Mario Sundar

LinkedIn's 2nd PR hire. These are my thoughts on products, public relations, and startups.

RSS 101 for Marketers

I’ve spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out what’s all the hype over Really Simple Syndication (RSS) and how it applies to my specific brand of marketing. Interestingly enough, over the past few months, I have come across a fair number of marketers and practitioners who have been interested in knowing about RSS in as little time as possible. So, here are the basics of RSS Marketing: (i) Intro to RSS, (ii) Benefits of RSS, and (iii) Additional RSS reading

So here goes –

(i) Intro to RSS: Wikipedia defines RSS as “a family of web feed formats, specified in XML and used for Web syndication. RSS is used by (among other things) news websites, weblogs and podcasting

Now, for a marketer who has dabbled in direct marketing, web marketing and email marketing, RSS Marketing is no different. Really Simple Syndication or RSS is nothing more than another delivery mechanism to get your marketing message across to your target audience. Think of it as the fourth wheel (mail, web, email + RSS) in your channel mix.

(2) Benefits of RSS: Here are my Top 3 reasons why your target audience is going to love RSS, and therefore why you are going to adopt it:

(i) CANNOT-SPAM tool: How many times have your email marketing campaigns gone awry because of your consideration of the CAN-SPAM act. RSS is a reliable indicator of the warm leads in your lead qualification process, since ONLY interested prospects sign up. Actually, they don’t even have to sign-up. Anyone with a RSS reader can add your feed with the click-and-drag of their mouse without ever giving away even a single bit of info about themselves. Anonymity for your user, a great tool to track warm leads for the marketer. Seth Godin couldn’t agree more – this is the ultimate realization of Permission Based Marketing.

(ii) Search Engine Marketing on steroids: How many times have you as a marketer hoped that your product or service comes out on top when your prospect searches for info on a search engine?
Here’s an easy way to do that. RSS feeds are nothing more than XML code that get easily indexed by search engine crawlers and spiders (sounds creepy but true). Here’s a great way for you to crawl all the way to the top on top of your competition – all by just creating a blog and generating a RSS feed for it.

(iii) Easy and measurable: Setting up a RSS feed is the easiest thing possible (more details below) but on top of that it’s also measurable. Services like feedburner make it super-easy for you to set-up a feed and on top of that they enable you to measure important metrics like membership, readership and click-throughs. Here’s a Feed 101 tutorial on Feedburner.

Also, check out a similar piece on “Why is RSS important?” by Phil Gomes (VP, Interactive Solutions at Edelman) in an iMedia Connection article that mirrors some of my observations.

(3) Additional Resources on RSS: Given below are two major resources on RSS that you’d find extremely informative.

(i) The Ultimate Guide: If you want to learn every nuanced aspect there is to know about RSS, then Rok Hrastnik’s comprehensive guide to RSS. It gives detailed descriptions on how RSS can be used by marketers and publishers. I purchased the e-book for $49 myself and can assure you that it answered all questions I had on RSS marketing.

(ii) The Technical Guide: If you wish to get all-technical on RSS and want to learn the XML code that works the magic behind RSS, then go no place other than your friendly, online neighborhood – Wikipedia, the single website that I have benefited most since the advent of the internet. Check out the Wikipedia page on RSS that gives you all the tech-speak.

Also, I thought I should highlight two important articles on RSS that you would surely find useful.

The first is a 7-step RSS Marketing Plan that was published in MarketingProfs by none other than Rok Hrastnik – the RSS expert.

The second is an iMedia Connection article “Tips on Marketing with RSS” by Bill Flitter, CEO of Pheedo who co-incidentally will be speaking at a SVAMA workshop on “Marketing with RSS/Blogs” organized by us – the Silicon Valley Chapter of the American Marketing Association (SVAMA) on 06/06/06.

Do join us if you’d like to learn more about how you could incorporate RSS into your marketing mix.

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