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?