Ok, so you are into using RSS but maybe the rest of your organization is a little less enthusiastic. Where do you start and how do you get going? Well, I had a meeting this week with one of my clients regarding using RSS for marketing, so I think I can offer some advice. First, let's take a look at the potential issues that the doubters in your organization may raise.
Lack of Critical Mass
While the number of RSS users is low <10%, the current users are often what I call the holy grail target for marketers - younger males with at least a college degree and money (reported by the IPSOS/Yahoo RSS 4Q'05 study). So, in order to overcome this issue (which shouldn't be an issue in the near future), here's what you should do:
- Brag about the current user profile
- Point out the list of available major sites that now offer RSS. I'd focus on your category - for finance check out MarketWatch.com, WSJ.com, The Street.com and if you are in retail - try eBay and Sears (yes Sears). Banking, well email me!
- Browsers are the key. If you ever used Firefox or Safari then you know how easy it is to add in RSS feeds. In Firefox, I have a one click button into Bloglines. The new IE7 will include similar functionality. Once IE7 is released and pushed out to the average base, RSS sign-ups should increase.
The Average User Doesn't Know What RSS Is
Yes and that's true. How many of your Moms would click on an ugly XML link (my Mom might because she reads my site)? So, what do you do to market this.
- Keep pushing the orange RSS logo (see right margin). I think people are starting to recognize the bright orange logo.
- Name your RSS feed and don't call it RSS. Try COMPANYNAMENewsFeed
- Place it in highly visible pages of your website so it gets exposure
- And, include a link to what your news feed is all about - I like the process found over at Sears.com off the link from weekly specials button.
There is a Laundry List of RSS Readers
There are a ton of readers out there and I like to split them up between browsers, desktop applications, portals, and web platforms. Literally, you are faced with with the terrible drop down box, guessing the top readers of your client (see TheStreet.com's signup), or making the XML code available. Personally, I think the organization that the team at SimpleFeed uses is very elegant and organizes it properly. The one being used by Sears courtesy of SimpleFeed is my recommended organization of the RSS readers. Check it out here. Compare the SimpleFeed organization to the process found at the NY Times. Please don't think the average internet user will want to go through the "coded" RSS sign-up process.
That's it for today's RSS Marketing lesson. Next time, I'll go over my recommendations of where to start and guess what fans, it uses a financial services company as the guinea pig because I think using RSS in a financial services company is a perfect fit.