RSS Marketing Interview with Rok Hrastnik

My friend and EzineArticles expert author Rok Hrastnik interviewed me yesterday for his 2007 edition of his RSS e-book. He gave me permission to share his questions along with some of my answers:

1. Could you please give us an overview of how you are using RSS for your marketing purposes?

We’re not using RSS for marketing purposes as the primary goal, but rather we use RSS for pre-qualified visitor traffic-attraction purposes.

EzineArticles has RSS feeds for every category and one for every single expert author listed on our site (45k+). For a select few publishers in a closed test, we also have a keyword RSS feed. Lastly, we’ve made our RSS feeds compliant with the browser standards that allow users to subscribe to RSS feeds very easily.

2. What general results are you seeing from your RSS marketing? Have you seen it drive traffic from the RSS search engines, drive new subscriptions … ?

I’m not certain it’s driving new subscriptions, but I do know that after search engines and email alerts, that our RSS feeds drive the next highest level of traffic to the site daily. This comes largely from a combination of RSS readers who subscribe directly to a particular set of feeds and from niche publishers who add the respective EzineArticles RSS feed to further add value to their web visitors. Example: A Yoga website could add our Yoga RSS feed to display automatically the freshest Yoga articles on their site. They win because they expose their users to a more complete set of information, we win because this drives highly desired and qualified traffic back to our articles and our authors win because they get more exposure.

3. What does it take to manage such an incredibly large number of RSS feeds? What system are you using?

Since 2003 we’ve been developing our own CMS (Content Management System)… So, it’s all done in-house and it’s full automated.

4. Could you please take us through your implementation process step-by-step?

How we implemented our RSS feeds would most likely be of no value to your readers who don’t have the benefit of an in-house CMS development team. I can tell you that we’re only scratching the surface of how RSS feeds will be used to grow the site and attract more qualified visitors.

We have not begun educating our publishers on how to intall RSS feeds in their own website as this varies widely depending on which CMS they are using. Most of the CMS engines today have RSS modules but I’m not sure they are as flexible or customizable as they should be/could be.

5. What are the key learning points you’ve learned through your RSS experience that you can share with other marketers?

  • Have them… meaning, get RSS feeds up on your site immediately if you don’t have them.
  • Test them often and make sure they work.
  • Only offer PARTIAL-FEEDS. I have yet to see any good arguments for FULL-FEED RSS feeds.
  • Watch for funny character-sets that can break RSS feeds… and pay close attention to the mechanical quality of your article SUMMARIES (because this is what the RSS reader sees).
  • Use your email newsletter to educate your audience on how to use your RSS feeds.
  • If you accept user-submitted content, give them the ability to have their own RSS feeds so they can display them also on their own website.
  • Autoconfigure your RSS feeds to be browser aware so those with RSS-intelligent browsers can bookmark your RSS feeds.

6. How well does RSS work with e-mail marketing?

A better question to ask: How well can you use e-mail marketing to convince your users and publishers to use your RSS feeds for their and your benefit?

I hope everyone enjoyed the interview. :-)
Any RSS questions?

15 Comments »


1

This is so, so EXCELLENT Chris. How timely for me.

You gave me one to use before but I confess I have not implicated it because it all confuses me. I cannot wait to see the input on this blog. I always learn so much from each subject. I have around 30 blogs that I maintain to keep my different series of work better defined. I am sure they would all do better with RSS feed. That and all my articles and my website… OK! A must!

Thank you.

Comment provided February 16, 2007 at 11:43 AM

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2
Samiplus writes:

A bag full of new info on RSS marketing especially for some of us who are still learning the rope.

Thanks for dishing the out free.

Comment provided February 16, 2007 at 1:34 PM

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3
Edward Weiss writes:

Interesting read. What I would like to do is get something up on my website which shows the last 4 or 5 threads to a discussion, yet it’s hard to convert html to rss. Any suggestions?

Comment provided February 16, 2007 at 1:56 PM

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4
Thad Ferguson writes:

Hey Chris is there anyway that we can find out how many people are suscribing to our own individual RSS Feeds. I think this would be a good motivation for some authors (me) to write more articles or at least know what the cumlitave effect of my writing is and if you only look up mine I dont mind if I dont have any one suscribed to my feed so feel free to post my numbers if that is all you can do.

Comment provided February 16, 2007 at 2:58 PM

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5

Thad,

Perhaps in the future, yes, that would be nice data to be able to share.

Edward,

Think of RSS as XML rather than RSS… because it is XML… a language with its own rules very similar to HTML.

That said, you can either have your CMS produce the feed for you as a plug in/add on or you can hire someone to write a php or asp script to autogenerate the XML file.

Comment provided February 16, 2007 at 4:01 PM

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6
Elaine writes:

I do not fully understand the RSS Feed so have not done anything with it yet. I have been wanting to.

I am still all new to this but I think this is a great idea.

Comment provided February 16, 2007 at 6:59 PM

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7

Elaine, I am so glad to read from you and others who don’t get it.

For me I think there needs to be RSS feed for dummies, esp. when I read the comments about RSS, CMS and SML and then HTLM…

EWWW and GADS!

Comment provided February 16, 2007 at 7:11 PM

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8
Allen Taylor writes:

Great post, Chris.

I too would like more info on RSS. This is an area that I want to grow in the use of but I’m not sure where to start. I’ve been researching aggregators but I’m not sure if I should use a web-based feedreader, an Outlook reader or a stand alone reader. Plus, creating feeds for my own website. I’ve been unable to find one source comprehensive enough that is trustworthy for giving the best and most in-depth information.

Comment provided February 16, 2007 at 7:47 PM

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9
Allen Taylor writes:

P.S. What is the difference between a partial feed and a full feed?

Comment provided February 16, 2007 at 7:47 PM

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10

Partial feed is what we do. That includes article title, summary and a link to the full article.

If we did a full-feed, we’d include the entire article in the feed. This makes no sense to us, so therefore we won’t do it.

Comment provided February 16, 2007 at 9:35 PM

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11
Allen Taylor writes:

Aaah, I agree. For your purposes, partial feed makes more sense.

Comment provided February 16, 2007 at 10:34 PM

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12
Samantha Rangen writes:

I use CARP for importing my EzineArticles.com articles to various sites (each author name has a different site associated with it). Cut this link if you want, but find free CARP at http://www.geckotribe.com/rss/carp/ . I’ll probably upgrade soon, as I’m finding it very useful.

I use it on one site to pull my own WordPress blog entries to the bottom nav bar and on my “about us” page to pull a list of articles from one of my author names here. Same script, one site, different config command.

By combining CARP with my author name RSS feeds, I can write niche articles and pull the feed onto the correct niche site.

Thanks for the tips on other implementations of RSS, Chris. I’m working on a site based on Drupal, and your tips were good heads up for planning.

Comment provided February 18, 2007 at 2:28 AM

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13
Elaine Rithal writes:

Thank you Kathy I feel that way to. someday i do hope to understand the RSS but now its a bit confusing.

Comment provided February 18, 2007 at 6:37 PM

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14
Elaine Rithal writes:

Samantha, oh thank you for the CARP information. I will be sure to check it out.

Comment provided February 18, 2007 at 6:41 PM

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15
nikeman writes:

Found full feed site http://FullFeeds.org is a full RSS feed generator that can take any partial feed and convert it into a full feed or accept any URL from any website

Comment provided July 13, 2010 at 3:53 AM

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