your calls-to-action.
6. Promote your RSS feeds internally
Simply publishing RSS feeds on your website is not enough to generate subscribers. In this section you will define your RSS feed subscription process, define the RSS feed promotion locations for your feeds, develop the subscription offer and implement the other neccessary technical items to increase your subscription growth.
7. Promote your RSS feeds externally
After setting everything correctly through your own channels, it is neccesary to promote the RSS feeds using external websites as well. This process includes optimizing your RSS feed for the search engines, submitting the feed to the search engines and performing periodic pinging.
8. Measure and optimize your RSS feeds
Measurement and optimization are the two areas that can have the most profound impact on your RSS success. This consists of defining the required metrics, establishing the technical capacities for measurement, measuring and optimizing your content strategy and measuring and optimizing your subscription generation tactics.
9. Use RSS to syndicate your content to other online media
Use RSS to get your content published on other relevant media. The neccessary steps for syndication are defining your target media, defining your RSS feed content, preparing the right syndication tools and promoting your syndication offerings.
10. Use RSS to enhance your website and brand
Enhancing your website is about adding third-party content to enrich the user experience, while enhancing your brand is about providing your own branded RSS Reader.