24th November 2005 Alan Spurgeon

What is RSS and Reasons to Adopt It

It’s likely that you’ve heard of blogging as the recent take up of blogging has been phenomenal over the last 12-18 months. So much so, that blogging is also partly responsible for the latest star of online marketing surge into the popularity stakes with businesses who are reaping rewards from the internet. RSS.

Have you heard about RSS? If not, I’m sure you will have seen the little buttons on selected websites that already provide RSS feeds.

RSS is being hailed in some quarters as a competitor to email marketing for publishing content to a userbase.

What Does RSS Mean?

Wikipedia gives this definition:

RSS is a family of XML file formats for web syndication used by news websites and weblogs. The acronym stands for one of the following standards:

* Rich Site Summary
* RDF Site Summary
* Really Simple Syndication

Wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSS

In layman’s terms RSS is a standard which publishes updates of web based content. Internet users use an RSS reader to collect and monitor their favourite content in one central program or location. RSS is also used to deliver fresh content to other websites, which may automatically display the content.

RSS has a strong connection with blogs because blogging software generates RSS feeds automatically. But, RSS has a vast array of uses and is being adopted by savvy businesses as a new communications channel and an efficient way to distribute information, quickly and easily.

Whether its broadcasting a recent promotion or updating the press with your latest release, RSS provides a sure-fire path through spam filters, providing interested parties access to your information.

So for those of you who are new to RSS here are the 5 top reasons to utilise the latest online marketing phenomena, RSS.

1. RSS is Spam Free

With so much spam being broadcast to our inboxes on a daily basis, email recipients have become hardened to email. Email users are more likely today to delete messages, making it harder to get the message through. Couple that with some of the security filters that email servers now have to block messages and you end up having to work very hard to deliver an email to another persons inbox.

Marketing and Press departments often want to be assured their messages are being delivered.

One of the main benefits of RSS is that your subscribers opt in to receive your information by subscribing to your feed. You simply provide the details of your RSS feed, and your reader pastes that address into their RSS/news aggregator.

RSS is an ‘unspammable’ medium.

2. RSS is Reader Friendly

As RSS is only picked up by subscribed viewers, the viewer is in complete control of what they read and don’t read. This firmly puts the reader in control of what they look at. Unlike spam email, you cannot force an RSS feed into someone’s reader/aggregator.

What’s good about this? Well as an RSS user, I feel totally comfortable with using RSS, safe in the knowledge that I am only receiving information that I have requested. This makes me far more likely to read the feeds, than if I had to sift through several feeds, trying to find the information I want.

3. Improve PR Opportunities

RSS is becoming a far more utilised source of news for journalists.

Due to its ease of distribution RSS updates are more and more likely to be picked up by journalists. This increases your online exposure opportunities and increases your chances of a journalist wanting to contact you regarding a specific subject.

4. Improve Your Web Traffic

Online marketing departments often look at their web statistics to see if their online marketing campaigns are effective or not.

RSS feeds drive traffic through to your website. Customers who receive your feed in their RSS/news aggregators are more likely to visit your web site for more information.

5. RSS is Reportable

Like with email, you can track your statistics of your RSS feeds.

How many people are reading the feeds? What information is most interesting? What are people clicking on?

Yes, much like email marketing RSS gives you great feedback analysis and helps you profile your subscriber base and understand your marketplace.

6. RSS is Virus Free

To date, I have never heard of any virus being spread via RSS.

Sure, some web pages with Active X controls have been known to spread viruses, but with RSS, virus developers and spreaders are far less likely to strike.

7. It’s Retractable

Once you have published your feed, you can go back in edit it, even remove it if you want.

Unlike posting a piece of direct mail, finding that there was a major error in your copy, and cringing as it is delivered through post boxes. RSS feeds can be updated and changed at will.

8. Simplicity!

You do not need to be technically minded to publish RSS feeds.

Either via a blog or via an online RSS publishing service, you can get your news published.

Summary

All signs point to the fact RSS is on the brink of mainstream adoption. Google, MSN, and Yahoo! have developed and continue to develop strategies to encourage subscribers to feed at their RSS feeds. Isn’t it time your buisness adopted RSS?

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